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.
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 typically held on Sunday and winds through French Quarter passing most of the gay bars.
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.
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.
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.
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 31-Monday, September 4, 2023.
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.
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 are a couple of different websites you can go to for events - as the weekend gets closer, they will post more. They are here and here. You can also subscribe to our LGBTQ newsletter which will give more tips and articles monthly.
The parade typically rolls the Sunday afternoon of Decadence weekend throughout the French Quarter, usually beginning 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.
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!
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.
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.