Whether being dazzled by the food, catching live jazz on every street corner, or strolling the French Quarter at night, it’s pretty clear that New Orleans knows how to party. And these enticements don’t even include the dozens of annual festivals that echo the city’s culture, music, food, and historic architecture. The following are some of the Big Easy’s best.
New Orleans Oyster Festival
Whether charbroiled or fried, stuffed or Rockefeller, New Orleans area residents know their oysters. During this weekend every June, visitors and locals alike learn even more about the Louisiana Gulf Oyster and the farmers who harvest them, all while generating more funding for coastal restoration. The fun includes the P&J oyster shucking contest, musical acts, an eating contest, and numerous cooking demonstrations.
In honor of New Orleans jazz legend Louis “Satchmo” Armstrong, this three-day festival unfurls every August at the Louisiana State Museum. What originated in 2001 as a one-time salute to commemorate Armstrong on his 100th birthday has swelled into an annual event featuring outdoor concerts, music history seminars, jazz exhibits, and a second-line parade.
Essence Fest attracts some of the nation’s best performers in R&B, jazz, blues, and hip-hop at this annual three-day tribute to contemporary African American music and culture at the Superdome. Past performers have included Prince, Beyoncé, Mariah Carey, and Alicia Keys. It also provides places for African American entrepreneurs, writers, artists, and others to show and sell their work around the city.
Bastille Day Fête
Regarded as “The Paris of the South,” this weeklong festival celebrates everything French with live music, food, and wine, demos, film, and fun and games for the entire family. The Bastille Day Fête is a free public festival at the revitalized Spanish Plaza, where still more French delicacies arrive from some of New Orleans’ finest restaurants. Children are treated to face painting, storytelling, and even the chance to explore a fireboat.
Louisiana Food Festival
New Orleans is world-renowned for its seafood. Live shrimp, oysters, crab, crawfish, and fish straight from the Gulf of Mexico are the heartbeat of this annual free festival in the fall. Celebrity chefs host cooking demonstrations, and booths feature some of the region’s most gifted artists in woodworking, jewelry, textiles, and more.
With these and dozens of other celebrations throughout the year, New Orleans festivals are not to be missed. A city filled with historical heritage, guests can take in the sights and neighborhoods while also enjoying a packed calendar of live music, culture, and art.