Mardi Gras Exposed

The center of the Mardi Gras universe, New Orleans basks in revelry, as parades, parties and beads blanket the Big Easy in a big way.

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Rex Parade for Mardi Gras
Here Comes Alice

Here Comes Alice

Partygoers and parade bystanders get excited as a float -- paying homage to the fairytale Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland -- rolls down Canal Street for the Rex parade. New Orleans lights up with excitement every year for Mardi Gras or Fat Tuesday, the day before Ash Wednesday, the first day of Lent. Mardi Gras started in Louisiana in the late 17th century when the area was under French colonial rule. 960 1280

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Rex, the King of Carnival

Rex, the King of Carnival

Rex, the King of Carnival, parades down St. Charles Avenue during the Mardi Gras parade. 960 1280

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Rex Parade

Rex Parade

The Rex parade, pictured here, is one of New Orleans’ most celebrated Mardi Gras parades. It’s led by an organization (The School of Design), which chooses one member every year to wear the honorary title “Rex.” The distinction is one of the highest honors a person can receive in New Orleans. 960 1280

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Have Some Beads

Have Some Beads

Members of the Rex organization toss beads from a float to revelers. 960 1280

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Zulu Parade

Zulu Parade

Catch the beads! A large crowd reaches up for beads as a Zulu parade float -- one of the more controversial parade participants, because of their exaggerated blackface -- rolls down New Orleans’ Canal Street on Mardi Gras. 960 1280

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Mardi Gras Colors

Mardi Gras Colors

Two revelers pass by a home before a Mardi Gras parade. Those decorations you see -- beads, ribbons, masks and streamers -- come in traditional Mardi Gras colors: green (symbolizing faith), gold (power) and purple (justice). 960 1280

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Bourbon Street

Bourbon Street

Crowds flock to Bourbon Street in the French Quarter during Mardi Gras Day. The annual Mardi Gras celebration ends at midnight, when the Catholic Lenten season begins on Ash Wednesday and ends on Easter Sunday. 960 1280

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St. Charles Avenue

St. Charles Avenue

Joe Perez with the Mondo Kayo Social and Marching Club parades down St. Charles Avenue in the French Quarter. 960 1280

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Mardi Gras Faces

Mardi Gras Faces

Members of the Zulu Social Aid and Pleasure Club ride on a float during the Mardi Gras parade. 960 1280

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Krewe of Zulu

Krewe of Zulu

A reveler with the Krewe of Zulu parades down St. Charles Avenue. 960 1280

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Marching Club

Marching Club

Members of the Mondo Kayo Marching Club dance down St. Charles Avenue. 960 1280

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Go, Saints!

Go, Saints!

New Orleans Saints fans dance to the beat of the famous song "When the Saints Go Marching In" at a bar on Bourbon Street. 960 1280

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French Quarter

French Quarter

Mardi Gras participants beg for beads to be tossed from a balcony in the French Quarter. 960 1280

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March Down St. Charles

March Down St. Charles

One of the main Mardi Gras parade routes, St. Charles Avenue is also home to an active business district. Here, members of the Krewe of Zulu ditch the corporate look for a vibrant march down the avenue. 960 1280

Reuters  

Grab a Mask

Grab a Mask

A little drizzle can’t keep these revelers from celebrating Mardi Gras in New Orleans’ French Quarter. 960 1280

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Mardi Gras Dance

Mardi Gras Dance

A reveler dances in his festive tent dress and elaborate costume during Mardi Gras festivities in New Orleans. 960 1280

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'80s Flashback

'80s Flashback

NOLA’s Mardi Gras attracts hundreds of people, including celebrities like '80s singer Cyndi Lauper, caught on camera heading to her float for the Krewe of Orpheus parade. 960 1280

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Krewe of Proteus

Krewe of Proteus

At the Krewe of Proteus parade, an excited crowd waits for people -- on top of this illuminated float -- to throw more beads to bystanders. 960 1280

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Mardi Gras   18 Photos

Photos

Venice Carnival

Venice Carnival

Masked participants stand in St. Mark’s Square during the Carnival festivities in Venice, Italy. Carnival traditionally commemorates the passing of winter, with parties, costumes and balls, in the run-up to the Christian observation of Lent. 960 1280

Franco Origlia/Getty Images  

Sail on the Rio Canareggio

Sail on the Rio Canareggio

Boats carrying Carnival participants sail on the Rio Canareggio during a boat parade in Venice, Italy. 960 1280

Marco Di Lauro/Getty Images  

Mardi Gras in New Orleans

Mardi Gras in New Orleans

Revelers beg for beads to be tossed from a balcony in the French Quarter during Mardi Gras in New Orleans. The annual Mardi Gras celebration ends at midnight, when the Catholic Lenten season begins on Ash Wednesday and ends on Easter Sunday. 960 1280

Pat Semansky  

Carnival in Croatia

Carnival in Croatia

Bellmen ring their bells to chase evil spirits of winter away at the International Carnival Parade in Croatia's Adriatic port city of Rijeka. 960 1280

Reuters/Nikola Solic  

Satire on Parade

Satire on Parade

Former Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi is depicted as a sultan on a float  during a Carnival parade in Viareggio, Italy. This version of Carnival is characterized by political and religious satire. 960 1280

Reuters/Marco Bucco  

Carnival with a Chinese Twist

Carnival with a Chinese Twist

A red dragon and Chinese masks are seen on a float during a Carnival parade in Viareggio, Italy. 960 1280

Reuters/Marco Bucco  

Carnival in Rio

Carnival in Rio

A reveler on one of the Salgueiro samba school's floats participates in the first night of the Carnival parade in Rio de Janeiro. 960 1280

Christophe Simon/AFP/Getty Images  

Samba at Carnival

Samba at Carnival

A member of the Mocidade samba school participates in the second night of the Carnival parade in the Sambadrome in Rio de Janeiro. 960 1280

Reuters/Sergio Moraes  

Carnival in Greece

Carnival in Greece

Carnival participants perform at Athens' suburb of Moschato during a parade marking Carnival celebrations. Many towns throughout Greece stage festivities attended by thousands of people with celebrations peaking on March 17. 960 1280

Reuters  

Carnival in Panama

Carnival in Panama

A fire-eater performs in Panama City, Panama. Panama is one of several Latin American countries, such as Brazil, that celebrate Carnival -- the pre-Lenten festival that mixes Catholic and -pagan rituals. 960 1280

Reuters/Alberto Lowe  

Carnival Fun for All

Carnival Fun for All

Little Manuel Aguilar tries to borrow local Maria Pascual's headwear during Panama's Carnival celebration. Panamanians closed their offices to enjoy a 4-day Carnival spree. 960 1280

Reuters  

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