5 New Orleans heritage festivals

It’s festival season in the Big Easy. New Orleans Festivals rule the summertime and most of them are free.

Well know talent from New Orleans and Louisiana perform throughout the season. Photo:NewOrleansOnline.com 

1. Wednesdays at the Square – free midweek concerts in the down town area from March through late May. Performances by well-known New Orleans and Louisiana artists range from jazz, rock, funk and, swamp pop. Plus, New Orleans famous brass bands will be blow you away.

Concerts begin at 5:00 p.m. and run until 7:00 or 7:30 p.m. Lafayette Square is within walking distance of the downtown hotels. Opposite the Federal Court buildings, one block off Poydras Street, between St. Charles Avenue and Camp Street.

Bring blankets to sit on the ground, or bring your own lawn chairs. Individual artists and the dates they are performing are on the website. Well behaved pets on leashes are welcomed.
Food booths and concessions are all around the square. Alcoholic and nonalcoholic beverages are available. Crafters and artists will be displaying the their talents. You may discover a piece of Louisiana art to take home. Video: Wednesdays at the Square 

2. Jazz & Heritage Festival – A two-weekend, seven-day New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival at the Fair Grounds Race Course April 26-28 & May 2-5, 2013. There will be plenty of Jazz, of course, but also rock and roll, country, gospel, blues, zydeco to R&B. Many national and regional performers will take the stage.

The internationally famous Preservation Hall Jazz Band (PHJB), the Mardi Gras Indians singing their native chants and, the city’s best church and school choirs will perform.

The Jazz Heritage Festival draws entertainers from around the country. Many folks plan their vacations around this annual event. photo:NewOrleansOnline.com 

The 2013 line up will include:
Fleetwood Mac
Billy Joel
Dave Matthews Band
Maroon 5
The Black Keys
John Mayer
Widespread Panic
Daryl Hall and John Oates
B.B. King
Frank Ocean
Earth Wind & Fire
Willie Nelson
George Benson
Jill Scott
Jimmy Cliff
The Gipsy Kings
Jeffrey Osborne
Patti Smith
Ben Harper and Charlie Musselwhite
Band of Horses
Gary Clark Jr.
Andrew Bird
Maze featuring Frankie Beverly
Roy Ayers

More than 300 artists will be on hand exhibiting their hand-colored photographs, pine needle baskets, original paintings, sculpture, clothing, jewelry, musical instruments, handcrafted clothing, leather goods and hand-blown glass, along with a brilliant array of sculptures and jewelry.

Samples and demonstrations will be on two cooking stages featuring the culinary history of New Orleans. Many of the Crescent City’s signature dishes featuring local ingredients from celebrated chefs, farmers, fishermen, and home cooks will appear on stage. The Food Fair offers classic New Orleans staples, including Creole and Cajun offerings.

The Fair Grounds Race Course is located at 1731 Gentilly Boulevard, just minutes from downtown and the French Quarter. Bus service on the Esplanade route will take festival-goers to within walking distance of the festival gates. Or, shuttle bus service from various park-and-ride lots and other convenient pick-up points around the city are posted.

To order tickets and see the most up-to-date performance schedules visit the Jazz Fest webpage.

Hear Jazz Festival on iTunes

3. Bayou Boogaloo – live music, food, arts and handicrafts. The festival along Bayou Saint John at Orleans Ave. and N. Jefferson Davis Pkwy runs May 17-19, 2013 is free and open to all. Three sound stages are spread out on the grounds so performances don’t clash.

Kid friendly events include a kid’s stage plus games and activities geared especially for youngsters. Other annual events may include a 5K race, the Bayou Boogaloo Bicycle Pub Crawl and, one of the Bayou Boogaloo highlights the Rubber Duck Derby.

The Rubber Duck Derby launches many as 10,000 rubber ducks afloat on the bayou. Ducks have their sponsor’s name on them. The winner gets a fabulous prize and proceeds go to the Mothership Foundation to sponsor future Bayou Boogaloos.

By their very nature, festivals are not always accessible. Bayou Boogaloo is handicap-friendly including designated parking facilities, curb cuts and ramps to allow for wheelchair accessibility and stage access. Service animals for the blind are allowed. They must be on a leash and owners must observe all regulations regarding waste disposal.

Boogaloo includes music from state and regional musicians. The Bayou Boogaloo link http://thebayouboogaloo.com has specific days, times and stages as details solidify. This link also has food offerings, special events and the Rubber Duck Race details.

Bring your walking shoes when you visit New Orleans. Spring walking tours are the best way to get the best perspective of the Crescent City. Photo PBH

4. Greek Festival – celebrates the Greek community’s 40th festival anniversary. The Greek Fest is held on the grounds of Holy Trinity Greek Orthodox Cathedral from May 24-26. Hours are Friday – 5:00 PM to 11:00 PM, Saturday – 11:00 AM to 11:00 PM,
Sunday – 11:00 AM to 9:00 PM.

The Hellenic dancers in their colorful native costumes can enjoy regular shows. Fans of Greek music and the bouzouki guitar will be cheering “Opa! Opa!” No one leaves hungry when there is Greek food on the table. Enjoy these favorites: baklava, dolma (stuffed grape leaves), spanakopita (spinach pie), and gyro sandwiches (pita bread pockets stuffed with lamb, pork and zesty sauce) will be for sale.

There is a small admission fee to the festival, all children under 12 are free. Also off-site parking (free) and shuttle service is available. For more information call 504-282-0259 or visit their website.

The Audubon Zoo hosts the annual Asian Festival. photo: NewOrleansOnline.com

5. Asian Heritage Festival – held at the Audubon Zoo on Saturday, May 25 from 10:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Enjoy great Asian foods plus cultural and musical performances. Special children’s activities are scheduled.

The 2013 theme is “Flowers of Asia.” See fabulous floral arrangements plus, exotic potted plants and more Asian specialty horticulture.
Plans for this year’s Asian Heritage Festival are in progress. For more information on this and other upcoming events, click here or call (504) 417-3282.

Located in the Uptown/Garden District,The Audubon Zoo is located at 6500 Magazine St.,New Orleans, LA 70118, phone (504) 581-4629, (800) 774-7394 Regular zoo hours:10:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m. Tuesdays through Friday; 10:00 a.m. – 6:00 p.m. Saturday-Sunday; 10:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m. Mondays during the summer and select holidays.

For accommodations, dining, and even more festivals, visit the Official Tourism Site of the City of New Orleans: NewOrleansOnline.com