Yes, New Orleans is the nexus of originality, creativity, and excitement during the carnival season. When hundreds of thousands of Mardi Gras beads take to the air and fanciful floats take to the streets with their colorful Mardi Gras decorations and costumed riders, good vibes and an attitude of acceptance fill the hearts of people of all ages. If you are not a native of Louisiana, you may not realize that Mardi Gras is also celebrated in nearby towns and cities of South Louisiana as well.
One place where Mardi Gras is embraced is an hour or so away in Baton Rouge, which hosts several parades and balls. This holiday in Baton Rouge is not so much a tourist affair as it is a long-standing tradition enjoyed by locals. Although the Mardi Gras masks, costumes, parties, Mardi Gras hats, parade themes and collectible throws tend to be more family-friendly than those found in New Orleans, there is still a huge contribution made by the thousands of Louisiana State University students that populate the state capital. Families and LSU students alike enjoy the parades; then, when the young ‘uns set out for home with their parents, the myriad bars and nightclubs of Baton Rouge continue the revelry in the spirit of carnival.
In addition to events in Baton Rouge, there are unique Cajun Mardi Gras celebrations that happen in the nearby parishes. Often these small community revelries are steeped more in the French traditions of Acadiana than they are in the customs of Creole New Orleans. Both styles are based on the Catholic traditions of European ancestors, and both are equally valid. In either case, all the best things about Mardi Gras still abound in surrounding parts of South Louisiana during this much anticipated season. All around is hospitality, camaraderie, acceptance, and a jovial spirit that can be remembered all year long.