The very best Monday of the year is here

If you thought you could squeeze in a few zzzs before Mardi Gras, think again.

Lundi Gras celebrations are planned all over town — at festivals, markets and a fundraiser. And don’t forget the parades that just keep on rolling down St. Charles Avenue.

Whether you want to catch some Orpheus beads or see Mayor Mitch Landrieu hand over the keys to New Orleans to Rex, pick up a mask or picnic while you listen to free live music, the festivities planned for Lundi Gras can keep you busy all day and well into the night.

Zulu Lundi Gras Festival

Zulu Lundi Gras is a free, family-friendly festival, hosted by the 600-member Zulu Social Aid and Pleasure Club.

There will be three stages of live entertainment, including a kids’ stage, and food vendors spread out across Woldenberg Park along the Riverwalk.

The huge lineup of entertainers includes local favorites Rebirth Brass Band and Kermit Ruffins and the Barbecue Swingers, all of whom will have the crowds bouncing in anticipation of the arrival of the king and queen of Zulu, Garren Mims and his wife, Georgette Mims.

Festivities will get under way at 10 a.m., with Zulu royalty arriving at 5 p.m.

Lundi Gras on the Mississippi

Just upriver at Spanish Plaza, revelers will await the arrival of Rex, king of Carnival.

Arriving by boat at 6 p.m., when the king of Zulu will be waiting to greet him, Rex’s identity will be revealed. Then, in the yearly concession to fun and frolic, Mayor Landrieu will hand over the keys to the city to the king of Carnival.

Fireworks will light up the night sky over the Mississippi River to end the formal Lundi Gras traditions.

The Mask Market

It’s almost a civic duty to costume on Mardi Gras. A great mask will suffice.

If you haven’t found your look for Fat Tuesday yet, or you’re just looking for a gift or souvenir, check out the French Market’s annual Mardi Gras Mask Market.

Handcrafted masks will ensure that you don’t look like anyone else on the holiday. There’s also live music and food vendors.

Explore the variety of masks in Dutch Alley between Dumaine and St. Phillip streets from Friday through to Monday 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.

Jefferson Parish Lundi Gras celebrations

Head over to Kenner’s Rivertown for more Lundi Gras celebrations, where the king and queen of Zulu will meet the king and queen of Argus, Jefferson Parish Councilman Elton Lagasse and Diana Lynn Netterville.

Festivities will kick off at 10 a.m. with live music by David Batiste and Sons at 501 Williams Blvd., Kenner.

Parades

Processions take over Uptown once again as dusk falls. Revelers can get back out on the parade route and marvel at the historic Krewe of Proteus or catch a throw from filmmaker Quentin Tarantino, the monarch of the Krewe of Orpheus.

Proteus will get things rolling at 5:15 p.m. on the Uptown route. Look for the signature seashell float, where the king of Proteus resides. The king’s identity is never revealed.

Founded by Harry Connick Jr., the Krewe of Orpheus will follow, making its way down St. Charles Avenue at 6 p.m.

The Krewe of Zeus, which was the first to bring night parades to the suburbs in 1958, will start rolling down the traditional Metairie route at 7 p.m.

For some quirky downtown fun, head over to Bywater for the Redbeans Parade. Members of this do-it-yourself krewe have decorated their suits using glue guns and traditional Monday fare — that is, red beans and rice. The Redbeans Parade starts at 2 p.m. on Port and Royal Street.

Lundi Gras happy hour

Finally, Dooky Chase Restaurant is hosting a fundraiser from 5 to 7 p.m. to aid organizations that encourage cultural arts, education, culinary arts and social justice activities.

Come dressed in cocktail attire for the live auction and specialty tastings by Chef Leah Chase.

Tickets are $40. Visit www.dookychasefoundation.org, call (504) 821-0600 or buy them at the door of the restaurant, 2301 Orleans Ave.