Things to Do This November in New Orleans
Photo courtesy of Celebration in the Oaks at New Orleans City Park on Facebook
At a little over 393,000 residents, New Orleans is a relatively small city — but over 18 million tourists who visit each year mean The Big Easy boasts the amenities, dining and cultural scene of a bustling metropolis. The result? During high tourist season (which runs from October through May), there are more events during any given week than any one person could attend.
November brings a heady mix of food, football, festivals, and fun. Here’s a sampling of things to do in November in New Orleans — and just remember, if you can’t get to all these events, you can always come back next year.
Back and bigger than ever, the Po-Boy Festival will feature live music and more than 50 varieties of this beloved New Orleans staple. Admission is free, but you must purchase a $5 wristband to buy food. Dozens of vendors also compete in several “Best of” categories.
This celebration of avant-garde theater takes place in offbeat venues throughout New Orleans, including coffee houses, bars and petite playhouses. With performances ranging from dance vignettes to satiric sketch comedy, it’s a great way to get off the beaten track, both literally and artistically.
Every November celebrity chef Emeril Lagasse invites scores of top local and national chefs to join him for his one-night fundraiser to benefit the Emeril Lagasse Foundation, featuring a specially curated, Louisiana-inspired menu, live music and open bar. Over 70 chefs participate at this outdoor festival held at the Champions Square, the plaza located adjacent to the Mercedes-Benz Superdome.
This relative newcomer has expanded from a one-day day to the weekend of cheese-eating opportunities at the New Orleans Jazz Museum. There you can taste more than 150 varieties of cheese, meet the cheesemakers from all over the world, and watch the chefs attempt to break down a giant slab of cheese in a cheese-wheel cracking competition. The cheese will come paired with wine, beer and cider, and a few cheese experts and local chefs will be on hand to present on the history of cheese.
Who says New Orleans doesn’t have a comedy scene? Not only does it boast comedians aplenty, the Crescent City also hosts the largest comedy festival on the Gulf Coast. Spearheaded by Chris Trew, co-owner of improv school and comedy venue The New Movement, Hell Yes Fest features home-grown talent as well as stars. Past headliners include Sarah Silverman and Amy Heckerling.
More than a dozen varieties of gumbo (from vegan and gluten-free to Creole filé, gumbo z’herbes, and shrimp and oyster), brass bands, cooking demonstrations, and free parking and admission? Mais oui! You’ll find all of it in leafy, beautiful Armstrong Park during the Tremé Creole Gumbo Festival. Even better, this year the fest is joining forces with another popular local event, the Congo Square Rhythms Festival, adding more music, and featuring two art markets and two food courts.
Per a long-standing New Orleans tradition, it’s customary to turn out at the track on Thanksgiving Day to watch the opening-day races while sporting cocktails and some seriously fabulous hats. The first race starts at 11 a.m., and the racetrack also serves a sumptuous holiday buffet, plus a fancy dinner with all the holiday trimmings at the Clubhouse.
Watch Grambling and Southern University go head-to-head at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome. The only thing more heated than the rivalry is the tailgating food. Don’t miss halftime, when the school’s respective marching bands face off. It just might be a greater spectacle than the Superbowl’s halftime show. The event stretches for two days and includes a fan fest, a parade, battle of the bands, and, of course, the big game at the Superdome.
November 29 – January 1
New Orleans’ most beloved holiday tradition (second only to Mr. Bingle, who also makes an appearance here) takes over 25 acres of City Park, bringing lighted displays to its gardens, oaks and lagoons. Bundle up and prepare to be enchanted. Please note that the event has been selling out quickly for the past few years, so get your tickets soon!