For many people, when they think about Mardi Gras celebrations, they think New Orleans. That’s understandable because it’s usually the Big Easy’s iconic festivities that are associated with the carnival season in America. Many historians believe that the earliest Mardi Gras took place on March 3, 1699, when French explorers landed near what would become New Orleans, dubbed the area Point du Mardi Gras, and held a small celebration there. However, the first organized carnival in America actually occurred in Mobile, Alabama in 1703, 15 years before New Orleans was founded. And in 1830, it was Mobile that hosted the first formally organized Mardi Gras parade in the Unites States.
Today Mobile, Alabama, has one of the longest carnival celebrations in the country; this year’s festivities began in January and will conclude on February 17th, Fat Tuesday. (For those who follow Catholic traditions, Fat Tuesday is the last day to indulge before Ash Wednesday kicks off the solemn weeks of fasting and restraint of Lent.) > Mobile Mardi Gras website
During this time, the streets of downtown Mobile teem with spectacular floats, marching bands, masked revelers, balcony parties, and, of course, “throws”. After all, no Mardi Gras celebration would be complete without beaded necklaces, trinkets, and moon pies being tossed and caught by the enthusiastic crowd! On top of that, many venues around town offer their own events, including costumed and formal balls, all types of fun parties, concerts…something for everyone!
Because Mobile’s carnival season is so spread out, you can enjoy the city’s other attractions without being constantly bogged down by revelers, making it an ideal way for visitors to not only enjoy one of the best Mardi Gras celebrations in the country, but also to experience the many charms of this wonderfully diverse city. Besides its rich history, Mobile has great shopping, spectacular restaurants, one of the largest concentrations of historic architecture in America, and is one of the country’s most thriving cultural centers, with museums, art galleries, a symphony orchestra, a professional opera company, and so much more.
Add to that the nice, temperate weather, and visiting Mobile during this time of year should be on everyone’s to-do list, whether it’s to catch her world class Mardi Gras, some culture, or both!