June Festivals in New Orleans

The end of spring and the beginning of summer in the French Quarter is packed with celebrations of local food, music, and culture — going well into August. Here are four must-attend festivals happening in June in and near the French Quarter.

New Orleans Wine & Food Experience

Wednesday-Sunday, June 5-9, 2024

In its 32nd year in 2024, the New Orleans Wine & Food Experience (NOWFE) is a smorgasbord of food and wine tastingstoursmaster classes, and the annual champagne-soaked burlesque brunch. Each year, hundreds of wineries and restaurants participate, offering menus featuring local flavors and innovative new creations inspired by diverse cuisines. Top chefs from around the city create unique culinary experiences, so much so that the event regularly makes a few national “best of” festival lists. The organization behind this popular event is a nonprofit that donates 100% of its proceeds to beneficiaries ranging from food banks to culinary schools. You can see all the events and get tickets online.

New Orleans Pride

Friday-Sunday, June 7-9, 2024

Launched in 2011, New Orleans Pride is a weekend-long celebration taking place in the French Quarter to celebrate and honor LGBTQI+ communities and their allies in New Orleans and surrounding areas. It is the only official Pride Festival in New Orleans, the largest in Louisiana, and one of the fastest-growing Pride celebrations in the nation. Special events include the Pride Gala, the PrideFest block party at the Phoenix bar, and the annual parade. The parade rolls on Saturday, June 8, 2024, starting at 6 p.m. in the Marigny and rolling through the French Quarter.

French Market Creole Tomato Festival

Saturday-Sunday, June 8-9, 2024

Traditionally held on the second weekend of June, the annual French Market Creole Tomato Festival welcomes the arrival of Creole tomatoes that Louisiana loves to incorporate into many local recipes. The French Market location and the food offerings make this a popular festival among locals and visitors alike.

Celebrating its 38th year in 2024, the festival features live music at the market and in Dutch Alley, kids’ activities, and a second line. There are cooking demos in addition to an extensive menu of Creole tomatoes incorporated into gelato, crepes, crawfish pies — you name it. (Here’s the 2024 food vendor list). Of course, you can also get Creole tomatoes from the participating farm stands.

Kick off the Creole Tomato Festival with the Ripe & Ready second line featuring a Jazz Band, The Baby Dolls, and the Amelia Earhawts on Saturday, June 8, at 10:30 a.m. It’s open to all, and you’re encouraged to wear “your favorite tomato attire.” The second line will form at Oscar Dunn Park, 700 Decatur Street across from Jackson Square, and walk to the French Market festival location.

The festival is spread out between the tents and the stages located at the Farmers Market, the New Orleans Jazz Museum at the Old U.S. Mint (this one is indoors), and Dutch Alley. The live music schedule never disappoints.

Father’s Day

Sunday, June 16, 2024

Though technically it’s not a festival, you can make it your own by honoring your dad! Take your dad to brunch, a museum, or just a walk at the Riverfront. Make your reservation soon, and enjoy the good food and fun this city has to offer!

Restaurant Week New Orleans

Monday-Sunday, June 17-23, 2024

During this time, you can enjoy multi-course, special menus and dining deals in numerous participating restaurants, from upscale Creole eateries to neighborhood bistros. Keep up with this year’s list of participating restaurants and their menus, and don’t miss a chance to try a new spot or revisit your favorite.

New Orleans Juneteenth Festival

Wednesday, June 19, 2024

Come to Congo Square in Armstrong Park to commemorate this remarkable date with this free festival, held from noon to 7 p.m.

Coming to New Orleans in June?

Check out our guide to where to stay in the French Quarter, and be sure to check out our resource for French Quarter Hotels. Also, consider booking a guided tour of St. Louis Cemetery No. 1 to experience the hauntingly beautiful past of New Orleans.

For easy, informative sightseeing, we recommend the City Sightseeing New Orleans city tour on the open-top, double-decker bus. It runs every 30 minutes through the Garden District, French Quarter, and CBD. You can hop on and off anytime!

Happy June!


Fun Summer Culinary Festivals in New Orleans You Don’t Want to Miss

Despite the soaring temps, summer in New Orleans is packed with festivals. While you won’t go hungry at any of this summer’s music and culture festivals like Satchmo SummerFest, here are five summer events that focus on local food and drink specifically.

New Orleans Wine & Food Experience

Wednesday-Sunday, June 5-9, 2024

In its 32nd year in 2024, the New Orleans Wine & Food Experience (NOWFE) is a smorgasbord of food and wine tastings, tours, master classes, and the annual champagne-soaked burlesque brunch. Each year, hundreds of wineries and restaurants participate, offering menus featuring local flavors and innovative new creations inspired by diverse cuisines. Top chefs from around the city create unique culinary experiences, so much so that the event regularly makes a few national “best of” festival lists. The organization behind this popular event is a nonprofit that donates 100% of its proceeds to beneficiaries ranging from food banks to culinary schools. You can see all the events and get tickets online.

French Market Creole Tomato Festival

Saturday-Sunday, June 8-9, 2024

Traditionally held on the second weekend of June, the annual French Market Creole Tomato Festival welcomes the arrival of Creole tomatoes that Louisiana loves to incorporate into many local recipes. The French Market location and the food offerings make this a popular festival among locals and visitors alike.

Celebrating its 38th year in 2024, the festival features live music at the market and in Dutch Alley, kids’ activities, and a second line. There are cooking demos in addition to an extensive menu of Creole tomatoes incorporated into gelato, crepes, crawfish pies — you name it. (Here’s the 2024 food vendor list). Of course, you can also get Creole tomatoes from the participating farm stands.

Kick off the Creole Tomato Festival with the Ripe & Ready second line featuring a Jazz Band, The Baby Dolls, and the Amelia Earhawts on Saturday, June 8, at 10:30 a.m. It’s open to all, and you’re encouraged to wear “your favorite tomato attire.” The second line will form at Oscar Dunn Park, 700 Decatur Street across from Jackson Square, and walk to the French Market festival location.

The festival is spread out between the tents and the stages located at the Farmers Market, the New Orleans Jazz Museum at the Old U.S. Mint (this one is indoors), and Dutch Alley. The live music schedule never disappoints.

Restaurant Week New Orleans

Monday-Sunday, June 17-23, 2024

During this time, you can enjoy multi-course, special menus and dining deals in numerous participating restaurants, from upscale Creole eateries to neighborhood bistros. Keep up with this year’s list of participating restaurants and their menus, and don’t miss a chance to try a new spot or revisit your favorite.

Tales of the Cocktail

Sunday-Friday, July 21-26, 2024

This cork-popping annual industry gathering keeps expanding to include more wine and spirits tastings, tours, parties, seminars, book signings, bartender contests, and more, every year. The event draws the worldwide cocktail community with its packed schedule.

Tales of the Cocktail was conceived as a bar industry networking and education event targeting bar owners, mixologists and other pros, but its focus on celebrating not just trends but history and culture has made it popular with the general public and cocktail enthusiasts from all walks of life.

