New Orleans is a city of mystery that one seems to get thrown into and spat back out of, covered in the colorful saliva of a place filled with carnivals, parades, festivals, and all the unique characters that have found themselves in this bizarre city. The Big Easy has earned itself a million different labels, it can be an endlessly good time or a cavernous hole of bad decisions. Good, bad, or ugly, whatever you want to call New Orleans one thing it will never be is boring because even a bad time in New Orleans is better than a good time anywhere else.
The very thing that allows New Orleans to evade that daunting title of boring is difficult to put your finger on. It could be the colorful homes that breathe color into the potholed city streets. Or perhaps the culture of jazz and music that pumps blood through the city’s veins. Maybe it’s the people, strange and loveable in every way. However, I have a feeling it might be all of these things twisted together like the old vines that crawl up those French Quarter houses. It seems the city has found the perfect way to display all of these different elements of its identity by hosting festivals…as frequently as possible. If New Orleans is good at anything, it’s drinking and organizing a good festival.
Perhaps the most famous festival that New Orleans has to offer is the iconic Jazz and Heritage Festival hosted every spring typically at the end of April and the beginning of May over two weekends. This festival attracts thousands of jazz and music lovers from across the world, offering patrons the chance to see some of the best names in jazz as well as some big stars like Dead and Co, Lizzo, and Stevie Nicks. While the festival is now more about celebrating music of all forms it started in 1970 as a way for the african american community to celebrate their own music in the historic Congo Square. Congo Square is a space just outside of the French Quarter that was used by enslaved people during the 18th century to trade, dance and share music from their home countries. This sentiment is still sacred in the modern-day version of Jazzfest which dedicates its congo square stage to black artists. This is certainly the city’s most conventional festival hosted on the Fairgrounds and offers a bit of music for everyone.
Crawfest centers around one of Louisiana’s favorite pastimes; eating crawfish. There is nothing better than indulging in the salty, seasoned experience of a crawfish boil, and at Crawfest you can enjoy crawfish and be amazed by the sound of the city all at once. Located in the heart of Tulane University’s campus Crawfest is a uniquely southern experience as it offers both amazing food and some great New Orleans musicians including the reputable Tank and the Bangas who are not only a New Orleans staple but also Michelle Obama’s favorite band. The student-run arts, music, and food festival is always a hit and occurs at the end of every April.
French Quarter fest
French Quarter Fest is, in this author’s opinion, the best and most eclectic festival to ever exist. Many festivals, including jazz fest or any big festival for that matter, have lost the authenticity that they were built on. The purpose of most big festivals is aimed towards money, attention, or fighting for the biggest names to headline each day, this money-hungry type of festival has never infected the purity of New Orleans’ French Quarter Fest. It is authentic to its core just as the people and the city it represents, this free festival was made for and by the people of New Orleans to share their culture not only with the world but with each other. French Quarter Fest brings every artist, creator, mom, dad, and person out of the woodwork and gives them the amazing jazz music and smell of creole cooking that haunt the streets of New Orleans. If you find yourself looking for great food and even better music French Quarter Fest is the only place to be in early April.
Po boy fest
Po-boy Fest might just be one of New Orleans’ best-kept secrets. The quiet front of Oak Street is the home to the iconic maple leaf bar, which comes alive every November to bring every type of Po-Boy imaginable to its patrons. The festival puts a spin on your regular Po-Boy and turns the classic Lousinana sandwich into an artistic culinary experience. Aside front he mouthwatering food it is the perfect place to expand one’s quirky jewelry closet or get your hands on some obscure New Orleans art. Whatever you come to new orleans for you can find at the annual Oak Street Po-Boy Fest