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Best Local Things to Do

15 Things to Do in September

Summer may be winding down, but fall festival season is just beginning

fried chicken fest
Fried Chicken Festival. (Photo: Paul Broussard)

The summer may be winding down, but New Orleans shows no signs of easing up. The agenda includes plenty of action, including Saints football, festivals, and delicious food and drink (no surprise there), as well as some live shows by a host of performers. Here’s our list of 15 things to do in September.

The Southern Decadence Parade marches through the French Quarter (Photo: Paul Broussard)

1. Get Decadent at Southern Decadence

Southern Decadence (sometimes called Gay Mardi Gras) begins August 29 this year and runs through September 2 over Labor Day weekend. Now in its 48th year, Decadence includes costume contests, parades, and block parties in the French Quarter. Most of Southern Decadence is free and open to the public, though a weekend pass provides admission to the Bourbon Pub and the Parade. VIP weekend passes are also available.

2. Celebrate the new Louisiana Children’s Museum Opening

The beloved Louisiana Children’s Museum in the Warehouse District closes its blue doors on July 27. One month later, on August 31, it will open its new doors in City Park. Favorite exhibits like the grocery store and giant bubble-maker will also make the move but with upgrades, and exciting new components like a miniature Mr. Okra truck and a Mississippi River model.

The Saints at home in the Superdome. (Photo: Cheryl Gerber)

3. Cheer “Who Dat” during football season

On September 9, catch the Saints for their season opener home game right here in the Superdome. The Saints play the Houston Texans on September 9 and the Dallas Cowboys on September 29 at home. Score tickets to a home game or cheer on the boys in black and gold at a local sports bar. The Saints football season kicks into high gear with Gleason Gras on Saturday, Sept. 28. A Saints pep rally, Gleason Gras also raises money for Team Gleason.

4. Open up your dessert stomach for New Orleans Restaurant Week

Riding on the coattails of COOLinary New Orleans Restaurant Month, Restaurant Week runs from September 9-15. Prix-fixe menus will offer diners twenty-five percent off regular prices. Participating restaurants will include many favorites and will be announced soon. See our guide to COOLinary for more details.

A installation from Wafaa Bilal, part of NOMA's Bodies of Knowledge exhibit (photo courtesy of New Orleans Museum of Art)
A installation from Wafaa Bilal, part of NOMA’s “Bodies of Knowledge” exhibit (Photo courtesy of New Orleans Museum of Art)

5. Learn about lesser known local histories at NOMA

Bodies of Knowledge features the immersive work of eleven artists from around the world. The exhibit grapples with the role language plays in shaping our cultural identities and opens up conversations about inclusivity. It is on view now at the New Orleans Museum of Art through October 13.

6. Celebrate the Mississippi at Downriver Festival

Held at the New Orleans Jazz Museum, Downriver Festival celebrates the impact of the Mississippi River with food, drink, and music. Enjoy live cooking demonstrations, educational activities, and a kid’s area while taking in views of the river. The festival is Saturday, Sept. 7 from 10:30 a.m. to 7 p.m. and this year’s theme is Southern Seafood.

NOLA on Tap (Photo: Paul Broussard)

7. Get your beer fix and support strays at NOLA on Tap

The largest beer festival in the region, NOLA on Tap is a fundraiser for the Louisiana SPCA featuring over 400 beers. City Park hosts the festival on Saturday, Sept. 21 from 12:00 to 7:00 p.m. (VIP entries begin at 11:00 a.m.). Tickets start at $5 (beer not included). NOLA on Tap also presents live music, the Homebrewers Beer Judge Certification Program (BJCP) competition & People’s Choice Awards, food, art, and other vendors and games. The festival is dog-friendly and under-21-friendly.

fried chicken fest
Fried Chicken Fest will feature 35 vendors this year at Woldenberg Park. (Photo: Rebecca Todd)

8. Indulge in soul food during the National Fried Chicken Festival

Woldenberg Park, on the banks of the Mississippi River, hosts the National Fried Chicken Festival presented by Raising Canes from September 20-22. Experience three full days of fried chicken, live music, a cooking demo area, and fried chicken contests. The festival is free and open to the public. Fried chicken vendors and live music will be announced soon.

Members of the Young Men Olympia march for during a funeral for a beloved member. (Photo: Eric Waters)

9. Second Line with the Young Men Olympians

Come out and celebrate 135 years of Central City history and tradition at the 135th anniversary of the Young Men Olympians Benevolent Association on Sunday, Sept. 22. The second line kicks off at 2101 S. Liberty St. at 1 p.m. at the Norman Dixon Sr. Clubhouse, home of the Young Men Olympians Benevolent Association and rolls until 5 p.m. For updates, follow the Young Men Olympians Benevolent Association Facebook page here.

10. Dance an Irish Jig at Irish Fest New Orleans

The Kingsley House hosts its annual Irish Fest on Saturday, Sept. 14 from 9:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m. The celebration of Irish culture will include arts, dance, music across two stages, food, and crafts. The Irish Channel Feis, a group of Irish dancers, will also perform. Tickets are $10 in advance and $15 at the gate.

The City Park Carousel Gardens Amusement Park (Photo: Rebecca Todd)

11. Sip a martini at City Park for Martini Madness

Friends of City Park hosts Martini Madness on Friday, Sept. 20 from 7:00 to 11:00 p.m. Choose from 25 specialty martinis from Republic National Distributing Company and nibbles from over 35 restaurants. The event will also include a raffle, a photo booth, and a DJ. General admission tickets are $75 and $65 for members. Ticket prices include food and drinks. Proceeds benefit capital improvements at City Park.

12. Toast William Faulkner on his 122nd Birthday

The Pirate’s Alley Faulkner Society celebrates William Faulkner’s birthday with Happy Birthday, Mr. Faulkner, a birthday party and literary festival of sorts from September 24-27. Some events are free and open to the public while others, such as lunches, require tickets.

13. See live music at Harrah’s Fillmore

The Fillmore is the new live entertainment venue at Harrah’s Casino. The extravagant event space fits over 2,000 people, the perfect concert venue for a September calendar packed with exciting live shows. The Head and the Heart’s Living Mirage Tour graces the Fillmore stage on September 24, Kacey Musgraves: Oh, What a World: Tour II is on the calendar for both September 27 and 28, and Stone Temple Pilots follow on September 29.

(Photo: Kelsey Campion)

14. Scream at the Mortuary with an early dose of Halloween

The Mortuary, a haunted house which operated as a funeral home from the 1920s to 2004, opens its doors on September (13, 27, and 28). This year’s theme is “The Cult of 13,” about a group of serial killers whose souls have been unable to pass on. General admission tickets are $30.

15. Celebrate Gretna’s heritage at Gretna Fest

Across the Mississippi River from New Orleans lies Gretna, a city whose quaint historic center hosts the Gretna Heritage Festival each year. Celebrating its 25th anniversary this year on September 27, 29 and 29, the fest offers a wide array of local food choices for festival-goers including BBQ shrimp, crab cakes, boudin, meat pies, oysters, fried Snickers, and pralines. The real meat of this festival, though, is the music, which is soon to be announced.

Emily Ramírez Hernández is the child of New Orleans natives whose families have been in the city for generations. Emily's earliest memories of New Orleans include joyful car rides over bumpy streets, eating dripping roast beef po-boys at Domilise's, and catching bouncy balls during Mardi Gras parades with cousins. An urban planner by day and freelance writer by night, when she is off the clock she enjoys biking around town, belly dancing, and catching nerdlesque shows.

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