New Orleans is on the Mississippi River in Louisiana. Nicknamed the “Big Easy,” New Orleans is known for its round-the-clock nightlife, spicy cuisine with French and African influence, and vibrant live music scene. New Orleans also hosts many musical, culinary, and artistic festivals throughout the year, and the below guide will give you a quick overview of New Orleans’ best festivals.

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The French Quarter – Photo by JP Thompson via Trover

Mardi Gras

This carnival celebration is famed for raucous, costumed parades and public partying. The celebration of Mardi Gras came to North America from Paris, where it had been celebrated since the Middle Ages. It is believed to be an ancient ritual of fertility that welcomed the arrival of spring. A possible precursor to Mardi Gras is believed to be Lupercalia, a circus-like orgy that was held in ancient Rome. Carnival was created as a period of merriment that would serve as a prelude to Lent. Mardi Gras can occur on any Tuesday from February 3 through March 9.

The Voodoo Music & Arts Experience

The Voodoo Music & Arts Experience puts New Orleans under a weekend-long spell of music, food, crafts, and culture. This festival began in 1999. Two main stages and several smaller stages in City Park offer fantastic musical performances from all genres, not to mention countless local food and beverage vendors.

The French Quarter Festival

The French Quarter Festival is Louisiana’s largest free music festival. More than 12 stages are spread around the French Quarter. Throughout the three-day weekend in April, music lovers will be able to listen to all kinds of music including New Orleans funk, traditional and contemporary jazz, rhythm and blues, classical, Latin, Cajun and zydeco, swing, rock, and much more.

NOLA FoodFest

Held annually in the French Market in March, FoodFest is a weekend-long celebration of tasty local dishes. Cooks from all over the country converge in New Orleans to serve their regional specialties throughout the French Market, whether they cook in food trucks, seafood shacks, barbecue parlors, or pie palaces.

Essence Fest

Since the early 1990s, Essence Magazine, a lifestyle magazine for African American Women, has chosen New Orleans for its annual three-day event. The festival features the best performers and entertainers in the country from R&B, hip-hop, jazz, blues, and more. Previous artists at Essence Fest have included Beyoncé, Prince, and Alicia Keys. It also holds a series of seminars created to empower African American men and women.

Soul Fest

Soul Fest is a celebration of African American food, music, crafts, and culture. It is a festival all about soul music and soul food. The festival promotes healthy living, and it features typical Creole cuisine and authentic soul food such as fried Louisiana alligator kabob or Jamaican chicken with vegetables. The festival also highlights the achievements and heritage of African Americans.

As you can see, New Orleans offers a fantastic and wide variety of festivals. There is really something for every taste, so why not book yourself into one of the many lovely hotels in New Orleans and have some fun at the festivals?


Disclaimer: I am a freelancer for Hipmunk and am currently working on their #hipmunkcitylove project.

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About Tammyonthemove

Tammy & Chris are a couple hailing from Germany and England, meaning between them they are efficient and polite, but unable to talk about football. Find out why they stopped pushing pens around the British civil service to travel the world on their blog.

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