New Orleans may be best known for Mardi Gras, but its celebrations continue year-round with food and wine festivals, music shows, art exhibits, holiday gatherings, holiday-related happenings and much more. Join in and experience its rich city culture at one of these top 10 best festivals!
Nothing lifts the midweek blues like an exciting free music concert in Lafayette Square! This community celebration honors local musical traditions in blues, jazz and zydeco across three stages of entertainment.
Ponderosa Stomp is an annual event held at AC Hotel and Rock ‘N’ Bowl to recognize and commemorate musicians who helped shape American music and culture. Held over several nights of concerts as well as a daytime record show/conference featuring panel discussions and interviews with nighttime performances’ artists scheduled to appear; previous performers have included legendary musicians like Sonny Burgess, Lazy Lester, Herb Hardesty, DJ Fontana, as well as numerous funk and soul veterans such as Sonny Burgess!
New Orleans is known for its live music scene year-round, but one festival that stands out is NOLAxNOLA in early fall – giving fans access to clubs and venues they might otherwise not visit. This festival gives locals a platform for exposure.
New Orleans is well known for its spicy Cajun and Creole cuisine, yet its cocktail and club culture is equally vibrant and varied. There is an impressive variety of bars offering drinks paired with different genres of music such as jazz, blues or R&B that you can find throughout the city – no matter your musical taste!
New Orleans hosts many festivals and parties each year, as well as major events. Mardi Gras is probably best-known, but other festivals can also be found – from food and beverage festivals in summer months to music events like the legendary New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival and White Linen Night, a parody on Mardi Gras.
Mardi Gras is the centerpiece of New Orleans and Louisiana celebrations, consisting of two weeks of parades, food and soul-stirring music. New Orleanians don their party outfits and enjoy some debauchery before starting Lent – featuring masked balls, elaborate parades and beads galore! Carnival can trace its history back millennia when ancient Roman festivals mixed old traditions with Christianity to form Carnival events of today.
Today’s parades are often organized by secret social clubs known as krewes that serve as organizers for the festival. Each krewe has a theme but all aim to make people have fun; each year a Rex King (along with his parade) is appointed. Additionally, these krewes hold balls inviting members of note to join them in celebrating.
In the 1870s, six men formed the Comus Krewe. They held an annual themed parade and ball to reinvigorate Mardi Gras celebrations in New Orleans; these efforts proved successful and their krewe continued to flourish – throwing trinkets from parade floats as part of its parade route while crowning an annual queen are both now widely practiced traditions.
Parades can be intimidating events and spectators can get quite rowdy during popular parades. To experience them at their best, if you wish to watch, make sure that you arrive early as prime viewing locations fill up quickly – be prepared to stand for extended periods jostling for throws from parade floats unless you bring chairs of your own or bring ladders or steps for optimal viewing experience!
Jazz Fest, New Orleans’ premier music festival, takes place annually over two consecutive weekends in spring and features 23 stages across New Orleans’ French Quarter. The festival explores blues, jazz, zydeco, Cajun music and rock as well as concerts from 60 Louisiana artists and cuisine provided by 30 food vendors – not to mention kids being welcome at certain performances on one stage!
Essence Festival, one of the world’s biggest celebrations of African American culture, draws in renowned and emerging musicians across various genres every Fourth of July weekend in New Orleans’ Ernest N. Morial Convention Center and Caesars Superdome. Launched by lifestyle magazine Essence back in 1990 as an effort to highlight contemporary black culture, Essence has grown immensely since then and become one of the country’s biggest events over time.
Treme Creole Gumbo Fest provides an intimate celebration of New Orleans’ most beloved musical genre – brass bands accompanied by delicious gumbo! Take part in this free event in a downtown park while feasting, drinking and dancing to live music all day long; afterward take home your very own pot of deliciousness to enjoy at home!
Tales of the Cocktail offers an exciting celebration of New Orleans’ booze scene that transcends regular bar crawls: this annual conference and tasting event draws thousands of attendees who are passionate about cocktails, while curious to discover their creative uses. Divided into seminars and an expansive tasting room, many of its speakers include prominent bartenders from New Orleans.
French Quarter Festival
New Orleans is well known for its year-round calendar of music, food and cultural festivals – from cocktail parties to French fireworks displays – which offer something for every mood and interest.
While countless events commemorate every aspect of New Orleans culture, none is quite as beloved as its French Quarter Festival. Since 1984, when it first started out to remind locals how fantastic and fun the French Quarter could be, its popularity has only grown. Over 1,800 musicians fill stages across town while food from top restaurants lines booths in Jackson Square and Woldenberg Riverfront Park.
With such an expansive musical lineup as Irma Thomas, Johnny Sketch & the Dirty Notes and Big Freedia as local favorites, selecting your desired shows should be easy. And with top local restaurants like 9 Roses, Jacques-Imo’s Broussard’s and Plum Street Snoballs offering tasty bites of food as well.
Are you seeking an intimate festival experience? Look no further: the festival offers “After Dark” concerts at various locations around town. See Ivan Neville play the Four Seasons Hotel Garden on Thursday; Jon Michael Bradford and the Absolute Monster Gentlemen perform at Ace Hotel on Friday; Boyfriend takes over House of Blues on Saturday while Eric Lindell will take the stage at Tipitina’s on Sunday.
New Orleans stands out among world cities by hosting an impressive year-round calendar of festivals. No matter your taste – from 90s nostalgia to Kendrick Lamar’s power and influence as rapper-of-the-year – New Orleans offers something for every taste and occasion! Festivals range from the widely attended ESSENCE Festival featuring African American artists to New Orleans Pride and Southern Decadence events; each festival celebrates our city and brings people together with music, food and love!
This festival aims to foster a more loving world. It showcases films with unifying themes as well as monthly activities for people of different races. Additionally, concerts that foster understanding between races take place during this event; New Orleans residents frequently attend this festival which commemorates Loving v. Virginia legacy.
New Orleans is a melting pot for various cultures and traditions, and this festival unites them through music, chants, prayers, ceremonies, conversations and food to share its infectious energy of peace, sacredness and respect for all faiths.
Festival Goers will find themselves treated to four massive stages with music from virtually every genre, fun carnival rides and an extensive list of local food vendors – and best of all it’s free!
Plaquemines Parish hosts thousands of people every year for this annual festival in recognition of the area’s distinctive heritage, featuring a rodeo, live music performances, 5K race, rides and arts and crafts made by prisoners incarcerated within its borders – as well as featuring arts and crafts produced at prison facilities themselves! In addition, this event includes the Seafood Queen pageant.
Sonia Sanchez will be featured at this year’s festival as an indefatigable fighter against racism and sexism, captivating audiences around the globe with her poetry. Alongside other authors she will discuss her new anthology Mixed Company.
At its annual Warehouse District Festival in early August, attendees are treated to an evening of music and art. Attendees are encouraged to wear white linen, with each gallery in the district opening its doors for exhibition. There’s wine tasting, live jazz performance, food from top restaurants – this event should not be missed by art and culture fans! This annual event attracts hundreds of thousands of visitors into downtown NYC each year!