The New Orleans Jazz/Heritage Festival is an annual event that draws nearly half a million attendees to the Fair Grounds Racecourse. It's a celebration of music, art, culture, and food that makes New Orleans unique and one of the most popular destinations in the world. The festival is held over two weekends, with a stellar lineup of artists performing on several stages at the same time. In addition to great music, there's a Food Fair with over 100 offerings of local and international Louisiana cuisine, a craft bazaar with work from hundreds of local and regional artists, and more.
The main artists of the JazzFest are usually announced in February or March, but the full musical lineup always includes big local jazzy bands, Cajun and rhythm and blues bands, and the very popular choirs in the gospel tent. The Plaza del Congo stage features performances by African, African-American, Afro-Caribbean and Latino musicians. There's also the Congo Square African Marketplace where you can shop for original artwork, clothing, jewelry and handicrafts native to many African cultures. The Native American Village is an invitation to enter the circle that is a jubilant celebration of the heritage of our nation's oldest indigenous cultures.
Heritage Square houses tents with gospel, contemporary jazzy and blues music, as well as even more food stalls. The Contemporary Crafts area offers attractive hand-woven clothing, hand-blown glass vases and handmade musical instruments, along with a brilliant array of paintings, photographs, sculptures and irresistible jewelry. Tickets for the JazzFest are available for purchase on the JazzFest site a few months before the event or at the gates on any day of the festival. Prices have been rising but you can still see some Grade A headliners for a bargain price compared to similar (or even smaller) festivals. Due to lack of parking and influx of people to the fairgrounds area, it is highly recommended to share rides or use public transport for those attending the festival. Now that you know a little more about what JazzFest is, its brief history and incredible impact on the city, you may be wondering how to book and navigate a once-in-a-lifetime Jazz-Fest experience on your own.
Here are some tips to help you make the most out of your JazzFest experience:
- Plan ahead: Book your tickets in advance or purchase them at the gates on any day of the festival.
- Share rides or use public transport: Due to lack of parking and influx of people to the fairgrounds area, it is highly recommended to share rides or use public transport for those attending the festival.
- Bring a bike: For more information on how to bring a bike to the JazzFest, head here and keep in mind that bike rentals will fill up quickly as the festival date approaches.