Every year, New Orleans parties like no other. The most well-known blowout in Crescent City is undoubtedly Mardi Gras, what if you’re visiting when Mardi Gras has passed?
There are tons of other social gatherings at any given time in this congenial city. Dozens of annual celebrations and galas honor a love of the city’s rich culture, history, food, and music. Nobody does festivals quite like New Orleans. Here are the top six most exciting festivals in New Orleans.
1. French Quarter Festival
Since 1984, the French Quarter Festival has been a celebration of the most lively neighborhood in NOLA. The now famous French Quarter Festival was once celebrated by locals but the festival has drawn so much attention to itself that tourists have caught on. The festival honors the city’s most prized music and food.
Musicians are set up in nearly every corner of the French Quarter, from Bourbon Street and beyond, with 23 stages for local bands to play live music. Music of all genres can be heard, including New Orleans jazz, Latin, funk, zydeco, swing, rock, and more.
Some of the city’s finest restaurants set up booths in Jackson Square. More than 60 booths of food and drink will be set up throughout the French Quarter for hungry festival-goers. There are plenty of activities like photo booths, book giveaways, and crawfish eating contests.
Dates: April 11–14, 2019
Location: French Quarter
2. New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival
The New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival celebrates the history of jazz music in its birthplace, New Orleans. Visitors of the music festival can not only expect to hear some of the best jazz musicians, but also many other genres of music like gospel, R&B, and rock. The many types of performers make this festival appealing to music lovers of all sorts. It’s no doubt that music is the primary lure of this festival, but there is much more to experience.
The fairgrounds are filled with food vendors that offer hundreds of types of food including traditional Cajun and Creole favorites. There are two cooking stages at the festival that offer typical New Orleans fare like po-boys, fish tacos, and an assortment of crawfish dishes. Along with dynamic music and appetizing bites, creative arts and crafts vendors display unique cultural art, paintings, photographs, jewelry, and more.
Date: April 26–May 5, 2019
Address: 1751 Gentilly Blvd., New Orleans, LA 70119
Price: Starts at $70
3. Oyster Festival
Oyster Fest is held in Woldenberg Park annually. Every year, local and visiting foodies come to experience the “Oyster Capital of America” and watch professionals execute oyster shucking and cooking demonstrations. Visitors get the chance to enjoy local Louisiana Gulf oysters and learn about how they can contribute to raising money for coastal restoration in Louisiana.
There are two stages, one for musical talents and one for the cooking demonstrations. Aside from cuisine, the all-day affair presents live music from several local bands, arts and crafts vendors, and exciting contests. The oyster shucking and oyster eating contests provide the crowd with plenty of amusement.
Dates: June 1–2, 2019
Address: 1 Canal St., New Orleans, LA 70130
4. Bayou Country Superfest
Country music lovers will appreciate the Bayou Country Superfest that has been held every year on Memorial Day weekend since 2010. This huge country concert has hosted some of the biggest country stars like Kenny Chesney, Keith Urban, Taylor Swift, Carrie Underwood, and Miranda Lambert.
The past two Bayou Country Superfest concerts have held a free outdoor kickoff celebration before the weekend begins. There are different ticket packages available to fit a range of budgets. VIP packages include exclusive access tickets, a parking pass, access to a luxurious club, and other benefits like private buffet dinners and massages. The ticket packages and musical lineup have not been announced for 2019 yet, but check their site for the latest details.
Dates: May 24–26, 2019
Location: Mercedes-Benz Superdome
Price: Tickets start at $50
5. French Market Creole Tomato Festival
The French Market Creole Tomato Festival welcomes tomato season every June by honoring Creole cuisine and one of its most significant features: tomatoes. This festival celebrates traditional Louisiana cuisine, local ingredients, and dedicated farmers that provide the city’s freshest ingredients for the delicious native fare.
The tomato-centric celebration provides festival goers with cool attractions like auctioning off the season’s first tomato crops to resident chefs, tomato eating contests, and a Bloody Mary Market.
There are several music stages that offer guests a fun atmosphere, along with cooking demonstrations and free recipe handouts. Food vendors provide some of the best tomato dishes like fried green tomatoes, tomato crepes, Creole tomato and shrimp salad, and tons more.
Dates: June 8–9, 2019
Address: 1008 N. Peters St., New Orleans, LA 70116
6. Southern Decadence
Southern Decadence, also known as a Gay Pride Mardi Gras, is celebrating its 48th anniversary in 2019. The Southern Decadence Festival honors the LGBTQ+ community and the music and culture of New Orleans. The culture of NOLA is open-minded, accepting, and diverse and Southern Decadence is a tribute to these principles.
The festival, held in the French Quarter, includes many events including drag shows, block parties, and bead tossing. Many bars hold events or themed parties during the festival. Festival attendees indulge in the pride and merriment of the occasion with brightly colored clothing, flags, and signage to showcase their self-love and spread awareness. Southern Decadence is one of the most recognized gay pride celebrations in the country.
Dates: August 29–September 2, 2019
Location: French Quarter
Price: Free, but VIP passes will be available for purchase
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