It’s Jazz Fest Season: What to Know This Year

New Orleans’ festival season is in full swing, and we all know what that means: Jazz Fest is coming! The New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival is the perfect place to embrace all things NOLA! Celebrating the 50-year anniversary, it is sure to be a jammed packed weekend full of new music, local cuisine, history, and culture.

When Jazz Fest first began in 1970, there were only 350 people in attendance. Fifty years later, the festival is expecting thousands of fans to fill the crowd. This year’s Jazz Fest kicked off at the Fairgrounds on April 25th with bands and artists for all music lovers. Whether you choose to get a day pass or spend the whole weekend there, you are sure to come across many great artists. Dave Matthews Band, Katy Perry, Logic, and Santana are just a few of the artists that will be hitting the stage. If you aren’t sure which artists to check out while you’re there, be sure to check out my personal favorite, The Head and the Heart. Perhaps best known for their songs “Rivers and Roads” and “All We Ever Knew,” the Head and the Heart are sure to put on a good show.

The festival was supposed to have The Rolling Stones as their main headliner, but they cancelled due to Mick Jagger’s need for medical treatment, and were replaced by Fleetwood Mac. People were ecstatic to hear that Fleetwood Mac would be replacing them, but were bummed to hear that due to singer Stevie Nicks’ illness, they would also not be making an appearance. After many rumors and debates, they have finally announced that Widespread Panic will be returning to Jazz Fest for their ninth year as headliner.

If you want a break from the music, be sure to check out the local cuisine that New Orleans is known for. Jambalaya, Fried Chicken, Crawfish, Po-Boys, and Oysters are just a few of the classics that are waiting to be devoured at the festival. But if you are a picky eater like me, there is no need to worry, because you’re sure to find plenty of ice cream, sno-balls, and mac & cheese to keep you going.

If you’re interested in the culture of New Orleans, you might be interested in the craft booths set up throughout the fairgrounds. The Congo Square African Marketplace contains pieces from local, national, and international artisans, and has the atmosphere of a true marketplace. In the Contemporary Crafts area, you can find handmade clothing, leather goods, jewelry, paintings, sculptures, and musical instruments. The Louisiana Marketplace contains baskets, hand-colored photographs, jewelry, and landscape-themed art. Whichever booth you choose to go to, you’re sure to find a unique craft that can be a very special souvenir or gift.

There are a few things to keep in mind if you are planning to attend. Be sure to prepare for New Orleans’ unpredictable weather, bring some cash just in case, pack some sunscreen, and most importantly, don’t forget your tickets! If you haven’t gotten tickets yet and are skeptical about attending, take a chance and step out of your comfort zone.

COVER PHOTO: Forbes

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