Happy Mardi Gas! It's that time of year again. After the sweet tooth indulgence of Valentine's Day and before Lent's fasting period, celebratory parades full of colorful beads, authentic food and ethnic music are held. If you're wondering where today's parties and festivities are taking place, here's a quick rundown.

When is Mardi Gras? This year's Fat Tuesday celebration falls on Feb. 21, the day before Ash Wednesday. However, visitors who wish to partake in the official festivities usually arrive in New Orleans by Saturday, Feb. 18 in order to catch all the activities.  Parades begin as early as Feb. 4 in the city's French Quarter, but the biggest celebration is the culmination of festivities the day prior to Ash Wednesday on Feb 21.

Where is Mardi Gras?  Mardi Gras takes place in the ethnically rich city of New Orleans in Louisiana. Today's parades and performances began as early as 8 a.m. and continue throughout the day, beginning uptown, circling through Metairie, and concluding in the original area. The full parade schedule is available here.

How many parades are held during Mardi Gras? Although pre-parades occur earlier in the month, on Mardi Gras itself there are seven parades in total. These include the Krewe of Zulu, Krewe of Rex, Krewe of Argus, Krewe of Elks Jefferson, Krewe of Jefferson, Krewe of Elks Orleans, and Krewe of Crescent City.

Whether you're spending Mardi Gras in New Orleans or your own home, cook up some jambalaya, throw some colorful beads, and enjoy the celebration!