Our local version of Mardi Gras, the Carnaval de Carcassonne occurred over the weekend of February 15 (a few weeks early from the traditional Fat Tuesday – Shrove Tuesday start of Lent.) It was a wonderful combination of Burning Man, Carnival, and a Disney Parade starting at the town square of Place Carnot, through the streets of La Bastide, down the Rue de Verdun, across Square Gambetta, down Boulevard Camille Pelletan to a final bonfire with masked ball under the stars starring five different bands at Le Dome. There were an amazing variety of costumes (ranging from medieval traditional, outrageous, risqué, modern, and child friendly), music, singing, dancing, with lots and lots of confetti along the way. (Tracy is still finding confetti that made it home.)
While not nearly as big as Mardi Gras in New Orleans, Carnival in Venice, or Carnival in Rio; the celebration had a “home town” flavor (like “Jack’s Carnival” or “Hometown Christmas” in Sparks, Nevada) and was major fun enjoyed by children and adults alike. The expected crowd was in excess of 16,000 people.
While the Carnival in Nice, Rio, New Orleans, and Venice are world-renowned, this was an exceptional event to attend especially because of the intimacy of a being a local celebration in a smaller city.