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 29 – Sep 2  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.

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 13-14  The annual Burlesque Festival is an international event that brings together the best of local talent and some big international names. Dancers, emcees, comics, singers, and variety-act performers will be doing nightly shows at the Civic Theatre and House of Blues. On Saturday, during the main event held at the Civic Theatre, performers from all over the world will be competing for the title of “Queen of Burlesque.”

Burlesque was one of the main attractions in the French Quarter in the 1940s-60s, featuring the largest concentration of burlesque clubs than anywhere in the country. It’s made Bourbon Street famous and launched many careers. Now the city is the epicenter of the modern-day burlesque revival, with this festival carrying on the tradition of the golden age of burlesque since 2009.

New Orleans Fried Chicken Festival

National Fried Chicken Fest

Sep 20-22  Newly expanded to three days, the National Fried Chicken Festival promises to be one of the highlights of September. The free fest will have three outdoor stages, two for music and one for the cooking demos, at the Woldenberg Riverfront Park. The stellar food lineup includes over 30 well-known fried chicken vendors coming from all over the region to represent different cooking styles of this classic Southern dish.

NOLA on TapPhoto courtesy of NOLA on Tap on FacebookNOLA on Tap Beer Fest

Sep 21  If you love beer festivals, head to the New Orleans City Park Festival Grounds for NOLA on Tap Beer Fest. It’s 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. The festival is kid-friendly, and 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:

Friday

Saturday

Sunday

  • 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.