There is a running joke in New Orleans that we’ll have a festival for anything. And the more you investigate, the more you start to realize that it’s less of a joke and more of a hilarious reality. We have the Creole Tomato Fest, the Strawberry Festival, and the Burlesque Festival. And the list goes on and on. Here’s the thing: they are all fantastic. Even the smallest and least-known festivals are tons of fun. During the cooler months of the year, there seems to be a festival every other week. When planning a trip to New Orleans, always do research to see what events are in town. That being said, it is much more important to plan to attend these events than it is to plan to avoid them. They are an integral part of our local culture and missing one would be like not eating ham in Spain. Here are five of my favorites:
This massive three-day music and arts festival is held at New Orleans City Park over Halloween Weekend. The crowd is mostly aged 18-30, but anyone would enjoy this one. It’s always been my favorite because it’s held during the first chilly weeks after a long hot summer. Make sure to get tickets far in advance because the prices go up the closer you get to the festival.
It should be obvious why this is one of the best festivals in New Orleans. Every year at the end of November, people from all over town gather on Oak Street in Uptown New Orleans to sample the best po-boys in the city. Live music is on every other corner and people wander from booth to booth, eating and relaxing in the cool November sun.
French Quarter Fest
Heralded as the largest free festival in America, the French Quarter Fest boasted an attendance of more than 732,000 people this past year. The festival lasts four days and includes 20 stages showcasing the best of New Orleans music, food, and fun.
Tennessee Williams Festival
During four days in March, thousands of literary minds converge in New Orleans to celebrate theater, poetry, and Tennessee Williams who had a longtime home here. Previous years’ speakers include notables in their own right, such as Anne Rice and Alec Baldwin. Make sure to catch the “Stella!” shouting competition held in Jackson Square.
Freret Street Fest
The Freret Street Festival is held in April every year in one of the fastest growing neighborhoods in New Orleans. I like going because unlike colossal festivals like Jazz Fest and French Quarter Fest, this one is still quite intimate. Come for the great local food and live music.