New Orleans is one of the world's most fascinating cities – it is home to a truly unique melting pot of culture, food and music. New Orleans is located on the Mississippi River, near the Gulf of Mexico. Nicknamed the "Big Easy," it's known for its round-the-clock nightlife, vibrant live-music scene and spicy, singular cuisine reflecting its history as a melting pot of French, African and American cultures. Embodying its festive spirit is Mardi-Gras, the late-winter carnival famed for raucous costumed parades and public partying.