New Orleans, Louisiana has solidified its place in history as one of the most influential cities that has changed the music landscape on a global level. Although NOLA is best known as the birthplace of jazz music, this unique city delivers an unrivaled cultural impact for music lovers across all genres. Upcoming artists and household names in punk, indie rock, R&B and hip hop all manage to make their way to the “Big Easy” for a performance. Here’s Rad Season’s list of the 8 Best New Orleans Festivals:
Whether or not you are a big time jazz fan, there is just something about this music that moves your body and soul. The New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival brings out the authentic roots of blues, jazz, folk, country, rock and whole a lot more for two long weekends in the beautiful Louisiana spring weather.
As if it couldn’t get any better, the Fairgrounds hosts hundreds of food options to adhere to the traditional staples in New Orleans cuisine.
Dates: April 23 – May 3, 2020
Location: Fair Grounds Race Course and Slots, A Churchill Downs Co.
Conceived in the 90s, Essence Festival has become an influential event supporting contemporary African American music and culture. Since then, America’s birthday has become the annual weekend of this three-day party held at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome.
The music gets live and guests get to enjoy a plethora of inspirational speakers and intellectual conversations on the topics about race, gender and art.
Dates: July 1-5, 2020
Location: Mercedes-Benz Superdome
Buku comes from the French word “beaucoup,” which means “plenty.” And boy, is there tons to go around. Held each year along the Mississippi Riverfront, this packed-house event is sure to keep the live music, local art and incredible food coming all weekend.
It’s best known for the house party atmosphere with recent headliners including Major Lazer, Kid Cudi, Skrillex, Wiz Khalifa, Avicii and many more. Food vendors are top notch so make sure to bring an appetite as well as your dancing shoes.
Dates: March 20 – 21, 2020
Location: Mardi Gras World
This go-to fall music festival brings out some of the greatest influencers in jazz, rock-n-roll, blues, country and soul. In addition, make sure to check out its premiere film festival, music conference and dance parties.
Birthed in 2001 from Lazy Lester, a Louisiana-born harmonica player, Ponderosa Stomp pays homage to some of the biggest names in American music. Over the two-day event, attendees can learn about the history of the artists featured as well as participate in panel discussions relating to American music culture throughout the years.
Dates: may not be running anymore
Location: Ace Hotel New Orleans
Not much of an introduction needed for the mecca of party music festivals. Mardis Gras has been celebrated across the world with varying amounts of religious context involved in its history and rightly one of the best and most famous festivals in New Orleans.
The name is French for “Fat Tuesday” which originally represented the practice of eating hearty before the fasting of Lent. History aside, it’s a must-go for any music festival lover as the parade, costumes, food and endless amount of drinks will have you wanting to go back every year.
Dates: February 14 – 25, 2020
Location: St. Charles Avenue and Canal Street
Since its conception over 15 years ago, the Voodoo Music and Arts Experience has captivated the hearts and minds of thousands of music lovers.
Top acts, contemporary artists, and up-and-coming names go all out Halloween weekend across four distinct stages. Held in the vast area of the New Orleans City Park Festival Grounds, this spooky event is sure to keep you entertained all weekend. Enjoy the likes of interactive art, carnival rides and countless food options.
Dates: October 30 – November 1, 2020
Location: New Orleans City Park Festival Grounds
For 35 years the French Quarter Festival has blessed locals and tourists alike with a spring extravaganza of the ages. Only New Orleans finest food and music is present to bring together a celebration of love, laughter and life.
Over 20 stages line the district during a four-day weekend that features Latin, funk, jazz, swing and rock music. NOLA’s favorite musical performances unite in the Quarter and put on a free show while you can sit back, grub out and sip till the wee hours of the morning. Don’t forget to drop by the “world’s largest jazz brunch” at the Riverfront Park to really wow your taste buds.
Dates: April 16 – 19, 2020
Location: French Quarter
The Satchmo Summerfest first began as an all-out tribute to Louis “Satchmo” Armstrong to celebrate his 100th birthday in 2001. Since then, the festival has transformed into one of the city’s most famous festivals and highlight of the summer in NOLA.
Two stages present all-star musicians for guests while world-famous culinary dishes are always a few arms lengths away. The festival also includes “Satchmo Seminars” that delve into Armstrong’s biography and the history of jazz music.
Dates: July 31 – August 2, 2020
Location: French Quarter
Are you looking for other reasons to come back to New Orleans? We’ve compiled the ultimate bar guide for the city that runs deep in an array of French, African and American history, food and drink.
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Rad Season's top 5 action sports, adventure, culture events and festivals in 2023