Post-Jazz Fest, you’d think that NOLA would need a little rest, but the celebratory summer fest season is just getting started. Summer in New Orleans has everything: festivals honoring food, music, art, and neighborhoods are a regular occurrence along with quirky events like NOLA’s own Running of the Bulls, inspired by Spain’s Encierro de Pamplona.
To help you plan your summer vacation whether you’re traveling for a festival, a family trip, or a mid-week getaway, we’ve compiled this handy list of summer fests. Head to NOLA this summer to experience ‘em!
June 12-14, 2020
New Orleans’ welcoming attitude and diverse inhabitants make ideal company for a Pride weekend. The Crescent City boasts an “always open” motto, and one of the best times to experience it is during this summer festival. Expect parades in the French Quarter, special parties, brunches, and more celebrating the LGBT community in New Orleans and beyond.
June 13-14, 2020
When this cherished regional produce comes back into season, you honor it the NOLA way with a festival. Fest-goers can stroll through the historic French Market while enjoying live music, indulging in a variety of Creole tomato-infused recipes, watch live cooking demos, kids activities, and more. Did we mention the fest features a Creole tomato bloody mary market? The fest is free - just bring cash for eats and drinks. And while you’re at it, check out our other favorite spots in the French Market District.
June 19-21 and 24-28, 2020
What better time is there for NOLA Caribbean Festival than during Caribbean Heritage Month? The weeklong festival celebrates Caribbean culture through food, music, dancing and more. Special guest chefs, DJs and performers from a host of Caribbean countries come to show their honor the vibrant heritage of the region.
July 1-5, 2020
If you’ve seen the movie Girl’s Trip, the excitement that comes with the annual ESSENCE Festival. ESSENCE is the world’s largest cultural, entertainment and empowerment experience celebrating the African-American community.
In honor of ESSENCE Magazine’s 50th anniversary, ESSENCE Fest has expanded to a five-day experience featuring an all-star lineup of performers, specially curated guest experiences including exhibitions, mini-conferences, celebrity appearances and much more. See our Ultimate Essence Guide for more trip-planning tools, as well as our list of Girls Trip Filming Locations and Ultimate Essence Itinerary for more inspiration.
July 10-12, 2020
Running of the Bulls, better known as San Fermin in its origin city of Pamplona, is a Spanish-inspired tradition that has made its way to the Crescent City. Instead of running bulls, the NOLA event includes running Big Easy Rollergirls. For 15 minutes, the Rollergirls chase runners with plastic bats through the streets of downtown, and the party continues all day long. Registration isn’t necessary but includes perks like participation in the official race and after-party events.
Tales of the Cocktail
This annual conference/festival is the world’s premier cocktail event for industry professionals and enthusiasts alike. What better place to study and taste cocktails than in the city where so many were created? The Tales schedule features seminars, tastings, dinners, competitions, and networking events and more. Stayed tuned for the 2020 events and guest speakers.
July 31-Aug 2, 2020
This annual end-of-summer festival honors the life and legacy of New Orleans’ own Louis “Satchmo” Armstrong. Fest-goers can expect live music throughout the French Quarter, local food, second lines, a jazz mass, outdoor concerts, music history seminars, and more. Help the Satchmo Summerfest celebrate its 20th anniversary at this year’s festival.
August 8, 2020
For one Saturday every August, a sea of red takes over downtown New Orleans all in the name of beer and a great cause. Sponsored by the Hash House Harriers, a drinking club with a running problem, all are welcome to put on their best red dress and join in for a run (or walk). While not required, participants are encouraged to register, as all the money raised from this “race” is donated to local charities.
August 1-31, 2020
While COOLinary isn’t technically a summer festival, the month-long dining event has earned its spot on our list. Every year for the full month of August, participating restaurants (and usually, there are over 100!) offer special prix-fixe menus, so you can experience the best of New Orleans’ culinary scene for bargain prices. Reservations book up fast, so be sure to check back at COOLinary’s official website to see updated lists of participating restaurants.
August 1-31, 2020
August once again proves to be a prime time to visit New Orleans, especially if you’re looking for a high brow experience at a low cost. Museum Month (again, not technically a festival, but well-deserving of its spot on this list) occurs all through August in concurrence with COOLinary. If you purchase a membership to one of the participating museums (and these memberships can be extremely low in cost), you’ll be able to access all of the participating museums in August.