12TH NIGHT HIGHLIGHTS

With each and every year that passes since Katrina, I try my hardest to take in all of the holidays available to me. In New Orleans, especially this year, there is absolutely no shortage of opportunity for revelry and celebration.

Within the next 18 months, our grande city will host several major sporting events, even more conferences and business events, support the most impressive Jazz Fest ever, and finally coordinate one of the biggest events in the world, Mardi Gras. Folks around the world will hopefully, and finally recognize New Orleans as an elite city and keep us in the same convo as NYC, San Fran, LA, and Chi-town.

With that said, as of the first week of January, we kickoff our exciting 2012 with the beginning of Carnival (Mardi Gras) with the celebration of 12th Night. January 6th is the official date and below is what the all knowing Wikipedia has to say about it...

"Twelfth Night is a festival in some branches of Christianity marking the coming of the Epiphany and concluding the Twelve Days of Christmas. It is defined by the Shorter Oxford English Dictionary as "the evening of the fifth of January, preceding Twelfth Day, the eve of the Epiphany, formerly the last day of the Christmas festivities and observed as a time of merrymaking".[1] However, there is currently some confusion as to which night is Twelfth Night:[2] some count the night of Epiphany itself (sixth of January) to be Twelfth Night.[2] One source of this confusion is said to be the Medieval custom of starting each new day at sunset[citation needed], so that Twelfth Night precedes Twelfth Day. In some cases the 25 December is the first day of Christmas, so therefore 5 January is the 12th day."

History of 12th Night in New Orleans :

"In some countries, and in the Catholic religion worldwide, the Twelfth Night and Epiphany marks the start of the Carnival season, which lasts through Mardi Gras Day. Modern American Carnival traditions shine most brightly in New Orleans, where friends gather for weekly King Cake parties. Whoever gets the slice with the "king", usually in the form of a miniature baby doll (symbolic of the Christ Child, "Christ the King"), hosts next week's party."

In New Orleans we are all about tradition, below are some of the things I'm excited about in celebrating this year's 12th Night.

KING CAKE

Besides receiving my W2's from the good 'ole government, king cake becoming officially available for sale on 12th Night is the most exciting thing to happen to me in January. Some folks wait in line for iPhones and special edition Jordans, I stand in line waiting patiently for that first cake off the assembly line. For me, King Cake is true sign that Mardi Gras has begun! Look for some more King Cake fun this coming season.

I'll be heading out early to grab our last year's favorite, Sucre king cake. Click here get one for yourself!

THE ARTHUR HARDY guide to MARDI GRAS

I always pre-order my copy of Arthur Hardy's definitive guide to Mardi Gras the first week of January to avoid yet another line. This year, I'll take the opportunity to order it on 12th Night to ensure it's early arrival in my mailbox.

To advance order your guide click here to visit Arthur's website.

BETTER THAN EZRA'S KREWE OF ROCCKUS

Better Than Ezra is back this year with their KREWE OF ROCCKUS weekend during the biggest and most exciting part of Mardi Gras. The weekend kicks of with a stellar meal prepared by local celeb chef John Besh, a second line parade with Mardi Gras Indians and the like, prime spots for catching the biggest and best parades, and culminating in a musical throw down featuring Better than Ezra, Tonic, and Big Sam's Funky Nation at The House of Blues.

To celebrate the weekend of 12th Night, BTE will be offering a great discount for local fans. Here are the deets...

The Locals Only Package will be available on Twelfth Night, January 6th through Sunday, January 8th for only $425, an almost $175 savings from the original price.

Here's some more info about the event from their 12th Night press release:

"Better Than Ezra's Krewe of Rocckus provides the ultimate insider experience to the nation's biggest party. The inclusive 3-day Mardi Gras package gives locals and visitors a chance to celebrate Mardi Gras with Better Than Ezra as their host to experience the very best that New Orleans has to offer. From the food, history, culture and of course the music! The best part....Better Than Ezra will be with you every step of the way throughout the weekend!"

Click here to visit the Krewe of Rocckus page to take advantage of the locals only discount!

To round out the highlights for this year's 12th Night, I couldn't help but to mention the Phunny Phorty Phellows parade. This satirical parade which begins at the Willow St. car barn Uptown the evening of 12th night is one of the most festive and entertaining parades of the season.

Here's a quick history of the Triple P...

"The costumed and masked krewe will assemble on Twelfth Night, January 6, 2012 (Friday) at the Willow Street Car Barn (map) at 6:30pm. At 7pm sharp, the Phunny Phorty Phellows board the streetcar and begin their ride to "Herarld the Arrival of Carnival" down the St. Charles Ave. Streetcar Line. All are invited to come see the PPP off beginning at 6:30, when the group starts to gather. Of course Storyville Stompers will be there with us. The Phellows are an historic Mardi Gras organization that first took to the streets 1878 through 1898. They were known for their satirical parades and today's krewe members’ costumes often reflect topical themes. The group was revived in 1981. One Carnival historian has referred to the organization as the “Dessert of Carnival.”

To learn more about the Triple P click here to visit their website.