As faithful attendees to New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival, we’ve picked up a few secrets throughout the years. Because we’re nice people, we figured we’d share a few of these veteran tips to maximize your Festing experience. Heed these nuggets of knowledge and you’ll be on your way to Jazz Fest Nirvana.
Jazz Fest Pro Tip 1
Transportation – The neighborhoods around the Fair Grounds can be quite tricky to park in during Jazz Fest. Many streets require permits for parking and only have parking on one side of the street. Rather than start your day off with the stress of finding a parking spot and ending your day with a ticket, look to alternative ways to get there. We walk and our friends that are not close enough to walk bike. Not much in the mood to bike? The Canal streetcar line gets you within blocks of the Fair Grounds, while the Jazz Fest Express gets you to the Fest in air conditioned buses from either downtown or City Park.
Jazz Fest Pro Tip 2
Supplies – The key to a great festival experience is being prepared with the right tools. At a minimum, you’ll probably want a small fold-up chair, sun glasses, sunscreen and a hat. If the forecast calls for rain, you’ll want a raincoat, mud boots/”water shoes”/sandals with backs and Ziploc baggies with a little bit of rice. The baggies help keep your valuables dry, while the rice will dry out your phone if it gets a little wet. The picture to the right will give you a good idea of a few essential tools.
Jazz Fest Pro Tip 3
Leave at home – Almost as important as what to bring, is what not to bring. Jazz Fest is so huge, that you don’t want to be burdened with a ton of stuff as you move from stage to stage. Plus, there is a list of prohibited items that will get taken from you at the gate. No sense buying something and lugging it to the Fair Grounds just to have it confiscated. Food, drinks and large coolers are some of the most confiscated items. See the full list of what you can and cannot bring to Jazz Fest and keep it handy while making your festival kit.
Pro Tip 4
Jazz Fest After Hours – Some people think that Jazz Fest is only at the Fair Grounds during the day. Truth is, the Fest reaches out across the city at all hours of the day and night. One of the best known side shows during Jazz Fest is Fess Jazztival (Weekend 1 and Weekend 2). Amazing bands every night of Jazz Fest and, more often than not, amazing unannounced stars jumping in for a set or two. Can’t get into Tip’s? No worries, there are hundreds of other shows around town, like Kermit Ruffins at the Little Gem Saloon (April 26 at 9:00 p.m.), Shorty Fest featuring Trombone Shorty and the Dirty Dozen Brass Band at Generations Hall (May 2), and Anders Osborne, Rebirth Brass Band and More at the Howlin’ Wolf (May 4 at 9:00).
Pro Tip 5
Seriously, the Music Never Stops – Don’t think all this music is only on Jazz Fest days, Louisiana Music Factory ramps up awesome live performances in the store on the weekdays before and in between Jazz Fest Weekends, WWOZ has their annual Piano Night Fundraiser featuring Marcia Ball on Monday, April 29 and even the U.S. Mint gets into the act with Music At the Mint, a great series of shows just about every night and possibly the coolest event outside of Jazz Fest-the inaugural Jazz Fest Films at the Mint -featuring footage from the very first Jazz Fest at Congo Square!
But that’s just scratching the surface – check out the full listing of all shows during New Orleans Jazz Fest 2013.