NEW ORLEANS (press release) – Royal Sonesta New Orleans will host its annual signature event “Greasing of the Poles” at 10 a.m. on Friday, March 1. In honor of the hotel’s 50th anniversary, this year's theme, “Hail to Half a Century!,” pays homage to the landmark hotel and its distinguished role in the celebration of Mardi Gras.

The public is invited to gather at the main entrance of the award-winning, resort-style luxury hotel at 300 Bourbon St. to view the Mardi Gras spectacle. Special guests, event participants and the gathering crowd are all invited and encouraged to sport festive costumes and attire reflecting the deep traditions of Carnival in the Crescent City. In addition, revelers are encouraged to celebrate the golden anniversary occasion by getting decked out in their best garb representing Greek gods and goddesses. Once again, renowned actor, author and tastemaker Bryan Batt will serve as master of ceremonies.

To celebrate its birthday on Bourbon Street, the hotel’s world-renowned balconies will be adorned with a custom installation by Badass Balloon Co., and returning to toast to this year’s momentous anniversary festivities is the iconic celebratory global champagne house of Moët & Chandon.

Greasing of the Poles is considered by many to be the French Quarter’s official kickoff to Mardi Gras weekend. Royal Sonesta New Orleans originated the ritual of greasing the building’s support poles as a practical means to deter overzealous revelers from shimmying up to the coveted balcony space. Nearly half a century later, the practice has evolved into a star-studded and music-filled event, even spawning its own international fan club that faithfully hails from Switzerland each year to participate.

This year’s festivities will also include Carnival royalty from the Krewe of Zulu and Krewe of NOMTOC plus other special elements, including appearances by New Orleans songbird Robin Barnes and Big Easy favorite, the Brass-A-Holics. Leroy Jones and the Original Hurricane Brass Band will entertain the revelers with performances of Mardi Gras classics during the show, and special guests from Merry Antoinettes, The Pussyfooters, the Oui Dats de la Nouvelle-Orléans and the Mystic Krewe of Femme Fatale will join the festivities.

Greasing the landmark hotel’s poles will be a cultural cross selection of contestants representing the distinctive character of New Orleans. From Crescent City staple Hansen’s Sno-Bliz, Ashley Hansen; entertainment entrepreneur and extraordinaire Desiree Ontiveros of Badass Balloon Co.; WWL-TV personality and founder of Footprints to Fitness wellness company April Dupré; and James Beard Award-winning chef Justin Devillier will go head to head and pole to pole for the namesake task, each vying for the first-place title based on the judging panel’s scores. Contestants will also have the chance to win the coveted “People’s Choice” award, based on crowd participation, response and applause.


Greasing of the Poles is free and open to the public. For prime viewing, spectators should plan to arrive early.

WHO:                         Royal Sonesta New Orleans

WHAT:                       Greasing of the Poles 2019

WHEN:                      Friday, March 1 from 10 – 11 a.m.

WHERE:                    300 Bourbon Street          

WHY:                         This is an ‘only in New Orleans’ experience not to be missed.


While visiting Royal Sonesta New Orleans, drop in PJ’s Coffee Café to indulge in pastry chef Hyemin Torroll’s special Carnival confections, featuring the traditional style of the dessert, as well as its evolution, the Queen Cake. This decadent chocolate brioche treat has a chocolate or cream filling, sparkling glitter and décor and a sassy high heel hidden inside. The standard king cake will feature a small baby figurine hidden within, per age-old tradition. King cakes are on sale exclusively for Carnival season and are perfect to share at the office, on the parade route or just to satisfy a sweet tooth.


Follow along with all the fun via the #Greasing2019 hashtag and on Royal Sonesta New Orleans’ social channels on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.