Next to Mardi Gras, New Orleans’ biggest annual event is indisputably the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival, held this year over the two weeks between April 24th and May 3rd. Known fondly as “Jazz Fest,” this event is an enormous collection of local, national and international music along with a huge selection of local food and plenty of cultural spectacles and activities to boot.
With so much to do, see, hear and taste, it’s important that you plan out your Jazz Fest experience ahead of time. Here are a few tips to help you have the best time possible and to make traveling all that much easier.
Take a look at the music schedule ahead of time to plan when you want to go.
The Jazz Fest music schedule is already out and artists are divvied up by each day of both weekends. With this preliminary schedule, you can at least scope out which days or weekend has the most artists you want to see, so you’ll know which times are the best to go.
If you can only choose between one weekend and your schedule allows some flexibility, take a look at the headliners and supporting acts you either want to see because you already love them or because you want to hear them for the first time, and choose a weekend. If you can do both weekends, you may not want to go every single day, so you can scout out which days you definitely want to attend and which days you can allocate to doing other things during your visit.
Knowing this information is crucial to figuring out when to book your flights and accommodations, and the longer you wait, the more expensive the traveling aspect will be, so be sure you start planning this out early if the music is the main reason you’re coming to the festival.
Check the schedule again closer to the festival to better plan your days out.
The closer it gets to the festival, Jazz Fest will announce the exact time schedule for all musical acts. At that point, you can even better plan out your days in terms of when to arrive and leave and/or how to maneuver around the festival. This last part is important to a point because without a generalized plan, you may find it hard to fit in all of the acts you want to see once you take into account set overlaps and the time it takes to get from stage to stage.
When you’re trying to map out your music schedule, try to group sets when possible in different areas of the festival, like grouping together sets at the Jazz Tent and Blues Tent since they are next to each other and heading to the nearby main stage right after. If you plan to set up camp and stay in one spot all day, then just enjoy your time there and all of the acts you get to see in one spot.
Plan out your food menu.
Whether the food menu is the main reason you go to the festival or it’s going to be a crucial aspect of your enjoyment of the festival and ability to stay energized throughout the day, you’ll want to plan your food menu ahead of time to make the best use of your time. The food areas are enormous and spread out throughout the grounds, so if you don’t scope out the menus ahead of time, you may waste a lot of time wandering around all the areas and trying to see the food menus over a crowd of people’s heads. At least getting some idea of what you want will help you quicken the process of finding it, as all you’ll have to do is find out the name of the booth and which Food Area that booth will be in. This way you don’t waste time that you could be spending enjoying the music and other activities.
The food and music are two of the primary draws to Jazz Fest for thousands and thousands of people each year, so use these tips wisely to make sure you make the most of your Jazz Fest experience and plan out your flights and activities well ahead of time.