New Orleans Cultural Events
New Orleans hosts a medley of festivals each year. Some have been around for years. Others are unique to the city.
ESSENCE Festival draws a star-studded lineup of musical artists. It’s also a daytime event with motivational seminars and workshops on beauty, style, and wellness. It’s held over the 4th of July holiday weekend.
While Mardi Gras is the city’s best-known celebration, there are plenty of other ways to dive into culture in New Orleans. There’s a wine festival, an event honoring famous playwrights and a Caribbean carnival, to name just a few.
The New Orleans Film Festival takes place each November, and it’s a great way to experience the city’s rich cinematic heritage. The festival includes a number of screenings, panels and parties. Tickets are available for a range of prices.
The annual Bayou Bacchanal pays homage to the many vibrant Caribbean island nations that have strong ties to New Orleans. The free event features a parade, music, food and dance. While masqueraders typically dress in exotic islander costumes, everyone is encouraged to participate.
New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival
The New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival is more than just a musical event. The event also focuses on the food and culture of the city.
For out-of-towners, the annual fairground blowout may seem like a glorified tourism ad, but for those who live in this venerable city, it’s a chance to catch all of the best local musicians in one spot and chow down on iconic local cuisines.
This documentary, shot during the 2019 fest, mashes up concert footage with interviews to capture the spirit of this beloved event. From funk kings Galactic to soulful siren Sy Smith, it’s a playlist shuffle flecked with history and feeling. But it doesn’t dig as deep as it could have, given the depth of its subject matter.
LUNA Fete is a festival that illuminates the city with light, art and technology. This free event features installations by local and international artists. The event takes place in downtown New Orleans near the Ernest N. Morial Convention Center.
The festival showcases works in a wide range of styles and themes. For example, a piece by artist Monique Lorden tells the story of the Lower Ninth Ward. Another piece is a piano with laser-cut letters that illuminate the keys.
The festival is a must-see for those who love light shows. It has been running since 2014 and showcases some of the top light and projection-based artists in the world. The festival is a great complement to other light displays in the city, such as Celebration in the Oaks and the Roosevelt lobby.
This indoor family-friendly holiday festival at the Ernest N. Morial Convention Center is packed with wintery fun and features New Orleans’ only real ice skating rink, two forty-foot ice slides, carnival rides, inflatables, a gingerbread house display, and visits with Santa. The event is a great place to make memories with the whole family and a fantastic choice for birthday parties and corporate events.
One-time, no-re-entry tickets are $20 on weekdays and $25 on Saturdays and Sundays. Skate rentals are included. Kids aged two and under are free. Military and first responders get half price admission on Fridays.
Bring your camera to capture the magic of NOLA ChristmasFest, where there are a number of opportunities for memorable photos. Professional photos are available for an extra fee.
Saint Augustine Street Festival
New Orleans is renowned for its cocktails, but there’s much more to this city’s culture than alcohol. For example, the city’s most famous drink event is Tales of the Cocktail, which draws thousands of bar owners, distillers and mixologists from around the world to learn more about spirits and meet each other.
Throughout the month of October, locals and visitors enjoy a variety of events in the Treme neighborhood of New Orleans. This donation-based event is intended to promote the culture and history of this historic area. You can attend free musical performances and view art displayed in local galleries. Food is also available, including gumbo, meat pies, boudin balls and turkey dinner. A variety of raffles are held, including a cash prize, a handmade quilt and a hand-crafted wooden bar set.