If there is any confusion as to whether or not festival season in New Orleans is upon us, this weekend will clear that right up. All of our weekend selections are festivals, each celebrating the music, food and people of New Orleans and abroad. There is so much going on this weekend that we had to add a “lagniappe” section to include some of the other events that wouldn’t fit in the Top 5. So go forth and get your fest on!
1. Tennessee Williams Festival – The Tennessee Williams Festival is finally here! The festival is a multifaceted celebration of New Orleans literature and culture influenced by the famous playwright who spent some of his best years in New Orleans. There is an extensive program of events, some of the most notable being The Glass Mendacity performance, the Tennessee Williams Literary Walking tour, a Bon Operatit rendition of Andre Previn’s “A Streetcar Named Desire” opera, Cooking for the Family with Chef John Besh and Listen Up: The Voices of NPR. Also don’t miss a theatrical reading of Broomstick, a play by local acclaimed author John Biguenet. See the complete schedule and start planning your festival agenda!
2. Road Food Festival – The food truck and roadside food trend is sweeping the nation, not only in street food-friendly towns like New York and San Francisco, but the rest of the country as well. Come taste unique culinary creations from over 50 vendors including restaurants and street stands, this weekend at the Roadfood Festival on Saturday and Sunday in the French Market. The festival kicks off Friday night with a party at Royal Sonesta with guests Poppy Tooker and Lynne Rossetto Kasper, host of “The Splendid Table,” who will be signing her book How to Eat Weekends with co-author Sally Swift. And let’s not forget the Beignet Eating Contest on Sunday with the New Orleans Fire Department. See the complete schedule of events and music lineup on the official Web site.
3. Sacred Music Festival – Then New Orleans Healing Center is proud to be hosting the first ever Sacred Music Festival as a companion to the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Foundation’s Congo Square Rhythms Festival (listed below). The two days of music will call on the spiritual and cerebral sounds of New Orleans, featuring Indian, Jewish, African and Voodoo music, including multicultural drum circles. Tibetan Monk Lama Lakshey will be blessing the festival on Sunday at 6:00 – 6:45 p.m. Advance tickets are available online for $15 per day or $25 for both days. Saturday’s portion of the festival runs from 6:30 p.m. to 1:30 p.m. and Sunday’s portion runs from 6:00 p.m. to 1:00 a.m. After dancing to the beats in Congo Square, come meditate and sway through the night at the Sacred Music Fest.
Saturday, March 24:
4. Hogs for the Cause – New Orleans is serious about pork, if you haven’t heard. Smokers like Cochon, The Joint and Squeal are evidence of this fact. We’re also serious about taking care of our own and others. Combine the two convictions and you have Hogs for the Cause, a “Porktacular Charity,” taking place at City Park. Hogs for the Cause hosts an ultimate pig cook off between 60 teams comprised of some of the best chefs in the city competing for glory in culinary categories such as Ribs, Whole Hog, Porkpourri, Best Sauce, Grand Champion, among others. Besides the delicious food to sample, there’s an impressive musical spread as well, with Trombone Shorty and the Orleans Avenue, Voice of the Wetlands All-Stars and Marcia Ball, to name a few. Tickets are $10 for General Admission.
Sunday, March 25:
5. Congo Square Rhythms Festival – Dance to the beat of music from around the world at the Congo Square New World Rhythms Festival on Saturday and Sunday. The festival will be held in the beautiful, recently reopened Armstrong Park, which holds centuries of New Orleans history within its borders. Congo Square is where America developed its first unique music, so this celebration is one of deep significance. African and Latin drum circles, New Orleans bounce rappers and Mardi Gras Indians are among the lineup of exhilarating performers at the festival. In addition to the music will be food from Bennachin, Lil’ Dizzy’s Café, Woody’s Fish Tacos and Jazzy Wings as well as over 30 art market vendors. Admission to the festival is free and takes place from 11 a.m. to 7:15 p.m. both days.
Lagniappe: Honorable mentions this weekend include Literary Late Night: Lafcadio Hearn at Cafe Istanbul starting at 8:00 p.m. on Friday night presented by the People Say Project. Performances include C.W. Cannon, the Hip-ocrisy Belly Dance Troupe, Ratty Scurvics and members of Fleur de Tease. The inaugural New Orleans International Beer Festival is on Saturday at Champions Square featuring over 150 breweries from around the world and New Orleans, including NOLA Brewing, Bayou Teche Brewing and Tin Roof Brewing Company.