Weekly US agenda: Mardi Gras, Winter Music Conference

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The Independent Travel

With award season over, cultural festivals featuring art, film and music take the spotlight, including SXSW's annual music and media fest, Miami's electronica blow-out and the Rock Hall of Fame induction ceremony, plus Mardi Gras and St. Patrick's Day parades.

12th Armory Arts Week
March 3-6
Various locations
New York City

Centered around the Armory Show (New York's biggest art fair), Armory Arts Week has become an international institution that involves artists, galleries, collectors, critics and curators from around the world. Armory Arts Week has been running for 12 years and draws a healthy crowd of around 60,000 international and local visitors. Concurrent art fairs in 2010 included the ADAA Art Show, Volta NY, Independent, Pulse, Scope, Dutch Art Now, Red Dot, Fountain, Pool, Korean Art show and Verge.


39th Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race
March 5-13 or 19 (for 9 to 15 days)
Willow to Nome, Alaska

The Iditarod, an annual sled dog team race across 1,161 miles (1,868 km) in Alaska, starts at Willow (near Anchorage) and heads to Nome through rugged snowy terrain. More than 50 mushers with teams of typically 16 dogs head out on the first Saturday in March and travel from nine to 15 days. The Iditarod began in 1973 to test the best sled dog teams, evolving into a competitive sport. The fastest winning record was set in 2002 by with a time of 8 days, 22 hours, 47 minutes, and 2 seconds.


Mardi Gras
March 8
New Orleans, Louisiana

Mardi Gras is one of the largest, most famous and most spectacular parties in the world, drawing hundreds of thousands of revelers each year. The event completely takes over the city of New Orleans as parades, floats and Dixieland jazz bands clog the streets, especially for the actual Mardi Gras day, aka Fat Tuesday, on March 8 this year. The fun starts on February 25 and ends with gala balls.


26th Winter Music Conference
March 8-12
Miami Beach, Florida

An electronic music fest attracting 1900 artists and DJs, 100,000 delegates and attendees from 70 countries with 400 parties, competitions and workshops. Featuring round-the-clock events including DJ spin-offs, club performances and parties culminating in the Dance Music Awards. The conference at Miami Beach Convention Center features panels and Q & As with industry leaders such as Lady Gaga's producer RedOne and DJ Paul van Dyk. The Ultra Music Festival usually happens around the same time and is scheduled this year for March 25-27. Similar fests include Detroit's Electronic Music Fest in May and Nature One near Frankfurt, Germany in August.

31st Natural Products Expo West

March 10-13
Anaheim, California

Now in its 31st year, the Natural Products Expo West is one of the largest natural, organic and healthy products trade shows and conventions in the world, alongside Vivaness, with more than 55,000 industry professionals attending last year's event. More than 3,000 exhibits from over 1,900 different companies showcasing the newest products in natural and specialty foods, organic, health and beauty, natural living, supplements and pet products. Its sister show, the 26th Natural Products Expo West, September 21-24, in Baltimore, Maryland, draws crowds of 20,000 with 1,700 exhibits.

25th SXSW Conference & Festival

March 11-20
Austin, Texas

By day, SXSW is a media extravaganza with three events focused on music, film and interactive technologies at conferences and trade shows. By night, the festival features 2,000 bands from around the world performing at venues across the city and anticipated film premieres. A must-do for 12,000 entertainment fans and industry players and artists. Similar in size, the Winter Music Conference in Miami covers dance and electronica and the CMJ in New York focuses on indie music.

26th Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony

March 14
New York City

Presentations to legendary pop, rock and R&B musicians and industry greats at this ceremony are televised on Fuse, Madison Square Garden's Network, with a grand finale jam session. Upcoming inductees into the Hall of Fame Museum in Cleveland, Ohio, include Donna Summer, Bon Jovi, LL Cool J, and Tom Waits.

250th St. Patrick's Day Parade

March 17
New York City

St. Patrick's Day, celebrated by the Irish and "Irish at Heart" features parades and pub crawls in cities around the world, from Tokyo to Turkey. The oldest and largest party marches along New York City's Fifth Avenue from St. Patrick's Cathedral at 11 am to the Metropolitan Museum of Art around 5 pm. Irish music, food and drink are enjoyed by all who wear green, with some towns even dyeing the local rivers green.