The “best of” Spirited Awards, and the prix fixe tasting menus and food-pairing dinners are especially popular. The tours and cocktail-themed parties also tend to sell out quickly, while the opening night street party is free and open to everyone. Tickets for events are sold individually, so you can build your own itinerary).

COOLinary

August 1-31, 2024

There’s no better time to try out an award-winning restaurant during your visit than in August. For the whole month this dining program offers discounted dining deals at participating restaurants located all over the city, and even stretching as far as Harvey and Kenner. Orchestrated by the New Orleans Convention and Visitors Bureau, it was conceived as a promotion to attract diners to local restaurants during the slower summer months.

In over a decade, COOLinary kept growing in size and popularity, with over 100 restaurants participating in the past couple of years. Those run the gamut from the iconic to the smaller, more casual ones. The list includes the famous Antoine’s, Arnaud’s, Bayona, Commander’s Palace, Domenica, Tujague’s, and Galatoire’s.

Coming to New Orleans this summer?

Check out our guide to where to stay in the French Quarter, and be sure to check out our resource for French Quarter Hotels. Also, consider booking a guided tour of St. Louis Cemetery No. 1 to experience the hauntingly beautiful past of New Orleans.

For easy, informative sightseeing, we recommend the City Sightseeing New Orleans city tour on the open-top, double-decker bus. It runs every 30 minutes through the Garden District, French Quarter, and CBD. You can hop on and off anytime!

Happy summer!


Bayou Boogaloo Returns to Mid-City This May

Bayou Boogaloo
Photo courtesy of Bayou Boogaloo

One of the standouts in the seemingly never-ending string of festivals New Orleans hosts all year round is the Bayou Boogaloo, which grew from the post-Katrina scrappy little neighborhood festival to a multi-stage, weekend-long extravaganza.

Since its inception in 2006, Bayou Boogaloo now draws upwards of 35,000 people and has become as much a fixture on the festival calendar as its Mid-City neighbor, Jazz Fest, and the city’s street-party season opener, French Quarter Fest.

Also a favorite of both the locals and the in-the-know visitors, this festival takes place not in the French Quarter but on the sprawling, picturesque banks of Bayou St. John — between Dumaine Streets and Lafitte Avenue in the Mid-City neighborhood. Its bucolic setting as a floating party, with its flotillas of inflatables, paddle boats, and kayaks, gives the three-day festival its own unique character.

Bayou Boogaloo 2024

This year, Bayou Boogaloo takes place between Friday, May 17, and Sunday, May 19, 2024. Just like in previous years, the festival is kid-friendly. Traditionally, the Boogaloo focused on mostly local music, including the best of the brass bands, zydeco, Mardi Gras Indians, and other incredible New Orleans and Louisiana acts.

This year’s headliners include former Prince bassist Nik West on Friday, founding member of the Wu-Tang Clan GZA with his band GZA & the Phunky Nomads on Saturday, and Lez Zeppelin on Sunday. The lineup also includes Big Sam’s Funky Nation, Afroman, Buckwheat Zydeco Jr., and many more. Notably, this year the festival cast a wider net over many musical genres and added metal, more hip-hop, and more cabaret acts.

In addition to two music stages and a Comedy & Cabaret tent, the Mid-City Bayou Boogaloo features a curated art market, a Kid’s Cultural Pavilion, a VIP Crescent 9 Canopy Club, a crawfish eating contest, and food from numerous Mid-City and local vendors. This year, Louisiana Wildlife & Fisheries will be on-site keeping an eye on water safety, but with a baby alligator petting zoo in tow. (People in boats and rafts are expected to wear life jackets and follow other boating guidelines.)

The food and beverage vendor list is as varied as in previous years and includes Ajun Cajun, Bub’s NOLA, Clesi’s Seafood Restaurant and Catering, Fritai, T-Swirl Crepe, and more. Look for snowball and lemonade booths, and plenty of booths with adult beverages from neighborhood favorite Pal’s, local breweries, and others.

You can currently order the 2024 festival poster online.

How Much Does It Cost?

Single-day tickets, good for any day of the festival, are now available for $15.00 and will increase in price on April 22. Also available for purchase now are three-day weekend GA passes for $39.50. As always, kids 12 and under are granted free admission.

Additionally, three-day Crescent 9 Canopy Club VIP passes are available for $220.00 each. These passes allow re-entry plus access to the Crescent 9 Canopy Club VIP area, which is a shaded oasis next to the stage with front stage access, an elevated viewing deck, private restrooms with AC, and a selection of complimentary beverages and local eats.

All tickets and passes will increase in price once more on May 13, the Monday before the Boogaloo weekend kicks off. To purchase tickets, go to www.thebayouboogaloo.com.

Festival-goers who look forward to boating and floating on Boogaloo days will need a regular-priced ticket to the festival for entry, which includes a $2.00 environmental fee that goes to preserving and protecting Bayou St. John. Anyone who wants to build and place a DIY barge in the water will be subject to a $100.00 removal fee if the barge is left in the bayou more than 24 hours after the festival ends.

What Else Do You Need to Know?

Street parking in the neighborhood is limited, so biking is encouraged (there’s plenty of bike parking at the fest). Thanks to the city’s added bike routes, including Lafitte Greenway, you can ride your bicycle all the way to the festival from virtually every corner of the city.

Alternatively, you can come by canoe, kayak, or other paddle-friendly vessel. Dock at the Dumaine Street stage or just keep paddling into the heart of the festival at Orleans Avenue. Another way to reach the fest is by taking a streetcar. Two lines stop a short walk away from the festival, Canal Streetcar: City Park/Museum, and Cemeteries Canal Street.

Gates open at 4:30 p.m. on Friday and 11 a.m. on Saturday and Sunday. Please note that only weekend and Canopy Club ticket holders are allowed re-entry.

Chairs are welcome (look out for the “no chair zones” in front of each stage designated for dancing), but no outside food or drink, please. No pets are allowed.

Finally, although you will see some festival attendees splashing happily in the bayou, there are gators, snakes, and sharp debris like car parts and tree branches in the bayou, so swimming is highly discouraged. Plus, there are no lifeguards on duty, and a whole lot of drinking.

To get updates on the music and vendor lists for this year, check out the Bayou Boogaloo website or the festival’s Facebook page.

Are you visiting this spring and planning on attending Bayou Boogaloo? We got you covered! Check out our top recommendations for hotels in the French Quarter.


Mother’s Day in the French Quarter and Nearby

mother's-day-restaurant-new-orleans

New Orleans and the French Quarter in particular are fantastic options for Mother’s Day (Sunday, May 12, 2024), from the elegant perfection of jazz brunches and the relaxing stroll on the scenic Mississippi Riverfront to exploring the magnificent architecture of the centuries-old streets and shopping in the chic local boutiques. Show your appreciation for the mothers in your life with these suggestions, below. Just please remember to make your reservations in advance as Mother’s Day is a popular time for brunching and dining.

