*This post was updated in February 2019!
Every spring for French Quarter Fest, nearly 2,000 musicians come together to perform on dozens of separate stages across the French Quarter and on the Mississippi Riverfront. Over the course of four days, thousands will gather in the French Quarter to celebrate the unique and vibrant culture of New Orleans' most famous neighborhood. Did we mention admission to French Quarter Fest is completely FREE and open to the public?
Photos: French Quarter Festival Facebook
A Different Genre of Music on Every Corner
Over 20 stages will be placed throughout the French Quarter, with over 1,700 Louisiana musicians and more than 170 Louisiana acts being featured. Genres will include anything and everything: traditional and contemporary jazz, rhythm and blues, Cajun and zydeco, New Orleans funk, classical, swing, rock, and international sounds.
Major headliners in the past have included Aaron Neville and Irma Thomas. Local favorites like Ellis Marsalis, the Dixie Cups, Jeremy Davenport and Big Sam’s Funky Nation are almost always in attendance. Check out the complete line up.
In addition to the incredible live music, the event will host dance lessons, parades, art shows and more. French Quarter fest will kick off with a Second-Line parade through the French Quarter! Other interesting special events include Let Them Talk: Conversations on Louisiana Music, which hosts discussions on all things new and/or noteworthy in music. The speakers and topics are alway interesting and relevant. For example, Irma Thomas, the Queen of New Orleans Soul, has been a featured guest in the past!
What to bring
Only bring the essentials in a light day bag: sunscreen, a hat, a folding chair or blanket. Springtime in New Orleans is normally pretty warm with lows around the low 80's, so be sure to wear loose, comfortable clothing. Bring your dancing shoes! Make sure they're comfortable though as French Quarter Fest is spread out, so you’ll be walking and standing for long stretches. Be sure to hydrate with lots of water!
Although admission to the festival is free, be sure to bring some cash for festival food and drinks (ATMs will be located throughout the French Quarter).
Getting to French Quarter Festival is easy, but parking can challenging. Arrive early to park in these lots located in the heart of the festival: French Market, 500 Decatur Street, 300 North Peters Street, 211 Conti Street, Canal Place and various locations within walking distance. Or take public transportation down to the Quarter to avoid the hassle of parking.
Walking is the best way to get around FQF. The French Quarter turns into a pedestrian mall for FQF, so it will be impossible to get a cab or an Uber. Pedicabs will be available if you're looking for a quick way to get from one side of the Quarter to the other.
It's best to have a plan to ensure that you will be able to see as much as possible. We recommend starting in Jackson Square to take in some traditional New Orleans jazz and food! Walking through the festival, you will hear music at almost every corner. Stop and take in some of the acts on the smaller stages - you will not be disappointed!
What to eat and drink
French Quarter Fest might be known for the music, but it is just as much as food festival! There will be more than 60 food vendors on site serving some of the best, most mouth-watering New Orleans cuisine. Check out the full list of food vendors here.
Be sure to indulge in traditional New Orleans staples like fried seafood, cochon de lait po-boys, jambalaya, meat pies, snoballs, and Pat O'Brien's Hurricanes! Prices will range from $3-$11. Outside food and beverages are not allowed at festival venues.
French Quarter Fest 2019 dates: April 11-14
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