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Viva Carnaval Latino in New Orleans!

Carnaval Latino happens Sept. 30 and celebrates the city’s longstanding connection to Latin history and culture.

Latinos, Latinophiles, and festival lovers in general, get ready to get your salsa and merengue on at Carnaval Latino‘s weekend fiesta on September 30.

The Carnaval Latino parade in 2014. (Photo: Paul Broussard)

The festival’s location in the French Quarter couldn’t be more fitting — the Spanish governors of Louisiana rebuilt the city not once but twice after devastating fires in the late 1700s. A diverse city throughout its history, New Orleans is the product of a variety of vibrant peoples and cultures. From Spanish settlers to Canary Islanders to Central American and Mexican migrants, the Hispanic influence has been a dominant force in the city’s evolution for centuries as these communities contributed to the architecture, cuisine, and even redevelopment of the city after Hurricane Katrina.

To honor these diverse cultures, the roots of Carnaval Latino were laid in 1986 when then-Mayor Sidney Barthelemy created the International Council to advise him on issues relevant to New Orleans’ international community. The city celebrated the first Carnaval Latino in 1989, and by 1995 it had grown into a four-day event organized by the Hispanic American Musicians and Artists Cultural Association. After 1995, the festival took a hiatus due to the city’s changing landscape.

Carnaval Latino features live music. (Photo: Paul Broussard)

Carnaval Latino’s rebirth in 2007 coincided with the influx of many Central American and Mexican construction workers who migrated to the city in the immediate months and years following Hurricane Katrina. Now in its 18th (non-consecutive) year, Carnaval Latino provides a space for the local Latino community to unite in a celebration of its shared and diverse heritage, and share it with the community at large. Celebrating Hispanic Heritage Month (Sept. 15 – Oct. 15), Carnaval Latino takes place on Saturday, September 30 and features a variety of Latin music, food, artisan crafts, dancing, and more.

The Basics

When: Sept. 30 at 6:00 p.m. (parade starts at 6:00 p.m. and concert starts immediately following the parade at approximately at 8:00 p.m.)
Where: Parade starts at Washington Square (700 Elysian Fields) and ends at Generations Hall (310 Andrew Higgins Street) where the party continues. For the parade route, see below.
Cost: Free admission, though Carnaval Latino is asking for donations for Hurricane Irma relief. Food, beverages, crafts, etc. are available for purchase.

Carnaval Latino’s Krewe of Quetzal Parade Map

Desfile de las Américas (Parade of the Americas)

In true Carnival fashion, Carnaval Latino’s Krewe of Quetzal takes to the streets with its Desfile de las Americas or Parade of the Americas. Quetzal’s fifth anniversary will feature over a dozen floats bursting at the seams with folkloric groups and bands, bright traditional costumes, and throws celebrating the varied Latin roots of riders. The parade will start at Washington Square (700 Elysian Fields Avenue) in the Marigny and process through French Quarter and the rest of downtown before reaching its final destination at 310 Andrew Higgins Street where the festivities will continue.

La Música (The Music)

This year’s Carnaval Latino concert will feature La Makina de Puerto Rico, Rumberos de Cuba, Ballet Folklorico (Honduras), and La Banda Blanca. For those who can’t resist the urge to shake their hips, there is room on the dance floor. Children are also welcome to take part in the celebration.

La Comida (The Food)

Food will be available for purchase in the Cantinas area at Generations Hall and will represent the varied cuisine of Latin America.

Emily Ramírez Hernández is the child of New Orleans natives whose families have been in the city for generations. Emily's earliest memories of New Orleans include joyful car rides over bumpy streets, eating dripping roast beef po-boys at Domilise's, and catching bouncy balls during Mardi Gras parades with cousins. An urban planner by day and freelance writer by night, when she is off the clock she enjoys biking around town, belly dancing, and catching nerdlesque shows.

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