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Not only is New Orleans the birth place of jazz music – it’s also home to some of the most eclectic and popular festivals in the country. From gatherings of jazz legends to EDM and hip-hop heroes, here’s a comprehensive list of the hottest music festivals taking place in New Orleans.

5. BUKU Music & Arts Festival

A year shy of its 10th anniversary, BUKU Music + Arts Festival has made a name for itself in the NOLA festival scene. Held every year at Mardi Gras World, BUKU aims to “deliver a big festival punch without compromising its house-party vibe.” Tyler, The Creator, Flume, and Illenium can be seen headlining this year’s edition of BUKU, along with performances from acts like Glass Animals, Run The Jewels, Megan Thee Stallion, Charli XCX, Roddy Rich, and more. Along with delivering a wide-ranging lineup every year, BUKU also has a philanthropic side, donating a percentage of ticket sales each year to a New Orleans-based non-profit.

This year, a portion of ticket sales to the two-day festival will be donated to Upbeat Academy Foundation, an organization that provides after-school music production, hip-hop, and dance education courses to New Orleans middle and high school students. What’s better than paying it forward while enjoying a weekend of live music? shop BUKU Music + Arts Festival tickets

4. Voodoo Experience

Voodoo is referred to as an “experience” rather than a festival for good reason: you have to go to experience Voodoo for yourself to truly know how spectacular it is. The festival takes place over the weekend on (or leading up to) Halloween annually at NOLA’s City Park. Voodoo is described as a “musical gumbo,” as it aims to combine live music with all of the best food, art, and culture that New Orleans has to offer. This year will mark Voodoo’s 22nd anniversary in the festival scene. While the 2020 lineup is yet to be announced, last year’s headliners were Guns N’ Roses, Beck, and Post Malone, with Bassnectar, Brandi Carlile, and The National sub-headlining. If you’re looking to experience NOLA’s spooky side, look no further than Voodoo Experience. shop Voodoo Experience tickets

3. Satchmo Summerfest

Commonly referred to as simply Satchmofest, this annual three-day New Orleans festival honors and celebrates the impact that jazz legend Louis “Satchmo” Armstrong had on the formation of jazz music as we know it. Satchmo Summerfest brings together all of the biggest players in both traditional and contemporary jazz music, along with samplings of good ol’ fashioned Louisiana eats. The festival even hosts children’s programming, making it a festival for all ages to enjoy. Previous performers seen at Satchmo include Preservation Hall Jazz Band, Jeremy Davenport, Solid Harmony, and Doyle Cooper Jazz Band. shop Satchmo Summerfest tickets

2. Essence Festival

Essence Festival of Culture started in 1995 as a celebration of Essence Magazine’s 25 anniversary. From there, the festival has become a household name for the NOLA festival scene. Lovingly referred to as “the party with a purpose” Essence Festival is known as the largest African-American culture festival in the US, and its average annual attendance is around 500,000. In addition to live musical performances, Essence also hosts conferences, culinary workshops, motivational speakers, art exhibitions, and more – all within the Mercedez-Benz Superdome. This year’s star-studded lineup includes noteworthy acts such as Janet Jackson, Bruno Mars, Ari Lennox, Janelle Monaé, Patti LaBelle, Raphael Saadiq, and Tank and the Bangas.

Michelle Ebanks, CEO of Essence, recently shared more about this year’s lineup and the festival’s rich history.

“These two powerhouses, along with our robust slate of programming, performances and tributes, will continue our legacy of cultural excellence and dynamic, only-at-Essence experiences that excite, elevate and inspire,” Ebanks said regarding the lineup. “This is a milestone year for Essence and our community as we celebrate 50 years of creating opportunities for our culture to shine and the role of black women in making it possible for us to do what no other brand has done.” shop Essence Festival tickets

1. New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival

It’s no wonder that New Orleans hosts its very own Jazz & Heritage Festival every year. Cited as the birthplace of jazz, this festival keeps New Orleans’s musical roots alive and well. Garnering some of the most prolific jazz musicians of our time alongside best-selling artists of all genres, The New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival delivers the best of both worlds to festival goers. Where else can you see Foo Fighters, Irma Thomas, and and Chick Corea all on the same bill? This year’s edition of the festival spans over two weekends, and includes sets from The Who, Erykah Badu, Stevie Nicks, The Beach Boys, Lionel Richie, Dead & Company, and many more. shop New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival tickets

New Orleans Music Festivals 2020

Festival Name Date
BUKU Music & Arts Festival March 20-21
Sacred Music Festival March 21
French Quarter Festival April 16-19
New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival April 23-May 3
Bayou Boogaloo May 15-17
Essence Festival July 1-6
Satchmo Summerfest July 31-August 2
Crescent City Blues Festival October 16-18
Voodoo Experience October 31-November 1

(Image by Jens Thekkeveettil on Unsplash)