Carnival is about to get rolling. The Uptown parade season begins tonight with the krewes of Oshun, Cleopatra and Alla on the St. Charles Avenue route. This is the first year since the 2020, right before the pandemic shutdown, that krewes are parading on their traditional Uptown routes.
And this year the queen of Uptown’s first Friday, the Krewe of Cleopatra, celebrates its golden 5oth anniversary.
All the Friday parades take the traditional route along St. Charles Avenue from Napoleon Avenue to Canal Street before ending at Tchoupitoulas and Poydras streets. Each krewe, however, takes a different route to St. Charles Avenue, detailed below.
Krewe of Oshun
The Krewe of Oshun heralds the Uptown parade season. Named for the Yoruba god of love of and sensuality — the only female deity in the Yoruba religion — this krewe of about 300 male and female riders presents 20 floats crafted by the Barth Brothers Artists and Designers.
Oshun’s symbols are the peacock and fan, and peacock images are prominent in the krewe’s throws. The king, called the Shango, and the queen ride on peacock floats.
Start time: 6 p.m.
Look for: This parade gives revelers a chance to see Baby Dolls. Dating to the beginning of the 20th century, the Baby Dolls are considered the first women to costume and mask on Mardi Gras.
Catch it if you can: Oshun’s signature throw is a handmade fan.
Route: Oshun begins at Napoleon Avenue and Magazine and takes Napoleon to St. Charles Avenue, where it heads downtown.
Krewe of Cleopatra
Named for a queen of legendary grace, beauty, courage and leadership skills, the all-female Krewe of Cleopatra rolls with 1,800 riders on 21 floats.
Cleopatra’s Friday night parade graced the streets of the West Bank for four decades before moving across the river to the traditional Uptown route in 2013. On its 50th anniversary, Cleopatra can attest to the truth in its motto: “Her Beauty is Timeless, Her Age is Now—Forever.”
Start time: 6:30 p.m. (follows Oshun)
Theme: “Jeweled Jubilee”
Look for: It’s a special ride 50th anniversary ride for this krewe. See Queen Cleopatra L in her royal barge.
Catch it if you can: Krewe members throw glittered, hand-decorated chalices.
Route: Cleopatra begins Jefferson and Magazine Street and takes Magazine to Napoleon Avenue, where the parade heads to St. Charles Avenue and into the CBD.
Krewe of Alla
The patriarch of the first Friday, the Krewe of Alla was established in 1932. Its name (from Al. La.) pays homage to its birthplace of Algiers, Louisiana. But after the krewe moved its parade from the West Bank to the Uptown route and began accepting women as well as men in 2014, krewe leaders have emphasized the “All” in Alla.
Start time: 7 p.m. (follows Cleopatra)
Theme: “Festing Around the World”
Look for: Alla is known for its colorful floats, as befitting its former captain, the late Blaine “Mr. Mardi Gras” Kern.
Catch it if you can: The hand-decorated genie lamps harken back to Alla’s history of Maharajas and Maharanis reigning over the parade.
Route: The Alla parade begins at Tchoupitoulas and Napoleon, where it proceeds along Napoleon to St. Charles Avenue and the traditional route.
You can check the parade’s location on the city’s Parade Tracker. See additional information about Mardi Gras parades at ready.nola.gov/mardi-gras