Brunch

Brunch with Mom is one of New Orleans’ most popular Mother’s Day activities. Not only do the French Quarter and the adjacent Marigny and Bywater neighborhoods have some of the best restaurants in the country but several have excellent Mother’s Day special brunch offers. Broussard’s Mother’s Day jazz brunch is usually held in the courtyard and features the restaurant’s classic French Creole cuisine plus bottomless rose or mimosas. (To make a reservation call 504-581-3866 or book online.)

The classic Sunday jazz brunch at either Antoine’s or Arnaud’s is elegance personified and is a perfect way to give back to the women and mothers in your life. Or treat your mom to a special brunch at The Bombay Club, featuring house favorites and yes, the bottomless mimosas.

The French Quarter has some of the best European-style patisseries in the country, so if you want a classic French croissant or quiche head to Croissant D’Or Patisserie.

Outside the Quarter, if you’re up for a scenic walk or ride through the historic neighborhood of the Marigny, check out Ayu Bakehouse, a bright, quaint corner shop with a mellow vibe. There are savory pastries, crusty baguettes, sweet croissants, cookies, and buns, plus breakfast and lunch items like a frittata and seasonally rotated sandwiches.

Still further down, in the Bywater, you can hit The Country Club’s brunch of shrimp and grits or boudin boulettes in the restaurant, or just head to the pool that has its own, poolside menu.

Exploring the French Quarter on foot

Few cities in the world have as much easily accessible and well-preserved architecture as New Orleans. If your mom is up for walking, explore the centuries-old streets of the French Quarter and the nearby mostly residential Marigny to take in all the magnificent architectural elements they have to offer, with all their lush tropical courtyards with gurgling fountains, French doors, stucco exteriors, lacy Victorian ironwork, and vibrant Caribbean colors.

While you’re at it, you can stroll the mile-long Riverfront with its walkway called the Moonwalk, the scenic views of the Mississippi River, and Woldenberg Park.

Don’t miss the French Market across the street, from its food stands to the daily flea market at the end of Esplanade Avenue. It’s a great stop to slurp a dozen raw oysters, or pick up pralines and a beignet mix to take home from any of the surrounding retail shops.

Just down the street is one of the most important national landmarks, the timeless Jackson Square with Andrew Jackson’s bronze statue as the focal point of the square, surrounded by lush greenery. Come inside the St. Louis Cathedral that overlooks the square, to take in its stunning interior, or shop at the block-long rows of the Pontalba Buildings that flank the square in both directions.

Jackson Square also features an open-air artist market and performance space, with local art displayed along the fence. While there, browse the art, dance to a brass band, have your fortune told, or have a sketch done on the spot.

Taking a carriage ride

If your mom is not up for walking, unveiling the city’s colorful past is as easy as taking a mule-drawn carriage ride through the streets of the French Quarter. Just grab a first-come-first-serve French Quarter Mule Tour offered by Royal Carriages on Decatur Street right outside the Jackson Square gate, from 8 a.m. through midnight daily. Some tour packages stick to the Quarter only; others venture out to the Marigny or St. Louis Cemetery #1.

Shopping

Besides what the French Market and the shops surrounding Jackson Square have to offer, you can head down to the chic boutiques lining Chartres Street, branching off the square and leading to Canal Street.

One of the most popular destinations on the Chartres Street retail row is Hemline, which carries a well-curated shoe and women’s fashion collection from local and national brands. Also on Chartres, the well-hidden United Apparel Liquidators (UAL) is unsurpassed for hunting name brands with deep discounts (and even some haute couture). And, if you head to Canal Street, there’s a slew of upscale retailers at The Shops at Canal Place, from Saks Fifth Avenue to Tiffany & Co.

Dining

It’s going to be easy to impress your mom with dozens of stunning options in the French Quarter and nearby. You’ll be in good hands at the enchanting Sylvain on Chartres Street, with a candlelit bar and a lovely patio. The charming Bayona also offers a patio, along with a historic setting of a two-century-old Creole cottage on a quiet block of Dauphine Street.

If you want to go with the upscale Creole cuisine in unbeatable locations, then Tujague’s, Napoleon House, or Muriel’s Jackson Square won’t steer you wrong. For something less traditional but still sophisticated head to Cane & Table for a top-notch cocktail and small plates, or hit the hole-in-the-wall Cuban gem, Manolito. Of course, the one and only Galatoire’s needs no introduction (where you’ll be lucky to get a table).

Finally, why not wrap up with a glass of bubbly and the world-famous Bananas Foster in a lush courtyard at Brennan’s, flambeed tableside? Giving back to your mom has never been easier.

Coming to New Orleans this spring?

Check out our guide to where to stay in the French Quarter, and be sure to check out our resource for French Quarter Hotels. Also, consider booking a guided tour of St. Louis Cemetery No. 1 to experience the hauntingly beautiful past of New Orleans.

For easy, informative sightseeing, we recommend the City Sightseeing New Orleans city tour on the open-top, double-decker bus. It runs every 30 minutes through the Garden District, French Quarter, and CBD. You can hop on and off anytime, and your mom won’t have to do all this walking!

Happy Mother’s Day!


This May in New Orleans


Photo courtesy of New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival on Facebook

May sits in the New Orleans climatic sweet spot. It’s sunny and you can wear shorts on most days, but it’s (usually) not super hot yet. Come evening, when the thermometer starts to dip into the 70s, the air feels something like perfect. If you’re planning a trip to New Orleans this May, find your French Quarter hotel, and check out these big events you can enjoy during your stay.

Jazz Fest

Thursday, April 25 – Sunday, May 5, 2024

The biggest music festival in the best music city in the USA is one of the marquee events of the New Orleans calendar. For the last weekend in April and the first weekend in May, the city hosts hundreds of bands and thousands of tourists, who stream into the Fair Grounds Race Course from around the world.

Dozens of food vendors will show off the best of local cuisine, while artisans create and trade Louisiana crafts. On the days between the weekends, some of the world’s great musicians will be partying (and often, playing) at gigs all around the city.

The Jazz Fest lineup is famously scheduled into “cubes” for attendees. So, find your cubes, and enjoy yourself!

Bayou Boogaloo

Friday, May 17 – Sunday, May 19, 2024

The Bayou Boogaloo has become as much a fixture on the festival calendar as its Mid-City neighbor, Jazz Fest, and the city’s street-party season opener, French Quarter Fest. What started as a gathering of a few hundred festival diehards has grown into an event that attracts tens of thousands of guests.

Its bucolic setting as a floating party, with its flotillas of inflatables, paddle boats and kayaks, gives the three-day festival its own unique character, while its stellar lineup of local and visiting musical artists rivals those offered by its much bigger older siblings. So does its ever-growing menu of fest-worthy food and drink.

