This spring in New Orleans, festival season is taking on a whole new meaning. While some in-person fests will proceed on a scaled-back level, we’ve got everything you need to recreate the best of the fests at home or without gathering here in NOLA. From feasting on your favorite fest foods, to soaking up the sun near the festival grounds and jamming out to music, here’s how we’ll be celebrating festival season this spring. For more on the city's Phased Reopening Plan, see here.
Find your favorite fest foods
One of the best parts of New Orleans festivals is the food, hands-down. Some dishes can only be found at Jazz Fest, French Quarter Fest and the like, but these days there are plenty of options for finding that festival food around town. First, stop at the Pythian Market for TJ’s Gourmet to get your crawfish bread. Muriel’s has the shrimp and goat cheese crepes, and Red Fish Grill has those BBQ oyster po-boys that we find ourselves craving year-round. Jamila’s Café blends Tunisian, Mediterranean and Creole cuisines for delicious creations, including saffron rice and soups. Missing We can’t forget about the sweets – Loretta’s is your go-to for pralines and Plum Street for sno-balls. Expect plenty more fest-inspired menus to pop up around the city–after all, you’d be hard pressed to find a New Orleanian not trying to fill the fest food void once mid-April comes around.
Or recreate them from home
Festing from somewhere other than NOLA? We’ve got you covered with recipes from the source. Try your hand at making BBQ Oysters with Blue Cheese Dipping Sauce here. The fish tacos from GW Fins are a fan favorite from French Quarter Fest. Learn how to cook these dishes and more here.
Stake out a spot outdoors
Part of the festival fun is enjoying the great outdoors. So, why not throw a micro festival of your own? Recreate your complete festival look–down to the hat, sunglasses, waterproof shoes and chair on your back—and stake out a spot in a nearby park. Don’t forget to pack the sunscreen and plenty of water, a playlist or radio, and snacks and drinks for a real good time. Given the expansive acreage of our city’s parks and greenspaces, it’ll be easy to find a spot that allows you to be socially distant from others while still getting into the spirit of the season.
Hear (and see) live music
Live music is the heartbeat of New Orleans. With live music now permitted, shows can be found at a bunch of places in the city—restaurants, bars, music venues, outdoor spaces—and performances are regulated by city guidelines. Enjoy an evening out, or, if you’d prefer to watch from home, there are still plenty of options for virtual concerts these days. Plus, you can always check out our Spotify channel for even more at-home (or in-car) entertainment.
Explore the best fest neighborhoods
Attending a New Orleans festival means soaking up the culture of the city and exploring the neighborhoods they’re held in. Jazz Fest fans will recount the journey to the festival through the Fairgrounds neighborhood and adjacent neighborhoods, which include many beloved bars, restaurants and coffee shops. Voodoo Music + Arts Experience lovers will recognize the fairgrounds at City Park, an open field perfect for a picnic or catching some sun. We can’t forget about French Quarter Fest, which completely takes over the historic district and turns it into a massive block party with bars, restaurants, shops and sites just waiting to be explored.
Upcoming Virtual Festivals
While the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival has been moved to fall of 2021, we can still experience virtual aspects of the fest this spring. Tune into WWOZ radio in partnership with the Archive of the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Foundation for Festing in Place from April 22-25 and April 29-May 2 for rare and historic sets from Jazz Fests past. In addition to music, interview segments highlighting the food, crafts and heritage of New Orleans and Louisiana will be shared.
Upcoming In-Person New Orleans Festivals + Events
Keep your calendars cleared and your masks handy for the upcoming in-person festivals below. These dates are tentative and subject to change.
Hogs for the Cause – June 4-5, 2021
New Orleans Wine & Food Experience – June 9-13, 2021
Restaurant Week New Orleans - June 21-27, 2021
French Market Creole Tomato Fest – July 3, 2021
NOLA Zydeco Fest – July 3, 2021
Running of the Bulls – July 10, 2021
Beignet Fest – September 25, 2021
New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival – October 8-17, 2021
French Quarter Festival – September 30 - October 3, 2021
BUKU: Planet B – October 22-23, 2021
Krewe of Boo – October 23, 2021
Voodoo Music + Arts Experience – October 29-31, 2021
Bayou Bacchanal – November 4-5, 2021
Fête des Fromagés – November 6, 2021