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How to Celebrate Easter in New Orleans

Easter Sunday in the French Quarter. (Photo: Paul Broussard)

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 the religious and secular to enjoy the holiday. This year, Easter falls on Sunday, April 21. We’ve complied a list of some of our favorite ways to celebrate Easter here in New Orleans, from parades and costume contests to cakes and more.

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.

St. Louis Cathedral and Jackson Square are alive with springtime blooms. (Photo: Rebecca Ratliff)
St. Louis Cathedral and Jackson Square are alive with springtime blooms. (Photo: Rebecca Ratliff)

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

The 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 21. 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.

Easter Sunday in the French Quarter. (Photo: Paul Broussard)
Easter Sunday in the French Quarter. (Photo: Paul Broussard)

Bunnies in the Big Easy

The 2019 Bunnies in the Big Easy will be held at the Sheraton New Orleans on Friday, April 19 from 7p.m. to 9:30 p.m. There will be lots of food, a DJ, as well as a limited open bar (wine, beer, and vodka cocktails). Tickets are $40 and proceeds go to benefit the Food for Friends program.  Advance purchase is required for tickets.

Family Fun

Here are some Easter activities the whole family will enjoy.

NOMA Egg Hunt and Family Festival

The New Orleans Museum of Art invites families to come out for a fun-filled day of arts and crafts, sweets and treats, face painting, music, and, of course, hunting for eggs. The event is from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Saturday, April 13 in the Sydney and Walda Besthoff Sculpture Garden next to the museum. Tickets are $15 in advance for non-members.

City Park Egg Scramble

From 9 a.m. to noon on April 13 and 14, 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!

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, April 20. Tickets are $59 for adults, $39 for children ages 3-12, and $10 for children 2 and under.

Egg Knocking

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!

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