Laissez les bon temps rouler – “let the good times roll” – is New Orleans’ motto, that is carried out by the city’s joie de vivre. It is no wonder New Orleans is called the Birthplace of Jazz. Whether it’s Mardi Gras or Jazz Fest, crawfish or king cakes, New Orleanians know how to celebrate their zest for life with savory cuisine and music.
The impact of the city’s Spanish and French colonial rule can be experienced by walking the historic streets the French Quarter. The blend of Creole and Cajun cultures are showcased through its cuisine and music. The Crescent City has a variety of distinct and vibrant neighborhoods that offer something for everyone.
A city layered with history, New Orleans can only be truly experienced by a visit to the Big Easy, listening to jazz music in the streets, tasting its cuisine or being at one of the world’s biggest carnival celebrations: Mardi Gras. If there was a city that knew how to throw a party, it’s New Orleans.
Below are some of New Orleans’ biggest festivals, places and events:
Mardi Gras World
A visit to New Orleans is not complete without a tour of Mardi Gras World, where you can walk among Mardi Gras parade floats and view artists at their craft year round. Watch Mardi Gras come alive and marvel at the skill and technology that animate mega-floats. Take home Mardi Gras memories you’ll cherish forever.
The Joy Theater originally opened on February 7, 1947 as a movie theater and closed in 2003. After extensive renovation and preservation, this New Orleans landmark was reintroduced in December 2011 as a multipurpose venue featuring live music, comedy, and theatrical productions. Click here to view upcoming events at the Joy Theater.
Allstate Sugar Bowl – January
The mission of the Allstate Sugar Bowl is to sponsor and promote amateur sporting events which will foster revenue and spark economic growth in the city of New Orleans and the state of Louisiana.
New Orleans Mardi Gras – March
New Orleans sets the stage for one of the world’s most renown Carnival celebrations. Carnival season traditionally begins on Twelfth Night, or January 6, and culminates on Mardi Gras, or Fat Tuesday, March 4, 2014. Mardi Gras has a colorful history filled with traditions as unique as the city itself. New Orleans’ carnival comes alive through its many traditions, such as hiding a plastic baby in its King Cakes, its purple, green and gold colors, singing “If Ever I Cease to Love,” hailing Rex as the “King of Carnival” and catching colorful “throws” or beads, toys and doubloons from each Krewe’s parade.
Old Algiers RiverFest - April
Old Algiers RiverFest™ is presented annually to celebrate the cultural contributions of Old Algiers. This growing festival, now in its eighth year, is dedicated to preserving and promoting the traditional jazz and other indigenous sounds that came of age along the banks of the Mississippi River.
French Quarter Festival - April
The largest free music festival in the South with 17 music stages and more than 90 food and beverage booths. Kids’ activities, home tours and other festivities fill the weekend with fun.
New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival – April – May
The New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival - one of New Orleans most celebrated events – is a musical, culinary and cultural celebration of New Orleans heritage, with great food, crafts and over 10 stages of music ranging from zydeco to rock to jazz. For more than 40 years, music lovers from around the globe have made the pilgramage to the historic Fair Grounds Race Course for a lineup that reads more like a who’s who of music legends than an event flyer.
The New Orleans Classic Auto Festival Vicari Auction
The New Orleans Classic Auto Festival (NOCAF) will encompass a Auto Swap Meet and an Auto show with some of the finest classic cars you have ever seen!
New Orleans Wine & Food Experience - May
Toast to the finer things in life – pinots, merlots and gumbos – as more than 75 of New Orleans’ best restaurants pair up with 175 of the world’s finest wineries. Spirits are always high at this annual celebration of New Orleans’ culinary creativity event.
Greek Festival - May
“Greece on the Bayou,” an annual Hellenic party with a uniquely New Orleans flair. Mouthwatering Greek food, delightful drinks and authentic dancing and music for the whole family.
A New Orleans Vieux To Do - June
There’s much to do at a New Orleans Vieux To Do – three festivals in one weekend in the historic Vieux Carre. Eat. dance and unwind at the Louisiana Cajun-Zydeco Festival, the Louisiana Seafood Festival and the Creole Tomato Festival. Enjoy free music on five stages and more than 50 food, beverage and art booths.
ESSENCE Music Festival Presented by Coca-Cola - July
“Party with a purpose” at this star-studded celebration of African American music and culture in the Superdome. Jazz up your July with performances by the world’s biggest hip-hop, R&B and soul artists.
