The New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival spans two weekends: April 29-May 1, and May 5-8. The week in between gives you the perfect opportunity to explore all that New Orleans has to offer: great cuisine, historic neighborhoods, and lots of live music. Read below for our picks for the week.
Monday, May 2
Rest easy on the Monday after the first weekend of Jazz Fest while still making the most of your time in the city. Many businesses are closed on Monday, but plenty are open for you to enjoy. Surrey’s Café and Juice Bar and Birdy’s Behind the Bower are both open on Mondays and located on Magazine Street, positioning you well for your day exploring the shopping corridor.
You can do it all on six-mile long Magazine Street: shop til you drop, get a massage, take a yoga class, or eat and drink to your heart’s content. Discover Magazine Street here and plan your day.
Stay Uptown until Shorty Fest, an annual event at Tipitina’s put on by local artist Trombone Shorty. This year’s event features Trombone Shorty & Orleans Ave, Galactic, Dumpstaphunk, Dirty Dozen Brass Band, and more, plus a free block party featuring performances from brass bands, local high school marching bands, and Mardi Gras Indians. It’s a party you won’t want to miss.
Tuesday, May 3
Plan to explore City Park on this day. The Besthoff Sculpture Garden has free admission and is the perfect place to start your morning. Grab a coffee and pastry from Café NOMA and take a stroll around the garden. Then, head inside the New Orleans Museum of Art for Queen Nefertari’s Egypt, a special exhibit on view from March 18-July 17. You’ll want to reserve your timed entry tickets online in advance, as this popular exhibit may sell out.
Lucky for you, it’s crawfish season, baby! Both Bevi Seafood Co. and Clesi’s Seafood are just a short walk or streetcar ride away from City Park. Also in the area is Pandora’s Snowballs, a perfect treat to close out a tasty afternoon. The Broadside NOLA also hosts a Crawfish Festival May 2-4, 3-10 p.m. daily. Find more information here.
After a satisfying lunch, burn off some calories with a bike ride through Mid-City or a kayak down Bayou St. John. You can even get a stand up paddleboard and wade your way through the water. Find more info on bike rentals here (Blue Bikes is the city’s public bike share service). Find kayak rentals here.
Wednesday, May 4
Backatown Coffee Parlour is the perfect place to start your morning. Go for a hearty option like the crawfish quiche or banana nut coffee cake while sipping cold brew on the outdoor patio. Take a 15-minute stroll to observe the French Quarter in the quiet morning hours. Enjoy sights like Royal Street, Jackson Square, and St. Louis Cathedral.
Enjoy a muffaletta lunch from Napoleon House. You can get takeout and walk to Woldenberg Park to watch the ships pass on the Mississippi River. You’re in the perfect spot to visit a museum, perhaps the Historic New Orleans Collection, the New Orleans Jazz Museum, or the Audubon Aquarium of the Americas. Take your pick, and spend the afternoon exploring.
Head downtown at 5 p.m. for Wednesday at the Square, a free concert series held in Lafayette Square throughout spring. This Wednesday, Shamarr Allen and Margie Perez will take the stage. Food and drinks from various vendors are available as well.
Thursday, May 5
Thursday is Cinco de Mayo, and there are plenty of spots in New Orleans for outdoor tacos and margaritas. But before you spend the day stuffing your face with fish tacos, explore Bayou Road and historically Black Tremé, located not far from the Fairgrounds where Jazz Fest is held. Dine at Dooky Chase, where presidents and dignitaries have tasted the late Chef Leah Chase’s gumbo and fried chicken. Shop along Bayou Road, take a walking tour of the area, or enjoy coffee (and a sno-ball) on Esplanade Avenue at the Flagpole. Louis Armstrong Park and Congo Square are not far from the area and are definitely worth checking out for a little New Orleans culture.
On Thursday, May 5, enjoy Local’s Thursday at Jazz Fest, where anyone with a Louisiana State ID can enter Jazz Fest for just $50 at the gate. The lineup includes Luke Combs, Billy Strings, and Ziggy Marley.
Friday, May 6
It’s the second and last Jazz Fest Friday, with a lineup including The Black Crowes, Elvis Costello & The Imposters, Busta Rhymes, Big Freedia, and more. Gates open at 11 a.m. - get to the Fairgrounds at your leisure for a day full of food, music, and festing.
Enjoy the Preservation Hall 60th Anniversary Celebration after Jazz Fest on Friday, May 6. Guests will include Irma Thomas, Nathaniel Rateliff, Big Freedia, Cyril Neville, Ivan Neville, David Shaw of the Revivalists, Stanton Moore – and still more to be revealed. Don’t fret about missing Jazz Fest on this day - the show kicks off at 9 p.m., well after the festival ends.
Throughout the entire week, enjoy Jazz Fest After Hours, a collection of shows that take place during the evenings and nights of April 29-May 8.