The Best Places to Celebrate Mardi Gras Outside of New Orleans

The Big Easy might get all the fame, but places from Alabama to the south of France also know how to party before Lent

Souvenir Dolls, New Orleans, Louisiana. (© Ed Gifford/Masterfile/Corbis)
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Sydney, Australia

In Sydney, Mardi Gras is more than a celebration before the beginning of Lent—it's a chance for Australia's LGBTQI community to come together to "inspire the world to love each other by celebrating the power and beauty of diversity." Today, the event is widely popular both within and outside of the LGBTQI community, drawing thousands of visitors to Sydney in the weeks before Mardi Gras to take part in city-wide celebrations. But the first event in 1978 faced violent police opposition, as Sydney police arrested and allegedly beat 53 participants in the first Pride Parade. 

The violent reaction toward the parade helped influence a series of civil rights legislation, with the parliament of New South Wales revoking a piece of legislation that had allowed the arrests to be made and replacing it with a new Public Assemblies Act that allowed Sydney residents to gather in demonstration without a permit. The act paved the way for the modern Mardi Gras celebrations and parades, which gained popularity throughout the early 1980s. 

Today, the highlight of the event is the Mardi Gras parade, always held on the first Sunday in March. The parade is one of the world's largest LGBTQI events, with around 10,000 participants and nearly 150 floats. After the parade, the city hosts a party that has been known to end at 8 a.m. 

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