You might assume that the city of New Orleans takes a much-needed break after the overindulgence of Mardi Gras but, in reality, the city continues partying all through March as well. Mardi Gras often falls in early March to set the tone, but it's followed by even more parades for St. Patrick's Day and Super Sunday.
During this busy holiday month, the nice weather starts to make a comeback, bringing with it sunshine and blooming flowers. There's also a dip in the busy tourist season between the bulk of Mardi Gras events in February and JazzFest in April, so visitors can get a more authentic feel for the city at these smaller events.
There are parties and then there is Mardi Gras. The biggest event in New Orleans is an annual celebration that officially lands the day before Ash Wednesday every year, which can fall in early March or in February.
Mardi Gras is a grand blow-out to let off steam before Lent starts, but the revelry begins throughout the month prior to Fat Tuesday with epic parades and city-wide parties each day.
The most popular time to go is the weekend prior to Fat Tuesday when the two biggest parades of the season, Bacchus and Endymion, wind through the streets of the city. Grab a mask, get your beads, and put on a costume to join the fun.
BUKU Music + Art Project
The Buku Music + Art Project is a weekend-long festival that takes place at the Mardi Gras World event center, featuring indoor and outdoor stages, art exhibits, local food, plenty of drinks, and thousands of neon-clad young people enjoying the festivities. Although the event has only been around since 2012, it has established itself as a major boutique destination festival for fans of electronic dance music, hip-hop, and indie rock.
St. Patrick’s Day
After a short break post-Mardi Gras, the city of New Orleans kicks back into high gear with a week of St. Patrick's Day festivities. Following the Mardi Gras tradition of multiple parades, several different groups in the city host their own St. Paddy's Day party and you can bet each one has its own parade.
Some of the biggest ones include the boisterous Irish Channel Parade, which takes place on the Saturday before March 17, and the Metairie Parade, which takes place on that Sunday. The big downtown block party and the walking parade through the French Quarter always take place on the holiday itself, March 17. So if you miss the Mardi Gras celebration, just swap out your beads for some green attire to take part in some Irish debauchery.
St. Joseph’s Day
The Feast of St. Joseph is celebrated by Catholics worldwide, but in New Orleans, it's a particularly big deal for the enormous population of Italian- and Sicilian-Americans. Traditionally, Italian Catholic parishes all over town set up St. Joseph’s altars leading up to the feast day, which falls on March 19. The altars are covered with offerings of baked goods, dried beans, and fresh produce, thanking the saint for relieving hunger.
The actual celebration usually takes place on the weekend before March 19, when a parade of gentlemen in tuxedos marches through the French Quarter and distributes beads and good-luck fava beans. The altars are later broken up and the food is distributed to the hungry.
Super Sunday is the second most important day of the year after Fat Tuesday for the Mardi Gras Indians, whose traditions date back to the mid-1800s. The Mardi Gras Indians are different "tribes" of all Black members who deck out in intricate Native American regalia, complete with enormous feathered headdresses and beaded outfits. They sing and dance while marching through the streets in a (mostly) friendly competition to see which Big Chief is the “prettiest.”
Super Sunday, which is the third Sunday in March, finds tribes marching all over the older parts of town, but particularly in the Tremé neighborhood where you can see a wide assortment of—you guessed it—parades.
Party for the Planet
Beginning in March, the Audubon Nature Institute invites guests to celebrate the environment at Party for the Planet presented by Entergy through a series of family-focused events that highlight sustainability and taking care of Mother Earth. The Nature Institute includes a zoo, aquarium, wildlife center, and planetarium, and Party for the Planet events are held at all of them. So whether you want to learn about helping wild orangutans, preserving the ocean, or even take a look outside of our atmosphere, there's something for everyone at this eco-friendly party.
Tennessee Williams & New Orleans Literary Festival
Tennessee Williams set his most famous play, "A Streetcar Named Desire," in New Orleans, and the city fully embraces the author during the annual Tennessee Williams & New Orleans Literary Festival. This gathering features, among other things, poetry and play readings, book signings, and workshops that cater to both the literati and the public. Plus, there is the ever-popular Stella-screaming contest, where would-be Stanleys (named after characters from the play) rip their shirts off and wail forlornly for their lost love. This is the event to check out for bookworms, writers, and theater lovers.
Saints + Sinners LGBTQ Literary Festival
Held in conjunction with the Tennessee Williams Festival, Saints + Sinners is a literary festival that celebrates LGBTQ+ voices in the publishing world. Writers from around the U.S. and the world host workshops, small-group discussions, masterclasses, and keynote speeches, and it's become one of the premier events of its kind in the country. To see up-and-coming LGBTQ+ authors as well as highly-esteemed virtuosos, don't miss this unapologetically queer event.
The Allstate Sugar Bowl St. Patrick's Day Classic
On the morning of the Metairie St. Patrick's Day Parade, revelers who want to get a bit of exercise in before partying all day can run the St. Patricks' Day Classic. It's a 2-mile course that starts at Gennaro's Bar and ends with a party at Winston's Pub, so you can assume the general atmosphere of the race is more jovial than competitive. The course follows the same route as the parade which happens later in the day, so once you're done running, hang out for some drinks at the pub and wait around for the parade.