More May Events

Although not specific to New Orleans, there are a few events you can celebrate here with gusto. Grab a margarita at one of our many wonderful restaurants on Cinco de Mayo (Sunday, May 5, 2024), celebrate Mother’s Day (Sunday, May 12, 2024) by booking brunch at one of the many elegant eateries, or visit The National World War II Museum to honor the Memorial Day (Monday, May 27, 2024).

Coming to New Orleans in May?

Check out our guide to where to stay in the French Quarter, and be sure to check out our resource for French Quarter Hotels. Also, consider booking a guided tour of St. Louis Cemetery No. 1 to experience the hauntingly beautiful past of New Orleans.

For easy, informative sightseeing, we recommend the City Sightseeing New Orleans city tour on the open-top, double-decker bus. It runs every 30 minutes through the Garden District, French Quarter, and CBD. You can hop on and off anytime!

Happy May!


A First-Timer’s Guide to the New Orleans Jazz Fest

New Orleans Jazz Fest
New Orleans Jazz Fest Photo by David Fary

There are many jazz festivals the whole world over, yet there is only one of the genre in the city that birthed it: the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival, which has been around for over five decades and still takes over the city during the last weekend in April, the first weekend in May, and pretty much all days in between (Thursday, April 25 – Sunday, May 5, 2024).

It is fair to say Mardi Gras and Jazz Fest are the two keystone entries of the New Orleans events calendar. Where Mardi Gras is a celebration with deep Catholic and pagan roots that is indelibly branded by the city of New Orleans, Jazz Fest is rather a celebration of New Orleans itself.

That’s the backstory on the “& Heritage” part of the description in the official Jazz Fest title: The event has become less about showcasing jazz per se, and more about showing off the city that gave us jazz.

Because New Orleans is so central to pop music, almost any act and genre you can imagine has strutted across the Jazz Fest’s on 14 stages — and yes, there are that many stages popping off at the Fair Grounds Race Course & Slots (1751 Gentilly Blvd.) during the 2024 Jazz Fest. As a result of this sheer scope and size, in many ways, Jazz Fest feels like too overwhelming of an event to properly tackle, especially for those who are attending for the first time.

Regarding the festival’s musical acts, there are plenty of commentators who think festival organizers have unfairly stretched the definition of what music falls under the jazz and heritage rubric. We’re not here to debate that topic, but rather point out that there is undoubtedly a wide variety of genre presence at Jazz Fest, which only adds to the looming sense of choice overload.

With all of that in mind, there are some sound tactics for making Jazz Fest more manageable. Here are some of our time-tested strategies.

Ride a Bike

While this choice isn’t going to work for everyone — some visitors simply don’t have urban cycling experience or are scared of the prospect — we can’t stress just how much biking can improve the Jazz Fest experience. Even the most diehard Jazz Fest boosters will admit parking can be a nightmare during the festival. Parking enforcement officers are on high alert — we’ve never seen the impound lot on Claiborne Avenue get quite so busy as it does during Jazz Fest.

Of course, you can pay for parking. Folks who live near the Fairgrounds will turn even the smallest plot of the backyard into an impromptu parking lot (rates vary, but around $30 per day seemed to be the going rate in the past).

There are other ways of outflanking the parking issue, including the official Jazz Fest shuttle, taxis (both cars and bicycle rickshaws), rideshare, and the streetcar. Note that if you take the streetcar, you’ll still have to walk about a half mile to the festival entrance. (Take the number 48 line that runs on Canal Street and get off at the final stop at City Park/Art Museum.)

But we really love getting to Jazz Fest on two non-motorized wheels. Bike lane infrastructure can now bring riders to the gates of Jazz Fest. If you’re staying in the French Quarter, the bike ride to the Fairgrounds covers a 10-15 minute straight shot up Esplanade Avenue.

Plus, there is extensive bicycle “parking” (overlooked by security staff) on site. While we can’t guarantee what the weather will be like during Jazz Fest weekends, in general, late April and early May form a lovely climate window in New Orleans.

In addition, being on a bicycle gives visitors a better sense of the city. You can see New Orleans at the street level without the loss of time walking might engender. There’s an intimacy to biking in the city that’s tough to replicate from a car.

Shaping Your Cube

The Jazz Fest lineup is famously scheduled into “cubes” for attendees. Devising a schedule for seeing all of your favorite acts can be a fun logistical challenge, but don’t forget that the stages of Jazz Fest are spread out over a decently large area. If you’re in the middle of the crowd at one of the main stages, it can take about 10 or 15 minutes just to extricate yourself from the center of mass.

Note that Sundays and Thursdays always feel a little bit less crowded at the racetrack, although that “little bit less” is admittedly a relative number — there are no real “light” days at Jazz Fest.

The way you assemble your cube is up to you, but here are some pointers we’ve picked up on over the years:

  • Stick to your cube, but don’t do so religiously. Part of the fun of Jazz Fest is simply letting the music take you wherever it wants to go.
  • Don’t ignore smaller stages. We found one of our great unexpected Jazz Fest shows at the Kids Tent. We also always find the Fais Do-Do stage to be a consistently good break in our routine — basically, you can never go wrong dancing to Cajun or zydeco music.
  • Visit the Gospel Tent at least once. We’ve consistently found that even those who know next to nothing about gospel music have their spirits lifted and their musical boundaries expanded in this venue.

Cool Off

It can get hot in Jazz Fest. A few good means of beating the heat include:

  • Enjoying the air conditioning in the Grandstands
  • Hitting the mist tents by the Gentilly Stage and #2 food vendor area
  • Sitting down and relaxing in the vicinity of the Louisiana Folklife Village
  • Getting strawberry lemonade and Mango Freeze! (And of course, hydrating with water)
  • Staying out of the scrum for bigger headliners

Priorities, Priorities

While the price of Jazz Fest tickets continues to climb, the fact of the matter is you can still see some grade-A headliners for a bargain rate compared to similar (or even smaller) festivals. Many locals treat Jazz Fest as a chance to see big acts on the relative cheap. On the flip side, if you live in or near the city, you can see the New Orleans musicians throughout the year at local venues, which means there’s less pressure to see them on the Fairgrounds.

If you’re coming in from out of town, you may have the opposite scenario prioritized — you can see big-name acts anywhere, but this is your best chance of seeing Louisiana music on its native soil. In addition, smaller local acts often occupy stages that are less crowded, and everyone enjoys a break from the seething masses.

With all of that said, don’t forget that during the “off days” in between the two festival weekends, many smaller and mid-sized acts will be playing gigs around town. If you miss them at the Fest, you may well catch them on Frenchmen Street.

With that said, there’s something about seeing local acts at Jazz Fest. The big-name headliners are used to huge audiences. A local Louisiana act would be playing to wow the world, and some of those sets end up being nothing short of legendary.

