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Festivals in New Orleans

New Orleans, the vibrant heart of Louisiana, is a melting pot of culture, music, and celebration. Dive into the rhythm of this enchanting city as it gears up for a spectacular lineup of festivals and events! Experience the enchantment of Mardi Gras, a carnival of colors, parades, and flamboyant costumes that infuse the city with an unmatched spirit of revelry. Whether it's the pulsating beats of the music festivals or the rich tapestry of cultural events, New Orleans offers an unforgettable experience at every turn. Join us in celebrating life and the unique flavors of this captivating city!

April Festivals

Festival Type: Music

The French Quarter Festival is an annual free music festival held in April in the historic French Quarter neighborhood. Established in 1984, the multi-day festival features over 250 local musicians performing on nearly 20 different stages set up in the streets, restaurants, and parks of the French Quarter. It celebrates the unique food, music, culture and architecture of the famous New Orleans neighborhood. Music styles featured are primarily jazz, Cajun, zydeco, blues, R&B and more. In addition to music performances on multiple stages, visitors can enjoy large food and beverage booths and art and craft vendors. The French Quarter Festival draws hundreds of thousands of attendees each year and is considered the largest free music festival in the South. Capturing the vibrant culture of New Orleans, it's regarded as one of the premier annual celebrations in the city.

Festival Type: Food & Drink

The New Orleans Fried Chicken Festival is an annual food festival held each spring celebrating fried chicken dishes and showcasing top chefs and restaurants from New Orleans and across the South. Taking place over 2 days in April at Woldenberg Park along the Mississippi River, the festival features tasty offerings from over 30 vendors serving up crispy, juicy fried chicken, fried chicken sandwiches, tenders, chicken & waffles and fusion dishes with a Louisiana twist. Cooking competitions like the Best Fried Chicken Contest crown top chefs, while music stages host live funk, blues, jazz and brass bands all weekend. Beer, cocktails and other food booths create a lively atmosphere attracting thousands of attendees annually. Established in 2016 by local hospitality group Prodigal, the New Orleans Fried Chicken Festival has quickly become one of the most popular food festivals for fried chicken lovers visiting The Big Easy.

Festival Type: Food & Drink 

Hogs for the Cause is New Orleans' premier annual charity barbecue festival, established in 2009. The two-day event is held each spring at the UNO Lakefront Arena Grounds, which transforms into a massive BBQ village filled with live music, local beer and drinks, over 90 pit-master teams smoking meat, family activities, contests, and more. It's a huge celebration of Southern-style barbecue—with ribs, brisket, pulled pork, and inventive specialties on offer—that attracts over 26,000 attendees. All proceeds generated from the festival go towards supporting families dealing with pediatric brain cancer. Notable for its enormous smoke-filled tent, aroma of BBQ filling the air, endless meaty cooking competitors like The Smokey Pig Royale, and good-times atmosphere, Hogs for the Cause marries world-class BBQ with a meaningful charitable cause - making a significant impact for local families.

Festival Type: Music

The New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival, often known as Jazz Fest, is an annual multi-day music festival. First held in 1970, Jazz Fest celebrates the rich musical heritage of New Orleans and Louisiana, especially jazz, blues, R&B, Cajun music, zydeco, and gospel. Hundreds of musicians perform across multiple stages, including many legendary New Orleans artists. In addition to the music performances, there are food booths offering classic Louisiana cuisine, arts and crafts booths, parades, and more. With hundreds of thousands attending over two weekends in late April/early May, Jazz Fest is considered a major showcase of Louisiana's unique cultural traditions and one of New Orleans' landmark annual events.

