It’s that time of year again — the start of festival season! Kick things off with the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival, dubbed “Jazz Fest” by locals. This two-weekend festival features an impressive lineup of live music, cultural events and art exhibitions. Here’s a quick guide on what you need to know.
With more than 100 musicians and bands, Jazz Fest has a sound and song for pretty much every taste in music. 2017 marks the 48th anniversary and this year's line up is more than impressive than ever. Catch a headliner like Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers, Snoop Dogg, Alabama Shakes, Usher & the Roots, Darius Rucker and Stevie Wonder. Get groovin' to Big Easy groups such as Harry Connick, Jr., Trombone Shorty & Orleans Avenue, Buddy Guy, The Meters, Aaron Neville, Dr. John, and New Orleans' own Queen of Bounce, Big Freedia. View the full 2017 music lineup.
Arts and Culture
Explore New Orleans’ rich arts and culture scene at Jazz Fest’s various exhibition tents. You can peruse crafts made by local artisans, learn about Louisiana culture through special exhibits, and watch artwork demos such as basket weaving, beadwork and woodcarving. Visit the Congo Square African Marketplace to connect with local to international artists using ancient crafting techniques combined with modern variations to create their wares. The Louisiana Marketplace is packed with handmade crafts that represent the unique culture of New Orleans and Louisiana.
Sure, Jazz Fest will have plenty of live music and local artwork, but there’s another important reason not to miss this annual tradition: the food. Make sure to come with an appetite. More than 50 food vendors mean you can sample pretty much all of New Orleans’ traditional dishes — boiled crawfish, crawfish bread, fried alligator po-boys, crabmeat-stuffed shrimp, muffulettas, fried green tomatoes, sno-balls and everything in between.
Single-day tickets range from $65 per day (advanced purchase) to $75 per day (at the gate). Children’s tickets (ages 2–10) cost $5. Children under age 2 are admitted free.
Looking to party VIP style? That can be arranged as well. Just choose from a range of VIP packages, which include perks like reserved parking, hospitality lounges, re-entry privileges, special restroom access and more. Prices vary. Get ticket information.
Jazz Fest is located at the Fair Grounds Race Course & Slots. Get the Jazz Festival map. Parking spaces are premium here, so if you don’t mind walking a bit, you can take the “City Park/Museum” branch of the Canal Street Streetcar. For even easier transportation, opt for a Jazz Fest Express shuttle ticket, which will take you inside the gates and directly to the festival. You can also bring your bike or rent one to ride to Jazz Fest; a bikes-only parking lot is just inside the festival gates and is staffed by security and festival volunteers.
What to Bring
There’s a long list of prohibited items at Jazz Fest, but here are a few permitted things you’ll want to bring: cash, ID, sunscreen, sunglasses and a schedule of the music acts.
What to Wear
It can get very hot and sunny in New Orleans, even in the springtime, so make sure to wear sunscreen, sunglasses and loose, lightweight clothing. Many people opt for a visor or wide-brimmed hat, as well. You’ll probably do a lot of walking, too, so make sure to wear comfortable shoes — preferably with a closed toe. Sometime the clouds roll in and it is also a good idea to bring a rain coat.
Other Helpful Tips
-Set up a meeting place in case you lose your friends in the crowds. A common spot is the flagpole.
-Stay hydrated. And, no, beer doesn’t count.
-If you’d rather not use the porta-potties, you can find regular restrooms on the second floor of the Grandstand.