What to Know About the 2024 Jazz Fest

  • Jazz Fest expanded to eight days this year, adding the opening day of Thursday, April 25, to the schedule.
  • Jazz Fest went cashless last year, and remains so. Ticket, food, beverage, craft, and merchandise booths no longer accept cash payments. If you come to the event with only cash, the Festival will offer two cash exchange booths near key vending locations so you can get a prepaid card for your cash.
  • This year, Jazz Fest features over 5,000 musicians across 14 stages.
  • The festival will be the largest one in its 53-year history. Eight is the most number of days for the event, and this year there will be the most food vendors and food items ever. And there also will be 260 art and craft vendors, the highest number ever.
  • Single-day tickets are $95 through April 24 and $105 at the gate. Tickets for children ages 2-10 are $5 at the gate.
  • “Locals Thursday” will be April 25 this year, with tickets at $50 for Louisiana residents.
  • This year Jazz Fest is introducing a 4-day GA+ weekend pass with access to an exclusive GA+ lounge with private restrooms, a full-service bar, and a shaded area to relax.
  • Tickets for Thursday, May 2, the day topped by The Rolling Stones, are sold out, including multiple-day passes.
  • The Rolling Stones headline Thursday, May 2, at 5 p.m. That day of the festival will operate normally until about 3:30 p.m. Then, when the Stones go on at 5 p.m., they’ll be the only band playing on the Fair Grounds.
  • Besides The Rolling Stones, the lineup includes Foo Fighters, Queen Latifah, Heart, The Beach Boys, Jon Batiste, Neil Young Crazy Horse, The Killers, Trombone Shorty & Orleans Avenue, Bonnie Raitt, Earth, Wind & Fire, and hundreds more.
  • This year, Jazz Fest will celebrate Colombia’s musical and cultural diversity at the Expedia Cultural Exchange Pavilion. During the festival, 17 bands and a wide variety of artisans from throughout Colombia will present their sounds and traditions.
  • The Jazz & Heritage Gala kicks off Jazz Fest with the celebration of Louisiana music and cuisine on April 24 at Generations Hall (310 Andrew Higgins Blvd.).

Coming to Jazz Fest This Year?

See the 2024 Jazz Fest music lineup and food offerings on the event’s website. And be sure to check out our resource for French Quarter Hotels!


Brief History of the French Quarter

Old Ursuline Convent

We cover a lot of local festivals and other events, as well as attractions and things to see, do, eat, and experience in the French Quarter and nearby. But, with the city’s 300-year-plus history, how did we get here? What transpired in those years, and who were the people who shaped the history of this amazing melting pot of a neighborhood? Let’s go over the complex history of the French Quarter.

Well, they don’t call this neighborhood the “old square” for nothing. The French Quarter was the original city of New Orleans, founded in 1718 by Jean-Baptiste Le Moyne de BienvilleRampart Street is named as such because it once marked the actual city walls (or ramparts) of New Orleans. The city centered on Place d’Armes, now known as Jackson Square, was originally built as a military parade ground where criminals were hanged in public.

The name “French Quarter” is a bit of a misnomer; New Orleans was under Spanish rule from 1762 to 1802, and it was during this period that two huge fires (in 1788 and 1794) seared away much of the original architectural facade of the Quarter.

Thus, the buildings you see today retain more of a Spanish than French sensibility, as evidenced by wraparound balconies (which create a shady, breezy median space between the street and private residences — a useful architectural trick in hot, pre-AC New Orleans) and lush courtyards painted in bright colors, which form a reflective patina that wards off the sun.

The best example of actual French colonial architecture in the Quarter is the Old Ursuline Convent, which is also the oldest building in the Mississippi River Valley (built in 1752). With that said, the streets of the French Quarter are largely named in honor of French nobility — Burgundy, Chartres, and, yes, Bourbon.

If the French Quarter marks the original layout of New Orleans, then the original inhabitants were the Creoles, people of French, Spanish, and eventually mixed French and Spanish descent. That phenomenon is eloquently realized when one considers the names of two of the main buildings on Jackson Square: the (Spanish-origin) Cabildo and the (French-origin) Presbytère.

It is also worth noting that St. Louis Cathedral, which dominates Jackson Square, is the oldest continuously operating cathedral in the USA, and a fine example of French Colonial architecture in its own right.

Although the Creoles called the French Quarter home for many decades, they began moving out as the area became more depressed and ramshackle, especially in the early 20th century. That was when city officials shut down the vice in the red-light district of Storyville.

In response, the purveyors of sin crossed Rampart Street into the Quarter, and the Creoles moved out, to be gradually replaced by Italian immigrants. Later, also came the bohemians, attracted by the area’s undeniable architectural charms, as well as the members of the LGBTQIA+ community seeking tolerance.

In 1965 the Vieux Carré Historic District was established, allowing for the preservation of the Quarter’s historic character. The 1984 World’s Fair turned the Quarter into a bustling tourism destination, which was around the same time that many residents began leaving the neighborhood.

The Quarter tends to weather hurricanes and storms pretty well. Power lines are built underground, and the neighborhood itself was built on “high ground” (well, a few feet of elevation, but that’s enough) — which keeps it (mostly) immune from flooding. Today, while the Quarter is largely an area for tourists, thousands of residents still call it home.

If you’re planning a stay in New Orleans, be sure to check out our resource for French Quarter Hotels.


Get the Most Out of the French Quarter Fest


Photo by Zack Smith Photography. Courtesy of French Quarter Festivals, Inc.

French Quarter Fest is back, baby! And it’s its 41st anniversary, no less, with a focus on celebrating  Louisiana’s Living Legends. For four days (Thursday, April 11 through Sunday, April 14, 2024), a big chunk of the French Quarter — also known as the Vieux Carré, French for the “old square” (or “old quarter”) — will be transformed into a series of festival stages, each showcasing a different brand of music either rooted in or heavily influenced by, the sounds of Louisiana. Here’s a quick look at what you need to know about French Quarter Fest 2024.

Stage Highlights

Since 2023 welcomed more than 875,000 fans over four days, this year the festival organizers are providing more space with the addition of programming in Spanish Plaza. There are also two new stages this year, the DJ Stage and the Culinary Stage, bringing the total of stages to 22 with over 300 performances scheduled this year.

Woldenberg Riverfront Park

Most of the FQ Fest’s main stages are concentrated along the waterfront of the Mississippi River in the French Quarter. In 2019, the festival also added a stage, the Pan-American Life Insurance Group Stage, on the Riverfront’s Moonwalk, right across from Jackson Square.

The French Market & The U.S. Mint

The other side of Jackson Square is also a nexus of music stages and, importantly, food! The New Orleans Jazz Museum, located in the Old U.S. Mint building on the corner of Decatur Street and Esplanade Avenue (400 Esplanade Ave.), will host a number of acts and vendors as in previous years. It’s also a good spot for cooling off should the days get too hot. The French Market features two stages, the Traditional Jazz Stage and the Dutch Alley Stage.

Royal Street

Usually, Royal Street is an unbroken string of cute antique shops and art galleries. During French Quarter Fest, expect that scene to get livened up by several smaller music stages.

