New Orleans is known for many things. Food. Drinks. Bourbon Street. And the list goes on. But New Orleans is also best known for both its music and its festivals. Ernie K. Doe once said, “I’m not sure but I’m almost positive that all music came from New Orleans.”
There are numerous music festivals every year celebrating all genres from EDM and hip-hop to the city’s very own cajun zydeco. No blog post or guide can REALLY do justice and cover all the amazing festivals that conquer the City of New Orleans by here’s a start. Here are 10 of the top music festivals you should not miss this year in New Orleans:
New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival
Location:Fair Grounds Race Course & Slots
Dates: April 25-28, May 2-5
About: In 2019, the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival will be celebrating its 50th year. For two weekends, April 25th – 28th and May 2nd – 5th, Jazz Fest attendees have seven days of back-to-back great music from local artists such as Trombone Shorty and Big Freedia to world-renowned musical legends such as The Rolling Stones and Diana Ross. If you attend Jazz Fest, I personally suggest going to Jazz Fest with an empty stomach and trying the Mango Freeze, Crawfish Beignets, and Strawberry Lemonade! For more info on this year’s Jazz Fest, visit here.
Buku Music + Arts Project
Location: Mardi Gras World (next to the Convention Center)
Dates: March 22 & 23
About: With one of the most diverse lineups in 2019, Buku Music + Art Project features an all-star lineup of local, regional, and national EDM and hip-hop artists. Besides live music, you can catch art demonstrations including a live graffiti gallery. This year’s lineup includes heavy hitters such as Lana Del Rey, A$AP Rocky, Dog Blood, Kevin Gates, Griz, and RL Grime. If you attend Buku, I personally suggest going with one of their VIP packages. For more info on this year Buku Project, visit here.
Voodoo Music + Arts Experience
Location: City Park
Dates: October 25 – 27
About: With previous headliners like Ozzy Osborne, The Weeknd, Martin Garrix, Mumford & Sons, KISS, and more, Voodoo draws thousands of locals and out-of-towners to the Big Easy for Halloween weekend to “worship the music”. Throughout the fest grounds, you’ll find carnival rides, tarot card readers, live art demonstrations, a haunted house, interactive activities with sponsors like Toyota, and more. If you’re attending Voodoo, my advice to you is to come prepared. Rain or shine, the fest rolls on (except in 2015) so packing rain boots is essential for this festival!
Location: Mercedes-Benz Superdome
Dates: July 4 – 7
About: Essence Festival, the festival you probably saw in the movie Girls Trip, is a three-day festival filled with more than just music. Though Essence Fest does have a star-studded lineup every year with the best of the best R&B, jazz, hip-hop artists, it’s more than that. At the Ernest N. Morial Convention Center in New Orleans, Essence Fest has empowerment seminars, beauty and style expos, lectures on life, movie screenings, and loads of freebies & giveaways from their major sponsors for FREE. It’s open to the public the same three days of the music festival.
French Quarter Fest
Location: In the French Quarter
Dates: April 11 – 14
About: Let’s start with it’s FREE. Yes, a free four-day music festival full of music, food, and fun! It’s known as the largest free music event in the country! With nearly two dozen stages (yes, you read that correctly), French Quarter Fest is a showcase of local Louisiana music and the city of New Orleans’ finest restaurants. Previous performers include Irma Thomas, Galactic, Kermit Ruffins, Brass-A-Holics, Amanda Shaw, and more. Besides music from local artists and food from local restaurants, French Quarter Fest features lectures, a kids zone, art vendors, and more.
Location: New Orleans Jazz Museum at the Mint
When: August 2 – 4
About: Every first weekend of August, locals look forward to Satchmo Summerfest. It’s a 3-day music festival honoring the talent and memory of the late Louis “Satchmo” Armstrong with live bands and scrumptious food! Daily admission is only $5 and with that, you get a wristband that allows you to come and go throughout the day! Fest-goers can also sign up to attend seminars and lectures aka “Satchmo Seminars” or attend indoor, smaller show inside of the Old Mint.
Location: Bayou St. John
When: May 17 – 19
About: A few miles from the French Quarter is Bayou St. John, a swampy land in Mid-City connected to Lake Pontchartrain. Every year in late May, people come together for live music from local artists, delicious eats from local vendors, and various arts & crafts. Don’t fill like driving? Show up to the fest in your boat, kayak, or canoe and enjoy the music! Last year’s lineup included Walter Wolfman, Deacon John, Naughty Professor, Bag of Donuts, and more. Bring your dog, bring your chair, and bring some money to donate to support the Friends of Bayou St. John non-profit at the entrance gate!
Crescent City Blues & BBQ Festival
Location: Lafayette Square Park
When: October 12 – 14
About: This free three-day music festival is presented by the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Foundation aka the same organization that produces Jazz Fest. Name a better combo than barbecue and blues in the cool October weather. Though a relatively small festival, it’s filled with live blues performances from some of the best in the Crescent City and of course, some of the best BBQ you can get in the city! Also, vegan and vegetarian options are available. Last year’s lineup included Samantha Fish, Walter “Wolfman” Washington, and Little Freddie King.
Bayou Country Superfest
Location: Tiger Stadium (On LSU’s Campus)
When: May 25 – 26
About: Though BCSF has moved back to Baton Rouge in 2019, for the past two years it has called the Superdome home so it’s only right to include it on this list. This year marks the 10th anniversary of Bayou Country Superfest and the headliners include Kenny Chesney, Jason Aldean, Dan & Shay, and Florida Georgia Line. You can spend Memorial Day weekend at tailgating on LSU’s campus then attending this country music festival as it celebrates its 10th year running!
Freret Street Festival
Location: Freret St
When: April 6th
About: A free music festival on one of New Orlean’s most beloved street, Freret. It’s seven blocks filled with local food, art, music, and fun. Support local businesses within the area while enjoying live musical performances from the three different stages. In true New Orleans fashion, the Freret Street Festival features a second line and Mardi Gras Indian walk from one end of the festival to the other at the start of the day!
Don’t miss out on your chance to win your way into an upcoming New Orleans music festival or concert. Check out the NOLA Concerts Instagram page for weekly giveaways and event announcements!