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The Many Ways to Celebrate Easter in New Orleans

There’s no place like New Orleans to celebrate the Easter holiday with something for everyone including a City Park egg hunt and gay easter parade!

Any holiday in New Orleans is cause for a celebration, and Easter is no exception. From Good Friday through Easter Sunday, New Orleanians celebrate this holiday in a variety of only-in-NOLA ways. Many offices around town close early on Good Friday, and Easter weekend is popular for family crawfish boils. Many churches offer early morning sunrise services on Easter Sunday, and afterward locals head down to the French Quarter for three annual Easter parades.

The Historic French Quarter Easter Parade gets things started at 9:45 a.m. The lineup of mule-drawn carriages and classic convertibles leaves from Antoine’s Restaurant (713 St. Louis Street) and meanders through the French Quarter, arriving at St. Louis Cathedral for 11 a.m. Mass.

31st Annual Chris Owens French Quarter Easter Parade. (Photo by Sean Connors, via Flickr)

After enjoying brunch at one of the many French Quarter restaurants, head over to Canal and Bourbon Street at 1 p.m. for the start of the annual Chris Owens Easter Parade. Legendary French Quarter entertainer Chris Owens headlines the parade as the Grand Duchess. The spectacle, which began in the early 1980s, features colorful floats, vintage convertible cars, dance troupes and brass bands. Keep an eye out for Easter-themed parade throws!

Marchers in their New Orleans-style Easter attire at last year’s Gay Easter Parade! (Photo by Sally Tunmer)

Later in the day, stay tuned to see fabulous fashions represented as the 15th Annual Official Gay Easter Parade, which rolls at 4:30 p.m. This parade celebrates the culture and creativity of the New Orleans gay community, as gentlemen are encouraged to wear summer suits or tuxedos with hats, and ladies are to wear Easter suits or dresses with fancy Easter bonnets. Over the past 12 years, this parade has raised over $171,000 for local charities, including the Food For Friends program of the NO/AIDS Task Force.

For a truly local take on how New Orleanians celebrate Easter, head Uptown for the annual Pigeon Town Steppers Easter Sunday Parade & Second Line. The route changes each year, but usually includes stops at the Maple Leaf Bar and E&C Lounge. Follow Deborah Cotton for second line parade route details as they become available.

Mallory Whitfield is an artist, speaker, and author based in New Orleans. In 2016, she was honored to be included in the 19th class of Gambit’s 40 Under 40, which salutes the brightest innovators, artists, and professionals in New Orleans. She currently hosts the Badass Creatives podcast, which features marketing and business advice for creatives, as well as interviews with a diverse range of handmade artists, performers, makers, and creative entrepreneurs. During Mardi Gras, you can usually find her parading with Noisician Coalition in Muses or with The 501st Legion in Tucks.

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