[PHOTOS] Police Officers on horseback cleared Bourbon Street early Wednesday declaring Mardi Gras 2012 officially over. As New Orleans' famous Carnival came to an end, Mardi Gras revelers prepared for the somber start of Lent and 40 days of penance before Easter Sunday.

But what a celebration it was.

In the 12 days leading up to Fat Tuesday, about one million people took to the streets of New Orleans, bringing an estimated $300 million in direct and indirect economic impact.

The bulk of visitors poured into the French Quarter and across the Big Easy over the weekend to revel in parades led by mythic royalty. The weather was even more cause for celebration: Mid 70s with partly cloudy skies.

Over the four-day weekend there was drinking, dancing, and King Cake eating. The streets were flooded with flamboyant costumes, frivolous floats, and frolicking late night flesh-flashers.

Indeed, the theme of the week was party. Hard, and often.                

Have a look at the best of Mardi Gras 2012 below:


What is Fat Tuesday? The History of Mardi Gras in New Orleans

Mardi Gras 2012: New Orleans Krewes & Troupes Prepare for Fat Tuesday

Mardi Gras Icons, 610 Stompers Prepare for 'World Domination through Dance'