NEW ORLEANS —
As Super Bowl fans leave town, a new wave of revelers will arrive for Mardi Gras weekend. That's when some of the city's largest parade organizations, known as superkrewes, hold their glitzy balls and parades.
Parade groups have been working for months to make this year bigger and better than ever. The Krewe of Endymion is boasting it will have the largest float in city history for its Feb. 9 parade, led by pop singer Kelly Clarkson.
The Bacchus parade and its yet-to-be-named celebrity rider rolls on Feb. 10, and the Orpheus parade rolls on Feb. 11 — the eve of Fat Tuesday known as Lundi Gras — with actor Gary Sinise, Emmy- and Golden Globe-winning actress Mariska Hargitay and New Orleans musicians Troy "Trombone Shorty" Andrews and Harry Connick Jr.
Visitors who can't catch the parades in person may opt for a visit to Mardi Gras World, the enormous studio and warehouse where floats are made and stored. Tours include a stop in the prop shop, where artists create and paint float decorations and sculptures.
This year, Mardi Gras World is also the site of a Guinness World Record attempt by New Orleans artist Stephan Wanger to create the world's largest Mardi Gras bead mosaic. Visitors can help cut and place beads one by one onto a 42-foot-long, 8-foot-tall board etched with the New Orleans skyline.
"It's something we want hands from all over the world to be a part of," Wanger said. The first bead was placed in November, and the last will be placed on Feb. 13, the day after Mardi Gras known as Ash Wednesday.
One thing the city won't be short on is music. Super Bowl weekend kicks off with a gospel concert on Feb. 1 at the UNO Lakefront Arena with performances by Fantasia, Donnie McClurkin, Marvin Winans and Bishop Paul S. Morton of New Orleans. Dozens of local acts will be performing throughout the weekend on stages along the Mississippi River and in the French Quarter. On game day, Beyonce will be the half-time performer.