May Festivals

Festival Type: Music

The New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival, often known as Jazz Fest, is an annual multi-day music festival. First held in 1970, Jazz Fest celebrates the rich musical heritage of New Orleans and Louisiana, especially jazz, blues, R&B, Cajun music, zydeco, and gospel. Hundreds of musicians perform across multiple stages, including many legendary New Orleans artists. In addition to the music performances, there are food booths offering classic Louisiana cuisine, arts and crafts booths, parades, and more. With hundreds of thousands attending over two weekends in late April/early May, Jazz Fest is considered a major showcase of Louisiana's unique cultural traditions and one of New Orleans' landmark annual events.

Festival Type: Music

The Bayou Boogaloo is an annual 3-day music and arts festival celebrating the food, music, and culture of New Orleans held along the banks of the picturesque Bayou St. John. Established in 2006, the festival takes place in mid-May and features performances by Louisiana musicians playing Cajun, zydeco, blues, funk, and of course New Orleans jazz. In addition to music across multiple outdoor stages, there are arts and crafts vendors, popular New Orleans restaurants selling iconic dishes like jambalaya and po’boys, children’s activities, a pet parade, and more entertainment for all ages. The laid-back, family-friendly atmosphere with attractive bayou views and towering oak trees make the Bayou Boogaloo a favorite among locals and tourists alike. The festival’s accessibility and showcase of homegrown Louisiana talent have made it one of New Orleans’ beloved early-summer traditions.

June Festivals

Festival Type: Food & Drink 

The New Orleans Wine & Food Experience is an annual four-day culinary festival held in June celebrating the distinctive food and wine culture of New Orleans and the surrounding region. Established in 1992, the event features wine tastings, cooking demonstrations, exclusive dinners, and wine and food seminars hosted by renowned chefs, sommeliers, and food and wine experts. High-profile events include the Royal Street Stroll tasting event with bites from over 50 top local restaurants. There are also competition events like the Burger Bash crowning the best burger in town. Showcasing delicious Cajun and Creole flavors paired with fine wines from around the world including those produced locally in Louisiana, the New Orleans Wine & Food Experience draws epicureans and wine lovers from across the country for an unforgettable celebration of the city’s culinary heritage.

Festival Type: Food & Drink

The Tremé Creole Gumbo Festival is a free culinary festival held annually each June in one of New Orleans’ oldest neighborhoods, the historic Faubourg Tremé. Celebrating the rich creole cooking traditions and musical heritage of the neighborhood, which was also home to jazz pioneer Louis Armstrong, the one-day festival revolves around lip-smacking gumbo prepared by both professional chefs and locals which attendees can sample. Beyond gumbo and live jazz and brass bands playing throughout the day, the festival offers up classic New Orleans dishes like jambalaya, po’ boys, crawfish beignets from local restaurants and vendors. There are also demonstrations, contests, arts, kids activities and second line parades putting the spotlight on the Tremé community’s vibrant culture. Dating back to 1992, the laid-back local festival embodies the welcoming spirit, food and music which Tremé is known for across New Orleans.

Festival Type: Food & Drink

The French Market Creole Tomato Festival is a free annual event celebrating Louisiana’s flavorful Creole tomatoes and other seasonal produce held at the historic French Market farmer’s market. Taking place every June since 1990, the one-day festival offers tomato tasting and cooking demos from top New Orleans chefs featuring Creole tomatoes at their ripe peak alongside other early summer bounty like cantaloupes, blueberries and satsuma oranges. Local restaurants and vendors sell dishes showcasing the produce in po’ boys, salads, sauces and more for visitors to sample. Live jazz and brass bands play throughout the day adding to the festive atmosphere. Farmer’s tables also allow guests to purchase fresh-picked produce to take home. A family-friendly affair, the French Market Creole Tomato Festival provides a tasty introduction to Louisiana’s iconic fruits and vegetables.

