New Orleans isn't the only city with elaborate and uproarious Mardi Gras festivities

Every year, 12 days after Christmas, the real parties start in New Orleans. Revelers do their best wise men impressions, gorging on King Cakes, adorned in beads while watching parade floats sweep down Bourbon Street. The fest leads to fever pitch on Fat Tuesday.

The annual festival has become uniquely American over time, but the origins of Mardi Gras can be traced to 'Boeuf Gras' in medieval France. 'Boeuf Gras,' or fat ox, is a festival where meaty bulls are crowned with flowers and ribbons and paraded through the city to the sound of drums. French explorers Iberville and Bienville took this unique tradition to what would eventually become Louisiana in 1699, where it survived Spanish rule and the Louisiana Purchase.

Although beads and debauchery float to the front of Americans' minds when thinking of pre-Lent celebrations, there are equally as memorable festivals taking place around the world before fasting begins.

Since the 13th century, Venetians have vanished behind masks, banishing their Christian guilt to anonymous gamble, pursued forbidden love and entered convents without being caught. The use of masks was so widespread that by 1608, a decree was passed that forbade citizens to wear masks expect during Carnival. Visitors today are transported back to 18th century Italy when Saint Mark's Square is filled with elaborate baroque outfits of beads, feathers and brocades.

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Pre-lent Mardi Gras festivals from around the world 2017
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Pre-lent Mardi Gras festivals from around the world 2017
A masked reveller poses during the Venice Carnival in Venice, Italy February 20, 2017. REUTERS/Fabrizio Bensch
Masked revellers pose during the Venice Carnival in Venice, Italy February 18, 2017. REUTERS/Fabrizio Bensch
A woman dressed as an "angel" descends on Saint Mark's Square during the Venice Carnival, Italy February 19, 2017. REUTERS/Alessandro Bianchi TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY
Masked reveller poses during the Venice Carnival in Venice, Italy February 20, 2017. REUTERS/Fabrizio Bensch
Masked revellers pose during the Venice Carnival in Venice, Italy February 20, 2017. REUTERS/Fabrizio Bensch
VENICE, ITALY - FEBRUARY 26: Performers with costumes pose for a photo during the Venice Carnival in Venice, Italy on January 26, 2017. (Photo by Baris Seckin/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
A reveller poses in Saint Mark's Square during the Venice Carnival, in Venice, Italy February 19, 2017. REUTERS/Alessandro Bianchi TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY
A reveller poses with a mask during the Carnival in Venice, Italy February 18, 2017. REUTERS/Fabrizio Bensch
This picture taken through a glass shows revellers dressed in masks and period costumes taking part at the Venice Carnival on February 19, 2017 in Venice. / AFP / Alberto PIZZOLI (Photo credit should read ALBERTO PIZZOLI/AFP/Getty Images)
VENICE, ITALY - FEBRUARY 19: An actress performs in Saint Mark's Square ahead of the Volo dell'Angelo on February 19, 2017 in Venice, Italy. The 2017 Carnival of Venice will run from 11 to 28 February and includes a program of gala dinners, parades, dances, masked balls and music events. Photo by Awakening/Getty Images) (Photo by Awakening/Getty Images)
VENICE, ITALY - FEBRUARY 18: The Marie pose during the traditional parade of '12 beautiful Venetian girls' that forms part of the Festa delle Marie in St Mark's Square on February 18, 2017 in Venice, Italy. The 'Festa delle Marie' commemorates the abduction of 12 Venetians girls in year 973. The 2017 Carnival of Venice will run from 11 to 28 February and includes a program of gala dinners, parades, dances, masked balls and music events. (Photo by Awakening/Getty Images)
VENICE, ITALY - FEBRUARY 12: Rowers dressed with costumes take part in the traditional regatta on the Grand Canal on February 12, 2017 in Venice, Italy. The 2017 Carnival of Venice will run from 11 to 28 February and includes a program of gala dinners, parades, dances, masked balls and music events. (Photo by Awakening/Getty Images)
VENICE, ITALY - FEBRUARY 12: Rowers wearing costumes sail along the Grand Canal for the Carnival Regatta on the opening day of the Venice Carnival on February 12, 2017 in Venice, Italy. The 2017 Carnival of Venice will run from 11 to 28 February and includes a program of gala dinners, parades, dances, masked balls and music events. (Photo by Awakening/Getty Images)
