Things to Do in New Orleans This April

Easter in the French Quarter by david Fary
Photo by David Fary

April is one of our favorite months in New Orleans. Between the usually warm winters and super-hot summers, April sits in the New Orleans climatic sweet spot. It’s sunny and you can wear shorts on most days, but it’s not impossibly hot yet. Come evening, when the thermometer starts to dip into the 70s, the air feels something like perfect.

Then there are the festivals, of course. In New Orleans, April is considered the start of the festival season, which lasts from now into the dog days of summer. On almost every weekend (and during the mid-week as well), you’ll find outdoor concerts, parties, live performances, and general revelry just dripping out of the city.

Plus, spring just brings out the love in people. Folks get down, hang out, and are just that much more at ease. In a city nicknamed the Big Easy (you’ll never catch us using that term, but we accept it is a title New Orleans must live with), that’s saying something.

Oh, there’s one other great thing about April: crawfish. Sure, they’re usually in season by March, but April is when the boils really start becoming a common sight citywide.

Here’s how we do April.

french quarter fest
Bag of Donuts by David Fary

French Quarter Fest

French Quarter Festival is the largest free musical event in the New Orleans calendar, and according to organizers, the largest free music festival in the USA. For many, it has become a less crowded, less expensive alternative to the Jazz & Heritage Festival.

With that said, it’s not really fair to describe French Quarter Fest in relation to Jazz Fest. French Quarter Fest stands strongly on its own merits, rocking the city with a fantastic lineup of musicians and an unbeatable setting.

That setting is, as you may have guessed from the name, the French Quarter itself. Unlike so many music festivals around the world, French Quarter Fest eschews a huge grassy space for city streets. And in this case, said streets run through one of the world’s architectural preservation treasures. The festival goes off during the second weekend of April (April 13-16, 2023), which tends to come with gorgeous weather.

Despite featuring about 20 stages and a staggering amount of acts and food vendors, the fest is fairly easy to navigate. Here’s our guide to how to get the most out of the French Quarter Festival if you feel overwhelmed.

YLC Wednesday at the Square
Photo courtesy of YLC Wednesday at the Square on Facebook

Wednesday at the Square

Free music? Good weather? Food stalls? Good folks? All this and more at Wednesday at the Square in downtown New Orleans, which continues for 10 weeks from March 15 through May 17, 2023. The concert series kicks off in Lafayette Square; music lasts from 5 to 8 p.m.

Crescent City Classic

Photo courtesy of Crescent City Classic on Facebook

Crescent City Classic

This annual 10K run is one of the largest athletic events in New Orleans, partly because the race is open to all, and as a result tends to attract a wide swathe of runners, from casual beginners to world-class runners (many don a costume to run, this being New Orleans). You do have to register to run; the cost is $70.

Crescent City Classic is also notable for its route, which takes in some of the best cityscapes New Orleans has to offer. Runners take off from downtown in front of the Superdome, run through the French Quarter and the Tremé, then up Esplanade Avenue — one of the most beautiful streets in the nation — all the way to City Park.

If you’re around on the day of the run (Saturday, April 7, 2023), you’ll likely see crowds lining the route, but try not to drive anywhere near the running path, as roads will be blocked off.

Photo by David Fary

Easter Parades

New Orleans is one of the most Catholic cities in the country, and it celebrates Easter in a big way, although that celebration isn’t always as traditional as one might guess. Long story short: When the 40-day Lent period of fasting ends, New Orleans says, “OK, that was enough self-denial” and throws three big parades. Why? Because New Orleans.

The first parade of the day begins before Easter Mass services have even begun. Starting at 11 a.m. on Easter Sunday (April 9, 2023) with a hat contest and entertainment at the Omni Royal Orleans Hotel Ballroom, the Historic French Quarter Easter Parade winds its way from there and back at 11 a.m. via classic convertible cars and mule-drawn carriages.

This procession is followed by the French Quarter Easter Parade (formerly the Chris Owens French Quarter Easter Parade named so for the late, great Bourbon Street entertainer Chris Owens, who also led the procession for decades). The parade also starts and ends at the Omni Royal Orleans Hotel, at 1 p.m.

The final parade of the day is the Gay Easter Parade, which rolls at 4:30 p.m. This one is also a family-friendly affair, and has been a long-standing tradition of the New Orleans LGBTQIA+ community.

The paraders will march with floats and horse-drawn carriages, rolling by many of the French Quarter’s most storied gay businesses. Bring the kids to this one, as the Gay Easter Parade is famous for its generous throws and elaborate costuming.



One of the surest signs of spring in New Orleans is the presence of crawfish on menus and at boils across the city, and one of the surest signs that crawfish are back in season is Crawfest. Held on Saturday, April 22 this year, this party, sponsored by Tulane University, features some 20,000 pounds of crawfish, thousands of pounds of vegetables, two main stages, a bunch of bands, and a heavy student presence. This year, Tank and the Bangas and the Honey Island Swamp Band are part of the lineup.

With that said, all are welcome — it costs $20 to get in, and kids 12 and under enter for free. (The fest is also free to Tulane students, with a wristband.) Crawfest kicks off on Tulane’s campus in Uptown, New Orleans.

Photo by David Fary

Jazz Fest

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 (April 28 – May 7, 2023), 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) all around the city.

Jazz Fest is a giant event, and in some ways, all of the bands, shows and sheer entertainment options can feel intimidating. Yet once you find your favorite stage and preferred food vendors, and sit down with a cold drink and the breeze blowing across the Fair Grounds, it can also be very intimate — a means of annually connecting to New Orleans at a deep level that is exacerbated by the warm spring sun of April.

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