Laissez les bon temps rouler (let the good times roll).
This is the New Orleans motto and the Louisiana city definitely lives up to it. Visitors are guaranteed to have a good time in the city known as the Big Easy every day of the year. Although the city is most well-known for its Mardi Gras celebrations, it hosts a lot of other annual festivals too. Take your pick of the best Big Easy festivals.
All That Jazz
Jazz music has been the sound of New Orleans since the early 20th century. The New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival takes place annually on the last weekend in April and the first weekend in May. It includes 12 stages featuring performances of African beats, church hymns, pop music, blues and roots, and of course, jazz. If visiting New Orleans outside the festival, get your jazz fix aboard the Steamboat Natchez. The authentic steamboat does day and evening cruises along the Mississippi River that includes a live jazz band performance.
Photo by Adventurous Kate on trover.com
Mardi Gras celebrations began in New Orleans back in 1857. Nowadays the festival goes for 12 days and culminates in the biggest parade on “Fat Tuesday,” the day before Ash Wednesday. The festival generates half a billion dollars for the New Orleans economy as people travel from across the world to enjoy the celebrations and catch the trinkets being thrown from the floats. When visiting New Orleans for Mardi Gras, book a hotel months beforehand along the parade route, like the centrally located Lafayette Hotel. Year round visitors can go behind-the-scenes and see how the hundreds of floats are made at Mardi Gras World too.
Read More: Where to Stay in Louisiana
Spooked at Voodoo
New Orleans is known as America’s most haunted city, so of course it naturally hosts a huge music festival over Halloween each year. The Voodoo Music and Arts Experience began in 1999, with the 2014 line-up including the Foo Fighters, Arctic Monkeys, and Skrillex. The Halloween-themed festival includes many local food vendors and shops selling clothing, jewellery and art. If needing to be further creeped out, visitors can join a ghosts and spirits tour that visits several haunted sites that have featured on the History and Discovery Channels. There is no guarantee that guests will see ghosts, but there is no assurance they won’t see an uninvited guest, either.
Photo by JP Thompson via trover.com
The Free Festival
Everyone loves a free festival and New Orleans’ version is the French Quarter Fest. It is the city’s second biggest festival (behind Mardi Gras) and is known as the World’s Largest Block Party as it takes over the French Quarter from Bourbon Street to the Mississippi Riverfront. The festival is about celebrating New Orleans for a weekend with over 1500 musicians performing on 20 stages and 60 different food vendors serving local cuisine.
New Orleans has a festival for everyone that will usually include some great music, scrumptious local food and a lot of fun. Even when there is not a festival, the city has other activities to keep the celebrations continuing. So let the good times roll and visit the Big Easy.
This blog post is part of the #HipmunkCityLove project.