The 2016 Carnival season gets underway this weekend with five parades on tap on the east and west banks of Jefferson Parish.
Also adding to the fun is the annual Family Gras celebration, presented by the Jefferson Convention and Visitors Bureau. It runs Friday through Sunday on the neutral ground between Causeway Boulevard and Severn Avenue in Metairie.
And then there’s the Lundi Gras celebration Feb. 8 in Kenner.
Let’s start with the parades.
FRIDAY: At 7 p.m., the Krewe of Excalibur rolls, followed at 7:30 p.m. by the Krewe of Athena.
SATURDAY: At 11:45 a.m., the Krewe of Adonis rolls on the West Bank.
At 6 p.m., the Krewe of Caesar rolls in Metairie.
SUNDAY: At 5:30 p.m., the Corps de Napoleon rolls in Metairie.
The remainder of the schedule is:
7 p.m. Feb. 5: the Krewe of Centurions.
6:30 p.m. Feb. 6: the Krewe of Isis.
7 p.m. Feb. 8 (Lundi Gras): the all-female Krewe of Pandora debuts at 7 p.m.
10 a.m. Feb. 9 (Mardi Gras): the Krewe of Argus, followed by Elks Trucks and then Jefferson Trucks.
The Krewe of Adonis begins near the intersection of Gen. de Gaulle Drive and Behrman Highway in Algiers, proceeding down Behrman to Carol Sue Avenue. It continues onto Terry Parkway, and disbands near Oakwood Center.
Adonis parade goers will be treated to a free performance by the band Chicken on the Bone from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. The stage will be located at the corner of Carol Sue and Terry Parkway.
All Metairie parades will take the traditional Metairie route, forming inside Clearview Mall at the corner of El Dorado Street and Houma Boulevard. They proceed east down Veterans Memorial Boulevard to Severn Avenue, make a U-turn on 12th Street and come up the other side of Severn.
Again reaching Veterans, they will turn left onto Bonnabel Boulevard, make a U-turn at Feronia Street and roll on the other side of Bonnabel.
When the parades reach Veterans again, they turn left, disbanding at the corner of Veterans and Martin Behrman Avenue.
Before the parades roll this weekend, Family Gras gets underway at 5:30 p.m. Friday with a performance by Paris Avenue, followed by the legendary Dr. John from 7:15 p.m. to 8:30 p.m.
“Our first year for Family Gras was 2007, and we have gone from 14,000 fans over the three-day weekend in 2007 to 102,000 fans over the three-day weekend in 2015,” said Violet Peters, president and chief executive officer for the Jefferson Convention and Visitors Bureau. “More and more visitors from out of town are putting this event on their calendars to learn who the artists may be. The entertainers are beginning to spread the word about the festival, and that is leading to more interest from artists. The event is growing bigger each year.”
SATURDAY: N oon: the Imagination Movers
1 p.m.: So Long Storyland
2:30 p.m.: Big Sam’s Funky Nation
4:15 p.m.: The Monkees 50th anniversary tour.
6 p.m. to 7:15 p.m.: A surprise artist will perform.
SUNDAY: Noon: Remedy
1 p.m.: Amanda Shaw
2:30 p.m.: Johnny Rivers
4 p.m.: Rodney Atkins
5:45 p.m.: The Band Perry
In addition to the music, there will be an arts market each day featuring handmade crafts, artwork, photography and jewelry.
There also will be food including jambalaya, crab cakes, fried catfish, fried shrimp, hot dogs, corn dogs, funnel cakes and hamburgers.
Admission to Family Gras is free. But for those who want a closer look, a three-day weekend pass is available for $99 per person for those ages 4 and older. The pass includes backstage access, premium stage viewing and special food and refreshments.
The pass can be purchased online through Ticketmaster Wednesday and Thursday and on site beginning at 4:30 p.m. Friday.
Only cash will be accepted for the pass on Friday.
“Family Gras provides the Jefferson Convention and Visitors Bureau with a great opportunity to showcase our parish and its amenities,” Peters said. “And it has already played a vital role in the success of our Carnival on the first weekend of parade festivities. The event is now generating over $6.8 million in economic impact, and the return on investment is outstanding.”
Eva Jacob Barkoff writes about the people and events in Jefferson Parish. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.