Decatur Street

Notable for the Bienville Statue, Decatur Street is where you’ll find the House of Blue Voodoo Garden Stage.

Jackson Square

The “town square” of New Orleans, as it were, Jackson Square is a geographic lynchpin for the entirety of the French Quarter, so expect it to be filled with food vendor booths for the duration of the fest, and as vibrant as ever. It will also be the location of many of the French Quarter Festival’s special events, including the opening-day second line.

Bourbon Street

Bourbon Street has a reputation as a hard-partying locus of bachelor parties and wild weekend trippers, but during French Quarter Fest it showcases a few smaller musical stages, including the lovely Jazz Playhouse at the Royal Sonesta.

Lineup Highlights

The who-is-who of the local music scene is returning or joining this year. Expect beyond excellence when it comes to the French Quarter Fest music lineup. That includes Irma Thomas, Ivan Neville, Little Freddie King, George Porter Jr., Charmaine Neville, Big Chief Monk Boudreaux, Rockin’ Dopsie Jr., Kermit Ruffins, The Soul Rebels, Big Freedia, and many more who will be performing on stages stretching from Canal Street to Esplanade Avenue. Check out the full music schedule on the fest’s website.

Food Vendor Highlights

As in the previous year, expect a mouthwatering melting pot of traditional New Orleans dishes such as fried shrimp or catfish, stuffed crabs, locally brewed beers, meat pies, crawfish macaroni and cheese, and hot sausage po-boys. Beyond that, there will be plenty of global flavors.

Our favorite vendors that are returning include Jacques-Imo’s Cafe, Tujague’s Restaurant, Plum Street Snoballs, 14 Parishes Jamaican Restaurant, Pat O-Brien’s, Miss Linda the Yakamein Lady, Desire Oyster Bar, Couvant, Morrow’s, Loretta’s Authentic Pralines, Addis NOLA, Cochon King BBQ, and many more.

This year, Bao Mi and Paco’s Tacos will have their culinary debut at the festival along with Miss River and Fritai Nola.

Also, if you see an orange “Eat Fit” sticker next to the food item, it means that it’s part of a special menu that focuses on lighter fare like lean proteins, vegetables, plant-based fats, and whole grains, with no white carbs and minimal added sugar. Fourteen vendors are participating in this program this year. Examples include crab, artichoke and citrus salad from Jacques-Imo’s Cafe, and sugar-free raspberry and sugar-free pink lemonade from Plum Street Snoballs.

Special Events

Every year, the festival features special events. Here are the 2024 highlights.

The French Quarter Festival Kickoff Parade and Opening Day Ceremony

The annual parade is held this year on Thursday, April 11, at 10 a.m. The parade departs from the 200 block of Bourbon Street down to St. Ann Street, where it turns and makes its way to Jackson Square for the Annual Opening Day Ceremony.

Dance Classes

The French Market Traditional Jazz Stage and the Chevron Cajun-Zydeco Showcase will feature dancing and classes in traditional Jazz, 1920s Charleston, swing, Cajun jitterbug, and zydeco. Classes are taught by professional dancers and are free and open to the public. Check out the lesson schedule on the festival’s website.

Children’s STEM Zone

On Saturday and Sunday, families are invited to take a journey of discovery at the STEM Exscavaganza: A Louisiana Scavenger Hunt.

French Quarter Fest After Dark

The festival offers nighttime programming at various local venues from 9 p.m. till midnight to keep the good times rolling after the last festival stage closes at 8 p.m.

… And more

On top of all this, the festival features installations, a choir concert at St. Louis Cathedral, the 2024 French Quarter Fest Official Poster signing, interviews, and more.

Getting Around the Fest

Getting around the Fest should be fairly easy if you’re walking or biking. Parking will be limited, so arrive early and try these lots: French Market, 500 Decatur Street, 300 North Peters Street, 211 Conti Street, The Garage at Canal Place, plus street parking within walking distance.

We do suggest that instead of driving, you use RTA buses, streetcars, rideshare services bikes, cabs, or the ferry to get to the festival. In addition to increased traffic, some streets will be closed for the duration of the festival beginning at approximately noon until 8:30 p.m. (Those who live in the area will need to have access passes from the NOPD Eighth District Station.) The streets that will be closing are Iberville, N. Rampart, Dumaine, and Decatur.

A Few Facts About French Quarter Fest and What’s New in 2024

Here are a few facts about the fest and what to expect this year:

  • The Fest celebrates local music and represents every genre from traditional and contemporary jazz to R&B, New Orleans funk, brass bands, folk, gospel, Latin, Zydeco, classical, cabaret, and international. It’s a medley, and a great way to sample the local music scene.
  • It debuted in 1984 as a way to bring residents back to the Quarter following the World’s Fair and extensive sidewalk repairs in the French Quarter.
  • The Fest employs more than 1,800 local musicians, with over 60 local restaurants participating as culinary vendors.
  • The food and beverage vendors are set up in several locations throughout the French Quarter: Jackson Square, the Jazz Museum at the MintJAX Brewery, and Woldenberg Riverfront Park.
  • You can buy the official 2024 poster at one of the four merch booths at the festival, and then online starting on April 22.
  • To streamline your music experience and navigation, you can download an app on the fest’s website (either for IOS or Android).
  • The live-music hours every day of the festival are 11 a.m. to 8 p.m.
  • No coolers and ice chests, please. Help keep the festival free by purchasing food and beverages at the festival.
  • And yes, the fest is free unless you opt to buy a pass for a VIP experience.

If you’re planning a stay in New Orleans, be sure to check out our resource for French Quarter Hotels.


How to Spend St. Patrick’s Day in the Quarter

Erin Rose BarPhoto courtesy of Erin Rose

It shouldn’t come as a surprise, considering New Orleans’ deep Irish heritage, that the weekend of St. Patrick’s Day (Sunday, March 17, 2024) is one of the biggest parades and party times in the city (outside of the Carnival and Halloween). The city’s connection traces back to its history as a Catholic port of call that was one of the main entry points for the country. There’s an entire neighborhood called the Irish Channel, which, as the name implies, was originally settled largely by immigrants from Ireland in the early 19th century. To this day, many locals have roots on the Emerald Isle.

Thanks to this connection the weekend closest to St. Patrick’s Day is filled with parades, pub crawls, and block parties. While the biggest event, the Irish Channel parade, plus the most massive block parties, are happening Uptown, there’s plenty to see, do, and drink in the French Quarter. There some fantastic Irish pubs we recommend, many of which will be hosting their own St. Patrick’s Day parties, plus a parade that rolls through the Quarter.

Here’s how you can celebrate St. Patrick’s Day — all without leaving the French Quarter.

The Parade

Downtown Irish Club Parade

Sunday, March 17, 2024, 7 p.m.

This parade rolls from the Bywater to the French Quarter, making several pit stops on its way to Bourbon Street. It begins on the corner of Burgundy and Piety streets in the Bywater, proceeds up Royal Street, across Esplanade Avenue to Decatur Street, and up Canal Street to Bourbon Street. The parade makes several stops at the various bars in the Marigny and the French Quarter on its way to Bourbon Street.

