For most people, “Mardi Gras weekend” actually begins on Thursday with a wonderful trio of parades that represent three centuries of parading lineage.

Led by their captain in a carriage and 12 lieutenants on horseback, the 250 Knights of Babylon will present a 21-float procession titled “Babylonian Pantheon.”

King Sargon LXIX’s float is mule-drawn and is surrounded by flambeaux. Special signature floats include the Official Knights Streetcar, Jesters’ Jazz and the new Babylonian Barge. Masks were created and designed by Raphael Academy to correlate with the costumes. Krewe-emblemed throws include jester hats and bracelets. The Knights’ most collectible throws will be their new 3-D cups and lighted King Sargon heads.

Although founded in 2000, the Knights of Chaos are a reincarnation of the Knights of Momus, which paraded from 1872 to 1991. This all-male group is made up of some former members of that club and other krewes. Chaos purchased the old Momus floats, which are decorated by Royal Artists. The theme of this year’s 16-float parade is “Chaos Says N.O.!”

The identity of the king, known as Number One, is never revealed. The 225 men always deliver a Momus-style satirical parade that pokes fun at people and institutions. Look for the captain and his lieutenants on horseback.

Chaos will throw float-specific cards and cups, plush swords and shields, and two new secret theme-related throws. Flambeaux are traditionally featured in the procession.

As wonderful as they are, for many paradegoers, Babylon and Chaos are just warm-up acts for the night’s final attraction, the Krewe of Muses. It is hard to overstate the importance of this organization, which has been credited with transforming Carnival in a way not seen since the birth of Bacchus in 1969.

Muses can rightly take credit for the growth and popularity of new female krewes, including its spin-off Nyx, which now has more members than Muses. Innovative signature throws and the addition of bawdily named female marching groups have become Muses trademarks.

In 2015, the 1,030-member club promises a 26-float procession that features more than 80 units, including signature Muses floats, the Shoe and the Bathtub, that employ state-of-the-art fiber optic lighting. Expect this year’s “Coming of Age” theme to be witty. The club produces an amazing assortment of more than 30 krewe-logo items.

The Sirens float, the final one in the parade, is one of the season’s best and is worth waiting for. It will feature special Sirens tattoos not thrown from any other float. The krewe’s Honorary Muse this year is chef Sue Zemanick.