Whether you’re a serious fan or you just want an excuse to visit New Orleans, football season is here, and a number of teams are taking on the Saints on our home turf this fall. If you’re brave enough to follow your team to New Orleans, you should reward yourself by making it a weekend trip.
Fall in New Orleans is one of the best and busiest times of year in the city, with everything from festivals to holiday activities to new restaurant openings and more. We’ve broken it down weekend by weekend for you, highlighting the biggest can’t-miss New Orleans events happening during the weekend prior to each game. So go ahead: get your tickets, come early a day or two, and enjoy the city that’ll welcome you with open arms, even if you aren’t a Saints fan.
Saints vs. Minnesota Vikings – 8/09 (Friday @ 7 p.m.)
The first home game of the preseason is on a Friday night, but it’s definitely worth extending your stay through the weekend. On Saturday morning, a sea of men and women dressed in red will flood downtown for the annual Red Dress Run. Dirty Linen Night is that Saturday night, where everyone heads down to Royal Street in the French Quarter to peruse the art galleries while wearing dirty linen.
Saints vs. Miami Dolphins – 8/29 (Thursday @ 7 p.m.)
This Thursday night game leads right into Labor Day weekend, so why not stay awhile? Enjoy Southern Decadence, the largest LGBT event of the year, and head to the French Quarter for the walking parade on Sunday at 2 p.m. This weekend also sees the opening of the brand new state-of-the-art Louisiana Children’s Museum in City Park, perfect for families.
Saints vs. Houston Texans – 9/09 (Monday @ 6:10 p.m.)
In their Monday night, season-opener game, the Saints take on the Texans in the Dome. Before heading to the game, explore the city’s renowned food scene during the first day of New Orleans Restaurant Week. Over 100 participating restaurants offer price-fixed lunch, dinner, and brunch menus, and three-course meals featuring classic New Orleans cuisine.
Saints vs. Dallas Cowboys – 9/29 (Sunday @ 7:20 p.m.)
This weekend in New Orleans, things get spooky with the return of Scout Island Scream Park, a fright fest held in City Park after dark. There are attractions for all ages at Scout Island Scream Park, so the little ones won’t get scared. Older kids and adults looking for a scare can check out some of New Orleans’ haunted attractions open during this final weekend of September.
Saints vs. Tampa Bay Buccaneers – 10/06 (Sunday @ noon)
The first weekend in October is a busy one with multiple festivals to look forward to. Foodies have to check out Beignet Fest on Saturday, the festival dedicated to the fried, powder-y doughnuts New Orleans is known for. Tremé Fall Festival celebrates the oldest African American neighborhood in the country with a weekend full of community celebrations. Art lovers will enjoy Art for Art’s Sake, and Celebración Latina at the Audubon Zoo is perfect for families.
Saints vs. Arizona Cardinals – 10/27 (Sunday @ noon)
Halloween is right around the corner, and this is the perfect weekend to check out some on New Orleans’ haunted attractions. Boo at the Zoo and the Audubon Louisiana Nature Center’s Bat Festival are two great weekend events for families. Music lovers should check out the Voodoo Music + Arts Experience, where Guns N’ Roses, Beck, and Post Malone are headlining.
Saints vs. Atlanta Falcons – 11/10 (Sunday @ noon)
Come in early this weekend for two excellent events before heading to Sunday’s game. The New Orleans International Wine Awards Grand Tasting allows ticket holders to hop from restaurant to restaurant sampling different wines on Thursday, Nov. 7. On Friday, Nov. 8, Emeril Lagasse’s Boudin, Bourbon & Beer takes over Champions Square for an evening of food, drinks, and music.
Saints vs. Carolina Panthers – 11/24 (Sunday @ noon)
Celebrate Thanksgiving early by dining at one of New Orleans’ famed restaurants. Treat yourself to a cooking class while you’re here and impress everyone at home with your kitchen skills on Thanksgiving Day.
Saints vs. San Francisco 49ers – 12/08 (Sunday @ noon)
Holiday events are in full swing this weekend starting with Celebration in the Oaks, a grand lights display in New Orleans City Park. Walk through the park for displays with nods to Louisiana culture, and head to the Carousel Gardens Amusement Park afterwards for rides and hot chocolate. Zoo Lights takes over Audubon Zoo with its own grand lighting display.
Saints vs. Indianapolis Colts – 12/16 (Monday @ 7:15 p.m.)
In addition to Celebration in the Oaks and Zoo Lights, more holiday events abound this weekend. NOLA ChristmasFest is a winter wonderland inside of the Convention Center, complete with an ice skating rink, a Christmas Tree display, bouncy houses, and pictures with Santa. All weekend long, LUNA Fête takes over downtown New Orleans with innovative lighting exhibits and live performance art.