12 Fun Festivals In New Orleans - Updated 2021

Festivals In New Orleans

The city of New Orleans has seen more than its share of tragedy. But you just can’t keep these folks down. They always find a way to rebuild and bounce back, and better yet, they celebrate it with a party. No matter when you visit the city you will find a weekend festival being held somewhere around town. Enjoy listening to the sounds of local musicians, sample the tasty cuisine from the city’s top restaurants and shop for locally made arts. The list below includes the best festivals in New Orleans to help you plan your next vacation. Make sure that you keep close to these hip events by staying at the top hotels and Vrbo vacation rentals in the city.

1. New Orleans Greek Fest

All Greek
Source: Photo by Flickr user Infrogmation of N... used under CC BY 2.0

If you’re looking to join a festival that’s fun for all ages, it’s got to be New Orleans Greek Fest. This family-friendly festival was first held in 1973. The city’s origin story with Greece is rooted in the mid-19th century when a significant number of Greeks moved to New Orleans, bringing along their rich culture and traditions. This particular festival celebrates those traditions on Memorial Day Weekend. It is held at the Hellenic Cultural Center and features marketplaces, food stalls, cultural dances, and all things Greek.

2. Tales of the Cocktail

Tales of the Cocktail - Cocktail with berries
Source: Photo by Wikimedia Commons user Bart Everson used under CC BY 2.0

Hotel Monteleone serves as the venue for one of New Orleans’ well-loved festivals—Tales of the Cocktail. Cocktail lover Ann Tuennerman founded the event in 2003 and is currently recording approximately 17,000 guests each year. Tales of the Cocktail is a gathering of spirits and cocktail industry experts and was only initially a walking tour of historic bars in New Orleans. One of the most notable parts of this event is the Spirited Awards which is a ceremony dedicated to bartenders, bars, and other professionals in the industry not only in the States but all around the world.

3. Jazz & Heritage Festival (from USD 30.0)

2015 New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival
Source: Photo by Flickr user Doug Anderson used under CC BY 2.0

With the city being known as the home of jazz music it’s only natural they celebrate with a Jazz Fest every year. The two-week long music festival is held on the last weekend of April and the first weekend of May. It takes place at the fair grounds where you will get to see over 100 of the biggest names in music performing live on multiple stages. Musicians like Stevie Wonder, Aerosmith, Elvis Costello and Pearl Jam are just a few of the famous bands who have performed over the years. You can wander between the various mini stages to catch your favorite act. And when all this dancing and jamming works up an appetite, don’t worry, there are plenty of vendors serving up delicious Southern dishes along with artisans selling their crafts and hand made items.

New Orleans Music Heritage Tour

Duration: 2 hours

153 reviews

4. Dirty Linen Night

Dirty Linen Night 2017 on Royal Street New Orleans
Source: Photo by Flickr user Infrogmation of N... used under CC BY 2.0

Dirty Linen Night began in 2001 and was a fun way to get folks out to Royal Street to see the artwork created there. It is now an annual summer festival held in July. The festival runs the length of Royal Street which is known for its many artist-owned galleries. The event is free to attend but you will want to bring your wallet for that piece of art that you just have to have. You will find everything from sculptures, to bead work and painting, you can even get your body painted by one of the local artists. And it wouldn’t be a party without foot stomping music and tasty food, which you find plenty of as you stroll through the galleries.

5. Luna Fete

Luna Fête
Source: Photo by Flickr user Bart Everson used under CC BY 2.0

Luna Fete is one of the most unique art festivals you will ever attend. The four-day art festival takes place in early December and transforms the buildings downtown into digital canvases. You will see some fantastic digital art created by lights showcasing the work of local artists. There is a light show every hour with digital sculptures and video mapping projections. You will also find a huge marketplace set up where you can buy the creations of local artisans. This event is free to attend and a treat for the eyes.

6. Crescent City Blues & Barbecue Festival

Sonny Landreth
Source: Photo by Flickr user robbiesaurus used under CC BY-SA 2.0

Nothing represents the South more than good blues music and tasty barbecue. This annual festival takes place in early October in Lafayette Square Park. You will hear live performances from the best blues musicians on two stages. The music and fun starts at sun up and doesn’t stop till well after the sun goes down. Besides the great music you can sample some delicious Southern dishes from the cities best BBQ joints. You will find everything from traditional pulled pork, to local treats like barbecued oysters. The event runs for three days and is free to the public.

