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Things to Do This November in the French Quarter and Nearby

Photo courtesy of Emeril Lagasse Foundation on Facebook

November in New Orleans is jam-packed with festivals and celebrations. It’s also a magical time to be here, with a stretch of perfect weather leading up to the winter holidays and Mardi Gras. Here are some of our favorite suggestions on what to see, eat, and do if you’re in New Orleans in November.

Oak Street Po-Boy Festival

November 3, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.
There’s a po-boy for every budget and palate in New Orleans — and at the Po-Boy Festival you can sample the best po-boys the city has to offer. The fest will be held between the 8100 and 8800 blocks of Oak Street in the Carrollton neighborhood. Over 30 vendors will present more food that you could shake your fork at, with over 60 varieties of the delicious sandwich alone — plus beer, specialty cocktails, and desserts. Admission is free, but you’ll need to purchase a $5 wristband at the fest to purchase the po-boys. Since last year, there are also two types of the “fast pass” that would let you bypass the line to enter. And, just like in the past years, some of the best restaurants in the city will once again compete in six “Best of” categories.

Boudin, Bourbon & Beer

November 8, 6-10:30 p.m.
Every November celebrity chef Emeril Lagasse invites scores of top local and national chefs to join him for his one-night fundraiser featuring a specially curated, Louisiana-inspired menu, live music, and open bar. This year more than 70 chefs will participate in the 9th annual Boudin, Bourbon & Beer held at Champions Square (Lasalle St.), an outdoor festival plaza located adjacent to the Mercedes-Benz Superdome.

The participating chef list is an impressive who-is-who on both local and national levels. Previous years included such notable New Orleans chefs as the Commander’s Place Tory McPhail, Nina Compton of Compere Lapin and Bywater American Bistro, Isaac Toups of Toups Meatery and Toups South, Chris Borges of Josephine Estelle, and many more. For a full list of featured chefs and the menu updates, visit the event’s website.

Tickets are on sale now ($135) and include unlimited food, open bar, cigars, and access to the auction and featured entertainment. The fundraiser benefits Emeril Lagasse Foundation, which focuses on culinary education, nutrition and arts programs.

Fête des Fromages

November 13, 15-16
Well, who doesn’t like cheese? The second-year Fête des Fromages will be held at the New Orleans Jazz Museum at the U.S. Mint (400 Esplanade Ave.), presenting more than 100 artisan cheeses from all over the world. Those will be paired with wine, beer and cider, and a few cheese experts and local chefs will be on hand to present on the history of cheese. Add to it some live music, a cheese-wheel cracking competition between two chefs attempting to break down a 65-pound slab of cheese, cheese-related merch, and you got yourself a fine weekend of sampling, sipping, and maybe some early holiday shopping (tickets).

Hell Yes Fest

November 13-17, showtimes vary
This comedy fest has originated in Austin but is becoming a New Orleans mainstay since its Crescent City debut in 2011. Get ready for a diverse lineup featuring improv, sketch, and stand-up, including an all-female showcase on Thursdays. The New Movement space (2706 St Claude Ave.) will host. Proceeds from the Hell Yes Fest will go to organizations dedicated to aiding and empowering sexual assault survivors.

Wing Wars

November 16, noon-8 p.m.
Another newcomer, this one honors one of America’s favorite apps, chicken wings. Conceived and produced by Marc Bonifacic of Central City BBQ and Shane Finkelstein, producer of Top Taco Nola and owner of Nacho Mama’s Mexican Grill, Wing Wars will showcase a slew of local restaurants as they smoke, baste, sauce, and fry over 40,000 chicken wings, battling it out for Tiger Sauce’s “King of the Wing.” Wing Wars will be held at the Smoke Yard at Central City BBQ (1201 S. Rampart St.), with live music scheduled throughout the day. Early bird tickets are $10, and $20 at the door.

Tremé Creole Gumbo Festival

November 16-17, 11 a.m. – 7:30 p.m.
The annual Tremé Creole Gumbo festival serves up the perfect trifecta of gumbo, brass bands and cooler temps, returning to celebrate over a decade of existence at Louis Armstrong Park (701 N. Rampart St.). The free festival will show off New Orleans’ staple stew in all its savory varieties, from gumbo z’herbes and dark roux to the non-traditional vegetarian- and vegan-friendly versions. Of course, there will be traditional gumbo — seafood, chicken and andouille, filé — and cooking demos if you want to learn how to make that perfect roux.

New this year, the free fest is joining forces with another popular local event, the Congo Square Rhythms Festival, adding more music, and featuring two art markets and two food courts. Free bicycle valet will be available on both days on festival grounds, courtesy of Bike Easy.

Thanksgiving at the Fair Grounds Race Course

November 28
Per a long-standing New Orleans tradition, it’s customary to turn out at the track on Thanksgiving Day to watch the opening-day races while sporting cocktails and some seriously fabulous hats. The first race starts at 11 a.m., and the racetrack also serves a sumptuous holiday buffet, plus a fancy dinner with all the holiday trimmings at the Clubhouse.

Bayou Classic 2018

November 29-30
Each November the Bayou Classic draws the fans and alumni of Southern University and Grambling State University to New Orleans to partake in one of the country’s greatest college sports rivalries. This year marks the 46th annual event, which has become much more than a football game, drawing more than 200,000 visitors to New Orleans.

The event stretches for two days and includes a fan fest, a parade, battle of the bands, and, of course, the big game at the Superdome (you can get tickets online or at the gate). The battle of the bands between the Grambling “Marching Tigers” and the Southern “Human Jukebox” on Friday is an unforgettable extravaganza (tickets). The same two marching bands will lead the Annual Bayou Classic Parade on Saturday, starting at 9:30 a.m., from the Marigny to the CBD. The parade will have the elements of the Zulu Social Aid and Pleasure Club, floats, military units, and more. In other words, expect a great show.

Celebration in the Oaks

November 29-January 1, 2020 Fri.-Sat. 5-11 p.m., Sun-Thu. 6-10 p.m.
This beloved New Orleans tradition is celebrating over three decades of existence, selling out quickly for the past few years. Celebration in the Oaks is a dazzling holiday lights festival scattered throughout the 25 acres of the City Park, including the Botanical Garden, Storyland, and Carousel Gardens Amusement Park. Stroll through the magical grounds swathed in hundreds of thousands of twinkling lights, take a train ride or a holiday picture by the iconic Mr. Bingle, listen to the caroling, do some holiday shopping, or ride the historic carousel.

See a list of events happening this November.
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