Started as a simple going-away party in 1972, Southern Decadence has evolved into one of New Orleans’ premier annual events. Held over Labor Day weekend, this street party celebration of LGBT culture attracts hundreds of thousands of participants from all over the world to the French Quarter.
The parades and contests, block parties and food and drink specials run all weekend long, 24 hours a day, Bars plan drag shows, contests, dance parties, music and special events. Everyone is welcome to grab a costume, wander around the French Quarter, take a gay walking tour and visit some of the world’s most famous gay bars.
The weekend of events starts the Wednesday before Labor Day with, of course, a parade. There are more parades large and small, planned and unplanned every day, with the Annual Official Southern Decadence Parade on Sunday afternoon. Grand Marshals lead marchers, floats and bands through the streets of the French Quarter. This parade is considered the main event of the celebration and brings in visitors and participants from all over the world.
Most of the festival happens on the street and is free and welcoming to all. Several types of VIP passes are available that include admission to nightly dance parties and other special events. The celebration is (slightly) more sedate during the day with more no-holds-barred action at night.