Summer may mean a slow down for some, but in New Orleans, festival season is in full swing. Kick off July with not one, not two, but three festivals over Fourth of July weekend, then spend the rest of the month indulging in dining deals, refreshing summer cocktails and poolside cabanas. Get your sweat on at more festivals throughout the month, including Running of the Bulls and Satchmo SummerFest. And keep it cool with a visit to a museum. Here are the top 10 best things to do this July in New Orleans.

1
Justen Williams

While we can’t point you toward the fireworks, we can point you toward some good food perfect for the holiday. Picnic Provisions & Whiskey, PeeWee’s CrabCakes On the Go and Central City BBQ are just a few of our picks for summertime eats. See our guide to the Fourth of July in NOLA here. Check out the festivals below for more ways to celebrate the long weekend in New Orleans.

2
Paul Broussard

The annual French Market Creole Tomato Festival brings a summertime staple into the spotlight. On July 3, celebrate tomato season and the region that produces this refreshingly delicious fruit. Vendors will offer a wide selection of bites that feature the glorious Creole tomato as the centerpiece. Enjoy fried green tomatoes, Creole tomato basil crepes, stuffed shrimp with grilled Creole tomato over jasmine rice and even Creole tomato gelato. There’s live music, dancing—and plus, admission is free.

3
Rebecca Todd

Hop on over to NOLA Zydeco Fest on July 3, held just steps away from Creole Tomato Fest at the New Orleans Jazz Museum. Zydeco is a unique style of music known for accordions, washboards and toe-tapping rhythm. The fest is free and will feature live music, dance lessons and the best Louisiana cuisine you can find.

4
Zack Smith

Presented by Coca-Cola, the annual ESSENCE Festival of Culture is one of the city’s most-anticipated music festivals. Celebrating and promoting African American music, health, food, beauty, culture and more, ESSENCE Fest will be presented as a virtual experience from June 25-27 and July 2-4. With the theme of “Live Loud,” attendees can tune in here for panel discussions and star-studded performances.

5
Zack Smith

Every year come summertime, downtown transforms into a sea of red and white, filled with runners, bulls and spectators from above. Well, not “bulls,” per say, rather the New Orleans Roller Derby Girls dressed as bulls, with wiffle bat in hand. It’s our own spin on Encierro de Pamplona in Spain, paying homage to the Spanish influence throughout New Orleans. This year, San Fermin in Nueva Orleans will take place in a modified format on July 10 - with an evening party instead of the traditional encierro / “running of the bulls” - but still promises to be quite a fiesta, with live music, DJs, RollerBulls, sangria and more.

6
Justen Williams

Take advantage of dining deals starting this July in New Orleans with COOLinary. Indulge in two-course lunch, or three-course dinner and brunch deals from July 14-September 5, 2021. Participants include Antoine’s Restaurant, Brigtsen’s Restaurant, Tujague’s Restaurant and Café Degas, among others.

7
Paul Broussard

Satchmo SummerFest returns July 31-August 1, celebrating the life and music of Louis “Satchmo” Armstrong. Make your way to the French Quarter for a weekend full of good food and great music, including performances from various brass bands, plus Kermit Ruffins & the Barbecue Swingers, Meschiya Lake & the Little Big Horns and Robin Barnes & the Fiyabirds. Admission is $7 and the festival is held at the Jazz Museum.

8
Cheryl Gerber

If one weekend of zydeco music wasn't enough, make sure to swing by the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Foundation for the 15th annual Louisiana Cajun-Zydeco Festival. Every Friday and Saturday evening beginning July 9, head to 1225 N Rampart to catch a free show. Performers include The Magnolia Sisters, Chubby Carrier, Nathan & the Zydeco Cha Chas and more. The fest runs from July 9-31.

9
Justen Williams

Nothing quite hits the spot like an ice-cold summer cocktail come July. Beat the heat with a New Orleans’ classic, or sit back and sip on frozen favorites. Our guide to refreshing summer cocktails outlines the best spots to find a mint julep, frosé, Pimm’s Cup, daiquiri, frozen Irish coffee and more.

10
Paul Broussard

Take a dip and soak up some sun at a hotel pool. You need not be a guest of the hotel to lounge poolside at The NOPSI, The Ace Hotel or The Chloe–though some require day passes. Check out the list here and make plans to slather on the sunscreen.

Lagniappe

Still looking for more things to do this July in New Orleans? We can’t forget about the Bastille Day block party on July 10, a free of charge event complete with neighborhood merchants, food and drink, music and a Marie Antoinette costume contest. Also mark your calendars for Vegan 2 the Soul Fest on July 18, another free festival with yoga classes, outdoor activities and an array of vegan food.