We love to celebrate here in New Orleans, and with the city’s Tricentennial year, you can expect nothing short of a grand celebration. We’ll be toasting to New Orleans all year long. If you haven’t visited yet, now is the perfect time to make your first trip. And it’s a great time for locals to experience that one thing on their NOLA bucket list they’ve always wanted to do. We’ll take you from the French Quarter to the Mississippi River and back with our top ways to celebrate. We’ve got 300 year’s worth of it to do. Here’s our top ways to celebrate New Orleans’ birthday in 2018.
Take a ride on Steamboat Natchez
It’s one of the most “New Orleans” things you can do. Cruise along the Mississippi on the beautiful Steamboat Natchez and enter into a different era of New Orleans. Enjoy one of three meals while aboard: the Dinner Jazz Cruise, the Harbor Jazz Cruise, or the Sunday Jazz Brunch Cruise. Live music, museum-style rooms, and gorgeous views of the city are all a part of the experience on Steamboat Natchez.
See a band at Preservation Hall
One of the best things about this city is the music it offers. While you may be able to catch a second line just by walking the streets of the French Quarter, Preservation Hall is a great place to hear some good ‘ol New Orleans Jazz. Shows are nightly at 6 p.m., 8p.m., 9p.m, and 10 p.m.
NOLA Navy Week
NOLA Navy Week returns in 2018, bringing Tall Ships with it. From April 19-22, visit Woldenberg Park for your chance to tour ships that come from other parts of the U.S. and all around the globe. Events during that weekend also include the Louisiana Seafood Cook-off followed by a fireworks show. More information about the full events to come.
Visit Mardi Gras World
If you can’t make it into town for Mardi Gras, this is a great way to take a look behind the scenes of it all. At Mardi Gras World, take a tour and try on costumes, learn about the history of Mardi Gras, and see how the floats are built and decorated. If you’re up for the challenge, you can even build a float or make a mask with a group of friends as a part of their workshop series.
Spend a Day at a Museum
New Orleans might be known for its food, festivals, and culture, but it also offers a host of world-class museums. What better way to learn about New Orleans than by visiting some of our favorite museums in town. Learn about jazz at the New Orleans Jazz Museum or discover New Orleans’ culinary heritage at the Southern Food & Beverage Museum. Take a stop at the New Orleans Museum of Art for A Queen Within: Adorned Archetypes or visit the National WWII Museum, recently ranked the No. 2 museum in the nation and the world in the 2017 TripAdvisor Travelers’ Choice Awards.
See a Show at Tipitina’s
You’ll find great local music at this spot on Napoleon Avenue. There’s always something going on at Tipitina’s, whether that be a smooth jazz show or a funky R&B jam session. You’ll feel as though you’ve taken a step back in time when you walk in,, becoming a part of history yourself.
See the NOLA 300 Statues
By now you may have noticed a certain set of seven-foot tall statues popping up throughout the city. These are the NOLA 300 statues, located at City Park’s Big Lake, Woldenberg Park’s Audubon Plaza, and atop the steps of Washington Artillery Park celebrating the city’s 300th birthday. Visit the statues during the day or catch them lighting up the night. Be sure to snap a selfie and share it on social media, and tell us your New Orleans story with #OneTimeInNOLA.
Learn about NOLA’s History
Celebrate NOLA’s Tricentennial by learning about its rich history through a visit to one or more Tricentennial-specific exhibits. With a multitude of exhibits opening citywide, this is the perfect year to experience the city in a new way. The Historic New Orleans Collection and Nola 4 Women are two great resources for finding these exhibits.
Kick Back at French Quarter Fest
This year, we’re celebrating another birthday milestone in addition to the city’s Tricentennial. The French Quarter Festival is celebrating its 35th year on April 12-15, 2018. From jazz to classical, funk to Gospel and more, you’ll find it all on the 23 stages that make up French Quarter Fest. Oh, and the food is irresistible. Go ahead, make it a long weekend – you’ll be back at this festival day after day. Did we mention admission is free?
Savor a Tricentennial Cocktail
The French Quarter is the inspiration behind SoBou’s specialty cocktail, the grilled satsuma-infused Vieux Carré cocktail. With Rye, Cognac, Sweet Vermouth, Angostura, and Peychaud’s bitters, this cocktail packs a punch. Take a trip to Nina Compton’s restaurant Compère Lapin in the Warehouse District for the Ti’ Centennial Punch. This cocktail is a deconstructed classic Caribbean Ti’ Punch with Louisiana Rhum Agricole, Louisiana sugar, and lime. Guests will get to mix their own punch with as much ice, lime, or sugar as they want with a swizzle stick.
Experience the Cabildo Like Never Before
For the first time in 25 years, the Cabildo will house and premier a new exhibit, Recovered Memories: Spain, New Orleans and the Support for the American Revolution. This 7,000 square foot exhibition will feature hundreds of historic artifacts, documents, costumes, and works of art from Spanish and U.S. museums, archives, and private collections. It explores Spain’s influence on the development of New Orleans, its support of the American Revolution, and Spain’s lasting legacy on American culture. The exhibit opens April 20th at the newly re-opened Cabildo in the French Quarter.
Take a Train Ride through City Park
Live actors, hand puppets, and the park itself breathe new life into City Park’s storied history in this new train tour. The Historical Musical Train Tour takes riders on a one-hour tour of the park complete with an original score by Paul Soniat, Director of the Botanical Garden at City Park. The grand opening of the tour is Friday, May 11 and tickets are $20. The tours continue Friday through Sunday each weekend at City Park through the fall.