October in New Orleans means beautiful fall weather, lots of live music, and spooky celebrations leading up to Halloween. This month, we’re celebrating Hispanic Heritage Month, eating our way through Oktoberfest events, lining up at the Krewe of Boo parade in the French Quarter and marking the start of the fifth citywide art installation in the Prospect series. It’s a jam-packed month, including a brand-new event, NOLAxNOLA, that we can’t wait to tell you about. Here’s what to do in New Orleans this October.

Zack Smith

The music never stops in New Orleans, and this October, mark your calendars for a citywide celebration of local musicians, music venues, and New Orleans culture. Catch your favorite artists and discover new ones at dozens of live performances at indoor and outdoor venues all over town from October 7-17 as part of NOLAxNOLA (NOLA BY NOLA). You won’t want to miss this event—find more details here as they’re announced.

Kelsey Campion

New Orleans is a Halloween destination all October long, so don’t wait to partake in your share of spooky activities. Haunted houses, including The Mortuary and New Orleans Nightmare, return this October. Take a ghost tour, visit a spooky attraction or stay at a haunted hotel. Check out our guide for more on Halloween in New Orleans.

Rebecca Todd

The Southern Food & Beverage Museum is set to host “The Birthplace of Brunch” pop-ups featuring a variety of chefs this October. According to the museum, Madame Begue invented the meal “brunch” in New Orleans in the 1870s. Watch as local chefs take their spin on the meal with four pop-up brunches: Drag Brunch, Kamyan Brunch, Barrow’s Beyond Catfish Brunch, and Halloween Boheme Brunch, each held on a Saturday. Purchase tickets here.

Rebecca Todd

New Orleans is a wonderful place to celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month, which spans September 15-October 15. Learn about Hispanic heritage and culture by sampling authentic cuisine, exploring Hispanic history in the city, and supporting small Hispanic-owned businesses.

Paul Broussard

New Orleans has many Oktoberfest celebrations throughout the month, with warm pretzels, chicken schnitzel, beer on tap, and plenty of German festivities. Pair that with outdoor dining and the beautiful fall weather, and it’s a win-win situation for us all. Check back here for the latest on Oktoberfest celebrations as they’re announced.

Paul Broussard

New Orleans’ official Halloween parade returns on October 23, bringing all the spooky festivities to the French Quarter. With floats constructed by Kern Studios, America’s premier float-building organization, the parade frightens and excites the crowds. Kern artists design 3-D paper mâché and fiberglass props that mimic all of Halloween’s spooky creatures. Don’t miss this chance to dress up in costume and celebrate in the “Boo Carré.”

Image courtesy of Overlook Film Festival

Overlook is a multi-day film festival of all things horror in America’s most haunted city, which, naturally, is New Orleans. This year, the festival returns virtually from October 7-13. The 2021 event will be a collaborative online event called NIGHTSTREAM, where you can stream films online and participate in other aspects of the festival virtually.

Image courtesy of Prospect New Orleans

Prospect New Orleans returns with its fifth citywide art installation: P.5 - Yesterday We Said Tomorrow. From October 23, 2021 to January 23, 2022, visit museums, cultural spaces, and public sites throughout New Orleans to catch a glimpse of the exhibition. Yesterday We Said Tomorrow will feature an intergenerational group of artists from across the globe and will include both existing and newly commissioned projects. The P.5 Welcome Center is located at the New Orleans African American Museum beginning in October 2021. See here for more information on satellite location, featured artists, VIP experiences, and event updates.

Justen Williams, New Orleans Tourism

Attend a food or music festival

Enjoy three festivals this October: Shorty Fest on October 11, NOLA River Fest on October 23, and Top Taco on October 28. These festivals will showcase local food, music, and artists in their own way.

Shorty Fest is a celebration of music and a fundraiser held at Tipitina's. Get your tickets or tune in for free virtually to see Trombone Shorty & Orleans Avenue, Galactic w/ Anjelika "Jelly" Joseph, The Soul Rebels, Cimafunk, Tariona "Tank" Ball, Ivan Neville, and more all in one night. 

River Fest, held at the New Orleans Jazz Museum, celebrates the cultural, economic, environmental, and inspirational impacts and contributions of the Mississippi River to New Orleans with a day full of guest speakers, live music, and delicious cuisine. The festival is free to attend. 

Top Taco, held in Metairie's Lafreniere Park, will feature over 40 local restaurants in the ultimate tasting experience. Plenty of live music, tequila, and mezcal are on tap for this event, which is all inclusive. Tickets are $75. 

Justen Williams

Head outdoors and enjoy the fall weather

Fall is the perfect time to get outdoors in New Orleans. This could mean dining al fresco, picnicking in the park, hopping on a Blue Bike, or simply taking a stroll through some of our greenspaces. Check out our ultimate fall travel guide here, and don’t wait to enjoy our favorite season in New Orleans.