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Best Local Things to Do

Make it a Day Trip: Fall Festivals Outside of New Orleans

French Quarter Fest Dancing
There are countless festivals to choose from in New Orleans and beyond. (Photo: Cheryl Gerber)

New Orleans is known for its endless festivals, but did you know you can find some great ones just beyond the city limits too? And it’s all just a day trip away. This fall, you’ll find unique festivals scattered throughout parts of Louisiana. So, fill up your gas tank, load up your car, and make a day trip out of it. You never know what adventures you’ll find along the way.

Sweet Dough Pie Festival

Calling pie-lovers everywhere! The Sweet Dough Pie Festival is back for its eighth year with every type of pie you can imagine. Take a trip out to Grand Coteau to get your slice and enjoy over 70 arts and crafts booths as well as local cuisine and live music. When you’ve eaten all the pie you can handle, take a trolley tour of the historic fairgrounds and explore the town of Grand Coteau.

When: October 26; 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.
Where: St. Charles Catholic Church, 174 Church St., Grand Coteau, La.
How far from NOLA: 2 hrs 15 min
Admission: Free! 

Greater Baton Rouge State Fair
Head to the Louisiana State Capitol for the Greater Baton Rouge State Fair, spanning 11 days. This festival has all the state fair staples: amusement rides, a petting zoo, magic acts, pig races, and fair food. The family-friendly festival is complete with scholarships to local schoolchildren. This state fair is sure to bring back childhood memories.

When: October 24 to November 3; Monday-Friday 5-10 p.m., Saturday & Sunday noon to 10 p.m.
Where: 16072 Airline Hwy., Baton Rouge, La.
How far from NOLA: 1 hr 10 min
Admission: $5 Monday-Thursday; $10 Friday & Saturday

Bayou Road Balloon Festival (Photo courtesy of Bayou Road Balloon Festival)

Bayou Road Balloon Festival

The first weekend in November brings the only hot air balloon festival to just outside the Greater New Orleans area: the Bayou Road Balloon Festival. Aside from the typical festival-fare food, music, and fun, you’ll have the chance to take flight in a hot air balloon. Pilots from all over the country will be in Chalmette to fly the balloons, with tethered rides priced at $20. If you’re afraid of heights, stick around for the balloon glow at dusk to see a spectacular light show as the balloons are illuminated. Kite flights, arts & crafts, and face painting are also highlights of this festival. Don’t let this one blow by you.

When: November 1-3; Friday 4-10 p.m., Saturday noon to 10 p.m., Sunday noon to 8 p.m.
Where: Sigur Civic Center, 8245 W Judge Perez Dr., Chalmette, La.
How far from NOLA: 20 min
Admission: $5 for a day pass; $10 for a weekend pass

Bucktown Seafood Festival

Right outside of New Orleans you’ll find Bucktown, a small section of Jefferson Parish known for its seafood and proximity to Lake Pontchartrain. Celebrating its 22nd year, Bucktown Seafood Festival serves as a fundraiser for the local St. Louis King of France School. But, this festival is more than just a school fair. The festival spans three days and includes live music, carnival rides, and more. Of course, you have to get your hands on some fresh seafood while you enjoy the music and carnival rides. You’ll truly feel like a local at this fest.

When: November 1-3; Friday 5-10 p.m., Saturday & Sunday 11 a.m. to 9 p.m.
Where: 1600 Lake Ave., Metairie, La.
How far from NOLA: 15 min
Admission: Free!

52 pounds of butter at the Giant Omelette Celebration in Abbeville. (Photo courtesy of the Giant Omelette Celebration)

Giant Omelette Celebration

A festival celebrating giant omelettes? You heard that right – the Giant Omelette Celebration of Abbeville, La. is just what you think it is. On Sunday, a giant 12-foot skillet will be filled with 5,000 eggs as chefs prepare a giant omelette before your eyes. Born from a tale of Napoleon feasting on an omelette during his 19th-century travels, the tradition of sharing an omelette with your neighbors turned into a celebration of sorts. Watch the parade of chefs as they carry baskets of eggs throughout town, then stay for the preparation of the omelette, which includes 50 pounds of onions, 52 pounds of butter, and 15 pounds of crawfish tails. Live music, food vendors, antique cars, and an art show round out this fest, but don’t forget to participate in the egg cracking contest. You’ve been practicing all year for this, we know.

When: November 2-3; 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Where: Magdalen Place, Abbeville, La.
How far from NOLA: 2 hrs 35 min
Admission: Free!

Louisiana Renaissance Festival

Every weekend in November and the first two weekends in December, you can head to Hammond for the Louisiana Renaissance Festival. Experience authentic food, music, live theater, and demos at this fest. Want to learn the proper way to churn butter? What about goat milking, glass blowing, or falconry? This is the fest for you. Bring your kids for the acrobatics show, or get some of your holiday shopping done early at the RenFest Shoppes. Come for your turkey leg, or enjoy vegan food options. Each weekend has a theme, so don’t forget to dress accordingly!

When: November 2-3, 9-10, 16-17, 23-24, 29-30; December 1, 7-8; 9:45 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Where: 46468 River Rd., Hammond, La.
How far from NOLA: 1 hr 5 min
Admission: One-day admission is $20 for adults and $12 for children ages 6-12 (free for children under 6); season pass rates found here

Port Barre Cracklin Festival

A cook-off, rides and games, and a parade all make this small-town festival worth the trip. Proceeds from the Port Barre Cracklin Festival benefit the Port Barre Lions Club, which gives support to various organizations that help the disadvantaged. The food options are endless, with everything from cowboy stew to shrimp on a stick to cracklins, of course. The fest is located a little over two hours outside of New Orleans, so get ready to hit the road.

When: November 7-10; Thursday 5-10 p.m., Friday 5 p.m. to midnight, Saturday 10 a.m. to midnight, Sunday 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.
Where: Veterans Memorial Park, 129 Park St., Port Barre, La.
How far from NOLA: 2 hrs 10 min
Admission: $5

Noel Acadien au Village

It’s a winter wonderland in Lafayette with this festival of lights known as Noel Acadien au Village. Beginning at 5:30 p.m nightly, half a million lights illuminate the Acadian Village. Carnival rides, live entertainment, Christmas shopping, and local cuisine give visitors a taste of the holidays. The festival benefits LARC, a local non-profit aiding people with developmental disabilities. Take a trip out to this Christmas Village and you’ll leave in the holiday spirit. Did we mention Santa will be there nightly?

When: November 30 to December 23; 5:30-9 p.m.
Where: LARC’s Acadian Village, 200 Greenleaf Dr., Lafayette, La.
How far from NOLA: 2 hrs 20 min
Admission: $10 ($8 advance tickets available at select Acadiana Shop-Rite/ Tobacco Plus locations)

Festival of the Bonfires

Lighting the bonfire is a tradition out in St. James Parish. The bonfires are lit so Papa Noel can find his way on Christmas Eve. Festival of the Bonfires celebrates just that. Carnival staples are a given at this festival, with each night being highlighted by the lighting of a single bonfire in anticipation of Christmas Eve. The festival also includes a gumbo cook-off competition (which includes a bread pudding bake-off and potato salad showdown as well). Bring the family and start your own tradition of watching the bonfires. Make sure to return on Christmas Eve to see the dozens of bonfires burning along the River Road levee to guide Santa along his way.

When: December 13-15; Friday 2 p.m. to midnight, Saturday 8 a.m. to midnight, Sunday 8 a.m. to 9 p.m.
Where: Lutcher Recreational Park, 2601 Lutcher Ave., Lutcher, La.
How far from NOLA: 1 hr
Admission: $4

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