New Orleans is renowned for its culinary and musical depth – and the best way to immerse yourself in it is at the many vibrant festivals that take place each spring. We’ve rounded up the top 5 of the Big Easy’s spring season, each of which offers a taste of local culture and entertainment with an offbeat festive vibe you won’t find elsewhere.
Wednesday At The Square – Wednesdays from March 11 – May 13, 2020
Held every spring, Wednesday at the Square provides 10 weeks of free concerts held in downtown’s Lafayette Square. At this family-friendly event, you can listen to popular New Orleans musicians up close, enjoy Louisiana food and beverage, tour a local artist village, and relax picnic style in the park. As an added benefit every dollar spent at this event goes to support the Young Leadership Council’s mission to provide leadership through community service. Expert Tip: Parking can be hard to find in the hustle and bustle of downtown, but the park is close to almost all downtown hotels for easy walkability. Another option is to bike in, with Bike Easy offering free bike valet to encourage leaving the car at home.
French Quarter Festival – April 16 – 19, 2020
Unlike many other local festivals, the annual French Quarter Fest isn’t one to be contained within indoor venues or city parks. Rather, this festival engulfs the entire French Quarter neighborhood for a four-day weekend. Since its founding, the festival’s mission is to remind locals and visitors that unbeatable food, culture, art, and music still line the streets of New Orleans’ most famous part of town. Not only is French Quarter Fest the world’s largest showcase of local Louisiana music and artists, but it is also FREE and open to the public. Expert tip: Stop by Jackson Square to see the Hilton stage right in front of the picture-perfect St. Charles Cathedral. Pack light and be prepared to walk around the neighborhood, with so many different stages and food vendors of every variety, you’ll want to get your steps in to see (and taste) all the excitement. French Quarter Festival Imagery provided by Zack Smith Photography.
New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival – April 23 – May 3, 2020
While French Quarter Fest is all about local talent, JazzFest sets the stage for music icons. New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival, aka “Jazz Fest,” brings nationally recognized acts across genres to the Fairgrounds for a can’t miss event. As the city’s largest festival, find an abundance of food, art markets, and simultaneous stages for music from Jazz and Blues to Gospel and Rock ‘n’ Roll. And this year’s lineup doesn’t disappoint with featured acts including the The Who, Dead and Company, Stevie Nicks, Foo Fighters and much more. Expert tip: Traffic at the fairgrounds can be cramped and rideshares are hard to come by, so purchase a shuttle instead with pickup at many downtown hotels including the Hilton New Orleans Riverside. Plan out which music stages you’ll want to see for the day and come hungry to dig into iconic New Orleans treats like crawfish bread and alligator sausage.
Bayou Boogaloo – May 15-17, 2020
Experience art, food, and family fun at Bayou Boogaloo, the only festival located right on the waterway. At this FREE party at Bayou St. John locals relax in kayaks, inflatables, paddleboards and anything that floats, just down the road from City Park. Enjoy local music while sipping on rootbeer floats, this festival’s most popular treat. With more than 25 food and beverage stations and over 60 different arts and crafts vendors including paintings, photography, jewelry and more, you can spend all 3 days at this event and never experience the same thing twice. Expert tip: If you don’t own a kayak, there are rentals at stores along the Bayou, but get there early if you want to float along as the waterway can get crowded later in the day. Bring sunglasses and sunscreen as this festival kicks off the start to summer in New Orleans and you’ll be sure to get some rays.
Bonus – Food and Drink
New Orleans festival season offers a wide variety of venues and experiences for the traveler from intimate music in the park to grand headlining artists at the Fairgrounds, but music isn’t the only thing this great city is known for. Year round, New Orleans comes alive with the celebration of food and no matter when you come to town you’re likely to find a fun culinary festival in motion. From Bourbon Fest in March to Top Taco in May, if you love food and drink you’ll love New Orleans.
Don’t miss out on these unforgettable events – book your New Orleans festival accommodation with Hilton here.