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:
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.