New Orleans is known for its spectacular festivals, food-and-wine events, music shows, and cultural experiences. From the famous Mardi Gras to local music festivals and artistic events, you can find it all in New Orleans.

    No matter the time of year, you can take in the unique city culture with holiday events, literature festivals, food and wine tastings, and more. Whether you want to sample the tastes of the city, discover new films and music, or experience the energy and excitement of Fat Tuesday, check out the 10 best festivals in New Orleans.

    1

    Mardi Gras

    Experience one of the most famous festivals

    Mardi Gras is a fun-filled holiday celebration with parades, parties, food, and other festivities. The festival takes over the city and lasts about a month in New Orleans, though the holiday is officially “Fat Tuesday,” the last day before Lent.

    Leading up to Ash Wednesday, the city comes alive with food feasts, parades, floats, live music, and bar hopping through St. Charles Avenue, the French Quarter, and other historic streets and areas. Despite being known as an adult event, Mardi Gras is fun for the whole family and features all kinds of activities.

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    photo by Sergey Galyonkin (CC BY-SA 2.0) modified

    2

    French Quarter Festival

    See New Orleans musicians in the French Quarter

    The French Quarter Festival is an annual music festival that takes place in the spring in the historic French Quarter. Located in the centre of the city, the festival features New Orleans music like blues, jazz, and zydeco, all performed by local musicians.

    The festival is just as much about food as music, since numerous bars in the area participate in the festivities. During the event, you’ll find stages throughout the quarter that present different genres of traditional and contemporary New Orleans music, as well as brass bands, gospel, Latin, classical, cabaret, and international sounds.

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    photo by Vincent Escudero (CC BY 2.0) modified

    3

    New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival

    Immerse yourself in jazz culture

    • Families

    The New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival is an annual music and cultural event that features jazz acts hosted by local bars and nightclubs. The event is one of the biggest in the city and takes place in the spring each year, drawing nationally known acts.

    You’ll experience a bit of every type of New Orleans jazz music at the festival, as well as some other genres like zydeco, Cajun, folk, country, bluegrass, and Latin music. Other highlights of the event include local food vendors offering Cajun and Creole food like crawfish beignets and po’boys, and craft booths with artisan jewellery, leather, clothing, and musical instruments.

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    4

    New Orleans Film Festival

    Screen new films and shorts

    • Couples
    • Families

    The New Orleans Film Festival takes place annually in the fall and features international feature films and shorts. Nicknamed the “Cannes on the Mississippi,” the festival is a popular event that draws thousands of people and hundreds of filmmakers.

    One of the best features of the New Orleans Film Festival is the opportunity to discover new filmmakers and stories. Many of the films are created by minorities, and there’s an “Emerging Voices” programme that offers mentorship to encourage diversity in film.

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    5

    Voodoo Music and Arts Experience

    Enjoy a range of musical performances across the city

    The Voodoo Music and Arts Experience is a multiday music and arts festival that features prominent musical acts from all over the country. Held in the fall in City Park, about 15 minutes from city centre, the festival has welcomed such artists as the Foo Fighters, Metallica, Muse, Red Hot Chilli Peppers, Nine Inch Nails, and Duran Duran.

    The music festival is one of the biggest in the country and attracts thousands of visitors each year. Along with nationally known acts, the festival also showcases local Louisiana musicians and bands like Trombone Shorty and Orleans Avenue, The Original Metres, and Dr. John.

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    Location: 1 Palm Dr, New Orleans, LA 70124, USA

    Phone: +1 504-482-4888

    Map

    photo by Joe Van (CC BY 2.0) modified

    6

    New Orleans Wine and Food Experience

    Sample local food and wine

    The New Orleans Wine and Food Experience is an annual culinary event that brings together the city’s top restaurants, chefs, and wineries. The event takes place in early summer and features many venues across the city.

    You’ll have a wide range of events to choose from at the New Orleans Wine and Food Experience, including one-of-a-kind wine and food events that allow you to sample local delicacies and rare wines. Some other highlights include the Tournament of Roses and the Bubbly Burlesque Brunch.

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    photo by New Orleans (CC BY 2.0) modified

    7

    Essence Festival

    Celebrate African American music

    Essence Festival is an annual music festival that celebrates African American culture and music. Hosted by Essence, a magazine designed for African American women, the festival features big-name acts like Faith Evans, Erykah Badu, Alicia Keys, Al Green, Babyface, and the Isley Brothers.

    No matter the lineup, the festival features artists performing on a main stage and several superlounge stages throughout the city. Some of the genres represented include hip-hop, jazz, reggae, R & B, funk, gospel, soul, blues, and New Jack Swing.

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    8

    Crescent City Blues and Barbecue Festival

    Discover local food and crafts

    The Crescent City Blues and Barbecue Festival is a spectacular music, food, and crafts festival that features live performances, local food, and artisan goods. Hosted by the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Foundation, the festival features big-name acts from greats like Pat Benoit, Henry Grey, Little Freddie King, and Samantha Fish.

    One of the best experiences at the Crescent City Blues and Barbecue Festival involves the food. You’ll find vendors all over offering regional barbecue styles with fresh ingredients from Louisiana. The festival also has art booths with paintings, drawings, photography, and handmade goods from local artisans.

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    9

    New Orleans Literary Festival

    Enjoy a literature-themed festival

    • History

    The New Orleans Literary Festival is an annual spring festival that’s focused on literature, writing, and music. Dedicated to the playwright Tennessee Williams, a resident of the city, the festival features events related to the writer and numerous workshops and discussions about writing and literature.

    Plenty of other events take place at the festival, including literary readings, a book fair, stage performances, writing contests, and other events featuring literature, poetry, drama, photography, opera, film, history, and culture. One of the featured events is the Stella and Stanley Shouting Contest, a contest honouring Williams’s “A Tram Named Desire.”

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    10

    Luna Fete

    Enjoy spectacular light displays

    • Photo

    Luna Fete is a unique festival that features contemporary art and works from local artists, complete with art installations and motion graphics. Held in the Central Business District during winter, the festival connects the city’s beautiful historic architecture with contemporary artwork.

    One of the best features of Luna Fete is the large-scale light installations that are used to illuminate iconic buildings in the city. You’ll also see video mapping technology that contributes to the displays and the decorations in participating buildings.

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