Shorter Routes, Bigger Krewes
New Orleans carnival, celebrations throughout Louisiana and taking the revelry to D.C.
Due to New Orleans’ smaller police force, another year of shortened parade routes continues until Rex rolls on Fat Tuesday (Feb. 21). Diversity prevails, from the 1,600-member Krewe of Bacchus parading with 33 animated super-floats and 30 marching bands (Feb. 19) to its satirical opposite, the bodacious, ever-expanding 2,500-member Intergalactic Krewe of Chewbacchus led by local artists devoted to “saving the galaxy” with their sci-fi fandoms set to New Orleans soundtracks (Jan. 28) and Endymion’s 3,500-plus members (and growing) augmenting block-long floats and annual mega-party (Feb. 18) headlined by Darius Rucker (moved from the Superdome to the Convention Center due to renovations) to the all-female Krewe of Muses famed for hand-hewn high heel throws and Krewe of Zulu’s prized golden coconuts, New Orleans’ offers a kaleidoscope of unforgettable sights (mardigrasneworleans.com).
DESCENDING ON D.C.
Congresswoman Julia Letlow, Louisiana’s first Republican woman elected to Congress and a Monroe native, chairs the 74th Washington D.C. Mardi Gras, a three-day whirlwind of parties and networking that brings the Louisiana business community and Washington politicians to the nation’s capital, culminating Jan. 28 with the Mardi Gras Grand Ball and Queen’s Breakfast. New Orleanians Fred Heebe (River Birch Renewable Energy) and college senior Virginia Mills reign as the 2023 king and queen. Two dozen queens representing Louisiana’s diverse festivals are also honored at the Grand Ball (mkofl. com/krewe).
Dining During Carnival
Chuck Eats Restaurant Week makes its debut amid Carnival season (Jan. 20-29) featuring deals at popular eateries. Consider browsing through menus at such iconic fine dining havens as 121 Artisan Bistro and Calla, casual spots like Biscuits & Jamz and Village Coffeehouse, Area 337’s creative Latino offerings or the lively Crying Eagle, Panorama and Luna Bar & Grill (visitlakecharles.org/chuckeats).
Political Pageantry and Revelry
Carnival in the Nation’s Capital: The Washington Mardi Gras Ball exhibition showcases the story of Louisiana’s annual celebration by revisiting past balls and participants from the Louisiana congressional delegations at the Capitol Park Museum through Sept. 16. Featuring costumes and royal regalia, photographs of national political figures, posters and memorabilia drawn from museum collections, private lenders and archives from the Mystic Krewe of Louisianians (louisianastatemuseum.org).
Unique Carnival Concepts
Unique to Carnival season in Lake Charles: Historic costume displays at the renovated Imperial Calcasieu Museum (exhibit runs through March 27); a Mardi Gras Shoebox Float virtual contest; a massive Twelfth Night Kickoff Festival Jan. 7 with a car show; the Feb. 16 Lighted Boat Parade, a Mardi Gras Gumbo Cook-off Feb. 18, and the Krewe of Illusions gala, themed Día de los Muertos when revelers relive some of Hollywood’s biggest moments with sensational costumed stars performing on Febr. 18 (visitlakecharles. org/swlamardigras).
PHOTO COURTESY LUNA BAR AND GRILL