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Jackson Square

The Best Fests

Annual New Orleans Events, Activities + More

New Orleans festivals you can’t miss

If you’re in the mood for merriment, New Orleans delivers year-round. In fact, our supremely social city hosts more than 130 annual festivals, parades, and celebrations. Some you’ve no doubt heard of — does Mardi Gras ring a bell? — but others are under-the-radar fetes worth finding. Whether you’re in town specifically to celebrate or are looking for something spontaneous to do, here are a few of our favorite New Orleans activities:

Trumpet

YLC Wednesday at the Square

March 16–May 18, 2022

Hosted by the Young Leadership Council, this free 10-week concert series happens Wednesday evenings in Lafayette Square, a five-minute walk from Kimpton Hotel Fontenot. Vendors are on-site selling food and drinks.

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mardi gras masque

Mardi Gras Indians Super Sunday

March 20, 2022

Every year on the Sunday closest to St. Joseph’s Day, the city’s Mardi Gras Indian tribes march, chant, and dance through the streets in colorful suits that often incorporate thousands of beads, rhinestones, sequins, and ostrich plumes.

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books

Tennessee Williams & New Orleans Literary Festival

March 16–May 18, 2022

Celebrate all things bookish at this five-day festival in the French Quarter that features literary walking tours, writing workshops, expert panels, theater and music events, interviews with authors and actors, cocktail parties, and more.

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sausages

Hogs for the Cause

April 1-2, 2022

In support of helping families who are fighting pediatric brain cancer, this fundraising festival combines BBQ and music into a memorable weekend. Come ready to pig out — the pork competition turns out inventive dishes like bacon boudin sushi, pulled pork waffle fry nachos, and peanut butter bacon brownies.

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3 women

Gay Easter Parade

April 17, 2022

Since 2000, the Gay Easter Parade on Easter Sunday has been a fun way to celebrate the creativity of the LGBT community. Riding in horse-drawn carriages and atop floats, everyone comes dressed to impress in summer suits, tuxedos, ballgowns, and Easter hats.

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French Quarter Festival

April 21-24, 2022

Set in the incomparable French Quarter, this giant celebration is a feast for the senses, complete with all the ingredients of a blowout New Orleans bash: food, drinks, live music, and art.

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Jazz band

Jazz Fest

April 29-May 8, 2022

The New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival, as it’s formally known, is one of the city’s signature events, featuring music indigenous to the area (think blues, folk, zydeco, gospel, Afro-Caribbean, and more) on multiple stages, mouthwatering Louisiana cuisine, and locally made crafts.

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audience at concert

Essence Festival

July 1-3, 2022

Always held over Fourth of July weekend, this festival put on by Essence magazine shines a spotlight on contemporary Black music, culture, fashion, and food. By day, you’ll find thought-provoking panel discussions and inspirational speakers; by night, energetic concerts by internationally known superstars and local musicians alike.

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Cocktails

Tales of the Cocktail

July 25-29, 2022

With hundreds of opportunities developed specifically for industry professionals from bartenders to distillers, Tales of the Cocktail® is the drinks industry’s leading conference for exchanging new ideas, products, and techniques. This year’s event will feature in-person education, tastings, networking, and awards programming.

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Woman looking at art

White Linen Night

August 6, 2022

Keep it cool and comfortable in white linen at this outdoor event celebrating the arts. On Julia Street, enjoy gallery openings, specially curated exhibits, and food vendors.

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People in red dresses on street

Red Dress Run

August 14, 2022

At the Red Dress Run, the kegs are tapped once the gates open. That theme remains at this 21-and-older event, where the course isn’t revealed until you’re running along it, beer in hand. Lunch and live music round out the festivities, all in support of local charities.

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rainbow flag

Southern Decadence

September 1-5, 2022

For five days of fun and fabulousness, attend this festival over Labor Day Weekend, the biggest gay event in New Orleans. Expect all the parties — block parties, dance parties, street parties, and afterparties — plus parades, cocktails, concerts, and activities happening day and night.

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Beignet at Cafe Dumond

Beignet Fest

September 25, 2022

An ode to that deep-fried French pastry that’s très délicieux, this one-day festival serves up 30-plus variations, from sweetly sugared to stuffed with seafood.

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Audience at Concert

Voodoo Music + Arts Experience

October 28-30, 2022

This annual music festival over Halloween weekend features four performance areas, interactive art installations, carnival rides, local eats, and, of course, great Halloween costumes. Past headliners include Pearl Jam, KISS, and Metallica.

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