Guide to the Top Festivals in New Orleans
Festivals in New Orleans
It’s summer time in The Big Easy, and in a city with such rich musical heritage, the perfect thing to do this summer is attend one of the many music festivals across the region. Ranging from blues to electronic to rock & roll and beyond, there is a festival for everyone this summer in NOLA. Check out our guide below to learn more! Click here for a guide to all summer concerts and music festivals!
Top 10 New Orleans Festivals
Voodoo Music + Arts Experience
Over its 14-year tenure, the Voodoo Music + Arts Experience has hosted over 2000 artists and close to a million fans. This multi-day music and arts festival is known for blending high-profile artists from all genres in New Orleans’ City Park. This year’s lineup is stacked, with iconic musical acts such as Pearl Jam, Calvin Harris, Nine Inch Nails, Bassnectar, Paramore, Afrojack, Macklemore & Ryan Lewis, and many more set to take the stage the first weekend in November.
Essence Music Festival
Known as “the party with a purpose,” Essence Music Festival began back in 1995 as a 25th anniversary celebration of ESSENCE Magazine. Since then, the festival has been held on 4th of July weekend, and continues to be the largest event celebrating African-American culture and music in the United States. Artists perform simultaneously on the main stage and four standing-room only superlounge stages. This year Beyonce, New Edition, Keisha Cole, Trey Songz, LL Cool J, TGT, Charlie Wilson, and countless other hip-hop, rap, and R&B artists took the stage at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome for an estimated 400,000+ screaming fans.
Crescent City Blues & BBQ Festival
The 8th annual Crescent City Blues & BBQ Festival is set to take place October 18-20 in New Orleans’ Lafayette Square Park. Produced and presented by the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival, this festival is sure to be a great time for all. Blues artists such as James Cotton, John Mooney, Sonny Landreth, Blind Boy Paxton, The Lee Boys, Mel Waiters, Jonathan Boogie Long, Beverly Guitar Watkins, and Mighty Sam McClain will take one of the event’s two stages throughout the October 18-20 weekend.
Bayou Rendezvous, the all-night musical extravaganza, took place on Friday, May 3 at The Howlin’ Wolf in New Orleans. This special event began at 9PM and went all the way through the night, ending at sunrise. Featured artists included Papa Grows Funk, The New Orleans Allstars, The Motet, Juno What?!, The New Orleans Suspects, Eric McFadden, Rumplesteelskin, Doug Belote Trio, and Hot 8 Brass Band.
New Orleans Burlesque Festival
If you’re looking for an out-of-the-box festival with deep roots in New Orleans’ culture, check out the New Orleans Burlesque Festival September 19-21. Burlesque was a main attraction in New Orleans’ French Quarter throughout the 1940s-1960s, and in 1995 New Orleans was one of the first cities to participate in the burlesque revival. This tradition continues today with the New Orleans Burlesque Festival. Founded in 2009, this festival brings back the glamour, humor, music, and excitement of the golden age of burlesque. Matt Bell, bandleader, guitarist, and arranger for the New Orleans Burlesque Festival, specializes in vintage music and harbors a fondness for collaboration with artists of theater and dance. Matt has also participated musically in groups ranging from tribal belly dance to circus, and cabaret.
Hogs for the Cause
Now if burlesque isn’t exactly your thing, and you’re interested in something more family friendly, Hogs for the Cause is the festival for you. This annual music and food festival is run by a non-profit organization where attendees are invited to vote for the Louisiana pork champion by sampling each competing team’s food while listening to great music. Artists at the 2013 event included Lee Fields and the Expressions, Rebirth Brass Band, Eric Lindell, The Apache Relay, The Revivalists, Mississippi Rail Company, Lost Bayou Ramblers, and Robert Randolph and The Family Band featuring Anders Osborne. Proceeds from this event provide aid and relief of those variable expenses and economic burdens families face while their child is being treated for pediatric brain cancer.
This annual music, food, and arts festival – located on Tulane University’s Uptown Campus – was held on April 20. 10,000-12,000 students and community members enjoyed 12 bands, 19,000+ pounds of crawfish, and food and art from numerous local vendors. The line-up this year included The Funky Meters, Crwafest SuperJam, The Main Squeeze, Honey Island Swamp Band, Sons of Fathers, Mississippi Rail Company, Kristin Diable, Gold and the Rush, The Stooges Brass Band, The Wild Magnolias, and Mission South.
