After two long pandemic (and festival-impaired) years, music stages and food booths are starting to be erected again almost on a weekly basis, as the city begins to resurrect. The spring festival season shows signs that nature is healing, and New Orleans is starting to feel more like itself again — broken traffic lights and all.
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French Quarter Festival has kicked off with four days of celebrating Louisiana music, food, and culture, and, after the long wait, the festival gods are rewarding locals with some pretty perfect festing weather. That being said, there’s no reason to skip out this weekend. Whether it’s the food, music, drinks, shopping, or outdoor activities that speak to you, French Quarter Fest has something for everyone.
Let our field guide show you the way. It might not be your first rodeo, but everyone could use a refresher after a two-year hiatus (no shame).
Spanning across the French Quarter’s 78 square blocks, French Quarter Fest is the largest free festival, which includes 20 musical stages, over 265 musical acts, and cuisine from over 50 restaurants. That’s right, it’s all free.99.
The festival kicks off Thursday, April 21– Sunday, April 24, with festival “gates” opening daily from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. Music headliners and fan favorites include local legends Tank and the Bangas, Irma Thomas, The Soul Rebels, Walter “Wolfman” Washington, Robin Barnes and the Fyabirds, and many more.
Everyone has their festival go-to, like the Natchitoches meat pies or cochon de lait po-boy, for example. If those aren’t your favorite, then you should try them. Then, make sure to save room for some French Quarter Festival newbies this year, including Paella NOLA, Crabby Jacks, and Ethiopian restaurant Addis NOLA, among others.
Support the French Quarter businesses
One of the best things about French Quarter Fest is that there’s more to do beyond festing. If the great outdoors isn’t for you, duck into the neighborhoods’ airconditioned bars, restaurants, and stores while listening to the live music on the streets this weekend. For drinks, make pit stops at the Will and the Way, the Chart Room, and Molly’s at the Market for frozen Irish coffees. Shop at some of the coolest stores in the quarter like Kay’s, Gimme, and Goorin Bros. Hat Shop. When you’re ready to sit down for a meal, some favorites include Dian Xin for dumplings, Justine for a burger and a mean martini, or Sylvain for champagne and fries.
FQF After Dark
It’s New Orleans after all, and the locals don’t stop just because the festival does at 8 pm. As the song says, “you don’t have to go home, but you can’t stay here.” The festival has now expanded programming into the evening with nighttime performances and events at different venues throughout the city. Venues and tickets are listed below to keep festing into the night.
- Thursday, April 21 FQF After Dark at Double Dealer featuring George Porter Jr. Trio. The event is free. Doors open at 6 pm with performances from 9 pm-12 am.
- Friday, April 22 FQF After Dark at Three Keys at ACE Hotel featuring Cha Wa. Tickets can be purchased here and are $30 in advance and $40 at the door. The performance will be from 9 pm-12 pm.
- Saturday, April 23 FQF After Dark at Hotel Saint Vincent featuring Cyril Neville. Tickets can be purchased here and are $50 in advance. The performance will be from 9 pm-12 am.
- Sunday, April 24 FQF After Dark at Midnight Revival at the Frenchmen Hotel featuring Holly Rock. Tickets can be purchased here and are $10. Doors open at 7 pm with performances from 8 pm-11 pm.