The Big Easy is celebrating a big birthday this year

The Big Easy is celebrating a big birthday this year: 300 years since New Orleans was founded.

The celebration began New Year’s Eve with a massive fireworks show over the Mississippi River. Exhibitions, festivals and events planned throughout 2018 — including Mardi Gras — will reflect the tricentennial theme.

The city’s three centuries of history include “colonization by both France and Spain, a British invasion, devastating fires, pirates, yellow fever and hurricanes, among other challenges,” said Kristian Sonnier, spokesman for the New Orleans Convention and Visitors Bureau. Through it all, New Orleans managed to hold on to what Sonnier calls “authentic traditions and a sense of place” — attributes that have made the city one of the most interesting destinations in the U.S.

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New Orleans was founded by the French Mississippi Company in the spring of 1718 by Jean-Baptiste

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