ORURO, BOLIVIA - FEBRUARY 25: Tobas' dancers perform as part of Oruro Carnival 2017 on February 25, 2017 in Oruro, Bolivia. Oruro Carnival is one of Bolivia's most important cultural traditions and has been proclamed as one of UNESCO's 'Masterpieces of the Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity'. (Photo by Jose Luis Quintana/LatinContent/Getty Images)
ORURO, BOLIVIA - FEBRUARY 25: Dancers perform 'La Morenada' as part of Oruro Carnival 2017 on February 25, 2017 in Oruro, Bolivia. Oruro Carnival is one of Bolivia's most important cultural traditions and has been proclamed as one of UNESCO's 'Masterpieces of the Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity'. (Photo by Jose Luis Quintana/LatinContent/Getty Images)
ORURO, BOLIVIA - FEBRUARY 25: A Negritos del Pagador dancer performs as part of Oruro Carnival 2017 on February 25, 2017 in Oruro, Bolivia. Oruro Carnival is one of Bolivia's most important cultural traditions and has been proclamed as one of UNESCO's 'Masterpieces of the Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity'. (Photo by Jose Luis Quintana/LatinContent/Getty Images)
ORURO, BOLIVIA - FEBRUARY 25: A dancer performs as part of Oruro Carnival 2017 on February 25, 2017 in Oruro, Bolivia. Oruro Carnival is one of Bolivia's most important cultural traditions and has been proclamed as one of UNESCO's 'Masterpieces of the Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity'. (Photo by Jose Luis Quintana/LatinContent/Getty Images)
Members of Diablada group perform during the carnival parade in Oruro, Bolivia February 25, 2017. REUTERS/David Mercado
A Kusillo, member of Waca Waca group performs during the carnival parade in Oruro, Bolivia February 25, 2017. REUTERS/David Mercado
Revellers performs on the second night of Rio's Carnival at the Sambadrome in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, early on February 28, 2017. (Photo by GIlson Borba/NurPhoto via Getty Images)
Revellers perform on the second night of Rio's Carnival at the Sambadrome in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, early on February 28, 2017. (Photo by Gilson Borba/NurPhoto via Getty Images)
TOPSHOT - Revellers of the Sao Clemente samba school perform during the second night of Rio's Carnival at the Sambadrome in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, on February 27, 2017. / AFP / Yasuyoshi CHIBA (Photo credit should read YASUYOSHI CHIBA/AFP/Getty Images)
Revellers of the Sao Clemente samba school perform during the second night of Rio's Carnival at the Sambadrome in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, on February 27, 2017. / AFP / Yasuyoshi CHIBA (Photo credit should read YASUYOSHI CHIBA/AFP/Getty Images)
Revellers of Beija-Flor perform during the first night of Rio's Carnival at the Sambadrome in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, early on February 27, 2017. / AFP / Yasuyoshi Chiba (Photo credit should read YASUYOSHI CHIBA/AFP/Getty Images)
A performer dances during Salgueiro performance at the Rio de Janeiro Carnival at Sambodromo on February 26, 2017 in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. (Photo by Gilson Borba/NurPhoto via Getty Images)
A performer dances during Salgueiro performance at the Rio de Janeiro Carnival at Sambodromo on February 26, 2017 in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. (Photo by Gilson Borba/NurPhoto via Getty Images)
Revellers from Mangueira samba school perform during the second night of the carnival parade at the Sambadrome in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil February 28, 2017. REUTERS/Pilar Olivares
Revellers from Mocidade samba school perform during the second night of the carnival parade at the Sambadrome in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil February 28, 2017. REUTERS/Sergio Moraes
A reveller from Sao Clemente samba school performs during the second night of the carnival parade at the Sambadrome in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil February 27, 2017. REUTERS/Sergio Moraes
Revellers from Uniao da Ilha samba school perform during the second night of the carnival parade at the Sambadrome in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil February 27, 2017. REUTERS/Ricardo Moraes
A reveller from Beija-Flor samba school performs during the carnival parade at the Sambadrome in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil February 27, 2017. REUTERS/Ricardo Moraes
