As with many holidays, New Orleans observes Easter in its own special way. Those who practice the Catholic faith recognize Easter as the end of Lent; many others consider the holiday a marker of the transition into spring: Easter presents opportunities both religious and secular to enjoy the holiday.
This year, Easter (April 16) precedes the last days of Passover, which culminates on April 18. We’ve culled a list of three ways to enjoy Easter and Passover in New Orleans, from parades and costume contests to cakes and Charoset.
Food for Thought
Easter brunches are a common tradition, but New Orleans sweetens the deal with Easter cake, somewhat of a local rendition of Hot Cross Buns. Bakeries like Manny Randazzo and Haydel’s outfit each cake in pastel colors reflective of the season. The end of the Lent season calls for meat, perhaps, but during crawfish season you may choose to dine on seafood anyway.
At Salon, Easter brunch is a sweet way to celebrate. Along with the bottomless mimosas (highly recommended), Salon will be offering their awesome brunch menu (at regular price!) and their Spring tea service.
Those honoring Passover can reserve a Seder dinner at Alon Shaya’s namesake restaurant. Shaya — which last year was Esquire magazine’s “Best New Restaurant in America” — offers Passover dinners April 10 through April 17 starting at 5 p.m. until close. Advance reservations are required for the prixe-fix menu ($60 per person), which includes crispy duck leg with stewed kohlrabi and smoked tomatoes, sugar snap pea salad with black garlic vinaigrette, tabouleh with preserved lemon, and, to add to this sumptuous meal, slow-cooked short ribs with tender winter greens and Moroccan spices.
And for dessert? You’ve got an almond cake with coconut cream, Ponchatoula strawberries, and pistachios.
Three French Quarter Parades
Holiday parades are de rigeur in this city, and for Easter, you’ll find three.
The Historic French Quarter Easter Parade
This parade departs from Antoine’s Restaurant around 9:45 a.m. and rolls toward St. Louis Cathedral just in time for 11:00 a.m. mass on Easter Sunday, April 16. Expect kid-friendly throws like stuffed bunnies, plus a mix of mule-drawn carriages and old-timey convertibles. After Mass, the parade continues on to Jackson Square and back to Antoine’s. And where else but New Orleans does Easter involve a clothing competition? Don your most show-stopping bonnet – awards are up for grabs in categories like “Best Easter Bonnet,” “Best Easter Basket,” and “Best Overall Attire.”
Chris Owens French Quarter Easter Parade
At around 1 p.m., entertainer Chris Owens slips into the role of Grand Duchess, leading a parade through the French Quarter around Bourbon Street. As with most New Orleans parades, fun throws and brass bands are part of the fanfare.
The Gay Easter Parade
Another Easter tradition is the annual Gay Easter Parade where all – LGBT and otherwise – are welcome. Horse-drawn carriages, floats, and riders in colorful costumes will parade through the French Quarter in the late afternoon and into the evening, prioritizing stops at gay bars and gay-owned restaurants and shops throughout the neighborhood. The parade culminates in an after-party at Grandpre’s. Whether you follow along the route or simply catch the after-party, consider this a new Easter tradition.
If you missed the annual easter egg hunt in City Park or if, you know, you’re an adult, and thus ineligible for the hunt (it’s recommended for the 8-and-under set), then why not partake in paque? This Cajun tradition pits two people against eachother trying to crack hardboiled eggs. Each person holds an egg with the top exposed; then, they “paque,” or knock, the eggs together. Whoever’s egg cracks loses, and the winner moves on to the next round. Craft brewery Wayward Owl on Thalia Street in Central City hosts its own paque contest on Saturday, April 15 at 3 p.m.