NOLA Festival Season: French Quarter Fest

French Quarter Fest is right around the corner! Now in its 34th year, more than 1,700 musicians are getting ready to perform on 23 separate stages across the French Quarter and on the Mississippi Riverfront. Over the course of four days (April 6-9, 2017), thousands will gather in the French Quarter to celebrate the unique and vibrant culture of New Orleans' most famous neighborhood. Did we mention admission to French Quarter Fest is completely FREE and open to the public? 

Photos: French Quarter Festival Facebook

Music

Twenty-three stages will be placed throughout the French Quarter, featuring over 1,700 Louisiana musicians and more than 170 Louisiana acts. Genres will include anything and everything: traditional and contemporary jazz, rhythm and blues, Cajun and zydeco, New Orleans funk, classical, swing, rock, and international sounds.

Aaron Neville will make his French Quarter Fest debut this year and many of your favorites will be back, including Irma Thomas, Ellis Marsalis, the Dixie Cups, Jeremy Davenport and Big Sam’s Funky Nation. Check out the complete line up.

In addition to the incredible live music, this year will host some special events, including dance lessons, parades, art shows and more. Other interesting special events to take in include A Centennial Celebration of Ella, part of the Let Them Talk: Conversations on Louisiana Musicseries at the Old U.S. Mint. This year, marks the 100th anniversary of the birth of the great Ella Fitzgerald, whose 1950s duets with New Orleans’ own Louis Armstrong in the 1950s are world renowned. There will also be a special Tribute to Pete Fountain who passed away in 2016. And Irma Thomas, the Queen of New Orleans Soul, will also be discussing her career. 

What to bring

Only bring the essentials in a light day bag - sunscreen, a hat, a folding chair or blanket. It's going to be a sunny weekend with temperatures reaching the low 80's so be sure to wear loose, comfortable clothing. Bring your dancing shoes! Make sure they're comfortable though as French Quarter Fest is spread out, so you’ll be walking and standing for long stretches. Since it will be sunny and warm, be sure to hydrate! 

Although admission to the festival is free, be sure to bring some cash for festival food and drinks (ATMs will be located throughout the French Quarter).

Getting around

Getting to French Quarter Festival is easy, but parking can challenging. Arrive early to park in these lots located in the heart of the festival: French Market500 Decatur Street300 North Peters Street211 Conti StreetCanal Place and various locations within walking distance. Or take public transportation down to the Quarter to avoid the hassle of parking.

Walking is the best way to get around FQF. The French Quarter turns into a pedestrian mall for FQF, so it will be impossible to get a cab or an Uber. Pedicabs will be available if you're looking or a quick way to get from one side of the Quarter to the other.

It's best to have a plan to ensure that you will be able to see as much as possible. We recommend starting in Jackson Square to take in some traditional New Orleans jazz and food! Walking through the festival, you will hear music at almost every corner. Stop and take in some of the acts on the smaller stages - you will not be disappointed! 

What to eat and drink 

French Quarter Fest might be known for the music, but it is just as much as food festival! There will be more than 60 food vendors on site serving some of the best, most mouth-watering New Orleans cuisine. Check out the full list of food vendors here

Be sure to indulge in traditional New Orleans staples like fried seafood, cochon de lait po-boys, jambalaya, meat pies, snoballs, and Pat O'Brien's Hurricanes! Prices will range from $3-$11. Outside food and beverages are not allowed at festival venues.

Download the French Quarter Festival app for times and locations. Follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram