Mad, Wonderful Photos From Mardi Gras and Carnival

From New Orleans to Panama to Spain, revelers celebrated Mardi Gras and the days leading up to it with costumes, color and craziness

Masked men known as "gilles" (here pictured without their masks) march through the city of Binche, Belgium, on the Tuesday before Lent. The festival dates back to the 14th century, though its origins are unclear. Only permanent residents of Binche can wear the costume. © Frederik Sadones/Demotix/Corbis
Panamanians celebrate Carnival with a parade of floats, music and folkloric dance troupes along Avenida Balboa in Panama City the Monday before Mardi Gras. Carnival Queen Onissis Samaniego led the celebrations. © Camilo Delgado Castilla/Demotix/Corbis
Carnival celebrations in Rio de Janeiro attract millions of spectators each year. Cultural groups, known as samba schools, prepare all year for a multi-day parade, which takes place in a stadium built for the occasion. © Peter Bauza/ZUMA Press/Corbis
The Spanish village of Luzon celebrates the Carnival tradition of "Diablos de Luzon." Carrying bull horns, their faces covered in oil and soot, the "diablos" represent the devil. The tradition is believed to have originated in the 14th century. © Splash News/Splash News/Corbis
A woman blows a kiss during the annual Carnival parade in Sitges, Spain. © Joan Valls/Demotix/Corbis
A man sticks out his tongue as he rides a float during the annual Carnival parade in Sitges, Spain. © Joan Valls/Demotix/Corbis
A reveler performs during the Carnival parade in Sitges, Spain. © Matthias Oesterle/ZUMA Press/Corbis
Feathered dancers perform during Carnival in Sitges, Spain. © Matthias Oesterle/ZUMA Wire
Fictitious Catalan figures known as "carnestoltes" dance in the street during the Carnival parade in Sitges, Spain. © Matthias Oesterle/ZUMA Wire
Men dressed up as Elvis Presley ride motorized bikes in New Orleans' satirical Krewe of Muses parade the Thursday before Mardi Gras. © Dennis Persica/Demotix/Corbis
Children celebrate Carnival in Sitges, Spain. © Matthias Oesterle/ZUMA Wire
Carnival performers in Rio de Janeiro pose as period paintings. © Peter Bauza/ZUMA Wire
A bejeweled Carnival performer in Rio de Janeiro. © Peter Bauza/ZUMA Wire
Masked performers pose against the blue of Venice's Grand Canal during Carnival. © A Fraioli/Splash News/Corbis
Actress Maria Rosaria Omaggio plays the part of 17th-century Queen Christina of Sweden during Rome's Mardi Gras event in Piazza del Popolo, the main square of the city. Christina abdicated her throne, converted to Catholicism and spent her final days as a pensioner of the Pope. Carnival participants dressed in period costumes, flag-bearers, drummers and historical reenactment groups complete the procession. © Stefano Montesi/Demotix/Corbis
Each Mardi Gras, the village of Lantz, Spain, celebrates the arrest, trial and death at the stake of the legendary evil bandit Miel Otxin. Here the bandit is paraded through town. © Mikel Cia Da Riva/Demotix/Corbis
Drama graces Venice during the last days of Carnival. © Matteo Chinellato/XianPix/Corbis
A woman dressed to resemble Momotxorro—a local mythical animal with the head of bull and the body of a man—drinks from a pouch before the Carnival parade in Alsasua, Navarra, Spain. © Mikel Cia Da Riva/Demotix/Corbis
A "chirigota" choir performs on a street corner in Cádiz, Spain. © Pascal Saez/Demotix/Corbis
A member of the Zulu organization, the oldest predominantly African-American Carnival club in New Orleans, dances while riding his float during celebrations for Mardi Gras. © Dennis Persica/Demotix/Corbis
Rome's Mardis Gras celebration features old-time pageantry. © Mario (Tonsoffun) Rimati/Demotix/Corbis
A choir performs in Cádiz, Spain for Carnival. The Carnival of Cádiz is immensely popular among locals and attracts visitors from all over Spain. "Chirigotas" and "comparsas" (choirs of local people) perform witty satirical songs on streets and squares. © Pascal Saez/Demotix/Corbis
A purple pair celebrates Carnival in Maastricht, Limburg, Netherlands. © Thierry Tronnel/Corbis
The Cojuelos Devils of the Dominican Republic participate in Panama City's Carnival parade along Avenida Balboa. © Camilo Delgado Castilla/Demotix/Corbis
A reveler performs during the Carnival parade in Sitges, Spain. Hundreds of participants in colorful costumes accompany decorated floats and make their way through the town's streets. © Matthias Oesterle/ZUMA Wire

This week, people around the world celebrated the conclusion of Carnival and the start of the fasting period before Easter. The festivities ranged in character, but all emphasized spectacle. Enjoy this collection of photos of Carnival and Mardi Gras traditions from around the world, and read more about pre-Lent celebrations here.