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Mardi Gras Events: Krewe of Bacchus

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Featured Image Credit: Krewe of Bacchus

The Krewe of Bacchus Title Float with krewe members throwing beads to the crowd below
Source: neworleans.com

Mardi Gras Magic

Mardi Gras is an over-the-top celebration of everything New Orleans. Once a year, the weeks-long Carnival season consumes the city in revelry, parades, and delightful disguises. These Mardi Gras events are usually presented by a Krewe (the local name for a festival organization), which hosts both a parade and a ball during the Mardi Gras season.

Mardi Gras balls used to be overwhelmingly private, but that all changed with the introduction of the Krewe of Bacchus in the late 1960s. Inspired by the Roman god of wine, the Krewe of Bacchus set out to both lift Mardi Gras from a mid-century slump and make Carnival a more accessible event for newcomers and tourists.  

History of the Krewe of Bacchus 

A float in the Bacchus parade lights up against the evening sky
Source: Krewe of Bacchus

In 1949, the Mardi Gras season in New Orleans was changed forever when Owen Brennan, a legendary New Orleans restauranteur, came up with the Krewe of Bacchus. This Krewe hosted only two Mardi Gras balls in Brennan’s lifetime, in 1949 and 1950, opening its doors to the public – a daring departure from the secretive, invite-only balls that had characterized Mardi Gras events up until that point. In 1968, Brennan’s son Owen “Pip” Brennan, Jr. revitalized the Krewe of Bacchus and inaugurated the massive parade that has rolled annually ever since.

This world-famous parade and ball were organized to reinvigorate Mardi Gras as a modern spectacle that could be enjoyed by all. This vision was accomplished by building huge floats on a scale that had never hit the streets before, accompanied by an exceptional deluge of beads and doubloons that virtually guaranteed every spectator would go home with a memorable throw. Furthermore, the Krewe of Bacchus broke with Mardi Gras tradition by making its king a national celebrity that would be recognizable to locals and tourists alike. Over the years, stars that have led the Bacchus parade include Kirk Douglas, Nicolas Cage and Will Ferrell.  

Krewe of Bacchus Parade Route & Details

The 2023 Krewe of Bacchus parade route
Source: mardigrasneworleans.com

The Krewe of Bacchus always rolls on the Sunday night before Mardi Gras. As one of Carnival’s three “Super Krewes” (along with the Krewes of Endymion and Orpheus), Bacchus is a lengthy parade featuring over 1,500 riders on over 30 floats, many of which are doubled-up “super floats.” Popular floats that appear every year include the Bacchagator, the Bacchasaurus, and the Bacchaneer — all sure to be ravishingly decorated for Mardi Gras festivities. If you plan on attending this year’s parade, get there early because it’ll definitely attract large crowds wishing to cheer for this annual festivity.

This year’s parade starts on February 19th at 5:15 PM, and takes you on an exciting journey starting at Napoleon Avenue, proceeding down St. Charles Avenue past Tivoli Circle to Canal Street and Tchoupitoulas Street, before ending up in grand style at Ernest N. Morial Convention Center. So don’t miss out on this incredible experience as this iconic Krewe passes through Uptown, Garden District & CBD!

Learn More About the Parade Route’s History

Parade-goers who find themselves watching the Krewe of Bacchus along St. Charles Avenue might even notice another spectacular sight – the ornate mansions of New Orleans’ Garden District. New Orleans neighborhood history plays a big part in lending Mardi Gras events their magic, so it’s always helpful to learn some background about these majestic surroundings. 

Thankfully, Garden District walking tours are a fun way to absorb the compelling history behind one of New Orleans’ most enchanting neighborhoods. A Garden District tour educates patrons about some of the city’s most powerful and influential families, how they made their fortunes, and the architectural wonders they built to live in. So don’t wait any longer and book your Garden District tour with New Orleans Legendary Walking Tours, and get ready for an insightful excursion through the history of the Big Easy! 

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