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The World of Mardi Gras

Febbraio 2017
Negli Stati Uniti il carnevale è sinonimo di New Orleans. I festeggiamenti iniziano a gennaio ma il culmine è la Mardi Gras parade: una gioia per gli occhi tra carri, costumi e colori. Se non riuscite a essere in Louisiana per quel giorno, nessun problema: potrete sempre visitare il Mardi Gras World, il luogo in cui vengono creati (ed esposti) i fantastici carri.

di Talitha Linehan

File audio:

Speaker: Chuck Rolando (Standard American accent)

Mardi Gras is an international celebration, but in the US, it is synonymous with one city: New Orleans. Mardi Gras New Orleans has many weeks of parades and festivities. The celebrations start in early January and culminate on Mardi Gras Day, which is on February 28th this year.


The first known Mardi Gras parade in New Orleans was in 1837. Today, groups called “krewes” organize the parades. Each parade has a specific theme and consists of up to 40 elaborate floats. And each float costs thousands of dollars and takes an entire year to create. During the parades, members of the krewes occupy the floats and throw beads to the spectators. There’s music, dancing and alcohol: it’s one incredible party!


You can only see the parades during Mardi Gras, but you can see the floats any time of the year, by visiting Mardi Gras World. This is a tourist attraction in Gretna, Louisiana, across the Mississippi River from New Orleans. It is operated by Kern Studios, which has been building Mardi Gras floats since 1947 and now builds more than 400 floats a year.
Visitors to Mardi Gras World watch a video presentation and explore the 300,000-square-foot warehouse.
There they can watch people building the floats while a tour guide explains the process. They can also try on a traditional Mardi Gras costume and take fun photographs.


Everyone who goes on the tour gets a slice of King Cake. Mardi Gras is originally a French celebration – “Mardi Gras” is French for “Fat Tuesday” because it was the last day when Christians could eat rich and delicious foods before Lent – and King Cake is a traditional French cake. People in New Orleans eat hundreds of thousands of King Cakes during Mardi Gras, and many families and communities have King Cake parties. The cake comes in different varieties. It normally has a small plastic baby, representing Baby Jesus, inside. The baby is a symbol of prosperity and good fortune. The person who finds it is designated the King or Queen. In some cases, they must buy next year’s cake or organize the next Mardi Gras party.

(Mardi Gras World is open every day and a one-hour tour starts every 30 minutes. You can get a free bus there from Downtown New Orleans. For more information, visit mardigrasworld.com). 

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