It would be safe to say that New Orleans and festivals can't survive without each other. With about 130 festivals per year, there is something to be celebrated almost every 2.8 days, especially on the weekends in summer.
New Orleans locals admit that they dance to a different drummer or even when there is no drummer at all, they celebrate life even at funerals, they drink in the morning and at night, and they welcome everybody and anybody to join in for this perpetual celebration of life.
It would be impossible to talk about all the different festivals that take place in this beautiful city, but we would like to cover a few not to miss spectacles here.
It takes place at the end of April and is known as Jazz Fest by locals. This festival is a vivid and colorful celebration of music and the spirit of New Orleans and Louisiana. There is definitely something for every taste is this festival - starting with good weather, wonderful music, tasty local delicacies, hand-made arts and crafts, and finally parades.
Jazz Festival has been honored multiple times for being the best music festival in the country with the widest lineup of musicians and styles.
The festival does not discriminate - there are 12 stages available for jazz, gospel, Cajun, blues, rock, funk, African, and many other types of entertainment for the ears. Through the years most famous Louisiana and New Orleans artists have played on the multiple stages of this event.
This celebration happens every April. This is a totally free event open to everybody. It takes place in French Quarter and delights its participants with great food, great location, music, and scenery. There is no surprise that music is involved, after all, it is happening in New Orleans. There are twenty stages all around the French Quarter for jazz, zydeco, Latin, Cajun, classical, swing, rock, and pretty much everything in between.
This year the festival will mark its 35th anniversary and city's 300th, so visitors will be treated with 300 local acts, such as Irma Thomas, Sweet Crude, Bonerama, Amanda Shaw, Brass-A-Holics, Jeremy Devenport, and many others. Many local eateries, about 60 to be exact, will have their booths all over the French Quarter and will offer local feast for all to enjoy for $3-5 per plate. Drinks will be free-flowing too.
This art festival decorates the streets of New Orleans with fresh white color. Visitors and art connoisseurs beat the heat in festive white linens on their shoulders and cold drinks in their hands. If that is not enough, visitors can fan themselves with complimentary hand-held fans.
People-in-white gather in Warehouse Art District and visit art galleries on Julia Street, stroll leisurely along small streets, chat with fellow art lovers, and occasionally acquire some great art. This fest happens every year on the first Saturday of August and attracts plenty of visitors not just with art, but also New Orleans cuisine and live entertainment.
The opposite of White Linen Night, this festival is all about getting those white linens a bit dirty. Visitors are expected to wear slightly soiled and stained suites and dresses. This is a very refined event, nothing like the rowdy Bourbon Street shenanigans, and it's still about art, and drinks, and music, and definitely food.
The owner of a jewelry shop in Royal Street, Linda Sampson, came up with this name a few years ago, and it really stroke the cord with all other art gallery owners there. This is a time to shine for Royal Street, and a time to celebrate more art. This festival takes place a week after the White Linen Night and invites visitors to sample some dirty martinis and dirty rice with chicken, visit the galleries, and mingle for 4-5 hours. This event gained such popularity so fast, that it rivals its name sake from the Warehouse Art District.
This festival is known as one of the most unique happenings in town. It takes place in early December in Lafayette Square and connects historic architecture with modern art through light and sound installations. Visitors are offered some spectacular art creations on the walls and can enjoy them for a few nights.
The festival is free and open to everyone. Luna Fete is a project of Arts Council of New Orleans to offer the city buildings as canvas for video mapping and international art community gathering. This event happens right before the holidays and compliments the city's festive displays with a touch of modern.
The artists often combine innovative video mapping software technology with audio, and this way breathe life into the old static buildings and open the world of modern art to all. See Luna Fete website.
October fest is for drinking beer, and where would you drink beer better than with the crowds in New Orleans? This festival happens for three weekends in October in Deutsches Haus on Moss Street and costs $8 per person.
This event celebrates everything German - the heritage, traditions, beer, and of course food. This celebration is family friendly and involves lots of dancing to traditional German "oom pah pah" brass bands playing chicken dance, polkas, and waltzes. Kids especially enjoy wiener dog race on one of the festival Saturdays.
Make sure you save space to try all kinds of German sausages, sauerkrauts, and more than 20 authentic beers.
Every year on March 1st Audubon Zoo opens its gates to the Soul Fest. AARP organizes this celebration of food, music, and fun. This African American heritage commemoration attracts about 20,000 visitors each year.
This festival lasts for two days and offers great performances from local jazz, blues, rhythm & blues, and gospel bands.
Food is also great here - local eateries prepare authentic southern soul dishes for all to enjoy. And then there is always memorable zoo visits for the entire family.
This festival is known for highlighting the achievements and the heritage of African American community here. At the time of the festival, visitors are offered free health screenings and healthy living lectures. See Soul Fest website.
This is a festival for a good cause, where visitors come for more than just having fun. This event takes place in August.
Hash House Harriers sponsor this event that originally started as a fundraiser for breast cancer research, but now donates to various causes. This festival invites both men and women. The runners describe themselves as a "drinking club with a running problem". As the name suggests, this is a place to come for 3-4 mile run through the historic French Quarter in a red dress. This tends to look funny sometimes, but that's the reason why so many people join in and raise some serious money. The runners start gathering, drinking, and listening to live music at 9 am.
Red Dress Run is for those who like to have fun, are not afraid of August heat, and want to donate.
New Orleans is a place where everybody can be themselves and will never be judged. This Pride festival takes place at the beginning of June and is city wide. This gathering is one of the largest such celebration in the country and has tripled in size since 2012.
The event celebrates not just the gay couples and the gender identity, but also the unity between all people. This festival and parades are family friendly and are geared towards inclusion and education about the society and people relations.
The event extends beyond just the weekend parades, it also invites to participate in seminars and programs against bullying and intolerance. The festival organizers and the city itself are seeking inclusion of all people from all walks of life to extend beyond the city into the entire Gulf Coast Region.
This festival is held in October of every year and is organized by New Orleans Film Society. There are multiple city-wide events to be joined and enjoyed by all cinema lovers.
New and known filmmakers introduce their new works during this exciting event. Visitors can see full-length feature films, as well as shorts, documentaries, animation, and even music videos. The festival attracts thousands of creators, actors, producers, and directors to enjoy music, food, and Mardi Gras beads in addition to the art of movies.
This event has been happening for 28 years now and keeps getting better every year. It has been ranked as one of 25 best cinema events in the world by MovieMaker Magazine.