There is always a reason to celebrate in New Orleans. Though we just wrapped up Mardi Gras, the time from now until summer is filled with nonstop festivals and celebrations. While the Jazz and Heritage Festival always makes the headlines and draws big crowds to the city (as it should, because it is loads of fun and the line-up this year is amazing), the French Quarter Festival is a lesser-known, but just as wonderful event that you can’t pass up.
This year marks the 33rd Annual French Quarter Festival, which claims the title as the biggest showcase of Louisiana music in the world. While the Jazz Fest line-up is filled with big names from all over the world, the French Quarter Festival is a place for over 1,700 local musicians to celebrate the sounds of Louisiana. This festival celebrates the roots of jazz, soul, brass, blues and zydeco. The recently-released line-up includes musicians who are staples in the scene. They are the musicians who play year-round on stages across the city, but who come together over four days to bring non-stop entertainment to festival goers.
While the Jazz and Heritage Festival will make you shell out a decent amount of money to attend, the French Quarter Festival does not charge any admission price. That means there are over twenty stages in the French Quarter, bringing you world class entertainment for absolutely no cost at all, which means you can use your money to treat yourself to a huge variety of food and drink vendors spread across the Quarter. And, since this is New Orleans, only the best restaurants have a presence during the festival. Attendees will be able to enjoy everything from po’ boys to pulled pork mac & cheese to bananas foster bread pudding.
There are a few things you should keep in mind while attending the festival. First, there is no place for personal ice chests and coolers at the festival. Since you don’t pay an entrance fee, it is encouraged that you spend your money on food and drink vendors, as these purchases keep the festival going year after year. Also, while it is always a pain to park near the Quarter, it is a nearly-impossible ordeal to do so during the festival. It’s recommended that you either use public transit or bike.
The French Quarter Festival takes place April 7-10, and while the month of April means rain showers everywhere, we are the third rainiest U.S. city – those April rain storms are guaranteed. So, make sure you bring a rain coat or umbrella, because those blue skies can turn to grey skies very quickly.
In the meantime, check out the line-up online at fqfi.org and get ready.