Best and Worst Bets for a Great Mardi Gras Celebration

Our take on the celebrations in Venice...and South Dakota

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Today is Fat Tuesday, also known as Shrove Tuesday or the last day before the start of Lent. It is also the height of world-wide Mardi Gras and Carnival celebrations. New Orleans and Rio de Janiero have long been identified as the undisputed places to be on this day of brightly colored costumes, parades, and non-stop dancing. But over the years, cities around the world have joined in the festivities, creating traditions of their own. Some of these celebrations, however, look a bit more exciting than others. So, in honor of Mardi Gras, Carnival, or whatever you want to call it, we've compiled a completely unscientific list of what sound to us like the best and worst celebrations taking place today.

The Best:

  • Barranquilla, Colombia

[Photo: AP Images]

This coastal Colombian city knows how to celebrate. Barranquilla's carnival was honored by UNESCO in 2003 as a World Masterpiece of the Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity. For four days every year, the city shuts down and masked locals take to the streets in a colorful continuum of parades and parties.

  • Venice, Italy

[Photo: AP Images]

The Venetian carnival is one of the world's longer celebrations, beginning two weeks before Fat Tuesday. The city's festivities have historically attracted party-goers both from Europe's artistocracy and it's lower classes, allowing for a once-a-year mixing of the two societies under the guise of costumes and traditional masks.

  • Mobile, Alabama

[Photo: AP Images]

Not far from New Orleans, this Alabama city claims to be the original birth place of Mardi Gras in the United States. Today, it is regarded as one of the best Mardi Gras celebrations outside the Big Easy, but differentiates itself by boasting family-friendliness. "In New Orleans, women are known to flash riders to obtain beads," writes KLTV's Joseph Neese. "That's something you're unlikely to see in Mobile."

The Worst:

  • Deadwood, South Dakota

While no one at the Wire has yet attended Deadwood's two-day adaptation of Mardi Gras, a quick look at this year's schedule, despite an enticing photo from last year's festivities, suggests that we probably never will. Still, with open containers allowed on Main Street between Four Aces and the Masonic Temple from 5 to 10 pm, who is to say this year's party won't rival New Orleans's? Okay, maybe we're just making fun of the fact it's in South Dakota. In fairness, the Cajun Cook-Off and Cake Decorating are probably a lot of fun.

  • St. Andrews, Florida

[Screenshot, NBC 7 Panama City]

NBC 7 in Panama City reports that 70,000 people are expected to show up for St. Andrews' Mardi Gras celebration. Still, one local commenter recalled having "the worst experience of [her] life" at one of the main locales on the schedule. "What a dump!" she wrote. We have to admit, the phrase "the St. Andrews teen sensation trio," used to describe a group performing at the event, doesn't make us optimistic.

  • Seattle, Washington

[Photo: Paul Kitagaki Jr./SeattlePI]

In 2001, violent riots during Seattle's Mardi Gras resulted in several injuries, arrests, and even deaths, prompting the city's mayor at the time to declare: "there will be no more Fat Tuesday." But Seattle hasn't been able to give up this party easily, and as of last night a local city paper made note of some "small, violent protests" that had been taking place in the weeks leading up to today. Seattle police, equipt with extra patrols, are on guard and "ready for anything." Great to know, but probably a better idea to skip this party altogether.

This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.