What: Mardi Gras

Where: New Orleans, US

When: February 24

Like Rio de Janeiro’s Carnival, the annual Mardi Gras in New Orleans is one of those colourful festivals that’s worth making a long-haul plane trip for.

New Orleans’ first Mardi Gras was held way back in 1703, and in 2006 it was celebrated just six months after Hurricane Katrina devastated the city.

Festivities take place during the weeks leading up to the actual day of Mardi Gras, including spectacular balls, while on the day itself there are numerous parades right across the city.

They’re lavish affairs, organised by “krewes”, each with their own traditions and colour, but they will all throw trinkets into the crowd — keep your hands ready!

Best of all, Mardi Gras is free.

While there’s a tendency for some dodgy types to hock “official” merchandise or tickets, there’s no such thing.

There are some private balls and parties but Mardi Gras is essentially a giant, open-to-all street party of which New Orleanians are justly proud.
See www.mardigrasneworleans.com