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For many people, what they know about New Orleans begins and ends with its parties: Mardi Gras—the biggest street blowout in America—or Jazz Fest, the grand-père of all other music fests and still the best music event in the country, despite copious spawn. In the place where anything is an excuse for a celebration (festivals center on swamps, gumbo, crawfish, frogs, tomatoes, daiquiris, pork, and on it goes), the first thing you need to bring is a rollicking, party-ready attitude. New Orleans pretty much does the rest.

This will give you some background, foreground, and tips to help you get on your good foot for the biggies: Mardi Gras and Jazz Fest.

Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.