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Beyond Jazz Fest: 5 New Orleans Festivals You Didn’t Know You Should Attend

The Crescent City Blues & BBQ Festival (Photo: Zack Smith)

It’s festival season in New Orleans and I consider myself quite the festin’ pro. I’ve got the shoes, the clothes, the accessories and more! And, while I love Jazz Fest, Essence Fest, New Orleans Wine and Food Experience and Tales of the Cocktail, when it comes to festivals sometimes the smaller, the better. Here’s a list of five of my favorite festivals in New Orleans that you may not know exist:

The outdoor live music stage at Greek Fest (Photo: Paul Broussard)

Greek Fest — Held every year on the banks of Bayou St. John at the Holy Trinity Greek Orthodox Cathedral, this festival is a celebration of Greek life, culture and history. With live music from local Greek bands, delicious Greek food and, of course, Ouzo, it’s hard not to have a good time. My personal favorite dishes from last year were the baklava and the pomegranate daiquiri (um, yum!). Mark your calendars with this family-friendly (and tasty) festival, May 27-29!

Oyster Festival — In case it hasn’t been made clear in any of my other posts, I love Oysters. Raw, baked, fried — however you serve ’em, I’ll eat ’em. Every year, the city of New Orleans celebrates this prized seafood with the annual Oyster Festival. In addition to a number of local eateries serving up their oyster dishes, there is also an Oyster Eating Contest sponsored by Acme Oyster House and an Oyster Shucking Contest sponsored by P&J Oyster Company. And, let me tell you, if you haven’t seen an oyster shucked in real life, it’s truly an artform. The annual Oyster Festival will be June 4 and 5.

Vieux to Do — The Vieux to Do is three festivals for the price of one. Actually, they are all free, but there are three separate festivals wrapped into this one weekend. Vieux to Do celebrates three of the things that make New Orleans so tasty and so special: Creole Tomatoes, Seafood and Cajun Zydeco. The entire French Market is taken over by this event, with a section devoted to all things Creole Tomato, another section devoted entirely to Lousiana Seafood and a third section focused soley on Cajun Zydeco music. I’ll tell you, there isn’t anything better than good food, good music and a good time. Vieux to Do will be held in the French Market June 10-12.

White Linen Night
White Linen Night (Photo: Paul Broussard)

White Linen Night and Dirty Linen Night — These two events are not what you would typically call a “festival,” but by my standards, they are two events worth attending. White Linen Night is an homage to the days before air-conditioning when, in the heat of a New Orleans summer, men and women wore light linen clothing. Attendees often deck from head-to-toe in white and stroll along the streets of the Warehouse District enjoying music, food, drink and art. Dirty Linen Night is its tongue-in-cheek counterpart event.  It takes place the following weekend and garnered its name as attendees wore their same linen again to this event! Attendees stroll along Royal Street enjoying food and music as they pop inside the different art galleries. In any case, both of these events are fun and a tremendous opportunity to experience the often underexposed yet blossoming world of art in New Orleans. White Linen Night will be August 6, Dirty Linen Night will be August 13.

Crescent City Blues and BBQ Festival — This festival is probably one of my favorites in the city of New Orleans. Probably because I love blues music and can eat more barbecue than should be legally allowed. This free festival is held in Lafayette Square and boasts two stages, dozens of food and beverage stands and an artists village. Crescent City Blues and BBQ Fest is one of the many projects of the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Foundation, and it’s one of their most successful (in my opinion). This year’s festival will be October 15 and 16.

These are some of my favorite New Orleans Festivals – what are some of yours?

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