April is the start of the New Orleans festival season. Winter is gone and the dog days of summer are a little way off. This is the perfect time to relax outdoors, enjoying our city’s two biggest passions: music and food.
During the second full weekend of April the festival hosts 1700 musicians on 23 stages for over 400 hours of free local music. In addition there are food booths where over 60 local restaurants dish out select favorites to the happy crowd. All of this is within the historic French Quarter neighborhood, first settled by the French 300 years ago.
Map out each day ahead of time. Parking can be tricky. There are several lots near the French Market, but they tend to fill. A better idea may be to park Uptown and take a streetcar down. Stay at the Avenue Inn Bed and Breakfast and you can roll out of bed, cross the street, and take the St. Charles line all the way there.
If you’d rather stay closer to the action, book a room at the Omni Royal Orleans, and the festival takes place right at your doorstep. Or for a healthier alternative, rent a Blue Bike from one of the many kiosks all around the city.
The festival is stretched out over a mile of land. While you can easily spend an entire day in one spot, you want the option to move about. Also remember sunscreen and a blanket or folding chairs so you can settle in and enjoy the day.
Spend one day at Woldenberg Riverfront Park. There move between three different music stages. There’s also a great kids’ area where the STEAM Zone (for Science, Technology, Engineering, Art, and Math) has plenty of activities to entertain young festival goers between shows.
Another full day can be spent at the French Market. You will find a traditional jazz stage and one for international music. Sample local produce or walk the few blocks to Jackson Square and enjoy oysters bon femme from Antoine’s and crawfish Louise from The Court of Two Sisters.
Plan to set up camp at the Old U S Mint. Home to the New Orleans Jazz Museum, it hosts two different music stages. You’ll also find the Abita beer garden with a wide selection of local brews on tap. If you prefer non-alcoholic refreshment try the Plum Street Snoballs. New Orleans may not see much snow, but it has perfected the art of the snoball.
Pace yourself. Remember that life is a marathon, not a sprint. A good New Orleanian knows the goal is to enjoy each day equally. After all, if you squander all your energy on the first day, what will you have left to spend on the other three?
Laissez les bon temps rouler!