In New Orleans, Mardi Gras (French for Fat Tuesday) means king cake, colorful beads, and elaborate parade floats rolling through the French Quarter. If you can't make it to New Orleans on carnival day, there are still ways to celebrate Mardi Gras in the Big Easy the other 364 days of the year—you just have to know where to look. At Mardi Gras World, visitors can tour the warehouse where Mardi Gras sculptures are built and get a sneak peak at upcoming parade floats, Smithsonian reports.
Mardi Gras World invites the public into Kern Studios, the workshop where the most elaborate and iconic displays are built for the New Orleans's parades. Open since 1984, about 200,000 visitors explore the site each year to learn about the history of the Mardi Gras celebration, see floats from years past, and see sculptures in the process of being made for upcoming parades. The 30-minute guided tour includes a video presentation, a photo op with Mardi Gras costumes and props, and a slice of king cake.
With the theme of the Mardi Gras festival changing year to year, Mardi Gras World has produced a diverse array of sculptures, including Day of the Dead skeletons and the Incredible Hulk. The workshop also builds statue props that have ended up in a Mobile, Alabama art installation, at the stadium where the Atlanta Braves play, and on the Las Vegas strip.
Mardi Gras World holds tours seven days a week with tickets costing $22 for adults. Check out the pictures below for a sneak peek inside the studio.