New Orleans, Louisiana is known around the world for its fun, food and festivities, but one time of year may be the best time to experience it all. The Jazz and Heritage Festival, known more commonly as Jazz Fest is a 10 day music festival that involves the entire city. There is no better time to experience all that this great city has to offer.
Traditionally Mardi Gras has always been a popular time to visit New Orleans. People go in search of the ultimate party experience. People from all over are draped in beads, hammering cocktails and dancing in the streets. It’s that buzz that comes only with a gathering of that magnitude. But you also get the abundance of grime, crime and inconvenience that come with it. Nola is a party town all year long. You can have a blast on a Tuesday in August, you don’t need to force a trip into the madness to get the party you desire. Go for the music, and the party comes as a bonus…the Jazz Fest way.
The official Jazz and Heritage festival is located on the New Orleans Fairgrounds, and takes place over the course of two weekends with a 3 day break in between. It
is packed with music, food, crafts and culture. There are several main stages simultaneously going off at the same time throughout day. At one point I was tap dancing between Harry Connick Jr., Trey Anastasio Band and NAS. Some of the top touring bands in all genres play with a mix of up and coming stars and super talented almost-unknowns. It’s a full day for sure but definitely an authentic music experience. You can find the daily lineups on nojazzfest.com, and construct your own musical itinerary.
But the fairgrounds are just one part of
Jazz Fest. The music is in the streets and in the cool venues scattered throughout town, are the highlight for me. The town is filled with music lovers from across the globe and local musicians meet them in the streets. Ten piece jazz bands equipped with giant tubas all the way down to bottle caps on the soles of their shoes take over whole intersections, and people flow in and out of the bar and restaurant lined historic streets, drink in hand,
to join in the rhythm. Frenchman Street is a prime example of where this tantalizing barrage for the senses thrives. Inside the music venues, gather collections of gifted artists you could never find on a single stage that small, jamming out in a seemingly never-ending series of shows that go on throughout the late night and early morning hours. One late night I caught a show at One Eyed Jacks, and it was MonoNeon- formerly of Prince, John Medeski, DJ Logic, plus a slew of special guests. There is something to be said about the feeling one gets during a concert that will probably never again be replicated.
With the action taking place throughout the city, and not just in the famous
French Quarter, one has a chance to really experience the entirety of this amazing city. New Orleans is thought by many as the best food city in the United Sates. From the simple yet delicious beignets at Café Du Monde to the James Beard award winning dishes at Pesce, the city is just one delicious playground. It’s everywhere you go and in every breath you take. If you follow the beat and smells of the city you could eat your way through a wave of French, Creole and
Southern influenced delights from Lakeview through magnificent City Park, on to Bayou St. John, Treme-Lafitte down to the Mississippi River. The riverfront is host to a slew of stores and restaurants and more live music. You can walk the beautifully done River Walk or jump on an enchanting riverboat cruise.
Nola, as those familiar refer to it, stands out as one of America’s all around best cities. There are so many things to see and enjoy. But the best way is to start with the music, follow the food, and then you will get the total experience. Live music is the lifeblood of the city, but it can lead you down a path of amazing food, beautiful architecture, electric nightlife and southern charm. Don’t miss the next Jazz Fest. I guarantee it will become the first musical kiss to an affair with New Orleans that will last for years. See you there. April 27- May 6, 2018.
Bourbon Street at Night