Find your Krewe: Guide to queer Mardi Gras parties in New Orleans

Scantily clad men in masks parade through the streets of New Orleans.

Heading to Mardi Gras in New Orleans? Buckle up, sis!

When most people refer to Fat Tuesday festivities, they are actually speaking about the weekend before Mardi Gras day. The whole idea of Mardi Gras is to indulge as much as possible before Lent, a Catholic tradition where you give up something naughty for 40 days. To get those vices out of your system, there is no better place to be debaucherous than New Orleans.

Here’s our guide to krewes, parties, and all the Mardi Gras activities New Orleans has to offer.

Mardi Gras krewes, parades, and balls:

Women of the Muses parade sit in a large float shaped like a high heel shoe.

There are 100s of Krewes that organize different parades and balls in the city of New Orleans. Although most of the most famous parades happen around Mardi Gras weekend, the Carnival season begins on the twelfth night of Christmas (Kings Night) and lasts until Fat Tuesday.

Orpheus, Bacchus, and Endymion: The three super parades happen every year on Saturday, Sunday, and Monday before Mardis Gras day. Orpheus and Bacchus usually follow the traditional Uptown route going from the beginning of St Charles through Uptown, down Canal, and ending in the CBD. Endymion starts in Midcity and goes the length of Canal Street. These are the most popular parades, but it’s well worth it as the floats are massive and outrageously decorated. Also, don’t forget about the amazing brass bands and step dancers.

Krewe of Eris: The infamous punk anarchist walking parade begins at sunrise in the Bywater on the Sunday before Mardi Gras and meanders through the downtown neighborhoods of Marigny. Wild costumes, punk queers, and tons of face tattoos ensue.

Black members of the Krewe of Zulu  dressed in colorful headdresses and grass skirts march through the streets of New Orleans.

Krewe of St Ann: Birthed in 1969 from Carnival purest wanting to create more grassroots walking parade through the narrow streets of the French Quarter, Marigny, and Bywater. This Krewe is known for elaborate costumes and a more local vibe. Find it rolling through the downtown neighborhoods on Mardi Gras day.

Krewe of Muses: The first all-female parade rolls down St Charles on the Thursday before Mardi Gras and throws intricately hand-designed high-heal shoes.

Krewe of Zulu: founded in 1916, this is the most famous predominately Black Krewe that rides early on Mardis Gras day. The group hands outs ornately decorated coconuts that are coveted by parade-goers.

Not Your Dad’s Ball: K*nky queer ball with live performances, underground dance music, and sexy darkrooms for your erotic pleasure.

Krewe of Petronius: The oldest Gay Mardi Gras Krewe in New Orleans usually has their ball in the weeks before Mardi Gras.

Krewe of Armenius: Known for its outrageous costumes and dazzling drag performances.

Three sexy  horned gender outlaws in blue, pink, and yellow face-paint pose for the camera at Dad's Ball.

Krewe of Mwindo: Predominately black and queer Mardi Gras Ball that usually features queer rap legends such as Big Freedia.

Lords of Leather: Even if you can’t make it to South Decadence you can get a taste of the New Orleans k*nk community at this ball.

Krewe of Stars: Cabaret-style Gay Ball focusing on live music and wacky spectacles.

Where to party

Dancers at Gimmie a Reason revel to the beat in the hazy Po-Boys Bar.

Bars have no required closing hours and drinking in the streets is legal. As you can imagine New Orleanians love to party, and the gays down here know how to get wild. The main cluster of gay bars is in the French Quarter at the corner of St Ann and Bourbon. The more underground and queer bars are scattered throughout Marigny and Bywater.

Po-Boy’s Bar: Named after the NOLA sandwich this rowdy mixed gay/straight bar hosts underground music ranging from hip hop to techno. If you’re looking for house music bangers don’t miss the monthly queer party Gimmie a Reason.

A gaggle of shirtless daddies in leather and rainbow pride shirts, festively dresses bearded guys, and two Sisters of perpetual Indulgence pose in front of the Phoenix

The Phoenix: The Marigny leather bar with a cruisey second floor, pool tables, and a mixed crowd of bears and hip neighborhood gays. It has a small store that sells sex toys, jock straps, and fetish wear. The bar also hosts the Lords of Leather afterparty on the Sunday of Mardi Gras.

OZ and Bourbon Parade: The epicenter of NOLA’s fruitloop on the downtown side of Bourbon street. It’s the best place to find pop music anthems, twinks, Divas, and circuit queens.

The Silverfox(formally Rawhide): Relaxed unpretentious leather bar in the French Quarter with a cruisey backroom.

A bearded man holding a drink and wearing a shirt with the words " Lantern Trash" leans against the doorway to the golden Lantern.

The Golden Lantern: One of the oldest gay bars in New Orleans where you’ll find drag shows, strong Bloody Marys, and a great place to take a break while you’re walking from the French Quarter to the Marigny.

Where to stay

This might seem like an easy question as there are many queer-friendly options in New Orleans, but the answer depends on what you are planning to do while you are in Crescent City. Many of the biggest parades go down Canal St which divides Downtown and Uptown. It’s safe to say that most of queer life happens downtown so if you’re staying in Uptown expect to do A LOT of walking or waiting in traffic for hours if you can even find a taxi. There is no shortage of accommodations in NOLA, but here are some of our favorites.

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