The end of the year always presents a good opportunity to pause and look back at some of our favorite moments. And in New Orleans, there’s always plenty of good times to recall. Whether it was rallying around the Saints in the epic Boycott Bowl, celebrating 50 years of Jazz Fest, or ushering in a new, world-class airport terminal, we’re reveling in some of our favorite times. If you’re already thinking about planning your next trip in 2020, here’s some of our highlights from 2019 that can serve as a little inspiration. Here’s to another great year ahead!
Saints Nation Showed Out for the Boycott Bowl
Super Bowl? What Super Bowl? That was what the front page of the Times Picayune newspaper read in New Orleans the Monday after Super Bowl 2019. And it captured the sentiment of the city. Saints fans showed their undying loyalty for their beloved team, and showed up for the Boycott Bowl instead, a block party in protest of the no call in the NFC playoff championship game that cost the team a trip to the 2019 Super Bowl. (Not to mention the Super Bowl had record low ratings.) The sold-out event featured performances by Fred LeBlanc from Cowboy Mouth, Dash Rip Rock, Rockin’ Dopsie Jr., Partners-n-Crime, Flow Tribe, The Vettes, Big Freedia, Shamar Allen, and the Brass-a-Holics. Fans secondlined, celebrated, and raised over $57,000 for The New Orleans Recreation Department (NORD).
The African American Museum in Tremé Re-Opened
African-American culture is a huge part of what makes New Orleans unique.The African American Museum, dedicated to the preservation, presentation, and interpretation of the culture of the African diaspora, re-opened in April after being shuttered for nearly six years. The museum, under the leadership of executive director and chief curator Gia Hamilton, debuted with the exhibition, “Everywhere We Are | Everywhere We Go: Black Space and Geographies.” The museum’s campus will continue to undergo renovations and grow in 2020.
Jazz Fest Celebrated its 50th Anniversary
Jazz is a part of the fabric of New Orleans. The city celebrated 50 years of the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival in 2019 welcoming an estimated 475,000 music lovers. What started out as a small festival in 1970 has expanded to eight days of food, music, art, and culture. The anniversary was celebrated with an extra day dubbed “Local’s Thursday.” The lineup included headliners like Diana Ross, Dave Matthews Band, and Katy Perry (Of course we would be remiss not to mention that highly anticipated Rolling Stones performance that was cancelled to much disappointment).
The Sydney and Walda Besthoff Sculpture Garden Expanded
The New Orleans Museum of Art unveiled the expanded Sydney and Walda Besthoff Sculpture Garden in May 2019. Now spanning 11 acres, the garden features more than 90 sculptures in a picturesque setting. The six-acre expansion added 27 new works by artists working primarily in the 21st century. The garden is also home to events such as the NOLA Project’s outdoor performance series and yoga in the garden every Saturday. Free and open to the public seven days a week, the Sculpture Garden is a can’t-miss when visiting New Orleans.
Essence Festival 25th Anniversary
This summer, Essence Festival celebrated 25 years of music, food, and culture over during the July 4th weekend in New Orleans. Attendees enjoyed the Beauty Carnival, Fashion House, Essence Eats, the Wellness House, and Essence After Dark. This year’s speakers included Iyanla Vanzant, Pharrell Williams, Terry Crews, Mayor LaToya Cantrell, and a special appearance from former First Lady Michelle Obama. We can’t forget about the evening concerts, which included performances from Missy Elliott, Mary J. Blige, Maze featuring Frankie Beverly, and Big Freedia. It was an over-the-top anniversary celebration, and we look forward to partying at the fest again in 2020 as Essence Magazine turns 50.
The Louisiana Children’s Museum Opened in City Park
A beloved institution in New Orleans, the Louisiana Children’s Museum made the big move over to City Park this summer after 31 years in the Warehouse District. The multi-million dollar expansion features five indoor galleries, interactive exhibits on New Orleans and the Mississippi River, a new café, a lagoon, and other outdoor elements. Favorites from the old location, including including the life-size bubbles and the grocery store, have been re-imagined and expanded in the new space. The new museum is sure to create countless lifelong memories in the years to come.
Sazerac House Opened Downtown
New Orleans is home to America’s oldest cocktail, the Sazerac. This year welcomed a new way to experience the Sazerac cocktail culture in New Orleans, and it came in the form of Sazerac House. Wind your way up the stairs of downtown’s newest museum and learn the history of New Orleans’ famed Sazerac cocktail. Stop for tastings along the way and engage in interactive exhibits. The best part of all – the museum is free to attend (reserve your spot here in advance).
The New Louis Armstrong New Orleans International Airport Opened
Travelers are in for a treat when they arrive in New Orleans. The highly-anticipated new terminal at the Louis Armstrong New Orleans International Airport opened this year in November. Just ask any New Orleanian – we’ve been patiently waiting for this. The $1 billion dollar project includes new parking, a consolidated security checkpoint to three concourses and 35 gates, over 30 dining and shopping options, live entertainment, and more. Projected to have a huge impact on the local economy, this opening was truly a once in a lifetime event.
68 New Restaurant, Bar, and Bakeries Opened
New Orleans enjoys an array of delicious eateries, and this year, the offerings expanded. A wide variety of new eateries popped up in nearly every category of cuisine. Fine French cuisine, Spanish flavors, delicious Dim Sum – the list goes on and on. No food experience is complete without something sweet. A bevy of desserts, bars, and cafes are all included on the growing list.