New Orleans Jazz Fest
The New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival is second only to Mardi Gras as the largest annual multi-weekend party thrown in New Orleans. Usually the last weekend of April and first weekend of May, Jazz Fest welcomes thousands of fans, both local and visiting. While most people come for the music, the food and crafts have become huge in their own right. Nowhere else in the world can you nibble on crawfish bread and a snowball while watching homegrown New Orleans jazz with 75,000 other delighted festival-goers.
It’s Definitely Worth It
Many local fans gripe that the prices have gotten unaffordable at $50 per day, but with literally hundreds of bands both local and national playing over the fest, it is hard to justify complaints. The trick is to buy early: you can purchase a weekend package a few months early for $105 rather than $150 at the gate. And if you have the luxury of no budget, VIP tickets are definitely the way to go. Depending on the package you get, you can use private restrooms or even receive access to the VIP viewing stand.
As with the tickets, hotels get booked quickly and can get expensive if not reserved early, so don’t wait until the last minute. Some locals who leave town for one of the Jazz Fest weekends even post weekend home or apartment rentals via websites like Craigslist*. Once you’ve arrived in town and are ready to go to the fest, note that many hotels provide shuttles to the fairgrounds. This can prevent you from having to park around the venue, where finding a space can prove difficult and parking can cost anywhere from $20-40 each day.
Smuggling in Booze
When entering the gates, you are allowed to bring in one “factory sealed” bottle of water (this provides an easy way for you to smuggle in rum or vodka), soft ice chests with ice only (which may come in handy for temperatures in the eighties with little available shade), and small collapsible chairs, among other items.
Jazz Fest Food
Make sure to meander over to the tents. While the huge national acts like Dave Matthews Band, Bruce Springsteen, and James Taylor play at the big stages, the gospel, jazz and blues tents offer chairs, relief from the often-unforgiving sun and heat, and some of the most soulful music you’ll ever hear.