One of the most magical things about New Orleans is that our city loves to celebrate everything. This fall, there is no shortage of festivals revolving around the love for food, music, and art. Luckily, since New Orleans is a city made up of so many different people, each festival has something to offer everyone. Not only are they a fun way to spend a day with friends, but they are also a great way to engage with New Orleans’ rich culture by feasting on unique cuisine and supporting local artists and musicians. It can be hard to choose which of the 130 festivals a year to attend, so I’ve narrowed it down to the most exciting ones coming up this semester.
For Food Lovers
Festival season is already in full swing with National Fried Chicken Fest just around the corner. This three-day (September 20th-22nd) celebration of the classic and delicious southern staple is hosted by none other than Raising Canes and features over a dozen local restaurants trying to win over our taste buds with their amazing recipes. While fried chicken is the main event, there will be plenty of musical entertainment at this festival as well. Enjoy free entry to the festival at Woldenberg Riverfront Park and make it a full day of good music and some of the best fried chicken in the world.
The next can’t-miss festival is dedicated to New Orleans’ iconic dessert: beignets. If you think you got your fill of beignets on a trip to Café Du Monde, you’re sadly mistaken. You’ll be in awe of all of the creative things that can be stuffed inside and sprinkled on top of beignets. The festival costs $5 to attend and features an extensive array of both sweet and savory treats. The event, which takes place on October 5th, also includes many local and talented musicians.
Another one of New Orleans’ staple dishes is the po’boy, and you can find it at Oak Street Po’boy Festival on November 3rd. If the amazing food, music, and art at this festival isn’t enough of a reason to attend, the fact that it’s only a short walking distance from Tulane’s campus should be. Delicious po’boys are part of New Orleans’ truly unique cuisine; you may find similar sandwiches elsewhere, but they will never measure up to this New Orleans-style sandwich. If living in this city hasn’t already made you a po’boy enthusiast, this festival surely will.
For Art & Music Lovers
While Voodoo is New Orleans’ most well-known music festival, there are many others that offer free admission and local talent. LOCALS fest combines our love of music, food, and art into one festival that is dedicated to celebrating the New Orleans community. This festival is located in the beautiful Louis Armstrong Park (outside of the French Quarter) on September 28th. It welcomes all to come explore the rising musical talent of New Orleans while also enjoying delicious local eats.
If you decide to stick around New Orleans for fall break, you’ll have no shortage of cost-free fun with the three-day Gentilly’s Fest that weekend. This festival offers another taste of local music, but also a variety of fun activities. Over 30 artists will be showcasing and selling their artwork, and there will be no shortage of food thanks to the many local chefs attending.
Art for Art’s Sake is the festival for anyone interested in getting a deeper look into local artwork. On October 5th, six miles of Magazine Street will be transformed into a stage of live music and crowds of people. Galleries and businesses along the route are opening their doors to the event and even offering special deals for festival goers.
During the first three weekends of October, trade in your beignets and po’boys for bratwursts and sauerkraut; it’s Oktoberfest! This beloved festival celebrating German culture is a must-see. Between dressing up in traditional costumes, participating in stein holding competitions, and eating all the best German cuisine, you’ll feel like you’re basically abroad.
While Halloween is fun no matter where you are, no city celebrates this holiday quite as fabulously as New Orleans. Our official Halloween parade, Krewe of Boo, is sure to give you a good scare, or at least a good time. The floats will blow you away with the next-level creativity and excitement. You’ll be getting in the Halloween spirit a week early (October 19th), because in New Orleans this holiday is much grander than one night of trick-or-treating.
If I missed any note-worthy festivals, let me know! I hope you enjoy everything New Orleans has to offer this fall festival season.
Cover Photo: Justin Haber