The Bars

These are all fair game during the St. Patrick’s Day weekend, whether you want a relatively quiet stopover for some Guinness and a game of pool or an epic party with live music and an Irish buffet. Several of these bars serve as the stops for the parades, so we can assure you — they’ll be partying.

The Boondock Saint

731 St. Peter St.

Tucked into a brick hideaway between Royal and Bourbon streets across from Preservation Hall, this intimate Irish pub was named after a movie that runs on the loop on the TV inside the bar (don’t worry, there’s a good jukebox too). The famously friendly bartenders serve Guinness and local beer on tap, as well as Irish car bombs. The prices are very, very good — so think of Boondock Saint as your perfect getaway from the 24/7 party happening just steps away on Bourbon St.

Erin Rose

811 Conti St.

Just a few doors away from Bourbon Street, Erin Rose is a low-key watering hole favored by the locals. On St. Patrick’s Day (or make that the weekend), you can head to Erin Rose in confidence — there’s going to be a party there. While you mingle, check the memorabilia galore and try the bar’s excellent frozen Irish coffee or a Bloody Mary (made with the house secret recipe). Of course, there’s Guinness on tap plus a selection of local brews. The bar is also home to the popular Killer Poboys (look for the takeout window in the back). Everything on the small but mighty menu is delicious.

Fahy’s Irish Pub

540 Burgundy St.

Fahy’s keeps it pretty traditional as far as Irish pubs go, with inexpensive drinks, a horseshoe-shaped bar, pool tables, darts, framed photos, and a laid-back ambiance. There are some Irish beers on tap, but you should try the bar’s specialty called Mind Eraser. It’s made with vodka and Kahlua, and it’s meant to be shared with friends by everyone sticking straws into the drink at the same time and racing to the bottom. For St. Patrick’s Day, Fahy’s has been known to put out an Irish buffet with traditional offerings like corned beef and cabbage.

Finnegan’s Easy

717 St. Peter St.

Another low-key Irish bar on the same block as the Boondock Saints, Finnegan’s Easy is long, narrow, and more crowded, but with ample capacity to handle it thanks to its spacious courtyard. You could tell it caters more to the visitors as it serves as a stop on some of the walking tours in the French Quarter. Finnegan’s features sports on TV and cheerfully serves Irish grub along with more American fare like wings. The drink menu also varies from the local beer on tap to Mai Tais and Hurricanes.

Kerry Irish Pub

331 Decatur St.

Kerry packs the house for St. Patrick’s every year with live bands performing back to back, with the doors opening as early as 8 a.m. in the years past. You may not find green beer at Kerry but you are guaranteed a proper pint of Guinness.

Molly’s Irish Pub

732 Toulouse St.

Not to be mistaken for Molly’s at the Market, this Molly’s is close to Bourbon Street geographically but might as well be miles away for its understated charm and low-key vibe. Housed in an old Creole cottage, Molly’s is all brick and dark wood. You won’t find an epic party there (although things will definitely liven up during the St. Patrick’s weekend), but if you want a bar with Guinness on tap, a pool table and a great jukebox, this local favorite is it.

Pat O’Brien’s

718 St. Peter St.

As you might have guessed from its name, this iconic French Quarter bar was founded by an Irishman. What’s more, the invention of one of New Orleans’ most famous cocktails, the Hurricane, is credited to him too. Every year on St. Patrick’s Day weekend the bar participates in the festivities with drink and food specials and live music. Also, check out the flaming fountain on the bar’s patio (it’s a water fountain with fire emerging from its center, as crazy as it sounds).

Ryan’s Irish Pub

241 Decatur St.

Just down the street from the Kerry and next to House of Blues, Ryan’s is another stop for the St. Patrick’s Day parades/pub crawls that go through the Quarter. Cozy booths, a beautiful antique bar, and plenty of local brews on tap draw a mix of local regulars and visitors.

Balcony Viewing Parties

For some traditional French Quarter-style partying, be on the lookout for balcony bashes at the bars located all up and down Bourbon Street. A balcony bash is pretty much that — you’ll pay a cover and be allowed to plant yourself on a wrought-iron balcony overlooking the street below. Since the parade that rolls in the French Quarter hits Bourbon Street, prepare for much (green) bead tossing and catching.

Are you visiting New Orleans this spring? We’d love for you to stay at one of our Valentino hotels! And if you do, consider booking a guided tour of the famous St. Louis Cemetery No. 1 to experience the hauntingly beautiful past of New Orleans. And, for easy, informative sightseeing, we recommend the City Sightseeing New Orleans city tour on the open-top, double-decker bus. It runs every 30 minutes through the Garden District, French Quarter, and CBD. You can hop on and off anytime!


Things to Do in New Orleans This March

With March upon us, expect a good slate of early-spring activities in the Crescent City. Also, the weather is warmer — hopefully just pleasantly warmer — the kind of spring sunshine that equals t-shirts and jeans, if not shorts.

Mainly, we consider this time of year an awesome window when the Carnival wraps up (or, depending on the year, is over) and the festival season is yet to begin. This is that rare time when the city settles for a very slight breather between its biggest parties and still means there’s a ton of stuff to do. Here are the highlights.

Wednesday at the Square

Every Wednesday, March 6 – May 8, 2024

Unwind with a cold beverage on any given Wednesday at the Square, a free concert music series held in the spring in Lafayette Park (located one block off of Poydras Street, between St. Charles Avenue and Camp Street in the heart of the Central Business District) every Wednesday from 5 to 8 p.m. From March through May, these outdoor concerts feature a variety of jazz, rock, swam pop, brass, Latin rhythms, and more. This year’s lineup features Big Sam’s Funky Nation, Brass-A-Holics, Lost Bayou Ramblers, and more.

Bring a chair or a blanket, or head to the front of the stage to partake in some dancing. You can bring your dog, and there are vendor booths surrounding the park where you can buy food and alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages (no outside food or beverages, please).

Danny Barker Banjo & Guitar Festival

Wednesday-Sunday, March 6-10, 2024

The Danny Barker Banjo + Guitar Festival pays homage to New Orleanian musician, writer, instrumentalist, vocalist, composer, and lyricist Danny Barker. The three-day festival features a mixture of programming including live music performances, panel discussions and workshops, special events and outings, second lines, and more. It will be held at the New Orleans Jazz Museum. Tickets are $15-$75.

New Orleans Entrepreneur Week

Monday-Saturday, March 11-16, 2024

New this year, the New Orleans Entrepreneur Week (NOEW) is partnering with the New Orleans Book Festival to produce back-to-back events. The events are not merging, but they have scheduled their conference dates to line up during the same week in March, with one crossover day of shared programming on Thursday, March 14.

