It’s New Orleans’ 300th birthday!
You only turn 300 once, and New Orleans throws a party like nowhere else in the world. Not only will annual events like Mardi Gras and Jazz Fest be extra special this year, but the Tricentennial Commission has planned out tons of events just to honor this special year. From the January 6 fireworks & Tricentennial Mardi Gras Kick-off & Mass at St. Louis Cathedral to NOLA Navy Week (attracting vessels from all over the world!) and more, you’ll never be short of incredible action to experience in the Crescent City.
NOLA has celebratory LGBT events, parties, and fests all year long
New Orleans’ welcoming environment is one to be reckoned with. The spirit in the city is overwhelmingly open to people of all identities; we even won a Silver Medal for “Most Welcoming City” from Best of Gay Cities 2017. Come and experience a gay Mardi Gras Ball like Armenius. Celebrate New Orleans PRIDE in June or Southern Decadence over Labor Day Weekend. Don your best costume during LGBTQ Halloween festivities, or really, at any of the above. Our costume culture is evident no matter what time of year it is.
Chris Granger- Courtesy of Bal Masque
New Orleans is a city of indulgences, so treat yo’self.
Whether you want to kick off Carnival Season at Bal Masqué in a ball gown while dining on delicious food and drink, or you want to take part in the culinary/cocktail scene at events like New Orleans Wine & Food Experience, Tales of the Cocktail, or Boudin, Bourbon, and Beer, this city’s got the event for you. Dine on cuisine made by award-winning chefs at any of these events while sipping on craft cocktails made by legendary bartenders.
Prospect.4, the arts triennial, is back for its 4th rendition – and it honors the tricentennial.
All across New Orleans, artists from NOLA and beyond have found inspiration in the lotus plant for this city-wide art project. The theme that artists have been inspired by is, “The Lotus in Spite of the Swamp.” The art is located in venues across the city until February 25, and allows visitors to explore different cultural spots, local artists, and New Orleans history at the same time. If you can’t make it for Prospect.4, you can still explore all of these art venues whenever you’re in town.
Of course, no New Orleans list could be complete without Mardi Gras.
And Tricentennial Mardi Gras will be bigger and better than ever before. With a King’s Day Celebration and riverfront firework kick-off on January 6, Carnival Season will continue on through February 13. Expect over-the-top floats, costumes, and throws. If you’ve ever wanted the Mardi Gras experience, this year’s the year to do it. And if you want to outdo your last Mardi Gras experience, this year’s the time to do that, too.
You can learn to peel crawfish like a local.
We all know that food is a huge part of New Orleans culture, and to truly be in-the-know like a local, you’ve got to be able to peel a crawfish. Come in the spring to have a boil along the Mississippi River or head to one of these tried-and-true spots to eat ‘em. Pro tip: get the Crawfish Monica at Jazz Fest.
Spring festivals keep us busy all the way through summertime.
You’d think that New Orleanians need a break after Mardi Gras, but we don’t skip a beat. Next in line comes our roundup of spring fests, filled with food and live music, and often taking place at fun outdoor venues. If you’re an alternative music fan, come for Buku Music + Art Project along the river at Mardi Gras World. People of all backgrounds deck themselves out in green and join the Irish to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day with parades (where you can only hope to catch a cabbage from a float). There’s plenty of other festivals like Congo Square New World Rhythms Fest, Tennessee Williams Literary Festival, Hogs for the Cause, and the weekly concert series, Wednesdays at the Square.
French Quarter Fest combines the best of what NOLA has to offer into one weekend. For free.
From April 12-15, the French Quarter and the Mississippi Riverfront won’t just be their usual, lively selves. They’ll be even better. The entire French Quarter will be filled with vendors of local foods, drinks, and crafts. Six stages will be stationed throughout the neighborhood with three days of non-stop amazing local lineups. And attendance is free, so if you’ve ever wanted a taste of NOLA all in one spot with a $0 admission cost, French Quarter Fest has you covered.
WrestleMania is coming back to the Crescent City.
WWE WrestleMania’s Showcase of the Immortals is heading back to the ‘dome on April 8, 2018 for the first time since 2014, and WrestleMania fan are already planning their trips. WrestleMania Week includes the 2018 WWE Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony, NXT TakeOver, Monday Night Raw, SmackDown LIVE, and tons of community outreach events.
And, NOLA Navy Week’s coming back too!
