by Clint LaCour
on Wednesday, May 1st, 2019 at 12:19pm.
The New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival, aka ‘Jazz Fest’, is a favorite event for locals and something every tourist should experience. Internationally known for celebrating the music, culture, and cuisine of New Orleans and Louisiana, it takes place annually during the last weekend in April and the first weekend in May. Jazz Fest is legendary for its wide appeal and amazing variety of music, featuring the best in jazz, blues, R&B, gospel, Cajun, zydeco, Afro-Caribbean, folk, Latin, rock, rap, country, bluegrass and everything in between. And it all takes place on multiple stages and in a variety of tents spread out across the Fair Grounds Race Course, which straddles the delightfully tree-lined Bayou St. John, Mid-City and Gentilly neighborhoods of New Orleans.
Quick Links & Insider Tips:
Tickets - Tickets purchased in advance are $10 cheaper than tickets at the gate.
Schedules - Check out what locals call “the cubes” – day-by-day schedules of all the acts, times, stages and tents.
Map - Get the layout of the fest with this map. It’ll help you get your bearings and find your way around.
Moving around the fest - Some people like to park themselves in one spot, catching all the acts on a particular stage (great if you’re hanging out with a group of friends). Others like to lazily move from one tent or stage to another, listening to bits and pieces of a wide range of bands and artists (nice to do if you’re on your own or with one or two friends).
What to wear – Pay attention to the weather forecast. You’ll see a wide range of fashion at the fest, but comfortable is best when it comes to clothes and shoes -- cool, lightweight fabrics and good walking shoes. Unless it’s raining or has rained recently (read: muddy). If so, opt for old sneakers or rain boots.
What to bring – A backpack or bag with a hat, sunscreen, sunglasses, a print out of the day’s schedule, a portable phone charger, plenty of cash, a picnic blanket, a packet of tissues, and hand sanitizer. (Keep in mind, you’ll be using portalets.) Get the full list of what you can and can’t bring.
What to eat – Come hungry! Seriously, the food at Jazz Fest is as much of a draw as the music, and Cajun and creole delicacies abound. Our favorites include: Fried Soft Shell Crab Po-Boy, Cochon de Lait Po-Boy, Crawfish Beignets, Fried Oyster Spinach Salad, Rosemint Herbal Iced Tea, Frozen Café Au Lait, and Plum St. Sno-Balls.
What to shop – Set aside time to peruse all the crafts. Extremely talented, nationally recognized artists and craftspeople display and sell their handmade fine arts and crafts at the fest. You’re sure to find a special gift, bauble or piece of art you just can’t live without.
How to escape the heat – If you need to get out of the sun, move into one of the large tents that features fans and light misting systems. Pro-tip: if you need some good old A/C and a bathroom with running water, head to the Grandstand.
How to have fun before and after the fest – If you’re lucky enough to live nearby or have friends in one of the surrounding neighborhoods, hosting or attending pre- and post-fest parties and crawfish boils is a popular way to extend a good time (Jazz Fest hours are 11 am – 7 pm). Some fortunate folks live close enough to hear the music emanating from a nearby Jazz Fest stage and get to enjoy it by relaxing in their backyards or on front porches.