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Southern Decadence
Southern Decadence
Southern Decadence Parade
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Ultimate Southern Decadence Survival Guide

Everything you need to know to make the most of your Southern Decadence weekend

The Basics

What is Southern Decadence?

Southern Decadence is street festival / party that began back in 1972 as a going away party. The event started out very small and initially was just among a group of friends who called themselves “Decadents.” Since the group had so much fun over Labor Day Weekend in 1972, they decided to plan another event for that weekend over the Summer of 1973. Each year, the festival kept growing and blossomed into the event it is today. In simplest terms, modern day Southern Decadence is a weekend-long festival taking place in and around the French Quarter, that includes drag shows, bar events, pool parties, community events and much more.

Where is Southern Decadence held?

The entire city gets in on the action! LGBT bars, restaurants, and other venues from the Lower Garden District to the Bywater will have their own special take on Decadence Weekend. The intersection of St. Ann and Bourbon streets will be high traffic all weekend and they shut down the street for a giant concert on Saturday afternoon. The Phoenix in the Marigny is a popular spot and hosts a large beer bust/street festival. Also be sure to check out The Country Club for their drag brunch and pool! The annual parade is held on Sunday and winds through French Quarter passing most of the gay bars.

Paul Broussard
Southern Decadence Parade

How much are Southern Decadence tickets?

There are no official Southern Decadence tickets and many of the events are free. However, individual parties and bar events may require tickets, check the individual bars’ websites for more information.

Is Decadence just for Bears and the Leather crowd?

No! Southern Decadence is the largest LGBT celebration in the city and caters to all facets of our diverse community. Depending on the area you spend the most time will determine the crowd you are looking for. The Phoenix and Rawhide will draw a more leather crowd. The Oz and The Bourbon Pub will draw more of a younger party crowd. But there is also a really amazing mix of people at all events that makes the weekend unlike any other.

Are there events for women and lesbians at Southern Decadence?

Absolutely! There are a bunch of queer and women events over the weekend. As the event gets closer, you can check out the lineup to see what’s on tap for the ladies. 

The Specifics 

When is Southern Decadence?

Southern Decadence always falls over Labor Day weekend. There are events all week long, but this year the bulk of them fall from Thursday, August 29th - Monday, September 2nd. 

What is the Southern Decadence lineup?

There are literally hundreds of events happening during the week - the trick will be to choose which you want to do! There will be plenty of famous DJs from around the world, drag brunches and performances, dance events like Horsemeat Disco and lots more. 

What are some Southern Decadence events?

The biggest events will be the Beer Bust at the Phoenix, the street concert in front of Napoleon’s Itch, and the Parade on Sunday. On your first day, we’d recommend visiting several different spots and get the lay of the land. That will also allow you to scope out some of your favorite spots’ upcoming weekend events. There’s a couple of different websites you can go for events -  as the weekend gets closer, they will post more. They are here and here. You can also subscribe to our LGBT newsletter that will give more tips and articles monthly.

What is the Southern Decadence Parade schedule?

The parade rolls Sunday afternoon throughout the French Quarter, typically around 2 p.m. The exact route will be released closer to the weekend, but it typically passes by most of the gay bars in the Quarter.

Paul Broussard
Lafitte’s Blacksmith Shop

Can we really drink on the streets?

Yes. One of the best parts of visiting New Orleans and Southern Decadence is the ability to float around from bar to bar and meet people on the street. Most everything is in walking distance and grabbing a “purple drink” at Lafitte’s Blacksmith Shop is a perfectly good way to start the day!

How to make the most out of your Decadence experience

Where to stay for Southern Decadence?

This all really depends on the type of traveler you are. If you want to be in the center of all the action, staying in the French Quarter is probably right for you. There are a huge mix of larger hotel chains and small boutique spots. The Bourbon Orleans is a popular hotel that weekend as it’s right in the middle of the action. 

If you prefer to keep your festivities separate from your lodging, we would recommend somewhere outside of the Quarter, like the Lower Garden District or Marigny/Bywater

While we’d consider all of our hotels to be welcoming, these LGBT-friendly hotels have recently contributed to our community in some way. You can also see a list of hotels and other businesses displaying the “Everyone’s Welcome Here” sticker launched last year.

Paul Broussard
Southern Decadence at The Phoenix Bar

What to wear to Southern Decadence?

You can see people wearing all different types of things during Southern Decadence. Some people wear costumes, some a leather harness, some street clothes and anything in between. While costuming and dressing up is very popular for the weekend, it is important to know that anything you wear will be seen as acceptable! Note, that it can be quite warm in New Orleans around Labor Day, so make sure you bring appropriate clothing.