IELTS speaking describe a festival

IELTS speaking skills | describing a traditional festival

IELTS speaking questions often ask you to describe a special event, celebration or festival. Watch this video and learn how to describe such special occasions.

Celebrating Mardi Gras in New Orleans - There's more to Mardi Gras in New Orleans than just one day or just one parade. Visit behind the scenes as preparations begin days, weeks and even months in advance of the big celebrations.

Video Transcript

New Orleans Mardi Gras is more than just a celebration before the Christian season of Lent begins.

In this city preparations for the big day begin weeks - even months in advance
Early mornings are nothing new for bakers – but the pre dawn workload grows through carnival season.

From January 6th through fat Tuesday – the New Orleans Cake, CafĂ© and Bakery is a beehive of activity where they make as many as 50 king cakes a day.

Here they make non traditional goat cheese and apple stuffed cakes.

There’s very old school king cakes in New Orleans – they’ve been at it for 50, 60, 100 years some of them - and they have a loyal following.

The old school king cake has a tiny baby or other trinket baked inside - and whoever gets the trinket has obligations – such as buying next year’s king cake.

Here, the baby goes on the outside.

The king cake is a traditional New Orleans Mardi Gras pastry – you’ll find pastries like this all over the country and all over the world but they’re only served for a certain season, during the year.

In another part of town Sally Hedrick and her son are making 150 or more ornate costumes.

These are for the social organizations throwing the lavish balls and parades – some may go for more than three thousand dollars ($3,000).

It’s rewarding to see the women in these costumes, gleam – but it’s more rewarding to see the men, because the man doesn’t get to dress up in beautiful clothes, he’s usually in a tuxedo.

Hedrick works on costumes year round – refurbishing ones that took a bit of a beating during last year’s Mardi Gras celebrations and creating new works.

For a look back at years past the Louisiana State Museum lets visitors see more than a century and a half of New Orleans Mardi Gras traditions.

The oldest item in the carnival collection is something we were very fortunate to acquire just a couple of years ago.

It’s a ball invitation that dates to the 1850s.

The carnival exhibit at the museum on Jackson Square only shows the tip of the iceberg.

However the museum’s warehouse periodically offers tours, where visitors can see the thousands of costumes and other items.

The way that we celebrate Mardi Gras now and for the last one hundred and fifty (150) years revolves around what we call the krewe system, there are all these clubs that exist, that are called Mardi Gras krewes.

For the dozens of krewes, spelt with a ‘k’, lavish balls highlight Mardi Gras.

The knights of Sparta krewe was founded in 1951 and for the last thirty (30) years they’ve paraded in the city and currently host a masquerade ball and parade that falls on the next to the last weekend of carnival season.

The krewe’s captain does not publicly reveal his identity – he says it isn’t about secrecy.

I wear the mask however because it is the tradition of carnival – to mask – to hide one’s identity – because when I represent my carnival krewe, the knights of Sparta, I’m simply the captain – one should not know my name or who I am.

Belonging to, or leading a krewe, takes a big commitment.

It’s very costly to the members of the organization – paying dues – buying the trinkets, the throws as we call them, to throw off the floats, ball gowns for the ladies, tickets to different functions and we do it because of a sense of tradition.

As fat Tuesday approaches, warehouses throughout the city come to life.

Float dens – as they are called – house the floats that can cost hundreds of thousands of dollars to construct.

It can take a month or more to build and decorate the elaborate floats, some of which date back to the early 1900s.

It’s part of the economy here too - it puts a lot of people to work – I mean you know to make a float like this you need carpenters, you need artists you need welders, you need tyre people you need mechanics, there’s a lot involved.

And a final vital ingredient for Mardi Gras, is the music.

Grammy winning artist Irvin Mayfield –

From television you see these parades go by and people throwing beads but what you really don’t see is that Mardi Gras lives out in people’s houses, it lives out on the street, it lives out in the halls, in the parties and the receptions, and it’s not a thing over one day.

Um, so I would say in terms of music you know it’s very hard to have Mardi Gras without the music.

And he says any musician growing up in New Orleans is shaped by Mardi Gras.

You’re a leg on the table that helps the table stand up, the music, the food, the people.

For a young musician you wouldn’t start playing music because of Mardi Gras necessarily, but if you are a musician you will be involved in Mardi Gras in a certain way.

Most New Orleans natives say anyone hoping to understand Mardi Gras needs to come back often and stay a while not just for one day.

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