A reveller from the Grande Rio samba school performs during the carnival parade at the Sambadrome in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, February 27, 2017. REUTERS/Pilar Olivares
People take part in a Carnival parade in Sao Paulo, Brazil, on February 21, 2017. (Photo by Cris Faga/NurPhoto via Getty Images)
RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL - FEBRUARY 19: Revellers dance during a pre-Carnival washing ritual called Lavagem at the Sambodrome on February 19, 2017 in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. The ceremony is meant to deliver positive spirit and luck during Carnival celebrations. Carnival begins February 24th amidst a deep recession following the Rio 2016 Olympic Games. (Photo by Mario Tama/Getty Images)
Revellers dance as they take part in the annual "Marry me" carnival block parade in the main street in Sao Paulo, Brazil February 18, 2017. REUTERS/Paulo Whitaker
Revellers dance as they take part in the annual "Marry me" carnival block parade in a main street in Sao Paulo, Brazil February 18, 2017. REUTERS//Paulo Whitaker
A young reveller participates in the annual Trinidad and Tobago Red Cross Society's Children's Carnival Competition at the Queen's Park Savannah in Port-Of-Spain, Trinidad and Tobago February 18, 2017. REUTERS/Andrea De Silva TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY
A young reveller participates in the annual Trinidad and Tobago Red Cross Society's Children's Carnival Competition at the Queen's Park Savannah in Port-Of-Spain, Trinidad and Tobago February 18, 2017. REUTERS/Andrea De Silva
A young reveller participates in the annual Trinidad and Tobago Red Cross Society's Children's Carnival Competition at the Queen's Park Savannah in Port-Of-Spain, Trinidad and Tobago February 18, 2017. REUTERS/Andrea De Silva
Musicians practice before the annual brass band festival to kick off pre-Carnival festivities in Oruro, Bolivia,February 17, 2017.Picture takes with fish eye lens. REUTERS/David Mercado
ORURO, BOLIVIA - FEBRERO 18: Musicians from 52 folkloric ensembles perform during the Oruro Band Festival in honour to the Pachamama (Mother Earth) as part of the Oruro Carnival at Plaza Civica on February 18, 2017 in Oruro, Bolivia. Oruros carnival is one of the most important religious celebrations of Bolivia and South America and has been declared Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity by Unesco. (Photo by Jose Luis Quintana/LatinContent/Getty Images)
MAINZ, GERMANY - FEBRUARY 21: A carnival float featuring the reformist theologian Martin Luther and the 500th anniversary of the Reformation pictured at the MCV (Mainzer Carneval-Verein 1838 e.V.) carnival association on February 21, 2017 in Mainz, Germany. Political satire is a traditional cornerstone of the annual parades and the ascension of Donald Trump to the U.S. presidency, the rise of the populist far-right across Europe and the upcoming national elections in Germany are providing rich fodder for float designers this year. The traditional Rose Monday parades will take place in cities including Mainz, Dusseldorf and Cologne on February 27. (Photo by Thomas Lohnes/Getty Images)
MAINZ, GERMANY - FEBRUARY 21: A carnival float featuring an effigy Julia Kloeckner, the Chairman of the CDU of Rhineland Palatinate, and the money scandal pictured during a press preview at the MCV (Mainzer Carneval-Verein 1838 e.V.) carnival association on February 21, 2017 in Mainz, Germany. Political satire is a traditional cornerstone of the annual parades and the ascension of Donald Trump to the U.S. presidency, the rise of the populist far-right across Europe and the upcoming national elections in Germany are providing rich fodder for float designers this year. The traditional Rose Monday parades will take place in cities including Mainz, Dusseldorf and Cologne on February 27. (Photo by Thomas Lohnes/Getty Images)
MAINZ, GERMANY - FEBRUARY 21: (EDITORS NOTE: Image contains profanity.) A carnival float featuring the 'Brexit', Great Britain and the relation to the EU pictured during a press preview at the MCV (Mainzer Carneval-Verein 1838 e.V.) carnival association on February 21, 2017 in Mainz, Germany. Political satire is a traditional cornerstone of the annual parades and the ascension of Donald Trump to the U.S. presidency, the rise of the populist far-right across Europe and the upcoming national elections in Germany are providing rich fodder for float designers this year. The traditional Rose Monday parades will take place in cities including Mainz, Dusseldorf and Cologne on February 27. (Photo by Thomas Lohnes/Getty Images)