July Festivals

Festival Type: Music

The Essence Festival is an annual music festival which celebrates African American culture and music. Initially called "The Essence Music Festival", it began in 1995 and is sponsored by Essence magazine. It features major headline concerts from prominent R&B, hip-hop, and gospel artists at the Louisiana Superdome, along with pre-shows around the city leading up to the main event. Besides live music, the festival also hosts food, fashion, beauty, and cultural empowerment seminars and presentations. Spanning several nights over the 4th of July weekend every summer, it attracts over 500,000 attendees who come to experience the biggest African American music and cultural celebration in the country. The festival has featured standout performances from artists like Beyoncé, Prince, Aretha Franklin, Mary J. Blige, and Usher over the years. It aims to bring the African American community together through music, culture, and community empowerment.

Festival Type: Food & Drink

Tales of the Cocktail is an annual multi-day spirits industry gathering and cocktail festival held in July. Launched in 2003, tales of the Cocktail attracts thousands of bartenders, distillers, brand ambassadors, and other cocktail and liquor professionals from all over the world with a series of immersive events including seminars, tasting sessions, networking events, and exhibits. Throughout the festival, various venues around the historic French Quarter including famous bars and restaurants host beverage-focused master classes and demonstrations for guests to learn insider knowledge and advance their craft. Epic evenings like World’s Largest Cocktail Party and Bar Crawl & Battle add to the revelry. As a hub connecting cocktail lovers seeking to share ideas and showcase talent, Tales of the Cocktail has played a key role in elevating New Orleans’ world-renowned cocktail culture over the years.

The Running of the Bulls is an annual charity event modeled after the famous Spanish tradition held every July during the city's world-famous San Fermin in Nueva Orleans Festival. Established in 2007 by local businessman Mickey Hanning, the run sees hundreds of daredevils dressed in all-white attire with red scarves/sashes attempt to outrun a herd of roller derby "bulls" sprinting after them through the streets of the Warehouse District. The nearly half-mile sprint ends at a bullfighting ring set up with food, drinks and DJ music continuing the revelry. While the chaotic sight of "bulls" chasing runners evokes the spirit of Pamplona’s iconic encierro, the NOLA version is safer with no real animals used. As a charity fundraiser for local youth programs, the fun Run encapsulates New Orleans’ festive culture and love of spectacle.

August Festivals

The Red Dress Run is an annual benefit 5K charity race held the second Saturday of August that has become one of the most iconic and outrageous costumed runs. Launched in 2001 by the Hash House Harriers running club, the Red Dress Run sees thousands of runners compete in vibrant red dresses complete with crimson wigs, tiaras and tutus in the Louisiana heat. The flamboyant 3.1 mile run travels through the French Quarter and CBD ending at a blowout festival with food, drinks, and music. Participants need not finish fast - the zany event encourages people to sport elaborate duds, stop for drinks at bars on the route, and embrace the outrageous spirit of the city. All proceeds go to charity organizations focused on women's health. Known for its vibrant mayhem taking over New Orleans, the Red Dress Run is a beloved spectacle supporting a good cause.

Festival Type: Art

White Linen Night is an annual summer arts celebration held on a Saturday evening in August in the Warehouse Arts District. Established in 1992, White Linen Night serves as a showcase of the contemporary art galleries and museums in the neighborhood with many locations hosting exhibition openings and some staying open late into the evening. In addition to gallery hopping, White Linen Night takes over Julia Street with live jazz bands and DJs, pop-up boutiques, cocktails and food from local restaurants, and even dancers and other street performers. As the name suggests, many attendees wear white linen outfits to stay cool and match the festive, summertime vibe. With over 20,000 attendees flocking to the neighborhood to enjoy an eclectic, sophisticated arts celebration, White Linen Night has become one of New Orleans' most popular annual summer traditions.

