New Orleans celebrates 45th annual Southern Decadence

Caleb Beck

New Orleans’ 45th annual Southern Decadence is the city’s premier gay celebration, and attracts upwards of 180,000 revelers to the city to engage in all manner of costumes, dancing, and debauchery.

The six-day festival will run from Aug. 31 to Sept. 5, culminating with an immense walking parade the Sunday before Labor Day. The parade will begin at the Golden Lantern on Decatur and Barracks streets, and end by the corner of Bourbon and St. Ann.

The festival started in 1972 as a tongue-in-cheek costume party between neighbors living in the Treme district. As a riff on a rude neighbor from New York, they decided to throw a parade dressed as their favorite “Southern Decadent,” and continued hosting the celebration the weekend before Labor Day annually.

The festival is regarded as one of the largest LGBT events in the world, and generates substantial tourism for the city, bringing in over $215 million in 2015. The occasion is promoted heavily by tourist organizations. The theme of this year’s celebration is “Decadence Takes the World” and the colors of this year will be red, white, sapphire, and purple. While Decadence is a free, to attend the late night circuit dance parties, partygoers need to purchase a weekend pass.