Discover how many different versions of macaroni and cheese there can possibly be at a single festival. Spontaneously burst out into “Ein Prosit” after a few Oktoberfest libations. Consider a new career path after seeing a nerdy burlesque show. These are just a few examples of what could happen to you during this fall’s festival season. Read on for our fall festival guide and make your life plan.
This city hardly needs another excuse for good food, but in true New Orleans fashion, Restaurant Week New Orleans provides just that. Following the month long COOLinary New Orleans, Restaurant Week, now in its ninth year, provides another opportunity to dine at local restaurants at significant discounts. Be sure to check the list of participating restaurants and make reservations.
September 21, 22, and 23
Fried chicken is on the menu at the fourth annual National Fried Chicken Festival. Held at Woldenberg Riverfront Park, the festival is presented by local fast food company Raising Cane’s (which, no surprise, sells its own fried chicken strips). This year’s fest is extended to three days and is expected to draw about 200,000 fried chicken fanatics over that time period. Vendors will include local and national restaurants preparing a range of traditional to creative dishes.
NOLA On Tap is a beer festival featuring beers for almost any taste, from lagers, to IPAs, to saisons and stouts—over 400 beers in total. Enjoy live music, good beer, and support the Louisiana SPCA while you do. The festival is also dog-friendly. Admission prices range and some levels include beer tickets.
October 4-5, 11-12, 18-19
The Deutsches Haus, long a New Orleans institution, has returned to the city after several years in Kenner. Throughout the month of October, celebrate Oktoberfest along the banks of Bayou St. John and enjoy German music, food, and, of course, beer. Also planned are dachshund races and a beer stein holding contest. There is a small admission fee per person.
October 4, 5, and 6
The Tremé Fall Festival takes place in the oldest African American neighborhood in the United States and proceeds go towards neighborhood improvements, including St. Augustine Church and the Tomb of the Unknown Slave. The street festival includes live music performances, food, and a Gospel mass. It takes place at the intersection of Henriette Delille and Governor Nicholls streets in the St. Augustine Church yard. The festival is free, but donations are welcomed.
Art for Art’s Sake takes place annually along Julia and Magazine streets. The free festival offers a night of gallery hopping through contemporary paintings, sculpture, photography, and more, with some galleries offering free beverages as well. Vendors and live music will also be set up along the festival route.
New Orleans’ favorite powdered doughnut makes its appearance at the annual Beignet Festival, this year at City Park. The beignet will be available in its widely recognized form but fest-goers can also try savory versions as well as more complex sweet variations. The festival also includes a VIP option as well as a kids area. The day’s music lineup includes Hot 8 Brass Band, the Imagination Movers, Big Sam’s Funky Nation, and the Honey Island Swamp Band. Beignet Festival benefits the Tres Doux Foundation, which makes grants to nonprofits that serve children with developmental delays.
October 11, 12, and 13
Gentilly Fest is a family-friendly affair in the city’s Gentilly neighborhood. With free admission, fest-goers can also enjoy live music and purchase food, drinks, and art from local vendors. Kids can also have fun at the kids village by climbing aboard a fire truck, taking part in face painting, and enjoying their own live entertainment program. Proceeds benefit Pontchartrain Park and Milne playgrounds’ sports programs and The Roots of Music.
Louis Armstrong Park hosts the third annual Mac n’ Cheese Fest. The festival is free to enter, and food and drink tickets are available for purchase. All manner of macaroni and cheese variations will be sold at the festival, and a panel of judges will vote for the winner of this year’s Mac n’ Cheese trophy. Participating restaurants and the music lineup will be announced soon.
The New Orleans Film Society puts on the 30th annual film festival which will surely please any film buff. Passes are already on sale and range in price. Films will screen at venues across the city, including the old-timey single-screen Prytania Theatre, the Contemporary Arts Center, and the ornate Orpheum Theater. The film lineup is soon-to-be announced.
This free festival is a weekend-long celebration of Gospel music on Bayou St. John. Dozen of Gospel artists will take the stage for back-to-back performances. In addition to the music, sample authentic New Orleans cuisine and hear from world-renowned speakers.
Perhaps the best festival theme combination, the Blues & BBQ Festival is a free fest that takes place in Lafayette Square in the Central Business District. Live music by the Allman-Betts Band, Zion Harmonizers, Tab Benoit, Little Freddie King, and many more pair well with the barbecue (which will include some vegan and gluten-free choices).