Festival Type: Art

Dirty Linen Night is an annual art event held on the Saturday night two weeks after the White Linen Night, also taking place in the city's Warehouse Arts District. Established in 1995, Dirty Linen Night was originally conceived as a lighthearted counterpart to its more formal predecessor White Linen Night. On Dirty Linen Night, local art galleries also open their doors in the evening to unveil new exhibitions, but attendees "dress down" in colorful, creative attire as opposed to white linen. The streets fill up with live jazz bands, provocative street theater, dancers in costumes, artists showcasing their works outdoors, and vendors selling crafts and offering cocktails and food specials. Far more eccentric and funky compared to White Linen Night's sophistication, Dirty Linen Night showcases the quirkier side of New Orleans’ arts scene, celebrating individuality and self-expression with over 10,000 attendees joining this eclectic summertime tradition.

Festival Type: Music

The Satchmo Summerfest is a free annual music festival held every in honor of the city’s own jazz icon- Louis “Satchmo” Armstrong. Launched in 2001, the 3-day event takes place on the grounds of the Old U.S. Mint and features both local talent and national headliners celebrating New Orleans jazz with over 120 live music performances. In addition to jazz bands playing on multiple outdoor stages, the festival has food booths offering New Orleans cuisine like jambalaya, red beans and rice, and po’boys. There are also exhibits dedicated to Louis Armstrong’s life & legacy, New Orleans musical heritage, local authors and artists. With up to 50,000 attendees, Satchmo Summerfest showcases vintage New Orleans jazz in the very neighborhood where Armstrong got his start, acting as a tribute to his enduring musical influence.It’s regarded as one of the city’s favorite festivals for jazz fans visiting New Orleans.

September Festivals

Southern Decadence is a huge annual LGBTQ celebration held every Labor Day Weekend. Originating in 1972 to protest anti-gay laws, the multi-day festival has grown into one of the world’s largest LGBT events known for its lavish grand marshal’s parade, flamboyant masquerade ball, vibrant dance parties, risque scenes along Bourbon Street, DJs/live music, and overall atmosphere of liberation and acceptance of diverse gender identities and orientations. Attracting over 200,000 revelers, Southern Decadence has evolved into a sinful blowout perfect for experiencing New Orleans’ gay nightlife. However, what truly defines the celebration is the coming together of LGBTQ communities and allies in the ongoing spirit of equality promoting self-expression. Raising money for HIV/AIDS charities, Southern Decadence represents a joyful progressive triumph persevering against past discrimination.

October Festivals

Festival Type: Art

Art for Arts’ Sake is a free annual art crawl held on the first Saturday in October. Launched in the 1970s by the Contemporary Arts Center, the one-night event spans across neighborhoods like the Warehouse District, the Bywater, and Faubourg Marigny with nearly 100 art galleries, museums, shops, and cultural spaces staying open late and hosting special exhibitions, performances, and receptions. With the goal of bringing awareness to New Orleans’ contemporary visual arts scene, visitors can spend the evening walking or biking around at their own pace while meeting local artists, enjoying live music, street entertainment, and food and drinks at various stops along the way. With up to 20,000 art lovers attending each year, Art for Arts’ Sake offers the chance to explore some of the city’s most creative and vibrant arts communities, bringing people together to kick off the fall arts season in distinctly New Orleans fashion.

Festival Type: Food & Drink

The Louisiana Seafood Festival is an annual three-day event celebrating Louisiana’s seafood and culinary heritage held along the Mississippi River. Established in 1986, the seafood festival features delicious dishes prepared by top New Orleans chefs showcasing fresh, locally caught shrimp, crawfish, oysters, crab and finfish transformed into po’ boys, grillades, bisques and more. In addition to plenty of seafood dishes available for purchase, there are live music performances on multiple stages with Louisiana musicians, cooking demos from seafood industry experts, arts and crafts, carnival rides for kids, and street performers. The lively festival also hosts the prestigious Chef's Seafood Challenge competition. Attracting over 50,000 seafood lovers annually for the Memorial Day weekend kickoff, the Louisiana Seafood Festival has become one of New Orleans’ beloved traditions honoring the state’s vibrant seafood culture and cuisine.

