new orleans festivals

Crescent City hosts a wealth of festivals, like the Voodoo Music + Arts Experience. (Photo: Getty Images)

New Orleans

10 Best Festivals in New Orleans (There’s More Than Mardi Gras)

Yes, you’ve heard of Mardi Gras. But that’s not the only party going down in the Big Easy. New Orleans famously likes to keep the fun going year-round, with a range of festival options, from massive float-heavy ragers to more intimate neighborhood gatherings.

Hit up one of these 10 festivals for a true taste of what NOLA has to offer. Better yet? Hit them all. Just start mapping out your schedule now.

Mardi Gras

Beer, beads and … questionable decisions. Welcome to Mardi Gras, the world-famous tourist bacchanal that packs the French Quarter every year on the weekend before Ash Wednesday.

While Mardi Gras itself falls on “Fat Tuesday,” the pre-Lenten festivities start weeks in advance, with most guests arriving the Friday before Fat Tuesday for the five-day carnival of excess (although some parades start as early as January.)

Venture off Bourbon Street for a more low-key and family-friendly experience, as the trademark colorful Mardi Gras parades make their way across New Orleans neighborhoods like Uptown and Mid-City in typically flamboyant fashion.

Voodoo Music + Arts Experience

This once obscure Halloween fest has grown into one of New Orleans’ premier events in recent years, thanks to its cool yet approachable vibes and immaculately curated rock-focused lineup.

Now something of a mini Lollapalooza taking place in beautiful City Park, this ebullient Live Nationowned Halloween rager recently celebrated its 20-year anniversary in 2018.

New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival

new orleans festivals
Groove to the tunes at Jazz Fest. (Photo: Getty Images)

This long-running tradition is an American institution and quite clearly the most fun you can possibly have over two consecutive weekends. But don’t let the name fool you: The life-affirming event showcases the best in all genres of music.

The main event is held at the New Orleans Fair Grounds during the day, but satellite concerts held at dozens of venues across New Orleans make this a citywide affair that keeps the party rocking well into the night.

New Orleans Wine & Food Experience

The granddaddy of New Orleans food fests is this long-running culinary celebration that features a wide range of special events and dinners taking place across the foodie-favorite Crescent City.

Hundreds of local restaurants and wineries participate in the festivities with must-do events, including the popular Royal Street Stroll through the French Quarter.

French Quarter Festival

This free music festival is sort of a mini Mardi Gras for locals, only without the hordes of bewildered tourists. Instead, the French Quarter Festival (which bills itself as the largest free music festival in America) features more than 20 music stages popping up across the Quarter and serves up some of NOLA’s finest eats in Jackson Square.

Bayou Boogaloo

The location is the star of this off-the-beaten-path gem held on the shores of Bayou St. John in the Mid-City neighborhood near the New Orleans Fair Grounds. Listen to live music via kayak as you paddle the river or just chill out on the shore at this family-friendly gathering that also includes art, paddleboat races and a bicycle pub crawl.

Essence Festival

America’s largest event dedicated to African-American culture has hosted everyone from Snoop Dogg to Barack Obama over the years. The “party with a purpose” held over Fourth of July weekend at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome and Ernest N. Morial Convention Center also grants visitors the opportunity to get up close and personal with some of their favorite artists via four “superlounge” stages.

New Orleans Oyster Festival

new orleans festivals
Slurp down your fair share of bivalves. (Photo: Getty Images)

This locals’-favorite fest dedicated to New Orleans cuisine not only offers inventive takes on classic oyster dishes — like an oyster po’boy with Japanese-seasoned mayonnaise — but also a range of non-oyster offerings, including crawfish mac and cheese, plus cooking demos and eating contests held from the festival’s riverside location in the picturesque Woldenberg Park.

There’s also plenty of drink and live music, of course. This is still New Orleans, after all.

Satchmo Summerfest

Satchmo Summerfest pays tribute to jazz legend Louis Armstrong, one of NOLA’s most iconic descendants, and is timed to be held around his birthday every year in early August at the New Orleans Jazz Museum at the historic Old U.S. Mint.

Cut a rug to three stages of live music paired with Abita beer and eats from local restaurants and maybe even learn something in the process.

Oak Street Po-Boy Fest

One of the best and most overlooked neighborhoods in New Orleans hosts this good-time gathering along the Oak Street business corridor in the mostly residential Carrollton neighborhood, home to infamous local hangs like the Maple Leaf and Snake & Jake’s.

At Oak Street Po-Boy Fest, you’ll pair some of the most inventive po’ boy creations on Earth (think shrimp remoulade BLT po’boy) with four stages of live music at this celebration of one of NOLA’s most iconic foods.

Book your getaway today and enjoy two cocktails on us.