San Fermin Running of the Bulls – Sponsored by the New Orleans Hotel Collection – July
San Fermin in Nueva Orleans (SFNO) is an annual festival in New Orleans featuring an Encierro (bull run), which replicates and pays homage to the world famous Encierro of Pamplona, Spain, or “The Running of the Bulls”, only the bulls are none other than members of the Big Easy Rollergirls and select participants from other rollerderby leagues across the country!Reserve your stay for San Fermin in Nueva Orleans and enjoy special rates.
Tales of the Cocktail - July
Have a highball y’all. Sip and sup at this four day long mixer in the city that invented the cocktail. Enjoy lectures, book sightings, dinner pairings, cooking and mixing demonstrations and more at this 17th anniversary event.
Satchmo SummerFest - August
Celebrate our native son, Louis “Satchmo” Armstrong, at this free festival featuring live music, second line parades, a Jazz Mass at St. Augustine Church, Satchmo’s 109th birthday party, local cuisine dished up in Red Bean Alley and the Satchmo Club Strut, a musical crawl down Frenchmen Street.
COOLinary New Orleans - August
Every summer, famous New Orleans restaurants all over the city offer summer menus featuring special prix fixe three-course meals. It’s it’s a great way to experience New Orleans’ legendary restaurants for less.
Whitney White Linen Night – August
Put on your cool white linen and join 16,000 art aficionados in the Arts District for the artsiest night of the summer. Stroll through the galleries, sip wine and hear some of the city’s most exciting bands.
Dirty Linen Night - August
Not to be outdone by White Linen Night, Royal Street merchants decide to stage a gallery walk of their own in the French Quarter. Pick up some amazing art and antiques at an event that’s become very popular in its own right.
Southern Decadence - Labor Day Weekend
This premier annual event is “in” with the “out” crowd. Nicknamed the “Gay Mardi Gras,” this annual celebration attracts as many as 100,000 participants from all over the world.
New Orleans Seafood Festival – September
The New Orleans Seafood Festival takes place in downtown New Orleans. In addition to great music and cuisine from many famed, local restaurant, artist’s booths featuring some of our area’s best artists. All proceeds for this event will benefit the Louisiana Hospitality Foundation.
Arts for Arts’ Sake - October
Every fall, gallery owners in the Arts District and on Magazine Street throw open their doors in celebration of the arts culture of New Orleans. Join 30,000 other art lovers at this giant, chic street party.
New Orleans Film Festival - October
Louisiana is the third-largest film destination in America, behind only Hollywood and New York City. This annual celebration of the art form features premieres, film screenings, workshops and more. You never know which of your favorite celebrities you’ll see second-lining down the red carpet.
Crescent City Blues & BBQ Festival - October
Two stages of the best in blues from New Orleans and beyond. The festival is dedicated to the men and women in blue – the NOPD. Includes “Walk the Beat,” a fundraising event on Saturday.
Halloween New Orleans - October
It’s Mardi Gras in October! New Orleans knows how to do Halloween right. Themed parade, haunted houses, voodoo history, above-ground cemetery tours and Halloween on Frenchmen Street, one of the most celebrated gay-circuit parties of the year.
Voodoo Music Experience - November
Only the coolest take to the stage at this Halloween-themed festival in City Park, known for its blending of high-profile national artists with local Louisiana musicians.
Louisiana Swamp Festival - November
Visit with the alligators and other assorted swamp critters. Eat all the jambalaya and gumbo you can get your hands on. Learn the Cajun two-step. Bring home a peice of indigenous Louisiana art from the Craft Village. This annual festival is fun for the whole family.
Words and Music Festival - November
Join well-known authors, editors, agents and entertainers in celebrating William Faulkner, who honed his craft in a Pirate’s Alley apartment in the French Quarter.
Christmas New Orleans Style - November - January
A month-long celebration featuring free evening concerts, candlelight caroling in Jackson Square, cooking demonstrations, football games like the Bayou Classic, the New Orleans Bowl and Sugar Bowl, and Christmas in the Oaks in City Park. Get out of the mall and shop New Orleans this holiday season.
Treme Creole Gumbo Festival and Holiday Bazaar - December
This free festival celebrates the history of Faubourg Treme as a hotbed of New Orleans musical and culinary culture. Here’s your chance to enjoy true Creole cuisine and holiday fare, plus an opportunity to shop for one-of-a-kind holiday gifts.