November Festivals

Festival Type: Art

Luna Fete is a free annual light art festival held for several weeks spanning November and December in downtown area. First held in 2013 and organized by the Arts Council New Orleans, Luna Fete transforms areas like the Moonwalk along the Mississippi River and Woldenberg Park into stunning nocturnal art installations made from light, video, and sound. From interactive light playgrounds to large-scale light projections beamed onto buildings, bridges and trees, the magical light-based works are created by visual artists from around the world. In addition to the dazzling light art and special events held at night like full moon yoga, Luna Fete also offers behind-the-scenes tours, art talks, live music performances and more for visitors to enjoy. As the largest light festival in the United States, Luna Fete has helped establish New Orleans as a major destination celebrating immersive, cutting-edge light art with over 200,000 visitors attending each year.

Festival Type: Food & Drink

The Oak Street Po-Boy Festival is a one-day culinary event held each November along bustling Oak Street in the scenic Carrollton neighborhood. Established in 2006, the festival is dedicated entirely to New Orleans’ beloved “po-boy” sandwich, with over 50 food vendors making and selling both traditional and creative po-boy creations to attendees. There's everything from the classic fried shrimp po-boy to inventive options like the Korean barbecue po-boy and dessert po-boys. Visitors can sample an array of sandwiches while enjoying live music on multiple stages, food competitions like the Golden Po-Boy Awards, local arts and crafts vendors, and drinks served up by local breweries and bars. Attracting thousands of hungry po-boy lovers annually, the laid-back Oak Street Po-Boy Festival acts as a tasty and festive showcase of this staple sandwich that is quintessential to New Orleans culinary culture.

Festival Type: Food & Drink

The Louisiana Seafood Festival is an annual three-day event celebrating Louisiana’s seafood and culinary heritage held along the Mississippi River. Established in 1986, the seafood festival features delicious dishes prepared by top New Orleans chefs showcasing fresh, locally caught shrimp, crawfish, oysters, crab and finfish transformed into po’ boys, grillades, bisques and more. In addition to plenty of seafood dishes available for purchase, there are live music performances on multiple stages with Louisiana musicians, cooking demos from seafood industry experts, arts and crafts, carnival rides for kids, and street performers. The lively festival also hosts the prestigious Chef's Seafood Challenge competition. Attracting over 50,000 seafood lovers annually for the Memorial Day weekend kickoff, the Louisiana Seafood Festival has become one of New Orleans’ beloved traditions honoring the state’s vibrant seafood culture and cuisine.

December Festivals

Festival Type: Art

Luna Fete is a free annual light art festival held for several weeks spanning November and December in downtown area. First held in 2013 and organized by the Arts Council New Orleans, Luna Fete transforms areas like the Moonwalk along the Mississippi River and Woldenberg Park into stunning nocturnal art installations made from light, video, and sound. From interactive light playgrounds to large-scale light projections beamed onto buildings, bridges and trees, the magical light-based works are created by visual artists from around the world. In addition to the dazzling light art and special events held at night like full moon yoga, Luna Fete also offers behind-the-scenes tours, art talks, live music performances and more for visitors to enjoy. As the largest light festival in the United States, Luna Fete has helped establish New Orleans as a major destination celebrating immersive, cutting-edge light art with over 200,000 visitors attending each year.

The Running of the Santas is an annual charity pub crawl held in December to raise funds for the Louisiana Children’s Hospital and other children’s charities. Established in 2016, the lighthearted holiday-themed event has individual Santas dressed in full crimson Santa outfits plus festive holiday gear complete a mile-long run through the streets of downtown New Orleans, stopping at designated bars along the route for drinks before meeting at the finish line Jingle Jam block party. Not competitive or even really a “race,” the fun group run is more about adopting an “eat, drink and be merry” spirit while fundraising for kids in need. Hundreds of Santas participate annually, decked out with reindeer antlers, elf hats, ugly sweaters or whatever kooky, creative Kris Kringle garb they please to spread some laughs and holiday magic for charity.