Easter in New Orleans
April 5, 2015
For Christians around the world, the three days between Good Friday and Easter Sunday are the most solemn days of the year. But they are also days of celebration for the joyful Resurrection and the confirmation of the Afterlife in which Christians believe. New Orleans has its own special way of celebrating the joy of Easter.
For Catholics, Easter marks the end of Lent, a 40 day period of fasting, abstinence, and reflection. For others, Easter is simply a festive time to celebrate the arrival of spring! In New Orleans, many church services are held early on Easter morning, and then the festivities begin.
In the city that loves to celebrate with a parade, there are three parades in the French Quarter on Easter Sunday, all of which are free for the public to observe.
In addition to the parades, many of the city’s most famous restaurants serve special Easter brunches, and some locations even hold Easter egg hunts for the kids.
Here are some of the highlights of Easter in New Orleans:
As with most holidays, New Orleans likes to celebrate Easter with a parade or two.
The Historic French Quarter Easter Parade
Easter Sunday kicks off in the morning with The Historic French Quarter Easter Parade. The parade takes off from Antoine’s Restaurant around 10:30 a.m. and proceedes to St. Louis Cathedral for 11:00 a.m. Mass.
With this parade you’ll see mule-drawn carriages and old convertibles, making their way through the French Quarter, and handing out stuffed Easter bunnies and other trinkets for the kids.
Following Mass, the parade participants continue to Jackson Square to show off their Easter hats before moving back through the French Quarter to return to Antoine’s. Awards are given out for the best Easter bonnets, baskets and overall attire.
Chris Owens French Quarter Easter Parade
Later, around 1:00 p.m. is the Chris Owens French Quarter Easter Parade. This parade features renowned French Quarter singer and entertainer, Chris Owens, as the Grand Duchess.
The Duchess leads her parade from the corner of Canal and Bourbon streets. The parade makes its way through the French Quarter, past the Chris Owens Club at 500 Bourbon, with colorful floats and vintage convertibles and even a couple of the city’s famous brass bands. And, of course, since this is a New Orleans parade, there will be plenty of Easter-themed throws to catch from the floats!
The Gay Easter Parade
Later in the afternoon, is the Gay Easter Parade, put on by the city’s LGBT community. The Gay Easter Parade takes a leisurely route through the French Quarter, passing every gay bar and many gay-owned restaurants and retail shops.
The paraders ride horse-drawn carriages or floats while wearing fun, fantastic versions of their Easter Sunday finest. You can expect to catch lots of beads from these floats!
There is also an annual Easter Bonnet Contest that evening at Good Friends Bar, a GLBT neighborhood bar at the corner of Dauphine and St. Ann streets in the French Quarter. Anyone can join in and some of the bonnet entries can get pretty outlandish. Even if you don’t wish to participate this is a contest worth attending! For information call (504) 566-7191.
Easter For the Kids
What would Easter be without an Easter egg hunt?
Easter Egg Hunt at City Park
For a fun New Orleans Easter egg hunt, check out City Park, where the Carousel Gardens and Storyland are located. Gates open at 9:00 and there are over 15,000 eggs to be found around the Amusement Park, including golden eggs with special prizes found inside!
No need to bring your own basket or bag; you’ll place your 12 collected eggs into a provided egg carton. The event is recommended for 8 years and younger and there is a ‘little kid’ area just for toddlers. The kids can also visit with the Easter Bunny and enjoy other types of entertainment.
Children’s Easter Party on in the Garden District
A smaller Easter egg hunt begins the week before Easter, on the afternoon of Palm Sunday at the New Orleans Opera Association’s Women’s Guild Home (2504 Prytania Street). During this Children’s Easter Party, kids will hunt for their eggs in this elegant Garden District mansion, just one block from the St. Charles Avenue Streetcar line.
Finger foods, desserts, drinks and champagne (for the adults) are included in the price of admission. For more information call (504) 529-2278 ext. 227.
“Hoppin' Down the River” with Bourgeois the Bunny
Another Easter fun event for the kids (and their parents) is the annual “Hoppin' Down the River” with Bourgeois the Bunny. For this event, the paddlewheel steamboat Creole Queen on the Mississippi River, is transformed into an Easter Wonderland. There are always fun things for the kids, like balloon sculpting, face painting, storytelling, and games.
“Bourgeois, The Cajun Easter Bunny” is on hand to take pictures with the whole family, and there is a buffet of child-friendly food and Easter candy.
For more information and reservations, visit www.bigeasystore.com/CC/hopping-on-the-river.html or call (504) 529-4567.
Easter Brunches are an old New Orleans tradition: a great way to end the Lenten season and bring in the spring! Many of New Orleans’ finest restaurants offer Easter Brunches, some even at discounted prices.
NOTE: Because these special meals are quite popular, reservations made well ahead of time are strongly recommended.