While Fat Tuesday doesn’t take place until February 13, Carnival season officially kicks off each year on January 6, also known as Twelfth Night. Throughout most of the Christian world, Twelfth Night is otherwise known as the Feast of the Epiphany, and it marks the end of the holiday season. Here in New Orleans, however, it’s just the beginning.
If you want to experience a taste of Carnival minus the crowds, Twelfth Night might be the New Orleans experience you’re looking for. Here’s what to expect.
Photo by @kingcakesbybrennans
Beginning on Twelfth Night, you can find king cakes available throughout New Orleans in a variety of styles and flavors.
Our own sugary concoction traces its roots back to a French pastry, Galette des Rois, which is filled with almond and pastry cream. The French-style king cake is still traditionally served in northern France on Twelfth Night. Taste this classic version at La Boulangerie.
A few delectable selections within walking of Hotel Monteleone include:
- Sucré – their picturesque pastel take on the tradition truly sparkles
- Brennan’s – a local icon offering Traditional, Bananas Foster, and Pink Parade (strawberry) selections
- Curio – offers a unique take with their filled lemon and chocolate twist king cake
- Rouses – the local grocery store stand-by is always welcome, and you can find both unfilled and filled versions in many flavors. You can’t go wrong with cream cheese though!
Photo by @VeryLocalNewOrleans
There are a few notable annual celebrations that happen on the evening of Twelfth Night. Masked and costumed in their finest attire, the Phunny Phorty Phellows set off on the St. Charles streetcar at 7 pm sharp, joined by The Storyville Stompers and heralding the beginning of Carnival season throughout the Uptown neighborhood.
This distinctive “krewe” has a rich history, dating back to 1878. For the first eight years of their existence, they were the “dessert” of Carnival, rolling in a parade after Rex. The early incarnation of the group ended its annual parading in 1898, but the modern organization was revived in 1981 and continues to this day.
Photo by @bryceellphoto
Here in the French Quarter, our guests can walk to witness the annual parade honoring the birthday of Joan of Arc. Krewe de Jeanne d’Arc kicks off their 9th Annual Joan of Arc Parade at 7 pm on Saturday, January 6, near Jax Brewery.
This walking parade is a medieval-themed theatrical procession that traditionally stops three times for pageantry: the krewe will make a toast at the Historic New Orleans Collection, perform a sword blessing at Saint Louis Cathedral, and finish with a king cake ceremony at Washington Artillery Park, across from Jackson Square.
Photo by @nola_val
Celebrating Twelfth Night in the French Quarter is a must-do experience. From king cake to costuming, parades to Papier-Mâché, Mardi Gras is just a month away, and this is the season we wait for all year long. Join us in the symphony of colorful culture, and be right in the heart of the excitement at Hotel Monteleone.
Check out the Mardi Gras parade schedule to plan your stay.
Looking for more travel tips? Our friendly Hotel Monteleone staff are always keen to share their New Orleans knowledge. Start planning your getaway today!