What’s the Difference Between Carnival and Mardi Gras?

With the Lent Season approaching, king cake, beads, and masks keep popping up in grocery stores, party stores, and on TV announcing the arrival of a PARTY!- you might be confused with the party in Brazil versus New Orleans.  Outlined below are the key  the difference in Carnival and Mardi Gras.  The root of both celebration though is unity, love, music, and party!


Carnival is often identify to Rio, Brazil.  However many other areas in the world also have Carnival.  Mardi Gras is associated with New Orleans, USA.  Again many surrounding town have their version though not as popular.


Carnival is a blend of traditions and cultures. Portuguese brought the festival, Entrudo, when they settled in Brazil in the 1500s.  Over centuries, French culture, African music, Catholic celebration of Lent, and pagan influences created Carnival.

On March 3, 1699, Frend explores Iberville and Bienville landed in what now is considered Louisiana, just south of New Orleans.  To celebrate, they held a small party and called the place, Point du Mardi Gras.  Just like Carnival, Mardi Gras has been influenced by African music, Catholic celebration of Lent, and pagan rituals.


Both Carnival and Madri Gras celebrations end on the Tuesday prior to Ash Wednesday.  Carnival starts 5 days prior.  Madri Gras officially starts on Feast of Epiphany, January 6.  Each aligns itself with Catholic holidays.


Samba is synonymous with Carnival.

Jazz, Blues, marching bands fill the air of Mardi Gras.

Both celebrations have enjoyed the influence of diverse cultures to generate some incredible music.


The highlight of parade of Carnival is the Samba parade.  Though leading up to it, parades around town are held in neighborhood or “blocos”.  Rio boasts about 587 street parades!  The Samba parade has hosted over 1 million people!

Mardi Gras boasts over 60 parades during the season ending with four days of elaborate parades and party.  Despite what is portrayed on TV, Mardi Gras has family friendly areas.  On Tuesday, kids dress up in halloween costumes!


Carnival does not have a specifically color.  Colors are vibration and celebratory.

Mardi Gras is know for purple, green and gold.  Purple represents justice, green faith, and gold power.


If you are in town, join us for Carnival Celebration- check it out on the event calendar!