I love New Orleans all year round, but there is something really special about fall in this city. Between perfect weather and festivals every weekend, you’ll want to be out and about as much as you can. Here are 20 reasons why you should.
Football fans rejoice! Fall brings Saints season with frequent home games at the Superdome. If you’re in town for an away game or you can’t make it to the dome, don’t worry. NOLA has tons of great sports bars where locals will be watching the game, eating great food, and enjoying their Sunday Funday. Come early and make it a weekend trip if your team is playing the Saints. If you’re more of a college football fan, check out a Tulane game at Yulman Stadium Uptown.
Everyone knows that New Orleans summers can be a bit warm. And though the city offers tons of great ways to cope with the heat, I look forward to needing a sweater in the evenings. As the humidity subsides, you’ll want to spend as much time as you can outdoors. Pack a picnic and relax in one of NOLA’s fantastic parks or outdoor spaces.
Fried Chicken Fest
This year, NOLA hosts its annual Fried Chicken Festival on Sept. 22 and 23, featuring local vendors like Willie Mae’s Scotch House and Bayou Hot Wings. You can also enjoy live entertainment all day at Woldenberg Park. Admission is free!
Taking place over three weekends in October, Oktoberfest is NOLA’s spin on the traditional German festival. Drink German beer and chow down on bratwursts, pretzels, and sauerkraut while listening to live German music by both local and national bands. Admission is $8.
Art for Art’s Sake
Magazine Street is home to some of NOLA’s best galleries and museums. On Saturday, Oct. 6, more than 20 galleries will be open late for Art for Art’s Sake. Cash bars and stages will line the street so art enthusiasts can sip wine and listen to music as they browse.
Tremé Fall Festival
Celebrate one of NOLA’s oldest neighborhoods at this street festival featuring music, food, and local crafts. Funds raised during the Tremé Fall Festival go toward restoring St. Augustine Church, a cultural landmark in the Tremé. The free festival takes place Oct. 5-7, with mass celebrated at St. Augustine on Sunday.
Fried Chicken Fest isn’t the only food-themed festival this fall. Beignet Fest is a day-long celebration of NOLA’s most famous dessert. The festival will take place on Saturday, Oct. 6 and features several vendors offering both savory and sweet beignets. Awards are offered for crowd favorite, best sweet, best savory, and most original beignets. Entry to the festival is free.
New Orleans Film Festival
Filmmakers and film-watchers like will enjoy this festival from Oct. 17-25. New Orleans Film Festival also serves as as Oscar-qualifying event for films screened throughout the week. Passes start at $65 for general admission, but film enthusiasts can also attend individual events at $13 for regular screenings and $9 for matinee screenings.
Crescent City Blues and BBQ Fest
The creators of the Crescent City Blues and BBQ Festival know that there’s no better combination. This free festival takes place the weekend of Oct. 12-14 at Lafayette Square and features food vendors, an arts market, and live performances throughout the weekend.
Carnaval Latino is an annual festival that celebrates Hispanic culture in New Orleans through food, music, and art. Closing out Hispanic Heritage Month, this free event takes place on Saturday, Oct. 13 with a parade through the French Quarter followed by a concert featuring Mambo, Salsa, Mexican Folk, and other dance and musical styles.
Krewe of Boo Halloween Parade
New Orleans has a parade for every holiday, and Halloween is no exception. The Krewe of Boo parade is a fun, family-friendly way to celebrate Halloween. Expect Halloween-themed floats with fun throws like beads, doubloons, candy, and plush toys. The parade kicks off Saturday, Oct. 20 at 6:30 p.m. in the French Quarter.
Oak Street Po-boy Fest
An entire festival dedicated to NOLA’s signature sandwich? Yes, please! The Oak Street Po-boy Festival takes place Sunday, Nov. 11, and wristbands to purchase po-boys cost $5. Sample po-boys from all of New Orleans’s best restaurants and enjoy live music and art between bites.
Fall in New Orleans marks the beginning of oyster season on the Gulf Coast. Oysters are in season during months with an ‘r’ in them — September to April — because the water in the Gulf is a bit cooler during that time (however, you can still enjoy them year-round). Plenty of local restaurants offer special happy hour deals on raw and chargrilled oysters, so you can easily get your fix.
Voodoo Music + Arts Experience
On Halloween weekend, Voodoo Music + Arts Experience takes over City Park’s festival grounds from Oct. 26-28. The music lineup includes big names like Childish Gambino, Mumford and Sons, and Arctic Monkeys, so come “Worship the Music” with other music fans in NOLA. Ticket prices range from $75 for one day to $155 for a three-day pass.
LGBT Halloween in NOLA
The whole city of New Orleans loves Halloween, but the LGBT community’s celebration has always been a centerpiece. Expect handmade costumes, dancing and drinking in the streets, DJ parties, local entertainment, and a second line parade.
Fête des Fromages
This year marks the first annual Fête des Fromages, a celebration of cheese that takes place at the New Orleans Jazz Museum on Nov. 17. Taste specialty cheeses and sip wine while listening to live music or attending a seminar with world-renowned cheese experts. Admission starts at $25 for adults.
Boudin, Bourbon & Beer
There’s no question that Boudin, Bourbon & Beer is a winning combination. This festival was created by Chef Emeril Lagasse and takes place on Nov. 9 in Champion’s Square. Many of New Orleans’ best chefs participate, and beer is provided by Abita with bourbon by Buffalo Trace. Admission is $135 and includes all food and drinks. Proceeds go to the Emeril Lagasse Foundation, which supports life skills development, culinary training, and educational programs.
Tremé Creole Gumbo Fest
A whole festival dedicated to gumbo – what’s not to love? Come sample the many versions of one of NOLA’s signature dishes at this free festival. The Tremé Creole Gumbo Festival combines live music with a variety of gumbo styles (including a vegan version) over the weekend of Nov. 17 and 18.
Hot coffee with chicory
I love iced coffee, but there’s something so satisfying about sipping New Orleans-style coffee with chicory on a cool fall morning. Try a classic New Orleans cafe au lait at Cafe du Monde, or check out one of NOLA’s newer coffee shops!
Bayou Classic gives football fans one more reason to rejoice. This face-off between Grambling and Southern, two historically black universities, takes place on Saturday, Nov. 24 this year and is accompanied by a whole weekend of festivities including career seminars, a parade, and the epic battle of the bands.
(Note: this is not an exhaustive list! Check out our Upcoming Events page for comprehensive list of festivals.)