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En español | Raise your hand if you knew Mobile was the first U.S. locale to host a Mardi Gras celebration. (It took place in 1703, when Mobile was the capital of French Louisiana and New Orleans was still 15 years from being founded.) This year’s edition of the city’s multi-week celebration kicked off on Jan. 28, but there’s still time to get your boogie on in the Joe Cain Day parade, held the Sunday before Mardi Gras, and the Fat Tuesday finale itself on Feb. 28.
This year marks the 106th annual celebration of Mardi Gras in Galveston. It’s the biggest such extravaganza in Texas, and the third largest in the country. In addition to krewe parties, colorful masked balls and 22 exhilarating parades, more than 30 concerts are scheduled. No need to let the revelry ruin your fitness, though: The Galveston Official 5K Run is part of the fun.
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St. Louis throws its own impressively sized Mardi Gras celebration each year. The Gateway City party, which takes place in the historic French neighborhood of Soulard, boasts a decidedly nontraditional theme this year: cinema. But with Soulard also home to the North American headquarters of Anheuser-Busch, beer lovers will find plenty of soirees inviting them to pay homage to Bud Light.
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Mardi Gras is already an amusement park of sorts, so it makes sense to head for the massive celebration held at Universal Studios Florida in Orlando, which runs through March 25 — nearly a full month after the traditional Fat Tuesday. In addition to the expected blandishments — floats, scrumptious Cajun and Creole food, salacious flesh-for-beads throws — you can groove to such top-shelf artists as Fifth Harmony, Olivia Newton-John, Toby Keith and UB40.
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Looking for a Fat Tuesday party far from the bayou? Head for the historic Gaslamp Quarter of San Diego and its rambunctious Mardi Gras celebration. Eye-popping floats, sexy samba dancers and luxury cars all parade through the streets beneath a welcome rain of confetti and beads. You can also indulge your senses in the Big Easy Bites & Booze Tour, or shake your tail feather to top DJs spinning tunes from three stages.