Joan of Arc Parade kicks off New Orleans Carnival 2014 with a costumed Twelfth Night procession

Hundred of parades roll on New Orleans streets every year, but few are as quirky as the spectacle staged by the Krewe of Jeanne d’Arc. The group returns to the French Quarter for its sixth annual procession on Monday (Jan. 6), bringing handmade throws, bagpipes, drums and ranks of revelers dressed in medieval costumes.

The Joan of Arc parade coincides with the beginning of the Carnival season — and marks the 602nd birthday of Joan, the martyred girl warrior and patron saint of France who has emerged as a feminist icon for many contemporary women.

“In some ways we’re an atypical Carnival parade,” said krewe captain and founder Amy Kirk Duvoisin. “We bring together people who were looking for a Mardi Gras niche — history buffs, teachers, Francophiles, fans of Renaissance fairs and people who understand that the season isn’t just about drinking, but a time when misfits, outcasts, families and everybody else can get together for some eccentric fun.”

About 200 krewe members will gather near the Toulouse Street Wharf at dusk on Monday and will march at 6 p.m. Look for knights, peasants, kings, queens, lambs, heretics, angels and three women who represent Joan of Arc at different stages of life. (Duvoisin dresses as the martyred Joan, who was burned at the stake on May 30, 1431).

“For the marchers, it’s a special experience to pass through the Quarter on foot, to connect with spectators eye-to-eye. We see lots of children dressed as knights and princesses, lots of French speakers and lots of people who want to start Carnival with something magic,” Duvoisin said.

Many spectators fall in behind the procession, lighting candles with Joan of Arc matches provided by the krewe. (Other throws include prayer cards, dolls, necklaces, and 16 hard-to-get swords that represent Joan’s age when she began to battle for France.

The 90-minute parade follows a circular route through the Quarter, with good viewing spots along Decatur, Conti, Chartres and Ursulines streets. The parade disbands at Washington Artillery Park. Highlights include a celebratory toast at the Williams Research Center of the Historic New Orleans Collection (400 Chartres St.), and the chance to see the whole procession pass between St. Louis Cathedral and Jackson Square — a rarity for a permitted parade.

Joan of Arc Parade

What: A medieval procession to kick off the Carnival season — and to celebrate the birthday of a French patron saint.

When: 6 p.m.

Where: The parade follows a 90-minute route through the French Quarter beginning at Toulouse and Decatur Streets and ending at Washington Artillery Park. Good viewing spots can be found along Conti, Chartres, Ursulines and Decatur streets.


Joan of Arc parade 2013, New Orleans Mardi Gras Watch as founder Amy Kirk describes the fifth annual Joan of Arc Mardi Gras parade in New Orleans and introduces three Joans. The French Quarter parade took place on Jan. 6, 2013.