ADVERTORIAL • March 2020
With around 130 taking place in the city every year, it’s no wonder New Orleans is known as the ‘Festival Capital of the World’. So, to make timing your visit to the Big Easy a little easier, we’ve whittled the list down. Here are the top 10 most-unmissable events
When: 18-22 March 2020; tickets from £73
Why? It’s a wine and food festival, New Orleans-style. That means a parade-style ‘stroll’ down Royal Street (wine-themed costumes welcome), led by industry experts the Krewe of Cork – with wine pourings and food tastings at stops along the way. There are also Wine Dinners, hosted by some of New Orleans’ celebrated restaurants, and, of course, Grand Tastings, where the world’s top vintners gather to show off their vintages. Cheers!
When: 28-29 March 2020; free
Why? Because this two-day festival might be the first (but hopefully not the last) time you’ll get to take part in a celebration of exclusively Cajun and zydeco music – styles evolved from the unique cultural DNA of southern Louisiana. It’s also an unofficial starting gun for the crawfish season, with 10 food vendors offering their spin on the local favourite.
When: 16-19 April 2020; free
Why? Because this once under-the-radar fest is bigger and better than ever. Taking place in the heart of the French Quarter, it brings together food from the city’s finest restaurants – found at stalls in and around Jackson Square – and a jukebox-worth of live music on every street corner, blasting out everything from jazz and Latin, to swing and R&B.
When: 23-26 April and 30 April-3 May 2020; tickets from £57
Why? This festival makes Glastonbury look like a village fête, with close to half a million people heading to the city’s Fair Grounds Race Course & Slots over the two weekends to catch live music over 12 stages. As well as more jazz than you can swing a cane to, expect appearances from superstar artists such as The Who, The Beach Boys and Lionel Richie (all playing this year).
When: 1-5 July 2020; weekend tickets from £141
Why? Located in the Mercedes-Benz Superdome, this thought-provoking festival explores themes of gender, race, culture and art through live music – from intimate lounge shows to high-octane evening performances – inspirational talks, seminars and workshops. You’ll also find market stalls selling everything from hand-crafted clothing and jewellery, to sculptures and paintings.
When: 31 July-2 August 2020; tickets £5
Why? Like Louis ‘Satchmo’ Armstrong? New Orleans loves him – he is one of their most famous native sons, after all. This three-day festival, suitably situated this year in the New Orleans Jazz Museum, celebrates his legacy through live New Orleans blues and jazz performances, seminars and lectures from Armstrong biographers and historians, and, of course, plenty of local food.
When: 14-21 October 2020; tickets from £7
Why? Taking place in multiple venues across the city, this festival celebrates New Orleans’ burgeoning film production scene and deep pool of movie-making talent. So, grab some popcorn and come find out why the city has been dubbed ‘Hollywood South’.
When: 16-18 October 2020; free
Why? Soul food and soulful tunes – this is where the best of New Orleans’ food and music heritage come together. Centred in Lafayette Square, just a hop away on the St Charles Ave streetcar line, you’ll find two stages hosting both up-and-coming and legendary blues acts, surrounded by stalls selling BBQ to make the South proud.
When: 30 October-1 November 2020; three-day tickets from £91
Why? It’s a Halloween spook-tacular taking place under the live oaks in City Park. Live music from over 65 artists; creative, fresh-made food; immersive, large-scale art installations, and fully-committed fancy dress combine to create a cultural gumbo that’s unlike anything else in the events calendar.
When: the next Mardi Gras is 6 January-16 February 2021; free
Why? Beginning in spirit on the Twelfth Night of Christmas, float parades, marching bands and general merry-making take over the city. It’s on ‘Fat Tuesday’ (from which the festival takes its name) that the city hits peak party mode. Stick around to see eye-boggling costumes; dance through monsoons of coloured beads, and stuff yourself silly with oysters and king cake. It’s a city-wide street party you’ll never forget.