NEW ORLEANS, LA (WVUE) - If New Year's Eve and the Sugar Bowl are any indication, Mardi Gras will bring even more big business to the Big Easy.
"This is the best city in the country, absolutely hands down, absolutely the best," said tourist Preity Upala. And she is not alone.
"First trip to New Orleans, it's really unbelievable, I cannot believe the vibe, the energy you get off the city, the culture, all the food, we've had so much wonderful food,"said tourist Tom Clark. "It's just been unbelievable and yes I would come back for the Mardi Gras."
For locals, the holiday season is just a warm up for the big party. This year, carnival season arrives early and that can have it's pros and cons. Fox 8 carnival expert, Arthur Hardy, says for one, there are fewer days to celebrate.
"I don't know of any colleges that, you know, have a spring break the first week in February, so, that can hurt a little bit and another factor is a lot of people are still paying off their Christmas Visa bills, you know, so an early carnival can impact slightly, but, you know, we don't do this for visitors, we're glad they come, but, this is our own party, so, it's going to be a big one regardless of when it occurs," Hardy said.
If the Sugar Bowl is any indication, it will take more than bad timing to keep visitors out of the city.
"You can go to a bowl in a lot of cities, but you don't get this experience in many cities at all, with the crowds roaming and the fans mingling with one another, I think it has been outstanding," said tourist Jane Loafman. "I think if we had gone to any other city, wouldn't have been the same."
That word of mouth might just go a long way when carnival officially starts Jan. 6.
The New Orleans Convention and Visitors Bureau says hotels are already filling up fast. According to the CVB, we're slated to experience yet another sold out carnival season, following a sold out New Year's Eve and Sugar Bowl.