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Lundi Gras: How to Celebrate the Day Before Mardi Gras in New Orleans

Lundi Gras, the Monday before Fat Tuesday, is one of the funnest nights in New Orleans with shows, parades, and mini festivals.

Red Beans Parade
The Red Beans Parade strolls on Lundi Gras at 2p.m. (Photo: Paul Broussard)

Carnival is always such a busy and exciting time of year, and in the days leading up to Fat Tuesday, there is no shortage of things to do. The Monday immediately before Mardi Gras Day, also called Lundi Gras, “Fat Monday,” or “Shrove Monday” holds its own traditions and celebrations. Lundi Gras this year falls on Monday, Feb. 24. Think of it as pre-partying for Fat Tuesday (as if the preceding weekend won’t be enough).

Prior to 1987, Monday was typically a day of rest, a welcomed break between the weekend and  Mardi Gras Day. Since then, the customs surrounding Lundi Gras have evolved continuously.

Fat Monday Luncheon – The oldest tradition in Louisiana LGBTQ history, the Fat Monday Luncheon has been celebrated since 1949 when a local crowned one of his out-of town guests Queen of the luncheon at Brennan’s restaurant. Eventually, the group moved to Arnaud’s restaurant where the event is held today. Every year two queens are crowned: one from out of town and one from New Orleans.

The Red Beans Parade (Photo: Paul Broussard)

Red Beans ParadeThe Parade of Red Beans meanders through the streets to honor a New Orleans’ Monday culinary tradition: red beans & rice. Paraders construct their outfits out of – you guessed it – red beans. The walking parade begins at 2 p.m. in the Marigny (725 St. Ferdinand St.) and meets up with the “Dead Beans” in the Tremé neighborhood. Both end at the Backstreet Cultural Museum.

Dead Beans Parade – A close cousin of the Red Beans Parade, the Parade of Dead Beans begins around 2 p.m. near Bayou St. John in Mid-City (1440 Moss St.) and eventually meets the Red Beans in the Tremé. Costumes are inspired by mythological and folkloric traditions honoring the afterlife, death, and mortality. Some suits even honor family members that have passed away.

Feijao Parade – Also from the Krewe of Red Beans is a new parade, Feijao, meaning “big bean.” This parade will draw from the similarities between Louisiana and Brazil – where there is a bean-heavy diet and many different carnival expressions. There will be a mix of Brazilian Forro, Samba, and Cajun music and it will begin at 1 p..m in the Bywater.

Zulu Lundi Gras Festival– This free event is held at Woldenberg Park and hosted by the Zulu Social Aid & Pleasure Club. It gives locals and tourists a chance to experience Zulu in an up-close and personal way, with food, music, and crafts along the Riverfront. Entertainment will be provided by Rockin’ Doopsie, Big Al Carson, JazzMen Brass Band, the Bayou Players, and more. The event is from 10 a.m. to 6:30 p.m.

Riverwalk’s 34th Annual Lundi Gras – Just down the road at Spanish Plaza is Riverwalk’s 34th Annual Lundi Gras celebration. It features music from DJ Rob Nice, Dash Rip Rock, and Cowboy Mouth. This free event concludes with the arrival of Rex, King of Carnival, a ceremony featuring Mayor LaToya Cantrell and the King of Zulu, followed by an elaborate fireworks display. This event is free and open to the public from noon to 6:30 p.m.

A flambeaux lights the way for the king of Proteus. (Photo: Cheryl Gerber)

Evening Parades: Proteus, the second-oldest krewe in the city, and Orpheus, the music-based super-krewe, both roll in Uptown Orleans Parish this night.

Music/Shows – Jank Setup will perform at The Howlin’ WolfGalactic will take over Tipitina’s, Juvenile will play Republic, and more will have you partying until dawn. Keep an eye out for other local bands who are sure to announce shows as the date approaches!

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