French Quarter Fest is held in April, when the weather in New Orleans is usually gorgeous. Called “the largest free live music festival in the American South,” it’s a 4-day party enjoyed by more than half a million music and food lovers – many of them locals – who flock to New Orleans’ historic French Quarter neighborhood (settled in 1718) to dance in the streets to live local music and enjoy food and drink from some of the best restaurants in the city.
There is no admission fee to enter. Festival-goers are free to wander through the narrow old streets and alleys of the Quarter and along the Mississippi Riverfront to nearly two dozen different outdoor and indoor stages (at locations including Jackson Square, Woldenberg Riverfront Park, Bourbon Street, Royal Street, the Old French Market, St. Mary’s at the Ursuline Convent and the Louisiana State Museum’s Old U.S. Mint) to hear incredible local jazz – from traditional Dixieland to New Orleans Brass, as well as Funk, Samba, Cajun, Zydeco and much, much more.
The music, though all local, is world-class – and the same goes for the food. Dozens of New Orleans’ finest eating establishments and culinary organizations offer tasty small plates that bring the term “festival food” to a whole new level. Expect to be delighted by offerings such as Cajun Boudin from the Crescent Pie and Sausage Company, Spinach & Artichoke Dip from the Gumbo Shop, Oysters Bonne Femme from Antoine’s, Crawfish & Goat Cheese Crepes from Muriel’s, Slow Roasted Duck Po-Boys from Jacques-Imo’s Cafe, Confit Pork Cheeks with Creole Dirty Rice from Emeril’s Delmonico, and New Orleans Bread Pudding with Whiskey Sauce from Desire Oyster Bar. All can be washed down with locally sourced thirst-quenchers like Abita Jockamo India Pale Ale, Hurricanes from Pat O’Brien’s, and “Who’s to Blame” Margaritas from Jimmy Buffett’s Margaritaville. There’s hardly a food or drink item offered that wouldn’t go great with a splash of TABASCO® Sauce, so be sure to ask for a bottle – or bring your own.
For the kids, a Children’s Headquarters at the Audubon Aquarium Riverfront Plaza features a tent with live music and arts and crafts activities. Many major local history museums in the neighborhood open their doors for the festival with historic demonstrations and fun hands-on activities. On the Saturday night of the festival, visitors are treated to a wonderful fireworks display over the Mississippi River.
In addition to the enjoying the festival, attendees are encouraged to patronize nearby French Quarter bars and restaurants as well as to check out off-site, nearby special events. While you’re in the French Quarter, take advantage of some of the interesting tours on offer: Cemetery Tours, Walking History Tours, Vampire Tours and more.
For more information, visit www.fqfi.org.