Festivals & Events US > Eastern Louisiana > New Orleans

10 Fun New Orleans Festivals You Must Attend - Updated 2020

Festivals In New Orleans
Shawna
Shawna
Updated

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. This list below includes 10 of the best festivals the city of New Orleans has to offer to help you plan your next vacation.

1. Mardi Gras (from USD 22)

Happy 4th of July from Mardi Gras New Orleans. 📷: Michael Marshall

Posted by Mardi Gras New Orleans on Wednesday, 4 July 2018

The festival of Mardi Gras has European roots dating back to the 17th and 18th-century. It was first celebrated 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

10 reviews

See our full list of recommended Hotels in New Orleans, Eastern Louisiana, US and also compare the prices with Vacation Rentals in New Orleans, Eastern Louisiana, US

2. Jazz & Heritage Festival (from USD 30)

Posted by New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival on Sunday, 6 May 2018

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

10 reviews

See our full list of recommended Hotels in New Orleans, Eastern Louisiana, US and also compare the prices with Vacation Rentals in New Orleans, Eastern Louisiana, US

3. French Quarter Festival (from USD 150)

festivals in new orleans | french quarter festival

📸 by Zack Smith Photography

Posted by French Quarter Fest on Thursday, 12 April 2018

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. Their 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

See our full list of recommended Hotels in New Orleans, Eastern Louisiana, US and also compare the prices with Vacation Rentals in New Orleans, Eastern Louisiana, US

4. Essence Music Festival

festivals in new orleans | essence music festival

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

See our full list of recommended Hotels in New Orleans, Eastern Louisiana, US and also compare the prices with Vacation Rentals in New Orleans, Eastern Louisiana, US

5. Dirty Linen Night

Posted by Dirty Linen Night on Wednesday, 11 July 2018

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.

See our full list of recommended Hotels in New Orleans, Eastern Louisiana, US and also compare the prices with Vacation Rentals in New Orleans, Eastern Louisiana, US

6. Luna Fete

Tonight LUNA Fête transformed the city with a celebration of light. This stunning project runs nightly through December 5!

Posted by Visit New Orleans on Sunday, 29 November 2015

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. The event is free to attend and a treat for the eyes.

See our full list of recommended Hotels in New Orleans, Eastern Louisiana, US and also compare the prices with Vacation Rentals in New Orleans, Eastern Louisiana, US

7. Crescent City Blues & Barbecue Festival

Posted by Crescent City Blues & BBQ Festival on Monday, 16 October 2017

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.

See our full list of recommended Hotels in New Orleans, Eastern Louisiana, US and also compare the prices with Vacation Rentals in New Orleans, Eastern Louisiana, US

8. 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.

See our full list of recommended Hotels in New Orleans, Eastern Louisiana, US and also compare the prices with Vacation Rentals in New Orleans, Eastern Louisiana, US

9. Voodoo Music Experience

Experience Halloween weekend in New Orleans, join the #VoodooFest ritual. http://bit.ly/2lybko7 Photo by roho foto

Posted by Voodoo Music + Arts Experience on Wednesday, 27 June 2018

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.

See our full list of recommended Hotels in New Orleans, Eastern Louisiana, US and also compare the prices with Vacation Rentals in New Orleans, Eastern Louisiana, US

10. Cajun Zydeco Festival

Les Freres (et fils) Michot - with Louis Michot of LBR on bass. Weather is hot but overcast - not sunny, and not raining. So... as good as can be 😎

Posted by Cajun Zydeco on Saturday, 24 June 2017

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.

See our full list of recommended Hotels in New Orleans, Eastern Louisiana, US and also compare the prices with Vacation Rentals in New Orleans, Eastern Louisiana, US

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.

Get Trip101 in your inbox

Unsubscribe in one click. See our privacy policy for more information on how we use your data

Mardi gras 1176483 1280
Still Need Travel Insurance?

You can buy and claim online, even after you've left home. Travel insurance from WorldNomads.com is available to people from 140 countries. It’s designed for adventurous travellers with cover for overseas medical, evacuation, baggage and a range of adventure sports and activities.

*5% off when you book with our promo code: TRIP101

*For our Canadian and US travellers, unfortunately due to financial services laws, we cannot provide a discount. This promotional code cannot be used with any other discount offer, including World Nomads Members’ discount for travel insurance policy holders.

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

Have a question? Ask fellow travellers and travel experts here.
 Want to contribute as a Local Expert?
Explore New Orleans
Good things are meant to be shared!