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French Quarter Festival
French Quarter Festival
French Quarter Festival

Top Spring Festival Picks for 2018

We’ve created this go-to list of spring festivals for you

Tough time picking which spring festival to attend? We get it. From legendary festivals like Jazz Fest to more local ones like Bayou Boogaloo, there’s a lot to choose from. And with amazing music lineups, delicious food vendors, and arts and culture featured at pretty much every fest, it can be overwhelming to narrow down your choices.

To help you sort through your seemingly endless options, we’ve created this go-to list of spring festivals for you. Visit New Orleans to check one (or more) out and be a part of the much anticipated spring festival season.

Paul Broussard
James Andrews and the Crescent City All Stars - Congo Square New World Rhythms Fest

Congo Square New World Rhythms Festival

March

This family-friendly, two-day festival at the epicenter of Jazz music’s origins celebrates the African diaspora culture of New Orleans. Congo Square New World Rhythms Festival features beats and dance from Africa, the Caribbean, and the American Gulf South. Expect to see the stunning suits of Mardi Gras Indians, African dance troupes, a Soul Food Court, and tons of arts. This festival is extra special because of its historic location at Congo Square, the location where enslaved and free African people in New Orleans were permitted to gather on Sundays and continue their cultural traditions of drumming and dance. Free.

Buku Music + Art Project

March

BUKU Music + Art Project is a weekend-long music festival that highlights EDM, hip-hop, and indie rock. Every year, this event takes place at Mardi Gras World along the New Orleans Riverfront, so you can check out different stages and enjoy stunning views at the same time. In addition to killer lineups every year (think Kendrick Lamar, Migos, and Bassnectar, to name a few who have graced the stages), art installations and pop-up street artist performances are always present. Tickets start at $149.99.

Tennessee Williams Literary Festival

March

Founded in 1986, the Tennessee Williams Literary Festival is best known for its “Stella” shouting contest, where aspiring Stanley Kowalski imitators compete to best recreate the well-known scene from A Streetcar Named Desire. The unique spring festival also features master classes for aspiring writers, panels, live theater, special meal-centric literary celebrations, and educational walking tours in a historically literary city. Ticket prices vary.

Photographer Rebecca Todd

Hogs for the Cause

March

Hogs for the Cause is a pork-centric festival and contest featuring almost 100 barbecue chefs competing various categories. Watch a panel of judges taste test and tell fans which chef has the best ribs or best sauce. Proceeds from the festival benefit pediatric brain cancer, so you can eat your pork with a purpose. Ticket prices vary (under 12 free).

Wednesdays at the Square

March-May

Wednesdays in most cities are just another weekday. But here in New Orleans, they’re basically a Friday, especially during festival season. Every week from March through May on Wednesdays, you can head to Lafayette Square for Wednesdays at the Square and jam to jazz, funk, pop, rock, and more (and grab refreshments and fest foods). Free.

Photographer Rebecca Todd
Wednesdays at the Square

Freret Street Festival

April

In recent years, Freret Street has become one of the most vibrant streets in the city, with tons of restaurants and businesses have popping up on the strip - so many that there are almost 30 restaurants in a few-block radius. Freret Street Fest celebrates that, and the vibrant small businesses and artisans who have made it that way. Now, with over 150 local vendors, live music stages, and food and drink vendors, the Freret Street Festival is one of the premiere neighborhood festivals in the city. Free.

French Quarter Festival

April

French Quarter Festival is an annual celebration of the vibrant French Quarter neighborhood of New Orleans. Featuring dozens of stages of local musicians and over 60 food and drink vendors, not to mention the gorgeous riverfront scenery and charming French Quarter streets to stroll - there’s no reason to miss this four-day-long event. Free.

Photographer Paul Broussard
Dancing at the Fais Do Do Stage

New Orleans Jazz + Heritage Festival

April/May

Jazz Fest is famous for a reason – every year, the Fairgrounds transform into a music lover’s paradise. With incredible food, drink, and craft vendors along with a variety of stages featuring world-famous headliners to local musicians, Jazz Fest truly appeals to everyone. Whether you spend the day enjoying the melodies in the Gospel Tent or head outside to check out the larger stages, you won’t want to miss this fest. Tickets start at $65 (Children ages 2-10 $5).

Photographer Paul Broussard
Bayou Boogaloo

Bayou Boogaloo

May

Spending time by bayou is a staple to the New Orleans experience, and there’s no better way to do it than at Bayou Boogaloo. Delicious food, arts and crafts tents, boat races, and live music will make your day hanging by the water one to remember. Hop on a kayak and with a pal and a local brew to make the experience unforgettable. Free.

Greek Festival

May

Handmade Greek cuisine like gyros and baklava accompanied by Greek wine? Count us in for a taste test. Try tons of authentic food and drink and purchase some from the Greek grocery to take home with you, too. Events at Greek Fest include Holy Trinity Cathedral tours (the oldest Greek Orthodox church in the Americas!), an Athenian kids playground next to the bayou that includes a climbing wall, canoes, and more, cooking demos, races, and Toga Sunday. Live Greek music is featured all days of the event. Insider’s hint for families: travel to town for this fest - it has the best of both words for kids and parents! $7 admission.

Tremé/7th Ward Arts and Culture Festival

May

Join locals and visitors alike in celebrating two of the most historic areas in the entire country: Tremé and neighboring 7th Ward. The locals of these neighborhoods honor their contributions to the entire United States and world at large during the Tremé/7th Ward Arts and Culture Festival with music, dance, food, art, architecture, and more. Events throughout the weekend-long festival feature a bar crawl, tours of historic sites, a Gospel breakfast, a second line. Ticket prices vary.

Photographer Paul Broussard
Royal Street Stroll at NOWFE

New Orleans Wine + Food Experience

May

Whether you’re an experienced wine drinker or just an avid wine enthusiast, New Orleans Wine + Food Experience (NOWFE) is a can’t-miss fest. Wine and food lovers from around the country and world gather in New Orleans for seminars, tastings, intimate wine dinners, and other unique experiences. Pro tip: you definitely don’t want skip the Royal Street Stroll. Proceeds go to a variety of culinary nonprofits, from food banks to culinary schools. Fests for a cause? Count us in. Tickets start at $109.

Bayou Country Superfest

May

Previously held in LSU’s Tiger Stadium, Bayou Country Superfest has made its move to the Mercedes-Benz Superdome to join our celebratory festival season each year. If you’re a country music fan – this is the place to be during Memorial Day Weekend in NOLA, hands down. Tickets start at $79.