Fat Tuesday, the traditional celebration on the day before Ash Wednesday, is marked in New Orleans with parades and marches through many neighborhoods in the city. (Photo by Rusty Costanza/Getty Images)

Head to New Orleans -- or throw your own Fat Tuesday party at home with these entertaining ideas and recipes.

The Big Easy is more than just an easy getaway, any time of year. The people are friendly, the food is fantastic and the places to see and be seen, especially in the famed French Quarter, are better than ever.

Stay: Bourbon Orleans. This hotel, once a hotbed of Creole culture, is still a hotbed of the city's unique mélange of Creole, Cajun and good ol' southern charm. And, like the city, the hotel has a sordid and also saved past. Once the site of a theatre, then a grand ballroom and then a home for a holy order of Catholic nuns, the Bourbon Orleans hotel opened its doors in the mid 1960s. It's still all about location, location, location. The Bourbon backs on to Bourbon Street, naturally, and on warmer nights (pretty much every night), the convivial Bourbon O bar's French doors are flung open to balmy breezes and the strains of nightlife at street level. This is a place where champagne mingles with popcorn and locals mix with those from afar. It is the Big Easy, after all.

The Bourbon Orleans Hotel, 717 Orleans Avenue, (504) 523-2222; www.bourbonorleans.com.

Drink: The Bourbon Orleans Hotel's Bourbon O Bar Manager, Cheryl Charming (yes, that really is her name), has passed along one of her secret recipes, The King Cake, perfect for Mardi Gras tippling. Fun fact: Bourbon Orleans' Marc Becker shares a bit of historical wisdom – "The Mardi Gras season starts on the 12th night after Christmas (Jan. 6, the Feast of the Epiphany), and continues to Ash Wednesday, the day after Fat Tuesday." www.neworleanshotelcollection.com

 NEXT: Recipe for The King Cake

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