New Orleans, Louisiana is all about getting the community to come together and celebrate in the streets.
From food to culture, dance, music and drinks, NOLA has a big lineup of incredible festivals, making it easy to find one running during your next student trip to the city.
Keep in mind, in the summer, the hotel rates in New Orleans are the lowest they’ll be all year. Just remember to pack some cool linen duds and a nice hat for the summer sun.
Here are a few festivals that make great fits for student groups:
Satchmo SummerFest began as a tribute to one of New Orleans’ most famous native sons, the late Louis “Satchmo” Armstrong, to celebrate his 100th birthday. Thousands of people turned out for the first Satchmo SummerFest in 2001 to dance to traditional New Orleans blues and jazz, and to sample the delicious food. It was so successful that it has become an annual event held on the first weekend of August.
The two-day celebration is one of the only festivals in the world dedicated to honoring Louis Armstrong and features 2 stages of music, a delicious culinary lineup featuring Louisiana restaurants, and an incredible indoor lecture series poised to educate guests on Armstrong’s history and enduring impact—titled “Satchmo Seminars.”
ESSENCE Festival of Culture
June 29-July 3
Held over Fourth of July weekend at the Caesars Superdome and throughout downtown New Orleans, this three-day party named for its founder and sponsoring magazine combines high-octane music performances with inspirational speakers and provocative conversations about gender, race, culture, and art. The 2023 festival includes some huge names like Missy Elliott, Ms. Lauryn Hill, Coco Jones and more.
By day, the Empowerment Experience spotlights dozens of speakers on thought-provoking topics such as religion, economics, and education. Plus, dozens of vendors have displays set up in different locations around the Superdome and park areas that are temporarily turned into outdoor markets. You can expect to see a variety of quality fine art and crafts from clothing and jewelry, to collectible paintings and sculptures. All art displays and demonstrations will represent the rich culture developed from all over the African Diaspora.
New Orleans Juneteenth Festival
One of the newer and slightly smaller festivals in NOLA, the Juneteenth Festival began June 2020. After years of celebrating Juneteenth in the city, it was time to grow and truly examine the state of liberation within the Black community while simultaneously promoting Unity & Cooperative Economics.
Now, this festival run by the Louisiana Afro-Indigenous Society hosts artists, musicians, traditional dance and panel discussions—all free and open to the public.
COOLinary New Orleans
While less of a festival in the traditional sense, New Orleans’ annual restaurant month, dubbed COOLinary, takes place all August long around the city. Restaurants in town will have special prix fixe menus featuring unique takes on each spot’s approach to food and culture. It’s a great way to experience something truly special in eateries that are already world-famous for their regular menus.
Bastille Day Fête
Alliance Française of New Orleans
Celebrate the French national holiday day with Alliance Française de La Nouvelle-Orléans! This one-day festival has live music, a French DJ, crepes, and a kids area. So grab your beret and la marinière shirts and practice your bonjour.
For more information and to see what else New Orleans has to offer, visit neworleans.com
Photo Courtesy of Zack Smith.