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Bayou Boogaloo

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 four-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 is taking place not in the French Quarter but on the sprawling, picturesque banks of Bayou St. John — between Dumaine Streets and Lafitte Avenue in the in 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 2020

This year, Bayou Boogaloo falls on Friday, May 15 – Sunday, May 17, 2020. Just like in the previous years, the festival is pet- and 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. In the past, the Boogaloo has hosted everyone from Irma Thomas to Lost Bayou Ramblers and Beausoleil on its three music stages.

The 30+ food and beverage vendor list also reads like the who-is-who of some of the best restaurants in the city, including the returning mainstays like Boswell’s Jamaican GrillAjun CajunGulf Tacos, plus snowball and lemonade booths, and plenty of booths with adult beverages from Pal’sPearl Wine Company, local breweries, and others. The ever-growing food menu now includes more gluten-free and vegan options.

The curated arts market includes more than 60 regional artists and craftspeople. The Family Village will once again offer games and activities to the kids and families, and provide the respite from the heat with its misting fans and shade.

You can buy merch online anytime, including the fabulous 2020 festival poster created by the local artist Varion Laurent. The poster features Tank and the Bangas, including the band’s frontwoman, Tarriona “Tank” Ball.

Early bird pricing

Like in 2019, when the festival started charging an admission fee, admission to this popular festival is $10 per day or $20 for the three-day weekend pass. Until midnight on March 15, 2020, festgoers can purchase the weekend pass for $18 and a weekend Canopy Club VIP pass for $225 (that’s a $25 discount). All wristbands allow in and out access. Children under 12 are free.

The Canopy Club is the fest’s VIP lounge located next to the main stage, with access to a climate-controlled restroom, a private bar, and catered food. The lounge features shade, misting fans, seating, and the stage-front view.

To take advantage of early bird pricing, use the promo code SPRINGBREAK at the event’s website.

What else do you need to know?

Just like last year, the state’s Wildlife and Fisheries Department will have a presence at the fest to help ensure boat safety. This means that people in boats and rafts have to wear life jackets and follow other boating guidelines.

Paid public parking is available at three locations: The Cannery, Deutsches Haus (plus the free shuttle from that parking lot to the festival), and at 401 N. Jeff Davis Parkway. Street parking in the neighborhood is limited, so biking is encouraged.

Dogs (must be on the leash) and 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.

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 list for this year (TBA), 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 the hotels in the French Quarter.