Festivals are all about great music, food, art, crafts and being outdoors. New Orleans has some of the best in the world, and each year more and more visitors come to the city for these festivals. Here are a few of the big ones:
Mardi Gras: While not technically a festival, "Carnival" or “Fat Tuesday” occurs each year on a Tuesday anytime from February 3 through March 9. The fluctuating date was established by the Catholic Church and always scheduled 46 days preceding Easter Sunday. Royal Sonesta New Orleans is considered by many to be the most desirable location to experience the fun and pageantry of Mardi Gras, and we host the annual Greasing of the Poles event first started in 1970.
New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival: The largest outdoor concert event in New Orleans, typically falls on the last weekend of April and the first weekend of May and is held at the New Orleans Fairgrounds. With 12 stages of soul-stirring music — jazz, gospel, Cajun, zydeco, blues, R&B, rock, funk, African, Latin, Caribbean, folk, and much more — the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival is a singular celebration. In between stages, be sure to check out the Fest's "Food Fair," as well a hundreds of arts and crafts.
French Quarter Festival: Happening in mid-April each year, you can enjoy 250 hours of free entertainment featuring more than 150 musical performances on fifteen stages throughout the French Quarter over a three-day weekend. Nearly 60 food and beverage booths located in Jackson Square, Woldenberg Riverfront Park and the Louisiana State Museum's Old U.S. Mint will make up the "World's Largest Jazz Brunch," a signature event, featuring authentic local cuisine from renowned area restaurants.
Satchmo SummerFest: "What a Wonderful World" you'll discover during an entertaining and educating weekend in the French Quarter honoring New Orleans' native son, Louis "Satchmo" Armstrong. The Satchmo-inspired program includes musical performances, lively discussions, jazz exhibits, a jazz mass, activities for budding young jazz fans, a club crawl, "red beans and ricely yours" foods, and a star-studded line-up of performances that would have made Louis smile.
Essence Music Festival: This 4th of July weekend festival takes place in the Superdome, with one main stage and four “Superlounges,” which are smaller, nightclub-like settings for more intimate shows. The five-stage format ensures that you'll always be able to find the right music and crowd for your mood.
Tennessee Williams Literary Festival: The festival is an annual five-day celebration throughout the French Quarter held in late March, which showcases national and regional scholars, writers, and performing artists. Programs include panel discussions, theatrical performances, a one-act play competition, lectures, literary walking tours, musical performances and a bookfair.