Late Summer in New Orleans
Don’t let the hot temps stop you from eating, drinking, and strutting your stuff through the late summer in New Orleans. From block parties to food and music fests to running in a fancy dress and/or drinking beer for a good cause, August has got something going on every weekend, with the fun spilling into September with the immensely popular Southern Decadence festival over the Labor Day weekend. Celebrate the end of summer and ease into fall with these August and September happenings in New Orleans.
COOLinary, August 2018
There’s no better time to try out an award-winning restaurant during your visit, or revisit and old favorite, than in August and September. For the month of August the COOLinary dining program offers discounted dining deals at participating restaurants located all over the city, and even stretching as far as Harvey and Kenner.
Orchestrated by the New Orleans Convention and Visitors Bureau, it was conceived as a promotion to lure diners to local restaurants during the slower summer months. Over a decade in existence, this annual culinary tradition keeps growing. Dozens of participating local restaurants run the gamut from the iconic to the smaller, more casual ones. The list includes the famous Antoine’s, Arnaud’s, Bayona, Commander’s Palace, Domenica, Tujague’s, and Galatoire’s. The Uptown staples including Shaya, Cavan, Boucherie, Gautreau’s, Avo, and Bar Frances are all participating this year, too.
The deal is the same every year: the prix fixe three-course dinner and brunch menus top at $39, and the two- to three-course lunch menus don’t exceed $20. Make a reservation today, and bon appetit!
Museum Month, August 2018
During the month of August, be sure to take advantage of the Museum Month deal, when you can visit any of the 14 participating museums for the price of membership of any one of them (the World War II Museum and NOMA are among the participants). The one-time admission fee to some local museums can run over $20, so this is a great opportunity to explore on the budget.
The fees for the smaller museums, such as the Beauregard Keyes House, Longue Vue House and Gardens, or the Southern Food & Beverage Museum are probably the best deal, ranging from $30 to $35 annually. You can buy a membership upon arrival.
Satchmo SummerFest, August 3-5
In its 18th year, Satchmo SummerFest remains one of the August highlights and just the respite you’ll need from the summer trifecta of heat, humidity and afternoon downpours. This popular annual festival, traditionally held over the three days of the first weekend of August at the Old U.S. Mint at the beginning of Esplanade Avenue on Decatur Street in the French Quarter, is easy to navigate and get to. The lineup is always stellar, with the best of the brass bands and the who-is-who of the Louisiana and New Orleans music scenes, and the mixture of indoor-outdoor activities to keep you cool and dancing.
As usual, there will be three stages and some tented areas, kids’ activities, seminars, and presentations. The now-traditional Sunday morning Jazz Mass at the historic St. Augustine Church in Treme will be followed by a second line parade. The fest will traditionally close with a trumpet tribute on Sunday evening.
And, don’t forget about the food! As in the previous years, dozens of the best local restaurants as vendors will be offering everything from crepes to meat pies to snowballs. Festival staples like Abita beer, lemonade, and daiquiris stands will return, in addition to the cocktail stands selling margaritas, lemonade spiked with Jack Daniels, and mimosas.
Daily admission fee is $5 at the gate; re-admittance to the U.S. Mint grounds is permitted with a wristband. Bring a chair and a sun umbrella, and wear plenty of sunscreen. We’ll see you at the Mint!
Hancock Whitney White Linen Night, August 4, 5:30 p.m. – midnight
Started in 1994 in an attempt to attract visitors to that revived area (now known as Arts District New Orleans), White Linen Night has been growing steadily, attracting more visitors and vendors every year. This popular, block-party style art event is held on the first Saturday in August in the Warehouse District, essentially serving as an open house for the galleries clustered on the 300-700 blocks of Julia Street. That whole area will be blocked off, hosting several stages for live music and dozens of food and drink stands. About 20 galleries on and around Julia St. will be open to the public.
The block party is free (food and beverage tickets are $12 for 10); the CAC after-party is $10 general admission and free to CAC members. While there’s no dress code, as the event’s name suggests consider wear white.
Red Dress Run, August 11, 11 a.m. – 3 p.m.
Traditionally held on the second Saturday of August, the Red Dress Run isn’t exclusive to New Orleans, but the local participants take it up a notch by costuming on top of wearing their best and/or most outlandish red dress, regardless of gender. This is an annual fundraiser run for local charities organized by hashing groups (adults-only, non-competitive social running clubs) all over the world. They call themselves “drinking clubs with a running problem” and the local group, New Orleans Hash House Harriers (NOH3), is no exception.
