New Orleans is a lively city with a mind of its own, and there’s a lot to do here in the Big Easy. In a city that has more festivals than days of the year, knowing where to go, what to eat, and what to do can be overwhelming! Here is a breakdown of New Orleans events you can’t miss!
St. Patrick’s Day Parade
Out of all the parades in New Orleans, this one is a can’t miss! St. Patrick’s Day in NOLA is dominated by a Mardi-Gras style parade, but there’s a twist of the classic Mardi Gras style: instead of beads, cabbages and flowers are thrown for onlookers to catch and collect! Everyone in and around the city comes together to celebrate this holiday in the typical New Orleans fashion. The sea of happy residents dressed in all green is a can’t miss event. Where will you stand on the parade route to catch a cabbage?
French Quarter Festival
The French Quarter Festival is one of the New Orleans events you can’t miss. There is nothing more New Orleans than the unique French Quarter, and the festival celebrating the beloved Bourbon street lives up to its reputation! With eighteen stages set up throughout the Quarter, French Quarter Fest celebrates the best of New Orleans music and culture. Of course, dozens of small parades make their way down the quarter streets throughout the festival. Several surrounding restaurants get in on the action too, so when you’re there you’ll get plenty of traditional Cajun-style food all week long! What are you most excited to try?
New Orleans is considered the birthplace of jazz. In order to celebrate that, the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival is a two weekend-long extravaganza that brings together thousands of musicians, chefs, and artists that come to the city to perform and celebrate New Orleans. The official policy of the food at Jazz Fest is “no carnival food” meaning that vendors at the booths will serve only special food items that you can’t get just anywhere.
The festival starts and culminates in two separate weekend-long concerts celebrating jazz that has hosted many special guests, including Katy Perry, Maroon Five, Usher, and Stevie Wonder. All of this makes Jazz Fest another one of the New Orleans events you can’t miss. Which weekend will you go?
Voodoo Music + Arts Experience
Voodoo Fest, as locals like to shorten it to, is a weekend-long music festival held the weekend before Halloween every year that celebrates everything spooky. Nothing is more fun than dressing up for Halloween, and at Voodoo fest, thousands of people come every year dressed in their Halloween costumes to see their favorite musicians play, making Voodoo fest another one of New Orleans events you can’t miss.
There are several art showcases set up around the festival grounds as well, and many of these stations hold interactive art experiences like haunted houses or exhibits that you can draw on yourself! Past headliners have included The Killers, Kendrick Lamar, Mumford and Sons, Travis Scott, and Post Malone! What will you dress up as?
It wouldn’t be New Orleans without the famous fried dough treat known as the beignet. For this can’t miss festival, dozens of vendors travel to the New Orleans Festival Grounds to serve up the sweet treats, often with sweet specialties like Nutella stuffed beignets or caramel drizzled beignets. And if sweet isn’t your thing, then don’t worry! Beignet Fest vendors like to put a twist on the classic dessert and make beignets a savory dish, bursting with meat or cheese or seafood.
This event wouldn’t be complete without live music, and thankfully there is no shortage of that at beignet fest! Many local artists set up and perform for you while you eat your treats. And to top it off, proceeds from this event go to a charity that supports children with developmental delays. Will you try a new beignet flavor, or go for the classic?
The Ponchatoula Strawberry Festival
While technically not in the city, the Ponchatoula Strawberry Festival is a free event and another one of the New Orleans events that you can’t miss! Held every spring, usually around the second weekend in April, this event is the perfect place to get some produce! This festival is filled with great food, a great atmosphere that includes live music, and tons of can’t miss fun. Royalty alert: A king and a queen of the festival are crowned every year, as well as their court! How many boxes of strawberries do you think you can pick?
Oak Street Po-Boy Festival
New Orleans is a city known for its food, and po-boys are a huge part of that! Wherever you’re from, (and even if you think a po-boy is actually called a sub or a hoagie), Po-Boy fest is another one of the New Orleans events that you can’t miss out on! Held on the beautiful Oak Street, this festival will give you a chance to not only eat some delicious food, but also explore the beautiful New Orleans Uptown area. Admission to the festival is free, and wristband purchases in order to eat po-boys are only $5. The celebration takes place every year on National Sandwich day. Will you put shrimp, crawfish, or something else on your po-boy?
Southern Decadence is a week-long pride celebration held in the French Quarter and another one of the New Orleans events you can’t miss. Sponsored by the LGBTQ+ community over Labor Day Weekend. The pride celebrations are non-stop all week, and the celebration culminates in a large, lively parade through the French Quarter on the Sunday before Labor Day. Nothing is off-limits at this festival! Members of the LGBTQ+ community and allies all band together to celebrate pride in the most New Orleans way possible: with lots of local food, live music, and a parade!