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10 Things You Should Definitely Do At NOLA Pride

An Insider’s Guide with 10 tips for a spectacular Pride weekend, happening June 17-19.

Pride Parade on Bourbon St.
Pride marchers in front of Lafitte's In Exile on Bourbon. (Photo: Paul Broussard)

“Now is the time to come gather and unite as one community taking a stand against senseless violence. It is time to put aside our differences and stand together for Orlando, for New Orleans, and for the Nation.” -New Orleans Pride Board of Directors

New Orleanians know what it means to stand together in a time of tragedy, and as we show our PRIDE in New Orleans this weekend, our hearts will be in Orlando.

As many Pride Celebrations have been struggling to find their identity in a world with more acceptance, NOLA Pride is hitting its stride as a friendly and accessible expression of New Orleans and its surrounding areas. For anyone looking to experience Pride (especially the first time), there is no better city.

This weekend is packed with activities, but here are a few things not to miss.

10 Can’t-Miss Events During NOLA Pride

1. Pride Parade or HRC Gala

Unfortunately, these two great NOLA events are happening on the same night, but that gives YOU the option to dress it up or down on Saturday night! The most anticipated event of Pride weekend, the Parade starts rolling at 7:30 p.m., circling the French Quarter to an expected 50,000 onlookers and now 1500 marchers (several hundred have joined in the past few days)! The front of the parade will be dedicated to the Orlando victims — visitors are encouraged to view the parade at Jackson Square.

The HRC Gala and Dinner will be held at the Hyatt Regency with reception starting at 6 p.m. followed by the dinner and awards at 6:45 p.m. Actor Jonathan Del Arco will be the keynote speaker, and Grammy Award-winning artist Estelle will perform! Expect food by local chefs from Bayona, Commander’s Palace, Willa Jean, and the Hyatt; local Warehouse District gallery owner, Arthur Roger, will be honored for his many years of community support.

All dressed up for the HRC Gala at the Hyatt Regency. (Photo courtesy of Willow’s World Photo)

2. DJ Grind

If you missed him at Halloween New Orleans last year, here’s your chance to redeem yourself. The boys (and some girls) will pack the dance floor Friday night at the newly renovated Oz. It’s generally a late crowd (midnight-ish), and be sure to check out the upstairs and balcony.

DJ Grind with Inaya Day. (Photo courtesy of DJ Grind on Facebook)

3. Brunch it up

We love a good brunch in New Orleans, and there are so many choices! A few of our favorites include EAT, Elizabeth’s and Cane & Table. Here are a few other options.

4. Block party at the Phoenix

Pride’s official home for leather and bears, the Phoenix block party runs all weekend with beer, food, and clothing booths. A friendly crowd, store, and more! Go Saturday afternoon to see a preview of the Pride Parade (it lines up and ends there).

Block Party outside of the Phoenix Bar on Elysian Fields. (Photo: Paul Broussard)

5. Oysters at the Bourbon House

Have an amazing dinner at Bourbon House, one of the Brennan family restaurants and home of the New Orleans Bourbon Society featuring more than 90 American Whiskeys, many of which are rare and hard to find. Take a drink ‘to go’ and catch the parade as it passes right out the front door on Bourbon Street. Parade starts at 7:30 p.m. and will probably hit the restaurant by 8:15 p.m.

6. Love is in the air

The napkin toss at Lafitte’s In Exile has become one of our favorite Sunday evening events. Be there around 9:15 p.m. and watch for the stacks of white napkins being passed around. When the time comes, you’ll know what to do!

7. DJ Soul Sister 

“Hustle,” the groovy, Saturday night staple at the Hi-Ho Lounge is not entirely gay, but it offers a fun mix of people and great energy. Be sure to walk out back and try the “Turkey Time” at Fry and Pie. The All Ways Lounge across the street is another favorite where you can usually find a cute local crowd — and maybe even a drag show.

Couple watching drag show at the All Ways Lounge. (Photo: Paul Broussard)

8. The Ace Hotel 

One of our newest and most popular additions to downtown is the Ace Hotel. Complete with multiple bars, restaurants, rooftop pool, and Stumptown coffee — what’s not to love? Catch STAR TIME Friday at 9 p.m., a new Drag King show Hosted by Neon Burgundy, or check out Gal Holiday (one of our local favorites) Saturday at 9 p.m.

9. Sunday Funday

A NOLA tradition of bar-hopping in the French Quarter usually starts with a “purple drink” at Lafitte’s Blacksmith Shop (the oldest bar in the U.S.). Then, make your way down past Lafitte’s In Exile (the oldest gay bar in the U.S.) and to the corner of Bourbon and St. Ann streets.

10. C’mon, one more day

There’s so much to do here, so why would you ever leave? Take a few days off, and check out the city after all the glitter has been swept up. Take a romantic evening cruise on the Natchez Steamboat, check out Alexis and the Samurai at Chickie Wah Wah, or Trivia Night at The Country Club.

Not able to join us this year for Pride? Sign up for the #LoveNola Sweepstakes to win a romantic trip for two.

For more information and news on the city’s LGBT community, sign up for New Orleans’ LGBT e-newsletter here.