7. Satchmo Summer Fest

We're winding down day one- thanks for a great start to Satchmo '16! Back tomorrow with music on three stages, plus Pops' Playhouse inside the Louisiana State Museum's Arsenal. Chevron

Posted by Satchmo SummerFest on Friday, 5 August 2016

The Satchmo Summer Fest honors New Orleans native, Louis “Satchmo” Armstrong. Louis was a huge influence on the music and culture of the city and they still love him to this day. The three-day event takes place in the French Quarter with its starting base being the New Orleans Jazz Museum. During the event you will enjoy the music of jazz and blues musicians and big brass bands. And in N'arlens, as the locals pronounce it, it just wouldn’t be a party without delicious food. There are food vendors featuring some of the best dishes in the city including Crawfish Etouffe, crab cakes and barbecue. Armstrong was born on August 4, so the event takes place the first weekend of August.

8. Voodoo Music Experience

Voodoo Experience 2009 (2 of 37)
Source: Photo by Flickr user Joe Van used under CC BY 2.0

Voodoo has had a significant impact on New Orleans culture and history so it’s no surprise they came up with the Voodoo Music and Art Experience. This three-day festival started 20 years ago and is held on the last weekend of October. The music and art festival is held at the Festival Grounds in City Park. Come and enjoy the performances of some of the best rock and alternative music bands from around the state. You can wander between four staged areas complete with light shows and digital art as well as the vendors selling handmade arts and crafts.

9. Cajun Zydeco Festival

Source: Photo by Flickr user John Krupsky used under CC BY 2.0

This list of fun, New Orleans festivals would not be complete without the Cajun Zydeco Festival. Zydeco is a genre of music that was born in the bayous of Louisiana. Every June, in Armstrong Park, this three-day music, food and arts festival is held. Enjoy foot stomping music on two stages, with dance floors provided. There is also an arts market place featuring crafts from the Acadiana Region where they make everything from jewelry to carved wood duck decoys.

10. French Quarter Festival (from USD 150.0)

French Quarter Festival
Source: Photo by Flickr user Matt Deavenport used under CC BY-ND 2.0

This four-day music and food festival started in 1984 for the locals, but now it brings in hundreds of thousands of visitors every year. The historic French Quarter is taken over with 100 stages set up at every corner on the second weekend of April. You will hear musicians from all over the world performing every type of music from jazz, blues, rock ‘n roll to zydeco. This New Orleans famous festival’s signature event during the four-day weekend is the world’s largest jazz brunch held in Woldenberg Riverfront Park and Jackson Square. Over 60 of the best restaurants set up tasting booths for visitors to try tempting dishes like Prime Rib Po'boys, Barbecued Oyster and yummy cocktails like the local favorite, the Hurricane. You will also find tours of private gardens, the world’s largest praline and the annual Crawfish eating contest.

French Quarter Festival VIP Experience in New Orleans

Duration: 5 hours

11. Essence Music Festival

festivals in new orleans | essence music festival
Source: www.viator.com

Whew! 🙌🏾 Ledisi blew us away with her performance on the main stage last night! You did that, sis! #essencefest

Posted by Essence Festival on Saturday, 7 July 2018

This festival was first held in 1995 to celebrate the 25th anniversary of Essence magazine. It is known as “a party with a purpose” and was only planned as a one time event. Today the annual four-day music festival is going stronger than ever. It takes place in early July and hosts some of the best African American men and women in music today. Some of the musicians who have performed are Janet Jackson, Mary J. Blige and Queen Latifah. The annual festival contains two parts. During the day the action is at the convention center with a marketplace, workshops and speakers celebrating African American culture. During the evenings the fun continues at the Louisiana Superdome where the concerts are held.

New Orleans Essence Music Festival Transportation

Duration: 30 minutes

12. Mardi Gras (from USD 22.0)

Mardi Gras 2020, New Orleans, Lousiana
Source: Photo by Flickr user Sergey Galyonkin used under CC BY-SA 2.0

The festival of Mardi Gras has European roots dating back to the 17th and 18th-century. This iconic New Orleans celebration was first held in America in 1710 by the “Beoeuf Gras Society” who paraded a huge bull’s head on wheels through the streets of Mobile. Today Mardi Gras is known as the main festival in the city of New Orleans. The festival takes place after the Christian Epiphany and lasts until Ash Wednesday, usually the latter part of February into March. The festival is celebrated with masked balls, huge parties and culminates in the large parade of fantastic floats, masked riders on horseback and a lot of music. Hundreds of thousands of visitors flock to New Orleans every year to take part in the Mardi Gras festival.

New Orleans Mardi Gras World Behind-the-Scenes Guided Tour

Duration: 1 hour 30 minutes

174 reviews

It's a party every weekend

Mardi Gras Parade
Source: Pixabay

This list is just a small sample of over 130 festivals that are held in New Orleans. While visiting the city you can find a fun festival to attend every weekend. Most of them are free and all of them will always have live music and tasty food.

Disclosure: Trip101 selects the listings in our articles independently. Some of the listings in this article contain affiliate links.

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Shawna is a domestic goddess living by the sea in the beautiful state of South Carolina. She has earned two degrees in Criminal Justice and Human Services but now spends her time pursuing her...Read more

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