As with most 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 is on April 1. All jokes aside, we’ve complied a list of ways to celebrate Easter and Passover here 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.
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 Historic French Quarter Easter Parade departs from Antoine’s Restaurant at 9:45 a.m. and rolls toward St. Louis Cathedral just in time for 11:00 a.m. mass on Easter Sunday, April 1. 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
On Easter Sunday, entertainer Chris Owens slips into the role of Grand Duchess, leading the Chris Owens French Quarter Easter Parade through the Vieux Carré at 1 p.m. As with most New Orleans parades, fun throws and brass bands are part of the fanfare.
The celebration starts at the Omni Royal Orleans Hotel Ballroom at 11:00 a.m. with a Hat Contest, Silent Auction, and Entertainment. Riders will then hop on the floats and ride through the heart of the historic French Quarter.
The parade begins at the corner of St. Louis and Royal, then continues down Royal to Canal to Phillip Street and ends at St. Louis and Royal Street at the Omni Royal Orleans Hotel. Following the parade, revelers can enjoy a Champagne Brunch and dancing. The parade will be complete with colorful floats, marching bands, beads, Easter trinkets, and lots of revelers.
The Gay Easter Parade
Another Easter tradition is the annual Gay Easter Parade where all are welcome to celebrate while raising money for Food for Friends. Starting at 4:30 p.m., horse-drawn carriages, floats, and riders in colorful costumes will parade through the French Quarter into the evening, stopping at gay bars and gay-owned restaurants and shops throughout the neighborhood. Whether you follow along the route, make some new friends at the local gay bars, or simply walk through the Quarter in your best pastels, consider this a new Easter tradition.
Bunnies in the Big Easy
The 2018 Bunnies in the Big Easy will be held at the Mardi Gras Museum of Costumes and Culture in the French Quarter on Friday, March 30 from 7p.m. to 9:30p.m. There will be lots of food, a DJ, a guests-only bonnets costume, as well as a limited open bar. (wine, beer, and vodka cocktails) Tickets are $35 and proceeds go to benefit Food for Friends program. Advance purchase is required for tickets.
Here are some Easter activities the whole family will enjoy.
City Park Egg Scramble
From 9 a.m. to noon on March 24 and 25, bring your kids to the ultimate Easter egg hunt at City Park. With over 36,000 eggs waiting to be found, treats include 100 golden eggs with tickets to City Park attractions in them. There will also be music, face painters, the Easter Bunny, and a balloon artist all included in your $10 ticket price. Buy your tickets in advance before they sell out!
Easter Egg Hunt at the Fly
The Orleans Parish Sheriff’s Office is hosting its free Easter egg hunt again this year at the Fly on March 24. The fun kicks off at 10 a.m., but children and their parents are encouraged to arrive early and register to receive same-day, free admission to the Audubon Zoo. The Easter Egg Hunt for children ages 1-5 begins at 11 a.m. The Easter Egg Hunt for children ages 6-12 begins at 11:45 a.m. Participants can exchange the eggs they find for a gift bag filled with candy. Then, head to the Audubon Zoo for a fun-filled day.
Hoppin’ Down the River
Celebrate Easter on the river. Hop aboard the Paddlewheeler Creole Queen for the annual Hoppin’ Down the River Cruise with Bourgeois the Bunny. Families will have the chance to meet and take pictures with Bourgeois, see and hold a real live alligator, play games, get their faces painted, and enjoy a full lunch buffet complete with Easter treats. The cruise departs at 10:30 a.m. and 2 p.m. on Saturday, March 24. Tickets are $59 for adults, $39 for children aged 3-12, and $10 for children 2 and under.
If you’re a bit too old for the egg hunting but still want to partake in an egg-cellent activity, why not take a crack at paque? This Cajun tradition pits two people against each other 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. Go ahead and start a game yourself!