MAINZ, GERMANY - FEBRUARY 21: A member of the MCV takes a picture of an effigy of U.S. President Donald Trump at a carnival float at the MCV (Mainzer Carneval-Verein 1838 e.V.) carnival association on February 21, 2017 in Mainz, Germany. Political satire is a traditional cornerstone of the annual parades and the ascension of Donald Trump to the U.S. presidency, the rise of the populist far-right across Europe and the upcoming national elections in Germany are providing rich fodder for float designers this year. The traditional Rose Monday parades will take place in cities including Mainz, Dusseldorf and Cologne on February 27. (Photo by Thomas Lohnes/Getty Images)
Members of the Mondo Kayo Social and Marching Club parade down St. Charles Avenue on Mardi Gras in New Orleans, Louisiana February 17, 2015. REUTERS/Jonathan Bachman (UNITED STATES - Tags: SOCIETY)
NEW ORLEANS, LA - APRIL 24: Members of the Creole Wild West Mardi Gras Indians pose backstage at the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival at Fair Grounds Race Course on April 24, 2016 in New Orleans, Louisiana. (Photo by Josh Brasted/WireImage)
A man dressed as a tree takes part in 'La Vijanera', a winter masquerade at the beginning of carnival season in Europe, in Silio, northern Spain January 8, 2017. REUTERS/Vincent West
Men dressed in costumes take part in 'La Vijanera', a winter masquerade at the beginning of carnival season in Europe, in Silio, northern Spain January 8, 2017. REUTERS/Vincent West
MADRID, SPAIN - FEBRUARY 10: The Brotherhood of the ''Burial of the Sardine'' dance in Mayor square during the Burial of the Sardine procession on February 10, 2016 in Madrid, Spain. The Sardine procession is a centuries-old Spanish tradition made famous by a painting by Spanish artist Francisco de Goya called 'El Entierro de La Sardina'. The mourners hold a mock funeral procession mourning the end of Carnival through the heart of old 'Castizo' Madrid visiting and enjoying the wines and tapas of local taverns. (Photo by Denis Doyle/Getty Images)
MADRID, SPAIN - FEBRUARY 14: Performers dressed as characters of the novel 'Don Quijote de la Mancha' (Don Quixote) take part on the carnival parade on February 14, 2015 in Madrid, Spain. The carnival, which is believed to come from pagan festivals during the middle ages, takes place across Spain before Lent. This years Madrid's Carnival theme will be the novel 'Don Quijote de la Mancha' (Don Quixote) written by Miguel de Cervantes. The festival was forbidden for 44 years in Madrid during Franco's dictatorship. (Photo by Pablo Blazquez Dominguez/Getty Images)
[UNVERIFIED CONTENT] MADRID, SPAIN - MARCH 01: A women wearing traditional Bolivian costumes perform a dance during their participation in the beginning of the Madrid Carnival. Thousands of people attended the beginning parade of the Madrid Carnival, which has started from Retiro Park up to the Plaza de Cibeles, dedicated to great painting teachers this year, on Saturday, March 1, 2014, in Madrid, Spain. The budget for this year of the five holidays is 390,000 euros, 25% less than in 2012, with about 200 performances of 140 artistic companies that reach around 620,000 spectators are expected. (Photo by Hugo Ortu�/Getty Images)
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Cologne, Germany, embraces Carnival with political floats and crazy outfits. Cologne's official website warns visitors that kisses on the cheek, or Bützen, are common and to embrace them. Shrove Monday, or Rose Monday in Germany, is celebrated with intense parade floats -- many of which are fiery political commentary. This year, there was a sinking Britannia steered by British Prime Minister Teresa May and Trump as an elephant in a China shop.

The Oruro Carnival in Bolivia is the nation's largest event and goes back two centuries. Colorful marching bands, elaborate costumes and ghoulish masks, and floats carrying religious statues proceed throughout the city over 10 years. La Diablada, the 'Dance of the Devil,' is the main event and represents a battle between good and evil in which the Archangel Michael fights off hellish creatures.

And it is simply impossible to discuss Carnival without mentioning Rio de Janeiro. Competing samba schools work for months to create larger-than-life floats, flanked by drummers and dancers donning intricate feathered and bejeweled outfits that put the Victoria's Secret Fashion Show to shame.

Can you think of a better way to have one last binge of merriment before Lent?

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