Things to Do in the French Quarter This September

When September hits in New Orleans, it doesn’t mean summer has given up the ghost, even if everyone is back in school. As far as festivals and events go, New Orleans doesn’t slow down in this regard either. Here’s a list of some of the big happenings hitting the Crescent City and the area around the French Quarter as we enter September.

Photo courtesy of Restaurant Week New Orleans on Facebook

Southern Decadence

Aug 30 – Sep 3   If you’re in town over the Labor Day weekend, check out Southern Decadence. This popular festival celebrates LGBTQA culture and attracts participants from all over the world. What started as a simple going-away party in the 1970s is now considered the fifth largest event in the city after Mardi Gras, Jazz Fest, Essence Festival, and the French Quarter Festival.

The festival’s annual hub, Bourbon Pub/Parade, will be open 24/7. Just like in the previous years, it will serve as an epicenter of the Bourbon Street Extravaganza, a free show/block party happening on Saturday at the corner of Bourbon and St. Ann Streets. The annual Southern Decadence Grand Marshal Parade on Sunday will also end up there. The theme for 2018 is “House of Bourbon — Unleash Your Beast.”

Restaurant Week New Orleans

Sep 10-16   Newsflash: New Orleans loves to eat! Ah, we’re kidding about the newsflash thing; anyone with a bare knowledge of New Orleans knows it’s one of the world’s great food cities. We love to eat — and sometimes, we live to eat. There are over 17 James Beard award-winning restaurants in New Orleans, and this is your chance to enjoy an iconic New Orleans multi-course gastronomic extravaganza at a more economic price point. Many tourists and locals like to sample these spots during Restaurant Week New Orleans for this reason. Participating restaurants — which include James Beard luminaries like Bayona and Commander’s Palace, and can’t miss spots like Brigsten’s and Lüke — offer set course menus at a discount (often, a deep discount).

House of Blues
Photo by Trevor Mark

New Orleans Burlesque Festival

Sep 20-23   Over the past decade, burlesque has become one of the most popular forms of live performance art in New Orleans. There’s a plethora of burlesque shows kicking off across the city on a weekly basis, and we highly recommend checking any of them out to experience a quintessential New Orleans blend of music, costuming, cheekiness, and good-natured naughtiness. So, if you like New Orleans burlesque, why not witness a concentration of it over a special weekend? That’s the appeal of the New Orleans Burlesque Festival, which is entering its 10th year of existence. There are plenty of shows to catch, but we’re particularly jazzed for the renowned competitors who will be throwing their hats (and garter belts) for the title of Queen of Burlesque.

National Fried Chicken Fest

Sep 22-23   September brings a lot to the table in New Orleans, and the National Fried Chicken Festival promises to be one of the highlights. The free fest will have three outdoor stages set up in the Woldenberg Park on the Riverfront, two for music and one for the cooking demos. The stellar food vendor lineup includes 35, with the well-known fried chicken vendors coming from all over the region to represent different cooking styles of this classic Southern dish.

NOLA on Tap Beer Fest

Sep 22   NOLA on Tap Beer Fest is the largest fundraiser for the Louisiana SPCA and the largest beer fest in the area, with more than 400 beer offerings from the local and national breweries and homebrewers. (Wine, margaritas and non-alcoholic beverages will also be available.) This annual festival, held at the New Orleans City Park Festival Grounds, is kid-friendly. Dogs are welcome as well. Admission is $5, and you’ll have to purchase tickets for drinks (food is cash or credit). Drink ticket packages that include admission are available online. Kids 12 and under get in for free.

Southern Decadence French Quarter
Photo by David Fary

Southern Decadence

Sep 1-4 The largest LGBTQ party in New Orleans is a major highlight of the gay Labor Day festival circuit. We can’t say this is particularly surprising – New Orleans has a long history of tolerance and promotion of LGBTQ rights, and besides that, we’re a city that likes to party. Qualities like exhibitionism, flamboyance, costuming and unrestrained hedonism are not frowned upon in New Orleans – they’re celebrated. For decades, the lower portion of Bourbon Street – to say nothing of Faubourg Marigny – has been, without hyperbole, the gay friendliest real estate in the American South.

Southern Decadence is a name, but it’s also a theme. This party is an unrestrained celebration of community and pride, which all comes via a few choice drinks and revelry. Bring parasols, carve out a dancing spot at the balcony at Oz or Lafitte’s in Exile, sing karaoke at Kajun’s, drink lots of water, go for a swim at the Country Club in the Bywater, and buy something from the Faubourg Marigny Books. Highlights from this year’s party include:




  • Miss High Hair Contest – A night of celebrating tall wigs and beehive haircuts.
  • Southern Decadence Parade – The main event is an enormous, amazing parade that will ostensibly roll through the Quarter at 2pm.

labor day french quarter
Photo by Gary J. Wood on Flickr

Labor Day Weekend

New Orleans is a top Labor Day destination. Much of that cachet stems from Southern Decadence, but there’s more than the city’s largest LGBTQ party going on during the ‘last weekend of summer.’ Both Danger Zone and Taste the Rainbow will bring burlesque action to September 1, while on the same day, the National World War II museum is holding its inaugural book fair (which lasts through the weekend). There will be comedy all weekend, and many local favorite shows, like Local Uproar (Sat night, Allways Lounge) will be taking donations for victims of the Houston flooding. Plus, the Hollygrove Market will be in full swing on Sunday.