Things to Do in New Orleans: Year-At-A-Glance
The New Orleans dance card is full all year round, from major music and culture events like Jazz Fest to honoring just about every type of food we enjoy in Louisiana with its own festival, to the unique traditions like Super Sunday and Reveillon. Check out these annual events grouped by the season.
The weather is mild, the streetcars are decked with wreaths, and the city is alight with the holiday sparkle. The family-friendly Celebration in the Oaks and NOLA Christmasfest keep the dazzle going. The bonfires on the bayou, concerts at St. Louis Cathedral and Reveillon dinners are the New Orleans holiday traditions that make the season so special. The New Year’s Eve in Jackson Square, the Sugar Bowl in the Superdome, and Tet Fest all help ring in the new year. Finally, when the rest of the country settles down we’re just getting started, with the Twelfth Night marking the beginning of the Carnival season with three parades. Time for the first beads of Mardi Gras and king cake!
The lovely weather brings the endless festivals this time of year. The heavy hitter is, of course, the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival, with its multiple stages and excellent lineup. The Bayou Boogaloo is held over three days in late May on the picturesque banks of Bayou St. John in Mid-City, and the Freret Street Festival in early April is getting bigger every year. Then there is the immensely popular French Quarter Festival, also in April. Don’t miss the “Stella!” shouting contest at the Tennessee Williams Literary Festival in March. Finally, the Mardi Gras Indians Super Sunday is a treasured tradition dating back to the 19th century and held on the Sunday closest to St. Joseph’s Day.
Hotel rates are at their lowest and there’re plenty to do indoors to escape the heat. The best restaurants and bars in town celebrate Tales of the Cocktail in July and COOLinary New Orleans with prix fixe menus in August. You can also browse the galleries on the White Linen Night (or its cheeky cousin, the Dirty Linen Night). The city comes to life for the Satchmo SummerFest and a slew of events over the Fourth of July and the Labor Day weekends, like Go 4th on the River, the Essence Festival at the Superdome, and the incomparable Southern Decadence festival. The French Market Creole Tomato Festival and Bastille Day Fete are two of the smaller fests to enjoy, and Running of the Bulls brings Encierro to New Orleans, except the bulls are the Big Easy Rollergirls!
The temps are down and it’s time to hit the city’s parks and squares. The endless stream of food and drink fests continues with Boudin, Bourbon, and Beer; NOLA on Tap (the largest beer fest in the Gulf South that benefits the LA SPCA), and the Fried Chicken Festival. The fall in New Orleans also means the Saints football and Carnaval Latino in mid-October. New Orleans does Halloween like no other city, including the massive Voodoo Music + Arts Experience held in the City Park.