The 5 New Orleans Festivals You Need to Experience

With over 130 festivals a year, there’s a celebration for everything and everyone almost every weekend in Louisiana’s largest city New Orleans. With events ranging from pop music to tomatoes, the influential city offers visitors many a colourful event to choose from. Unless you’re nearby New Orleans, experiencing all that the city has to offer can be a tricky task (especially as events are held year-round – those New Orleanians know how to party!). Alas, we’ve put together the top 5 festivals you need to experience in the flesh in the cultural city of New Orleans.


New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival

Pic by @jbrasted

Whether you’re a fan of jazz music or not, when in New Orleans (aka the birthplace of Jazz), you just can’t help but let the music move your body.

Every spring, this world-famous festival brings out the authentic roots of blues, jazz, folk, country, rock and more, over two beautiful weekends.


Mardi Gras

Pic by @jmarquephoto

Having been celebrated in New Orleans since the 1870s, Mardi Gras, or ‘Fat Tuesday’ is actually the marker for the end of the carnival season and the beginning of Lent.

Every year, the annual carnival celebration takes place the day before Ash Wednesday, with parades and other celebrations being held for weeks in advance, with the Mardi Gras parade being the peak event.


French Quarter Festival

Pic by @fqfest

Located in the oldest neighbourhood of New Orleans, the French Quarter Festival is a 4-day event and the largest free music celebration in the United States.

Having first began in 1984, this festival sees the streets of the French Quarter lined with over 20 stages, featuring artists playing Latin, funk, jazz, swing and rock music.


Essence Festival

Pic by @sensachanell

Essence Festival came to fruition in the 1990s when lifestyle magazine Essence started running an annual music event, devoted to contemporary black music and culture.

Held over the 4th of July long weekend, Essence Festival is the largest celebration of African American music, beauty, health, entrepreneurship and more.


Voodoo Music Festival

Pic by @speakersincode

Taking place every year over Halloween weekend, Voodoo Festival is a spooky event that is sure to keep festival-goers entertained all weekend long.


Having started in 1999, the once small festival has exploded into a mega-event that has attracted more than 1 million visitors since its conception. Visitors to the festival can expect entertainment from interactive art, carnival rides, endless food options and of course lots of live music!


If your inner music-lover is ready to experience one of the city’s that have influenced America’s musical heritage, check out our America’s Musical Heritage tour!