The steady week-long drum beat to Mardi Gras begins tonight, with parades from the Ancient Druids and the Mystic Krewe of Nyx.
The all-male Druids and the all-female Nyx are known for delivering barbs back and forth, employing signs on their floats for veiled insults. This friendly rivalry can add a touch of drama to this parade weeknight. Since its last parade in 2020, however, Nyx has been undergoing its own dramas.
One thing both Wednesday night krewes have in common: They keep their theme under wraps until the parade. They also follow the same route, shown below.
The official beginning of parades is at Napoleon Avenue and Prytania Street, but krewes line up well in advance. The line-ups will affect traffic and parking from St. Charles Avenue to Tchoupitoulas Street. Uptown residents need to plan accordingly.
The National Weather Service promises a warm winter night with some patchy fog, a gentle breeze and a low around 64. It should be a pleasant night for parades.
Krewe of Ancient Druids
The druids of old were learned, upper-class spiritual leaders of Celtic society, dating back to the fourth century BC. In New Orleans, the Druids date back to the 1920s and ’30s, when the Mystic Krewe of Druids held its procession after Rex on Mardi Gras Day.
The Ancient Druids who hold a parade on the Wednesday before Mardi Gras formed in 1998, giving members of other krewes a chance to parade. All of the 250 Druids belong to other Carnival organizations. The parade-only krewe, with no bal masque, is ruled by the Arch Druid, who rides with his jester. The identity of the Arch Druid — or any krewe member, for that matter — is never revealed.
Start time: 6:15 p.m.
Look for: Flambeaux carriers light the way for this traditional night procession. The Marine Corps Band shows revelers the beauty of precision.
Catch it if you can: The Druids, presented by the Golden Acorn Society, give out plush acorns as one of its signature throws. Another signature throw, lighted wands, make the night more magical.
Mystic Krewe of Nyx
The Mystic Krewe of Nyx burst onto the Carnival scene in 2012, when the krewe named for the Greek goddess of the night began its reign over Wednesday night. Its first parade had 534 riders, according to the krewe’s website. That number grew exponentially every year, until it became one of the city’s superkrewes with more than 3,400 riders on 44 floats in 2020.
Its 10th anniversary parade will have 240 riders on 17 floats, according to Arthur Hardy’s authoritative Mardi Gras Guide. The krewe saw a mass exodus in the summer of 2020 in response to a social media post from Captain Julie Lea that was seen as countering the Black Lives Matter movement.
Start: 6:45 p.m. (follows Druids)
Look for: The krewe has its own dance troupe, the NOLA Nyxettes, dressed in Nyx’s signature black and hot pink.
Catch it if you can: The Nyx signature throw is a glittered and hand-decorated purse.
All parades will follow the same abbreviated route:
Start: Napoleon Avenue and Prytania Street
Proceed down Napoleon
Right on St. Charles Avenue
Proceed on St. Charles Avenue around Lee Circle
Proceed on St. Charles
Right on Canal Street
Right on Tchoupitoulas Street
End: Tchoupitoulas and Poydras Street
You can check on the krewe’s progress in the city’s Parade Tracker. See additional information about Mardi Gras parades at ready.nola.gov/mardi-gras
Safety, parking, transportation
As always, take care in large crowds and report suspicious activity to public safety officials.
Parking is restricted along parade routes two hours before and after parades to be sure parade elements and sanitation crews can access the street. Parking personnel will be monitoring for illegal parking.
Call 504-658-8100 for parking enforcement. See additional Mardi Gras parking information.
Parking will be prohibited on either side of the following streets two hours before and after parades. Follow all posted signs.
- Tchoupitoulas Street from Jackson Avenue to Nashville Avenue
- Napoleon Avenue from Tchoupitoulas to South Claiborne Avenue
- St. Charles Avenue from Napoleon to Canal Street
- Tchoupitoulas from Poydras Street to Calliope Street
Before parades begin or when crowd size warrants, the New Orleans Police Department will close the route to vehicles. Plan ahead and avoid streets that intersect with parades.
Additional intermittent closures will be necessary as parade elements travel across the city. Track the lead and tail of parades as they roll with the parade tracker at routewise.nola.gov.