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Top 5 ski resorts and towns holding Mardi Gras celebrations

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Thought you had to go all the way to New Orleans to partake in Mardi Gras? You might not find a week's worth of parties, parades and debauchery, but the bayou's not the only spot doling out beads, holding crawfish boils and shutting down streets for parades.

You can stay right at home in ski country and still get a hearty dose of the holiday that ushers in the start of Lent. Plus if you're into the Fat Tuesday portion of the Mardi Gras holiday--the gorging yourself on paczki and other sweet treats you'll most likely be swearing off of for the following 40 days--you can feel a little less guilty about what you consume since you'll be burning it off with each turn you take on the mountain.

Here are five spots far from the Big Easy who are getting into the Mardi Gras revelry in 2014:

  • Breckenridge. The Colorado mountain town shuts down Main Street at noon on March 4 to let the partying begin. And by partying, we mean the parade that starts at 4:30 p.m. and brings crowds lining the street with their beads, boas and masks. Breckenridge also held a Mardi Gras Ball on Saturday, March 1, at Beaver Run Resort (in case you want to plan for next year).
  • Canyons. Isn't part of Mardi Gras about drinking so much (if you're 21 and older, of course) you can't remember half the crazy things you did on the holiday? Close out your Canyons ski day at the Umbrella Bar where a Mardi Gras celebration will include a DJ spinning tunes plus the Budweiser Bottoms Up Bar. And drink responsibly because you know you'll want to remember a powder day--Canyons was expected some fresh pow today!
  • Crested Butte. Trust Crested Butte to plan a Mardi Gras party. After all, the ski resort had one when the Broncos were in the Super Bowl and when they won Liftopia's Ski Town Throwdown. The Mt. Crested Butte Chamber of Commerce and the Crested Butte Chamber of Commerce have teamed up to present the annual Fat Tuesday Parade. Collect those beads when you're skiing during the day then line Elk Avenue to watch this spectacle when it starts at 5:30 p.m.
  • Northstar. This Tahoe resort was celebrating more than snow on Friday--it was already starting to party for Mardi Gras. Weekend events in the village included live music while skiers could find food and beverage specials on the mountain. But the partying is still going strong today with face painting from 5-8 p.m. and the Turtleneck "Fat" Tuesday where guests are encouraged to don their best green, purple and yellow outfits--Mardi Gras colors--and masks to skate the rink.
  • Snowmass. It's all about tradition in Aspen where Snowmass resort holds Mardi Gras festivities for the 32nd year. At 32, that makes it one of the oldest Mardi Gras parties in the mountains, and it's also known as one of Aspen's biggest festivals. The day started with the 22nd annual Mother of All Ascensions, an uphill climb from Base Village to Gwyn's High Alpine Restaurant. The festivities continue into the night with a parade that starts at 4 p.m. in Snowmass Village, a live concert by Pimps of Joytime at 5 p.m., fireworks at 7 p.m., and drink specials and parties that will run late into the night.

While Mardi Gras itself always falls on a Tuesday, it's not unusual to find some of the best parties happening the weekend before. Even among ski resorts. Brian Head in Utah and Squaw in California held Mardi Gras bashes on Saturday, March 1. And Vail held its annual crawfish boil at Eagle's Nest during lunch time on Sunday, March 2. Nothing like starting the partying a little early, right?

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