A First-Timers Pocket Guide to Marche du Nain Rouge

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Not many cities have their own unique holiday. I would venture to guess that of those that do none are as decidedly as quirky, macabre, and spirited as Detroit’s very own Marche du Nain Rouge. Part festival, parade, and costume party Nain Rouge is at its core a celebration of catharsis. And what better way to celebrate the release of our proverbial demons than with booze, music, and camaraderie. Before you enjoy your first dalliance onto into Sundays revelry however, I’d like to impart a few tips and suggestions that will help you maximize your enjoyment of the day.

Do Your Homework: The Nain’s story is a rich yet tragic tapestry woven into the history of Detroit. Make sure that before you embark on your celebration you know why we honor this day and what to expect from the festivities. Many articles and sources can be found online, but I recommend the official website to get you primed for Sunday.

Go Bold: “Rouge” is the obvious color of the day so at a bare minimum throw on as many red hues as you can pull out of your closet. However, this is not a day for the meekly garbed; there will be masks, capes, horns, beads, and all manner of prosthetics. You cannot over accessories for this holiday so to really fit in you should be somewhere in the “Mardi Gras meets Halloween” mindset on attire.

Brunch Beforehand: The parade kicks off at 1:00 p.m. but the festivities start in the morning. So you should definitely head down early and get some fuel in your system in the form of food and booze. There are several great brunch options in the area like Honest Johns?, Hopcat, and Union Street. I would recommend the Majestic Café for your pre-Nain meal, you won’t have the crowds of the other places. The food is always amazing, and the bottomless Bloody Mary/Mimosa deal is tough to beat anywhere in the city.

Explore the Neighborhood: The parade route will take you down Cass Avenue from Canfield to the Masonic Temple where the “program” is held. There is so much more to see especially if you don’t often traverse the infamous “Cass Corridor”. However, this isn’t a neighborhood to be feared. So arrive early, leave late, and make a day of it. From admiring the historic homes on cobblestoned Canfield, exploring the increasing retail options along Cass, to grabbing a drink at newer editions to the neighborhood like 8 Degrees Plato and The Peterboro I guarantee you’ll need to come for a second visit to complete your exploration.

Find the Afterparty: The official afterparty is scheduled to be at the Masonic Temple. I certainly recommend poking your head in and checking out the scene, but the coupe-de-grace of Nain Rouge decidedly takes place at the Old Miami. With its prime location, expansive backyard, eclectic group of regulars, and “anything goes” atmosphere this is the ideal location to either turn up or wind down, depending on how your Sunday has progressed. So whether you’re working the dance floor or splayed out on a patch of grass with your new found friends from the day, make sure you end up at the only watering hole where you can do both.

You can find more info and coverage of Marche du Nain Rouge from the Daily Detroit “krewe” here.


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