From April 19-25, 2018, NOLA Navy Week is back for its 3rd rendition in honor of the Tricentennial. Numerous ships from all over the world will arrive on Thursday, April 19th, and FREE group tours will begin on Friday, April 20th continuing until Tuesday, April 24th. The Tall Ships will be lined up along Woldenberg Park until Monday, April 23rd. Other special events include the Louisiana Seafood Cook-Off on Sunday, April 22nd followed by a firework show.
Jazz Fest is one of our biggest and best music fests, and is perfect for the whole family.
Chances are, you’ve heard of Jazz Fest. Every year, the Fairgrounds in New Orleans turn into a giant music festival filled with stages of all sizes, local food vendors (including that famous Crawfish Monica dish), and local artisans’ crafts. Jazz Fest has hosted huge, internationally known acts like Elton John, Ed Sheeran, and Usher but always has a great lineup of local acts like Rebirth Brass Band. Close out Jazz Fest with Trombone Shorty and a tricentennial show for the city’s 300th birthday. Dates in 2018 are April 27-29 and May 3-6.
Springtime comes to a close and we (very) warmly welcome summertime – including all the family-friendly activities and ESSENCE Fest.
Summer in NOLA is the perfect time to check out all of our family-friendly things to do while the kids are on vacation. Audubon Park & Zoo, The National World War II Museum (TripAdvisor’s #2 museum in the world, by the way!), and swamp tours are fun for the whole family. Plus, every 4th of July weekend marks ESSENCE Fest, the largest celebration of African-American music and culture in the country. And if you’ve seen the movie Girls’ Trip, you can get some inspiration for your own ESSENCE weekend.
And if you come in the summer, you can celebrate the Spanish Running of the Bulls tradition, NOLA-style.
Like all things in the Crescent City, our twist on Running of the Bulls is a unique one. Every summer, we grab our red and white garb and head out to the Warehouse District and run from our version of bulls – the Big Easy Rollergirls. If you’re not much of a runner but still want to get dressed up downtown, come for White Linen Night in August. Everyone wears their best whites and heads down to the Arts District for a night of eating, drinking, and Julia Street gallery-hopping.
If you want to get the most bang for your buck, mark your calendars for August 2018 in New Orleans.
All August long, New Orleans restaurants join in for COOLinary, a program for local restaurants to showcase their cuisine at discount prices. You can eat at world-famous restaurants like Commander’s Palace or Antoine’s for about $30! Plus, August is Museum Month in New Orleans, so you can buy membership to one museum (for a very reasonable price) and check out all participating museums for free.
While the Crescent City is known for all types of fests, there’s one that stands out in September: the National Fried Chicken Festival.
You read that right – New Orleans is home to a national festival for fried chicken. What started as a wildly successful local fest in 2016 quickly grew to a nationally recognized one, with participating chefs from all across the country. Come for the best Fried Chicken Fest yet in 2018. Expect live music, fried chicken awards & accolades, and of course, all the fried chicken you can eat.
You can experience the incredible culture of Treme with two festivals in the fall.
One of the best parts about a trip to New Orleans is venturing outside of the French Quarter to see all that the one-of-a-kind neighborhoods around the city are like. Tremé, the oldest historically African-American neighborhood, is home to plenty of historic sites that were integral to African-American history, like Congo Square and St. Augustine Catholic Church. In the fall, you can experience the beautiful music, arts, and food of Treme at two fests: Tremé Fall Fest & Tremé Creole Gumbo Fest.
New Orleans is undoubtedly the BEST place to celebrate Halloween.
Every Halloween weekend, the city transforms. Houses deck themselves out in decorations, costumes are crafted. Music fanatics can attend the annual Voodoo Music + Arts Experience in City Park, party-goers can dance all night on Frenchmen Street and catch throws at Krewe of Boo, and there are even LGBTQ Halloween events for the community. As you know, costumes are a big deal here, so expect to see over-the-top, handmade ensembles.While you’re here, be sure to go on a ghost tour or check out our above-ground cemeteries - NOLA is known as a haunted city for a reason.
You can wrap up the tricentennial year with us during the month of December, when we celebrate Christmas New Orleans style!
The holidays in New Orleans are a magical time – you can wander through thousands of twinkling lights at the Roosevelt Hotel lobby, or stroll through the spectacular light show that is Celebration in the Oaks. Indulge in a traditional reveillon dinner or holiday cocktail. Carol in Jackson Square, or watch holiday bonfires on the levee. Hotels participate in Papa Noel deals, so your stay can be magical and affordable.