During Carnival season, the already vibrant and colorful culture in New Orleans is amplified tenfold—and things only get more spectacular when you add in LGBTQ-specific events and balls. From annual extravaganzas thrown by gay Mardi Gras krewes to block parties that invite you to leave your inhibitions at home, every day of gay Carnival is an opportunity to show up as you are, wherever you are.

With 2023 marking the full return of LGBTQ happenings and events after two years of scaled-back celebrations, this Carnival season is sure to be the biggest—and queerest—yet. Here are notable events LGBTQ locals and visitors won’t want to miss.

Barrett DeLong-Church
Krewe of Armenius

Mystik Krewe da la Rue Royale Revelers Twelfth Night Party

January 6, 2023

In Carnival tradition, Twelfth Night marks the commencement of the season’s parades and festivities, and the Mystik Krewe de la Rue Royale Revelers kicks it off in style with a night of grand, gay jubilation at the Mardi Gras Museum of Costumes and Culture. The cost of admission gets attendees access to an open bar, food, access to the museum, a commemorative pin, and a one-year membership in the krewe. Tickets and capacity are limited, so don’t wait to secure your spot in this can’t-miss cornerstone of gay carnival.

Krewe of Stars Masquerade Show Ball

January 13, 2023

One part tradition, one-part modern showmanship, and completely unique, the Krewe of Stars’ “Ball for All” creates a unifying space for people from all walks of life. The event combines music, entertainment, over-the-top costuming, and pure decadence for an evening that honors both our differences and our similarities.

Mystic Krewe of Apollo’s 20th Annual Ball

January 28, 2023

This Krewe’s events have become the stuff of local legend for their elaborate and mesmerizing costumes. With the theme for this year’s 20th-anniversary event announced as “A Night of Magic,” it’s sure to be a spellbinding night of hocus pocus and bewitching sights. This Bal Masque typically sells out well before the event date, so don’t delay if you want to be a part of this wickedly good time.

Mystic Krewe of Amon-Ra’s 58th Annual Ball

January 28, 2023

Securing an invitation to this exclusive ball is quite the honor, as each member is given just ten seats to fill with family and friends. But those who are lucky enough to attend this dazzling formal event get to witness a gay Mardi Gras tradition that has been going strong for nearly 60 years. Become a member or befriend a member to experience this show-stopping Carnival fantasy.

Krewe of Mwindo Bal Masque

January (TBD)

With education and outreach events throughout the year and an annual Bal Masque, this Krewe strives to unite queer people of various backgrounds, with specific emphasis on uplifting and celebrating the city’s queer Black community.

Krewe of Belle Reve’s Friday Night Before Mardi Gras

February 3, 2023

Want to experience the splendor of Gay Mardi Gras while supporting a good cause? This celebration is hosted by the Krewe of Belle Reve of Belle Reve NOLA, which provides affordable, LGBTQ-affirming housing to the city’s aging population. This year’s epic masquerade ball will be hosted at the Allways Lounge & Cabaret, where drinks, hors d’oeuvres, costumes, and entertainment will flow in abundance all night long.

Armeinius Bal Masque LIV

February 17, 2023

Since the 1960s, the Krewe of Armeinius has staged elaborate balls that showcase a full tableau of queer artistry, invention, and community. Everything from the outlandish and satirical to the formal and refined feels right at home in this legendary Bal Masque, which continues to sell tickets to the public to pass on the history and grand tradition of gay Mardi Gras. While this year’s event will be hosted in Chalmette, partygoers can convene at Grand Pre’s for a shuttle to and from the Frederick J Sigur Civic Center.

Krewe of Petronius Ball

February 19, 2023

The world’s oldest gay Mardi Gras Krewe returns for another triumphant evening of queer resilience. Founded at a time when anti-gay laws were still in place in much of the country, this Krewe has long been revered for its dedication to uniting the LGBTQ community, even when it was dangerous or difficult to do so. This year’s event supports Covenant House New Orleans, where young people can find safety and security during times of crisis. Tickets are exclusive to members, so you’ll have to join the ranks of Petronius to see this historic Krewe in action.

Lords of Leather Ball

February 19, 2023

The only rule at Lords of Leather Ball? Don’t dress casually. Here, leather outfits, flamboyant costumes, gowns, and tuxedos are the name of the game. Tap into your bawdy side with the only krewe in the country that specifically caters to the gay leather community while promoting education, raising public awareness, and dismantling stigmatization of this often-overlooked (and prejudged) queer subculture.

Jabari Henry, New Orleans & Co.

Fat Monday Luncheon

February 20, 2023

This Gay Carnival tradition celebrates its 73rd year with a delicious multi-course luncheon at Arnaud’s Restaurant. In addition to mingling and dining with fellow queer revelers, attendees will enjoy a human chandelier decoration contest, a second line led by a New Orleans jazz band, and a Queen’s Reception at Crossing Bar. Because the event carries such historical significance, tickets sell out quickly, so plan ahead if you want to be in that number.

Mardi Gras Day

February 21, 2023

Take to the streets in all your queer glory for the citywide celebration of Fat Tuesday. Parades, dancing, indulgences, and more await you at nearly every stop, and the best costumes of the season will be on full display.

Bourbon Street Awards

February 21, 2023

Gather at the corner of Bourbon and St. Ann for a block-party that dishes out awards for Best Drag, Best Leather, Best of Show and more, all against the colorful backdrop of Mardi Gras Day. This tradition has carried on for five decades and is guaranteed to delight your spirit and imagination. Think you’ve got what it takes to win a Bourbon Street Award? Be sure to sign up early that morning to participate in this famously flashy spectacle.

Gay Mardi Gras Bead Toss

February 21, 2023

Every year, the Krewe of Queenateenas’ reigning King Cake King and Queen take to the balcony of the Ambush Mansion for a bead toss that will have the queer community leaping, grabbing and cheering. This is, quite literally, one of the crowning moments of Gay Mardi Gras.


Now that you know what you'll do, you can start thinking about where you’ll stay, what you’ll eat, and what you’ll drink. Need ideas on what to wear? Our local costume and accessories shops have you covered there, too. Let the gay times roll!