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9 LGBT Experiences You Can Only Have in New Orleans in 2018

Here’s our hand-picked list to inspire your next visit.

Photo: Willow World's Photo

When it comes to having a good time, there’s no place in the world like New Orleans. As an inclusive haven for the LGBT community, we’ve got a whole calendar chock full of events. Some wild. Some spooky. And some downright inspiring. Below is a glimpse of what 2018 has in store for you and the friends you haven’t met ‘yet’.

Mardi Gras Balls – Jan 6 to Feb 11

Standing along the parade route catching as many beads as humanly possible is a definite must, but there is another side of Mardi Gras – with an LGBT twist. Gay Mardi Gras Balls have been in existence for over 50 years, full of pageantry and camp, and definitely worth adding to your list. Check out Armeinius (it’s their 50th Anniversary), Mwindo, Lords of Leather, Amon Ra, Petronius, and Krewe of Stars. These groups are very welcoming, and locals and visitors are encouraged to join in on the fun.

Gay Mardi Gras (photo: Barrett DeLong)

Bianca Del Rio – March 3

New Orleans local, Bianca Del Rio, is back with her “Blame it on Bianca” tour that will leave you gagging for more. You won’t want to miss this Drag Race Season 6 winner perform her hilarious insult comedy routine on her home turf. When in town, Bianca can often be found at one of New Orlean’s most visited gay bars – Oz – where she worked for ten years before rising to fame. Buy tickets to her March 3rd show at the Orpheum Theater here.

Buku Music & Art Project – March 9 & 10

New Orleans is known for putting on incredible festivals, and Buku Music and Art’s Project is another winner. Buku promises to deliver what you have come to expect from big festival names like Coachella, only without “compromising its underground house-party vibe.” Some of the early released names performing at the event include MGMT, Bassnectar, and SZA. Located by Mardi Gras World along the river, it’s the perfect stopping place to experience a different part of the city.

Gay Easter Parade – April 1

When you hear people say that NOLA has a parade for everything, this is exactly what they mean. Many parade goers come to celebrate wearing their favorite pastel-colored Easter dresses, hats and suits, but as with any gay parade in New Orleans, the object is to get as creative as you can with your attire. It’s also a great way to explore the French Quarter with old friends while making some new ones along the way.

Gay Easter Parade (photo: Rebecca Todd)

Mascara Run – May 28

The Mascara Run is more than a race – it’s a run/scavenger hunt hybrid event. Race participants begin their journey at Bourbon Street’s Clover Grill, and as they make it to each bar on the list, they must complete a challenge and put on a selected item of drag. If you’d rather sit the run out, there’s some incredible people watching that happens on sidelines i.e. gazing at strangers dressed in drag attempting to coordinate drinking and running down Bourbon Street simultaneously.

Mascara Run (photo: Paul Broussard)

New Orleans Pride – June 8 to 10

Hosted in a city that’s rich with culture and acceptance for its LGBT community, the New Orleans Gay Pride Festival is just one of many events that truly sets New Orleans apart from other southern cities. In fact, this pride event has almost tripled in size since 2012. And in 2018, we’re expecting an even grander parade than ever before. Booking your hotel room now wouldn’t be a bad idea – just sayin’.

Red Dress Run – August 11

The Red Dress Run is a huge event for the city. It draws even the most unlikely participants to run (or walk) around in a red dress. While there is an actual route that’s estimated between 3 and 4 miles, most people participating are not doing any sort of running. In fact, organizers of the event admit they’re actually a “drinking club with a running problem.” Whether or not you choose to partake in the run, all you have to do to participate is don a red dress and grab some drinks.

Family at Red Dress Run (photo: Zack Smith)

Inaugural New Orleans Pride Run – September 2

While the other runs on this list are more casual, the Inaugural Pride Run is for the serious runner. This is the first year that the New Orleans Track Club is putting on an annual 5K Pride Run starting at Crescent Park. The Pride Run will take place during Southern Decadence – the city’s biggest LGBT weekend. It’s a run that will celebrate diversity and acceptance.

Halloween – October

HNO 34 (photo: Roy Guste)

In New Orleans, we take Halloween very seriously. For locals, costuming is a year-round occurrence and Halloween celebrations last for up to three weeks. The major Mardi Gras-style parade is Krewe of Boo. 2018 will celebrate the 35th Anniversary of HNO, an LGBT Halloween party where the proceeds go to Project Lazarus, a charity that focuses on empowering those living with HIV and AIDS. On Halloween night, one of the best ways to celebrate is to head down to Frenchmen Street where everyone is in costume, and you can pop in and out of live music venues all night.

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