The run starts and ends at Crescent Park at 2300 N. Peters St., though the whole two-mile route is kept secret until the day of the event. The beer starts flowing at the pre-party with live music at 9:30 a.m., and you can usually spot some of the sweaty Red Dress runners spill into the Dirty Linen Night later that day. If you decide to run, registration is $65, a red dress is a must, and you must be 21 to participate.
Dirty Linen Night, August 11, 6-9 p.m.
The Dirty Linen Night, as you may have guessed, takes after another annual art event, the White Linen Night. It follows the White Linen Night exactly one week after, on the second Saturday in August. Although the Dirty Linen Night riffs off the White Linen Night, it’s not meant to compete with the Warehouse District event but was conceived to promote the many galleries and shops of Royal Street. It is similar in format, though looser in structure and spanning more territory.
The multi-block party takes over the 200-1000 blocks of Royal Street and some cross streets and adjoining areas in the French Quarter, including Jackson Square and Dutch Alley. Dozens of galleries participate year, plus a number of shops and restaurants. The food and drinks served, like dirty rice and dirty martinis, cheekily run with the theme. The outdoor event is free; the VIP after-party at the Old U.S. Mint is $50.
The 10th Annual New Orleans Burlesque Festival, September 20-23
If you’re in town during the third weekend of August, check out the annual Burlesque Festival, an international event that brings together the best of local talent and some big international names. Dancers, emcees, comics, singers, and variety-act performers will be doing two shows nightly at two locations, Harrah’s and House of Blues. Tickets are $22-$62. The main event will be held on Saturday at the Civic Center, featuring a classic striptease competition accompanied by a live jazz band. The winner will be crowned as the “Queen of Burlesque.”
NOLA Downtown Music and Arts Festival, August 24-25
This end-of-summer festival has been around for 26 years, featuring live music, pop-up business and food trucks, and more. The festival is hosted by the nonprofit Music Business Institute as part of the Annual Cutting Edge C.E. Conference, and is free to the public. This year it’s moving from downtown to the Old U.S. Mint at the edge of the French Quarter. More than 120 artist and groups are expected to participate. Film screenings, live music, and swing dance lessons will be presented on two stages. The fest will conclude on Saturday with a multi-artist live music jam.
Southern Decadence, August 30 – September 3
This massive Labor Day extravaganza has started in the 1970 and is now considered the biggest draws to the city after Mardi Gras, Jazz Fest, Essence Festival, and the French Quarter Festival. This popular festival celebrates LGBT culture and attracts participants from all over the world. Southern Decadence usually kicks off (and closes) with a midnight dance party at its 24/7 hub, Bourbon Pub/Parade. A free show/block party on Saturday is held at the corner of Bourbon and St. Ann Streets. The annual Southern Decadence Grand Marshal Parade on Sunday also ends up there. The 2018 theme is “House of Bourbon — Unleash Your Beast.” You can buy passes, including VIP, online to access the events that charge an entrance fee and may sell out.
Restaurant Week New Orleans, September 10-16
The extraordinary summer dining deals don’t end with COOLinary in August. Behold the Restaurant Week, with more and more restaurants participating every year. For one week in September, dozens of local restaurants will be dishing out prix fixe lunches, brunches and dinners — averaging at $20 for lunch and not exceeding $40 for brunch and dinner. Just like COOLinary, Restaurant Week is a citywide promotion designed to lure diners, both local and visiting, to increase patronage at restaurants across the city. As a result, there’s no better time to cross an iconic white-tablecloth establishment off your bucket list, or discover a new fave in the neighborhood.
NOLA on Tap Beer Fest, September 22, noon – 7 p.m.
If you love beer-soaked fundraisers, the NOLA on Tap Beer Fest is your jam. Held a the New Orleans City Park Festival Grounds, this event is billed as the largest beer fest in the area, with more than 400 beer offerings from the local and national breweries and home brewers. It’s also the largest fundraiser of the year for the Louisiana SPCA. The kid- and dog-friendly fest will feature live music, dozens of food vendors, and other beverages besides beer. Admission is $5, and you’ll have to purchase tickets for drinks (food is cash or credit). Drink ticket packages that include admission are available online. Kids 12 and under get in for free.
Fried Chicken Festival, September 22-23
September brings a lot to the table in New Orleans, and Fried Chicken Festival promises again to be one of the highlights. Held at the Woldenberg Park on the riverfront, this free fest features three outdoor stages, two for music and one for the cooking demos. Expect celebrity chef cameos, over 30 well-known fried chicken vendors coming from all over the region, VIP and chill lounges, and cooking and eating contests. Among the returning vendors is the past years’ contest winner, the beloved Original Fiorella’s.