Cities around the world are set to celebrate Mardi Gras today, the final day before the Christian fasting and religious observance period of Lent begins. Mardi Gras is the culmination of Carnival season, which officially begins Jan. 6 every year—the 12th day after Christmas—and ends the day before Ash Wednesday.
New Orleans is considered the home to the best-known Fat Tuesday festivities in the US, with at least 1 million visitors typically flocking to the city and helping to bring in up to $1B in revenue. (Although Mobile, Alabama, claims to have hosted the first Mardi Gras celebrations in the US.) The revelries also generate thousands of pounds of discarded beads; in 2018, New Orleans said it had found over 92,000 pounds of beads in its storm drains along five blocks of a parade route.
New Orleans' Mardi Gras-focused social clubs, known as krewes (see overview), will culminate Carnival season today with several parades featuring elaborate floats, including by the famous krewes of Rex and Zulu. Watch a livestream of the event here (10 am ET). See how some of the floats are made here.