New Orleans is a city that loves to throw a parade no matter the occasion. Halloween, though, is as perfect an occasion as any (except Mardi Gras, of course). Don a costume, and come out for the city’s annual Halloween parade through the Boo (ahem, Vieux) Carre, Central Business District, and Warehouse District. The floats, made by the talented float-builders and artists of Kern Studios, are all themed for the season.
October 25, 26, and 27
The main event over Halloween weekend is the Voodoo Music + Arts Experience, more colloquially known as Voodoo Fest. Costumed humans of all ages venture out to City Park’s festival grounds for a three-day long music festival and Halloween party. This year’s headliners include Guns ‘N Roses, Post Malone, and Beck. In addition to the music, the experience includes a haunted cemetery created by the Mortuary team, carnival rides, face painting. Food, drink, and art are also available for purchase.
All Hallows’ Eve, otherwise known as Halloween, is the day that the veil between this world and the spirit world is at its thinnest. New Orleans is a fun place to be on this night, and there are many ways to celebrate Halloween, from the Prytania‘s screening of the Rocky Horror Picture Show to the Scout Island Scream Park, to costuming and heading out to St. Claude Avenue. Check out our recommendations for what to do Halloween night.
Celebrated as the original Caribbean Carnival of New Orleans, Bayou Bacchanal is the perfect festival for delicious food, electrifying performances by brightly clad dancers, and live music. Head to Crescent Park for all things Caribbean on November 2. Ticket prices vary for the pre-party, festival, and post-party, but the annual parade is free.
The poor boy sandwich– or as many New Orleanians call it, the “po-boy”– originated from a 1929 streetcar strike. Today, the sandwich is a local comfort food. The Oak Street Po-Boy Festival features dozens of food vendors with po-boys ranging from the tried and true fried shrimp po-boy, to cochon de lait, oyster, and more. The options are endless, spanning the entirety of Oak Street. Take a stroll, one po-boy in each hand, and enjoy all that this fest has to offer. Admission is free.
The Emeril Lagasse Foundation presents the upscale festival, Boudin, Bourbon & Beer in Champions Square in downtown New Orleans. In addition to food from over 70 of the country’s best chefs, the event includes a cigar bar, dessert tasting, silent auction, drinks, and live music. Tickets are $135 in advance and include all food and drink (21+)
The season’s nerdiest festival returns for its fifth year. Two nights of burlesque performances with a twist, NOLA Nerdlesque satirizes nerdy pop culture, presenting favorite characters in a new light. Nerdlesque is a performance art known for its inclusivity of all body types as performances infused with plenty of humor. Ticket prices TBD.
November 13, 15, and 16
The French American Chamber of Commerce presents this festival of cheeses from around the world. The fête offers more intimate events on the 13th and 15th, but the actual festival takes place on Saturday, the 16th. Sample artisan cheese, specialty foods, and enjoy a glass of wine, cider, or beer while listening to live music. Ticket prices vary.
November 16 and 17
The 11th annual Tremé Creole Gumbo Festival presents two of New Orleans’ favorite things: gumbo and brass bands. Gumbo will be on sale from a variety of vendors, each presenting their own interpretation of the classic dish at Louis Armstrong Park. Admission to the festival is free.
November 16 and 17
This family-friendly, two-day festival at the epicenter of Jazz music’s origins celebrates the African diaspora culture of New Orleans. The Congo Square New World Rhythms Festival features beats and dance from Africa, the Caribbean, and the American Gulf South. The festival is held in Armstrong Park and is free.
The Bayou Classic is an annual event that pits Grambling State University and Southern University, two New Orleans’ football teams, against one another. Now in its 46th year, the Bayou Classic is more than a football game with the Bayou Classic parade and the Fan Festival.
November 30-January 1 (closed December 24 and 31)
City Park bursts with lights for Celebration in the Oaks‘ light displays on view across 25 acres of the park. View twinkling lights wrapped around Oak trees and in the Botanical Garden, Carousel Gardens, and Storyland. Celebration in the Oaks is the perfect family outing for the holidays. Catch a ride on the train to round out the visit. Tickets start at $10 (children under 3 are free).
The lights are shining bright for LUNA Fête this year, a downtown spectacle of all things bright. Held in Lafayette Square, and along Lafayette Street to Fulton Street, the multi-day celebration brings illuminated installations, digital sculptures, video-mapping projections, art animated by technology, and more. Admission is free.
December (Various dates)
Bonfires along the levee, a Cajun tradition that likely originated in Europe, help Papa Noel find his way during the Christmas season. If you love a bonfire, there are several opportunities to hang out by one, including the Algiers Bonfire & Concert in early December. Attendees can watch beautifully designed pyres, constructed through a partnership with the NOLA Burners, burn through the night accompanied by live music.