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Best Day For Mardi Gras

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Finally after several years my wife and I can go to New Orleans for Mardi Gras. In most reality we can only get away for a 4 day weekend but if being in New Orleans for Fat Tuesday is something that cannot be missed then I guess a 6 day weekend happens once in a while. My question is is the last weekend in New Orleans the best weekend of Mardi Gras and is being there Fat Tuesday a must? Is the weekend before just as good? We want to see parades and nightlife. Sight seeing and unique cultural parts of New Orleans. Any ideas and must sees are welcome as I would like to book in the next week.

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