New Orleans Oyster Festival
The fourth annual New Orleans Oyster Festival took place this year on June 1 at the beautiful Woldenberg Park. Thousands of people spent the day at the Riverfront sampling various oyster dishes from over 20 local restaurants and listening to live music. Featured performers included The Stooges Brass Band, The Gin Blossoms, Rose Falcon, Brass-A-Holics, Joe Nichols, The Mulligan Brothers, and many more.
April 25 – May 11
You haven’t experienced spring/summer in New Orleans until you’ve been to one of Tipitina’s Fess Jazztival concerts. Each year, the club’s series offers big-name visitors, New Orleans fan favorites, and occasionally double bills where the night’s second act takes the stage at 2AM. Fess Jazztival kicked off with a bang April 25 with a prime-time performance by the North Mississippi Allstar and wrapped May 11 with Bonobo. Other notable performances included Yo La Tengo, Galactic, Dr. John, Funky Meters, and Rodriguez.
Gretna Heritage Festival
The 17th Annual Gretna Heritage Festival is set to take place this year on October 4-6. With seven stages, performances by international entertainers and Louisiana natives alike, exceptional and cultural diverse food served from a giant food tent, and arts and crafts stations – all within a 25 block portion of the city – this festival has something for everyone. Notable performers include Joe Cocker, Foreigner, The Temptations Review featuring Dennis Edwards, Soul Express, Boogie Kings, Eric Lindell, Pat Green, Leon Russell, David Allan Coe, Big & Rich, Cowboy Troy, and The Spinners.
Full List of New Orleans Summer Festivals
|Festival Name||City||Date Range|
|Voodoo Music Experience||New Orleans, LA||11/1/13|
|New Orleans International Beer Festival||Miami, FL||2013/04/26 – 05/05|
|Private Event||West Hollywood, CA||2013/01/04 – 10/26|
|New Orleans Burlesque Festival||New Orleans, LA||2013/09/19 – 09/21|
|Hogs For The Cause||New Orleans, LA||2013/03/22 – 08/08|
|Gretna Heritage Festival||Gretna, LA||2013/10/04 – 10/06|
|Crescent City Blues & BBQ Festival||New Orleans, LA||2013/10/18 – 10/20|
|Essence Music Festival||New Orleans, LA||2013/07/05 – 07/07|
|Buku Music and Art Project||New Orleans, LA||2013/03/08 – 03/09|
|Super Bowl Halftime Show||New Orleans, LA||2/3/13|
|New Jack Swing Valentine Jam||New Orleans, LA||2013/02/15 – 02/16|
|Clinton Sparks||New Orleans, LA||2013/05/10 – 06/15|
|Bacchus Bash Block Party (2.10.13)||New Orleans, LA||2/10/13|
|Congo Square New World Rhythms Festival||New Orleans, LA||3/24/13|
|Fess Jazztival||New Orleans, LA||2013/04/25 – 05/11|
|Bayou Rendezvous||New Orleans, LA||5/3/13|
|Jefferson County Fair (Jefferson, WI)||Jefferson, WI||2013/07/10 – 07/14|
|Crawfest (New Orleans, LA)||New Orleans, LA||4/20/13|
|Bugs & Brew For Drew||New Orleans, LA||4/20/13|
|New Orleans Oyster Festival||New Orleans, LA||6/1/13|
|Super Bowl CMT Crossroads Concert||New Orleans, LA||2/2/13|
|Rock N’ Roll Marathon||New Orleans, LA||2/24/13|
|Super Bowl Boulevard||New Orleans, LA||2013/02/01 – 02/03|
|Saturday Night Standard (2.11.12)||New Orleans, LA||2013/01/19 – 06/29|
|Jesse Marco||New Orleans, LA||3/7/13|
|Crescent City Classic||New Orleans, LA||3/30/13|
|New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Foundation Gala||New Orleans, LA||4/25/13|
|Super Bowl Gospel Celebration||New Orleans, LA||2/1/13|
|Louisiana Derby Infield Festival||New Orleans, LA||3/30/13|
|YLC Wednesday At The Square||New Orleans, LA||2013/03/06 – 05/08|
|Family Gras Festival||Metairie, LA||2/2/13|
|Sweetarts Bash||New Orleans, LA||3/9/13|