NOEW kicks off three days of speeches, speaker sessions and networking events on March 11. On March 14, the entrepreneurial portion will culminate in Idea Village’s annual IDEApitch competition, which showcases growth-stage companies competing for an investment prize. NOEW is now in its 13th year and attracted roughly 2,700 people to its four-day event last March, which included a weekend musical festival (not happening this year). For this year’s keynote speakers and more info, check out the event’s website.

The New Orleans Book Festival at Tulane

Thursday-Saturday, March 14-16, 2024

The New Orleans Book Festival features both fiction and non-fiction and readings, panel discussions, symposia, and keynote speeches. It also provides an opportunity for outlets, authors and readers to interact with each other. Saturday is Family Day, so bring your kids to the Tulane campus for some fun. Last year’s notable authors and speakers on the impressive roster included Andy Borowitz, Richard Campanella, Maureen Dowd, and many more — so expect A-list greatness this year as well. And, as was noted above, this year marks the first partnership with NOEW with one day of crossover events.

St. Patrick’s Day

Sunday, March 17, 2024

It often comes as a surprise to first-time visitors to New Orleans that this city has a deep Irish heritage, which traces back to its history as a Catholic port of call that was one of the main entry points for the USA. There’s an entire neighborhood in this town called the Irish Channel, plus a plethora of fantastic pubs that eschew cheesy emerald-green Irish stereotypes for rough-hewn hospitality (Finn McCool’s and Erin Rose come to mind, plus a selection of our favorite Irish pubs in the French Quarter).

As such, there are plenty of Irish in this town, and thus, the weekend closest to St. Patrick’s Day is an important one for the city of New Orleans. Numerous parades kick off, including the massive Irish Channel parade (on Saturday, March 16, 2024), where float riders pass cabbages to the screaming crowds.

The Downtown Irish Club Parade rolls on Sunday, March 17, 2024, from the Bywater to the French Quarter, making several pit stops on its way to Bourbon Street.

How much you enjoy all of the above is linked to your tolerance for public drinking and green beer. St. Patrick’s Day in New Orleans is not quite as kid-friendly as the Carnival — you’ll still see families, but these parades are more aimed at adults.

Super Sunday

Sunday, March 17, 2024

The annual gathering of the Mardi Gras Indian tribes is perhaps the most open means of accessing this unique element of New Orleans backstreet culture. The tribes will be out in large numbers on Super Sunday, which usually falls on the third Sunday of March, but this year coincides with St. Patrick’s Day.

While the Mardi Gras Indians have their set routes and parade areas, no one event packs the tribes into one public space like Super Sunday. In this case, said public spaces are A.L. Davis Park, at the corner of Washington and LaSalle streets; and Bayou St. John in Mid-City, at the intersection of Orleans and Moss streets, on the bayou’s banks and the Orleans Street bridge. The Indian procession usually leaves the gathering spot around 1 p.m.

We can’t stress this enough: Be respectful if you go. Take pictures at a distance, and don’t get in the way of marching Indians or their friends, family and attached bands. Super Sunday has been overrun with spectators in the past years, so please do your part to enjoy this amazing cultural event responsibly.

Some background: The Mardi Gras Indians are the most vibrant, visible and conversely mysterious expressions of African-American New Orleans culture. To distill them into an extremely simplistic sentence: Mardi Gras Indians are African-American New Orleanians who dress up (or in local lingo, ”mask”) as stylized Native Americans.

They take to the streets in fantastic costumes made of beads, feathers, and sequins that cost thousands of dollars, weigh hundreds of pounds, and require hundreds of days of painstaking labor; no element of costume creation is automated.

On Mardi Gras Day, Super Sunday, St. Joseph’s Day, and a select few other special occasions, the “chiefs” and their tribes parade through the city, chanting, shouting and challenging each other to determine who is “the prettiest.”

There’s a ton more background on this fascinating subject at the Backstreet Cultural Museum in the historic Tremé neighborhood.

Tennessee Williams Literary Festival

Wednesday-Sunday, March 20-24, 2024

Writers have always been drawn to New Orleans. Few cities in America (or the world, really), can match this town for its atmosphere, sense of place, or penchant for fun and pathos (all good elements of a writing life).

The Tennessee Williams Literary Festival celebrates this city’s love affair with the written word, as well as writers’ love affair with New Orleans. Notable authors will be in attendance, hosting seminars, workshops, and lectures.

Plus, this being the Tennessee Williams Festival, there is, of course, a “Stella” shouting contest, which involves folks screaming out the iconic scene from A Streetcar Named Desire to appreciative crowds on Jackson Square. The program will also include a scholar conference, walking tours, masterclasses, theater, and more.

Note that on Friday-Sunday, March 22-24, 2024, the city will also host the Saints & Sinners Literary Festival, an alternative literary event that celebrates LGBTQ+ authors. The three-day festival will include panel discussions and a fair amount of networking opportunities between authors, editors, and publishers.

Congo Square Rhythms Festival

Saturday-Sunday, March 23-24, 2024

The musical heritage of New Orleans follows a line that can be traced all the way back to Africa, where the black diaspora begins. The music of that continent evolved here and in the Caribbean, influenced by Europe and indigenous music, into the forms and traditions that are the core of today’s New Orleans sound.

This vital legacy is celebrated in Armstrong Park, on the grounds of Congo Square, where local slaves were once permitted to practice the musical traditions of Africa and the Caribbean. Congo Square Rhythms Festival is a celebration of global and local music, and offers both amazing food and a fantastic lineup of music. The festival kickoff concert on Friday, March 22, features Big Chief Monk Boudreaux & the Golden Eagles.

Presented by the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Foundation, the festival features Mardi Gras Indians, African dance, brass bands, soul-funk, as well as indigenous music of Honduras, and highlife from West Africa. The large art market and a Soul Food Court complete the experience.

Don’t miss one of the fest’s highlights, the Mardi Gras Indian “battle” — when the tribes gather in the center of the square, plus the festival’s largest to date assemblage of New Orleans-based African dance troupes (they typically perform on Sunday).

Crescent City Classic

Saturday, March 30, 2024

The annual Crescent City Classic is a fun local tradition. Held on the Saturday before Easter and open to both amateur and pro runners, the event is the city’s signature 10k race. (Expect some runners dressed in Easter-themed costumes.) The race starts at 8 a.m. on Champions Square and then proceeds down Esplanade Avenue to the New Orleans City Park. After the race (8:30 a.m. to 1 p.m.) there’s a festival at the park’s Festival Grounds, with local music and food. You can register for the race and buy festival tickets on the event’s website.

Are you visiting New Orleans this spring? We’d love for you to stay at one of our Valentino hotels! And if you do, consider booking a guided tour of the famous St. Louis Cemetery No. 1 to experience the hauntingly beautiful past of New Orleans. And, for easy, informative sightseeing, we recommend the City Sightseeing New Orleans city tour on the open-top, double-decker bus. It runs every 30 minutes through the Garden District, French Quarter, and CBD. You can hop on and off anytime!

Happy Spring!