All round the world carnivals, festivities and parades - like the legendary Rio Carnival 2013 - have begun counting down the days to Fat Tuesday; or Shrove Tuesday, if you prefer. For 'tis the season of Lent and that means much of the Western world is preparing to enter a period of fasting beginning from Ash Wednesday.

This period of festivity is not only about and endless stream epicurean delights. It is also about an infectious wave of colour and good cheer and fellowship. For it may be that the Carnival of Rio de Janeiro and the Mardi Gras of New Orleans and the Gay Mardi Gras of Australia are separated by kilometres of land and water but the spirit that drives each parade and every person is the same.

The parade in New Orleans is, like the Rio Carnival, particularly special. The city has an exotic and mysterious charm that is all its own and Mardi Gras in New Orleans is like nothing anywhere else in the world.

And, as with any glamorous party anywhere in the world, celebrities are not slow to join. This year, international pop sensation Kelly Clarkson and veteran actors GW Bailey and Gary Sinise are some of those expected to be in New Orleans.

Reuters estimates there will be approximately a million people in New Orleans for Fat Tuesday next week. And the fact this year New Orleans hosted the Super Bowl as well means the city's coffers are expected to grow by approximately £630m.

Click Start to see a slideshow of exciting photographs from the Mardi Gras 2013 festival in New Orleans and Mobile, in the neighboring state of Alabama