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The Top 5 Reasons to Go to Bayou Boogaloo in New Orleans

Enjoy Bayou Boogaloo festival like a local. Here’s how.

Bayou Boogaloo
Enjoy a festival and the bayou all at the same time at Bayou Boogaloo. (Photo by Cheryl Gerber)

In New Orleans, there is a habit at meals to discuss not only the current meal, but favorite past meals and plans for future meals. It isn’t that people don’t appreciate what they have at the moment, but meals are a time for family and friends to get together. Discussing old meals brings back some great shared memories, while discussing the next meal is really just planning the next get-together.

Not only does my family do this with meals, but we also take the same approach with festivals. At French Quarter Fest, we discuss plans for Jazz Fest. At Jazz Fest, we discuss plans for Bayou Boogaloo. And here we are, deep in the thick of spring festival season. So I rounded up the top five reasons for you to head on over to Bayou Boogaloo in Mid-City, which runs from May 17-19. Tickets cost $10 per day or $20 for all three days, so make sure to bring some cash (or a credit card). Gather your family and friends, and get ready to plan your visit to the bayou.

Bayou Boogaloo (Photo: Cheryl Gerber)

Bayou Boogaloo in New Orleans

1. The Music

Bayou Boogaloo has really developed in its own right as a true local music festival. In just a few short years, Bayou Boogaloo has built up to support continuous music each day of the festival. This year, the lineup features Tab Benoit, Cowboy Mouth, Amanda Shaw, Soul Brass Band, and more. The different styles of these artists at Bayou Boogaloo means there’s a little something for everyone.

new orleans festival
Bayou Boogaloo has become a locals’ favorite. (Photo: Cheryl Gerber)

2. Food

With more than 25 food and beverage vendors, there are plenty of ways to keep you full and hydrated. What sets the Bayou Boogaloo food scene apart from other festivals is the high number of Mid-City restaurants that you don’t see anywhere else. In the past they’ve featured great places like Ralph’s on the Park, Venezia’s, DMac’s Bar and Grill, Katie’s Restaurant, and Mona’s Cafe. Just this little collection of Mid-City staples runs the gamut from casual grill to sophisticated cuisine and American classics to Middle-Eastern fare. You could spend all three days eating at Bayou Boogaloo and never have the same thing twice.

3. Arts and Crafts

If you thought you had a lot of food options, wait until you check out the arts and crafts. In the past, over 60 different vendors have showcased their hand-crafted wares. Paintings, photography, jewelry, woodworking, and more are available for purchase from dozens of local artists. The options are seemingly endless.

4. BYOB (Bring Your Own Boat)

Sure, you could listen to music from land, but many Boogaloo-ers choose to take in the scene from the water. By boat (non-motorized), canoe, kayak, paddleboard, or even atop homemade barges, you can float along the bayou as tunes — and fest food aromas — waft your way. If you’d prefer a more active approach to festing, join the Paddle Battle, a 6-mile race for canoes, paddleboards, and kayaks along the bayou.  Though you can rent kayaks by the hour from shops like Bayou Paddlesports, availability may vary during the fest. Tip: if you have your own, bring it!

Bayou Boogaloo. (Photo: Paul Broussard)
Boats and barges signal it’s time to Bayou Boogaloo. (Photo: Paul Broussard)

5. Even More Bayou Fun

Bayou Boogaloo happens right on the banks of Bayou St. John, which gives you plenty of opportunities to enjoy the water. Enjoy the music from a paddleboard or kayak, or canoe your way up to the entrance of City Park. Not much of a water person? Catch some rays on the banks and enjoy the gentle breeze that’s sure to be coming in.

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