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New Orleans Festival Guide

New Orleans Festival & Music Guide

The Big Easy hosts over 130 festivals a year, so you’re bound to find a raucous celebration whenever you’re in town! While Mardi Gras surely takes the cake, New Orleans festivals honor everything from music and dance to po-boys, art, and bayous. Take a look at some of the city’s favorite festivals by season!

Spring Festivals

Buku Music & Art Project (March): You’re in for an intimate weekend in a warehouse on the Mississippi River where indie rock, hip-hop, and EDM come together with art installations and impressive performance art (plus six stages and plenty of food).

French Quarter Festival (April): Celebrate New Orleans heritage in this free festival that dates back to 1984. Culture, food, music, and dance bring locals and visitors together at over 20 stages located throughout the Quarter. The celebration has also been voted favorite food festival by locals and visitors!

Mardi Gras Indians Super Sunday (March): Don’t miss a chance to see the city’s Mardi Gras Indian tribes don their colorful suits and march in procession through the streets on the Sunday closest to St. Joseph’s Day. The tribes try to outdo each other through chants, dances, and other rituals.

New Orleans Food and Wine Experience (April): Food and wine aficionados, rejoice! This tasty festival is just for you. Get a comprehensive taste of the city through wines from around the world, local and international chefs, and special events like wine dinners, seminars, and more.

Top Taco Fest (March): Woldenberg Park is the place to be to sample the best tacos and margaritas in the Big Easy! Chefs compete for prizes like top creative taco, top traditional margarita, and more. Come find your favorite!

Hogs for the Cause (April): If you love southern barbecue and supporting a good cause, come on down for one of the nation’s most successful pediatric brain cancer fundraisers. Did we mention there’s live music too?

Congo Square Rhythms Festival (March): A must-visit for music lovers, this festival pays homage to African music and dance traditions, plus all things gospel, rock, jazz, and blues. Enjoy lots of live music, an exotic food court, and a diverse arts market.

Freret Street Festival (April): The six blocks between Napoleon Avenue and Soniat Street come alive with live music, local vendors, food, and artwork. Taking place on the first Saturday in April, the festival is fun for all ages.

Greek Fest (May): Memorial Day Weekend goes Greek in the Crescent City! This three-day celebration includes delicious Greek food and wine, traditional music, an Athenian playground, and Hellenic Dancers, all hosted by the Holy Trinity Greek Orthodox Cathedral congregation.

Summer Festivals

New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival (May): 450,000 attendees flock to this internationally renowned jazz fest each year. Past performers include Katy Perry and Aretha Franklin! Come listen to some awesome tunes and enjoy crafts and food as well.

Red Dress Run (August): Join the New Orleans Hash House Harriers (a “drinking club with a running problem”) on their annual charity run with a twist. Participants wear their best red dresses and run with beers in hand before celebrating with drinks in the afternoon.

NOLA Bookstars Signing and Darkest Hearts Ball (May): Books, drinks, and dancing are at the heart of this event in the French Quarter. Meet over 60 authors before getting all dolled up for music and mystique at the Darkest Hearts Vampire Ball After Party.

NOLA Caribbean Festival (June): This festival closes out Caribbean Heritage Month in style — eight days of non-stop parades, events, and parties with dance, music, and authentic Caribbean food. Highlights include a tropical pool party and comedy show.

Essence Festival (July): Hundreds of thousands of guests from around the country visit the Big Easy for Essence Festival, one of the largest events honoring African-American culture. Enjoy amazing headliners, business and inspirational seminars, and more.

Cajun-Zydeco Festival (June): Come celebrate Cajun and Zydeco music in Armstrong Park at a free event! Two stages, a crafts fair, and scrumptious seafood make the festival a Louisiana favorite. Plus, there’s a kids tent for families to enjoy.

Southern Decadence (August): If you’re hoping to experience New Orleans’ LGBTQ scene, you’ll find it at Southern Decadence, the largest gay event in the Crescent City. Events take place day and night over six days, with parties, parades, and more. The annual theme is announced the May before the festival.

Satchmo Summerfest (August): Celebrate summer with a three-day tribute to the late Louis “Satchmo” Armstrong. Dance to traditional jazz and blues, taste local culinary favorites, and enjoy refreshing beverages. You can even sit in on a seminar or lecture by Armstrong historians and biographers.

Fall Festivals

Voodoo Music & Arts Fest (October): Gather under the live oaks at City Park over Halloween weekend for a three-day voodoo mega event! Live music, interactive art, carnival rides, tarot card readings, and local food make this the perfect fall festival.

New Orleans Film Festival (October): Movie and TV lovers can’t miss the New Orleans Film Festival, produced since 1989. The 10-day event features local and global works, plus productions by new storytellers, at various venues around the city.

Crescent City Blues and BBQ Festival (October): Get a taste of two New Orleans favorites at the Blues and BBQ Festival! Enjoy live music, finger-licking BBQ, and local artisan crafts. Fill up on brisket, pork tenderloin, and even some vegetarian and vegan options.

Burlesque Festival (September): See the world’s best burlesque dancers take to the stage in the French Quarter to show off their moves. Parties, workshops, discussions and more honor the classic form of entertainment, with a Queen of Burlesque crowned each year.

Oak Street Po-Boy Festival (November): One of NOLA’s best-known treats, the po-boy, has an entire festival dedicated to it every November! The event features music, arts, and crafts, but the po-boy takes center stage. Try various sandwiches with fried shrimp, catfish, BBQ beef, and more.

Winter Festivals

Mardi Gras (February): Is there really anything better than a whole month of parties and parades? Mardi Gras has it all; costumes, beads, traditional cuisine, parade floats, bands, and more. Eat king cake and oysters, grab a handful of beads, and join in on the fun.

Celebration in the Oaks (November-January): This annual holiday celebration takes place from Thanksgiving to the New Year and is one of the best light shows in the country. Roam the 25-acre City Park and take in the dazzling lights and festive displays at NOLA’s own winter wonderland.

LUNA Fête (December): LUNA (Light Up NOLA Artists) Fête is one of the city’s most unique events, mixing New Orleans’ signature architecture with sound installation, light and video mapping, and motion graphics. Visit Lafayette Square to enjoy the nightly projections.

West End Christmas Boat Parade (December): Ring in the holidays on the lakefront at the New Canal Lighthouse. See boats decorated with amazing light displays in an exciting boat parade and enjoy events at local shops and restaurants.

NOLA ChristmasFest (December): This is NOLA’s signature Christmas celebration! The indoor event is family-friendly and features Santa and other Christmas characters, the city’s only ice skating rink, and 2 miles of holiday lights.

Danny Barker Banjo and Guitar Festival (January): Join us and pay homage to Danny Barker, New Orleanian musician, vocalist and composer. Celebrate this dedicated multidisciplinary artist and mentor with a five-day lineup of live performances, workshops, discussions, and events.

Tet Fest: Vietnamese New Year (February): Presented by Mary Queen of Vietnam Church, the Vietnamese New Year festivities include authentic cuisine, family fun, live music, and traditional dances. Join New Orleans’ large Vietnamese population in celebrating their New Year!

Christmas Eve Bonfires on the Levee (December): The lighting of the bonfires along the Mississippi River on Christmas Eve is an early Cajun tradition still celebrated today in order to light the way for Papa Noël, the Cajun Santa Claus. Gather to watch the lighting and fireworks!