Mardi Gras is celebrated in cities all across the United States, but no one does it quite like New Orleans. Every year, the Louisiana city hosts the biggest, most star-studded, bead-flinging, days-long party in the country that floods into the streets.
One of the biggest attractions is the 2012 Mardi Gras Parade, which began on Saturday, Feb. 4 and continues to Tuesday, Feb. 21. An estimated 1 million visitors are expected to pour into the Mobile Ala area every Mardi Gras season to experience the Fat Tuesday festivities, where the roads are shut down, the people dress up and raucous partying ensues.
When is Mardi Gras 2012?
The Carnival season actually begins on Jan. 6. Mardi Gras, which is French for Fat Tuesday, is just one day and will be on Tuesday, Feb. 21 this year. However, the Mardi Gras parades begin two weeks ahead of the big day and The Crescent City is abuzz with festive spirit for all of February, intensifying as Feb. 21 approaches.
Where is it?
The parade hits up all parts of New Orleans, but the heart of the party will be in the French Quarter--the center of New Orleans nightlife and the neighborhood of the famous Bourbon Street. It will undoubtedly be the most packed.
But that shouldn't mean the rest of the city should be ignored. TimeOut has an excellent summary of all what's happening beyond Bourbon Street.
The full parade schedule can be found here.
Mardis Gras season is huge for the New Orleans tourist industry. About 1 million visitors come into the area every season and a 2004 study estimates it has a $225 million economic impact, according to CBS News.
Those tourists include a string of celebrities coming into the city for the holiday. Maroon 5 will be performing with the parade on Saturday night, actor Will Ferrell will ride as the king of Bacchus on Sunday night and rocker Bret Michael will sing at the Orpheus Monday with Grammy-winning singer Cyndi Lauper, according to The Associated Press.