Lake Charles, Louisiana | While the big party in New Orleans is on February 28, Lake Charles begins the celebration the weekend prior with all the festivities in a warmer, more family-friendly atmosphere. Friday night kicks off the party with a parade by local vendors, followed by parades from some of the 50+ krewes throughout the weekend. You better come hungry for events throughout the weekend such as the gumbo cook-off, cajun cook-off, Taste de la Louisiane lunch (all-you-can-eat for only $7!), and the Royal Gala on Sunday night. The big parade still takes place on Fat Tuesday, with over 100 floats and all the beads you could want.