In New Orleans the fall marks its arrival with a big splash: a wide array of festivals and events, drawing on culture from here and elsewhere. If you do it right, there’s rarely a moment where you won’t be enjoying fantastic food, drink, music, and the visual arts. Cheers to the tenth month of the year!
15 Things to Do in October
Admire Art for Art’s Sake
Start October with a celebration of New Orleans’ vibrant art scene. On Saturday, Oct. 1, the galleries and shops along both Julia and Magazine Streets are awash with art, thanks to this event organized by the Contemporary Arts Center.
Make a NOLA-inspired pumpkin
Inspired by the artistic endeavors you’ll see at Art for Art’s Sake, October is the time to create something of your own—and at this time of year, that should be a uniquely carved Halloween pumpkin. If you need a catalyst to get your creative juices going, we’ve got some help for you here.
Party at Treme Fall Fest
On Oct. 1 and 2 the Treme Fall Fest presents a selection of music, food, and visual and performing arts from one of the city’s most iconic and beloved neighborhoods. Located near the famous St. Augustine Church, this year’s festival continues its mission of raising funds to upgrade the church’s exterior and perform essential repairs to the structure.
Laugh it up at Hell Yes Fest
With a lineup including comics Sarah Silverman, Nick Swardson, Annie Lederman, and Ben Glieb (amongst a great group of other standups and live podcasts), this year’s Hell Yes Fest, happening Oct. 6-16, continues a tradition of bringing some of the country’s funniest people here to New Orleans.
A city with deep (if sometimes overlooked) German roots, New Orleans is a perfect place to show love for that vary international beverage, beer. Beginning on Oct. 7 and running over the course of three full weekends, the Deutches Haus’ Oktoberfest has everything you need to get a hearty chunk of Bavaria here in New Orleans.
If there’s a single food item that deserves its own festival in this fest-packed month it is the beignet. Show love to it by heading to Lafayette Square for the First Annual Beignet Festival on Oct. 8. (This new addition puts this city’s yearly total of festivals at 133!)
New Orleans Film Fest
Last year’s New Orleans Film Festival featured a wide yet carefully curated set of features, short films, documentaries, and music videos—and various associated events—and this year follows suit. One of the most respected film festivals in the country, the 27th iteration promises to deliver again from Oct. 12-20.
Live la vida loca at Carnaval Latino
¡Viva Nueva Orleans! That most European of U.S. urban spaces, the French Quarter, becomes a site for celebrating the food, drink, dance, and music of the Americas on Oct. 15 with Carnaval Latino. At 6:00 p.m., check out the fourth annual “Desfile de las Américas,” a parade featuring a series of floats that represent the culture of various Latin American nations.
Crescent City Blues & BBQ Festival
Much like the New Orleans Film Festival, the Crescent City Blues & BBQ Festival, Oct. 14-16, has a reputation that extends far beyond this city. And this year’s combo of dynamic music and the best of Southern food shows why: Taj Mahal, Jon Cleary and the Absolute Monster Gentlemen, Tucka, and the Suffers are amongst the featured musical performers, while the food vendors include The Joint BBQ, Peck’s Seafood, Saucy’s, Dirty Dishes, and Aunt Sally’s Praline Shop.
From New Zealand to Australia to conquering Nashville and then on to international fame, Keith Urban has had a career like few others. The country and television star will be performing at the Smoothie King Center on Oct. 15. Get your tickets here.
Boo at the Zoo
Over the course of four nights (Oct. 21-22 and Oct. 28-29), Audubon Park is transformed into a fun, kid-friendly Halloween extravaganza, complete with trick-or-treat houses, a ghost train, a haunted house, and various other forms of “spooky” entertainment. It’s worth the trip just to see the costumes, so come prepared with a scary outfit!
Krewe of Boo
Mardi Gras may be several months away, but its presence begins to get felt again through the Krewe of Boo, New Orleans’ Official Halloween Parade happening Oct. 22. Starting at Elysian Fields at 6:30 p.m., the parade then heads down through the “Boo Carré.” With floats designed and manufactured by the famous Kern Studios, Krewe of Boo is a fantastic precursor to Mardi Gras.
Oak Street Po-Boy Fest
As with Beignet Fest, there seems to be very little argument to why the po-boy shouldn’t have its own festival— and Oak Street gives the sandwich its due on Oct. 23. For many, a po-boy is perfected with the additional of a cold beer, so this year the organizers have made various regional craft breweries part of the festival: bringing the pint to the po-boy!
Halloween New Orleans
The legend of the Pirate Jean Lafitte is a central part of the lore of this city, and this year’s Halloween New Orleans, an annual event that benefits Project Lazarus (a home for men and women in New Orleans with HIV/AIDS), asks participants to embark on a fun search through the city for Lafitte’s lost treasures Oct. 27-30.
Voodoo Music + Arts Experience
One of the biggest and brightest events at any time of the year in New Orleans, Voodoo Music + Arts Experience (most commonly referred to as Voodoo Fest) is three days of incredible music from New Orleans, around the U.S., and from overseas. This year’s lineup includes The Weeknd, hometown favorite G-Eazy, Kevin Gates, Tool, Die Antwoord, Arcade Fire, Band of Horses, and Preservation Hall Jazz Band—amongst many, many others on Oct. 28-30. In a city of many “can’t misses”, this is always near the top of the list.