We can't argue that Jazz Fest and Mardi Gras are a great reason to visit New Orleans. But did you know that the Crescent City is known as the "Festival Capital of the World" for its roughly 130 happenings per year? New Orleanians like to say that if you can think of it, they've created a festival for it. And while the season officially kicks off in spring, festivals run year-round and some of the best are in fall, when temps drop just enough to accommodate outdoor events comfortably. From the Blues and BBQ Festival to Boudin, Bourbon & Beer, here are five festivals worth checking out in New Orleans this autumn.
Crescent City Blues and BBQ
Put on by the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Foundation — the nonprofit that owns Jazz Fest — this three-day event happens each year come mid-October in Lafayette Square Park. Two stages feature some of the country's best-known blues artists, along with a dozen barbecue vendors, and an impressive art market. Bring your camp chairs and post up — it's a laid-back event with loads of locals who like to eat, drink, and dance.
Krewe of Boo
Can't make Mardi Gras, or too timid about the crowds? Krewe of Boo is a fantastic fall introduction to New Orleans' parade scene. With spooky floats created by Kern Studios, the march begins at Elysian Fields and winds through the French Quarter, passing through N. Peters and Decatur Streets to Jackson Square, and on towards the Warehouse District, finishing all the way up near the Convention Center. Not only is it free, but you can catch throws like toys, beads, candy, and voodoo doll pins and magnets.
Boudin, Bourbon & Beer
Presented by the Emeril Lagasse Foundation, this one-night culinary extravaganza features more than 70 local and national chefs and is co-chaired by Donald Link, Stephen Stryjewski, and Guy Fieri. Guests can nosh on handcrafted small bites and sip Buffalo Trace Rum cocktails, wine, and Abita Beers, including the special New Orleans Tricentennial brew, and feel good knowing their admission went to a good cause. This year's event falls on Nov 9th, and tickets can be purchased here.
Cost: $135 for unlimited food, drinks, cigars, live concerts, and access to the silent auction. Proceeds benefit the Emeril Lagasse Foundation, which specializes in culinary education and nutrition.
Oak Street Po-Boy Festival
This year plays host to the 12th-annual Oak Street Po-Boy Festival in uptown New Orleans. Tourists often miss this section of the city, but it's worth a visit: The historic street is lined with coffee shops, art galleries, new and second-hand clothing boutiques, restaurants, and great music venues — plus it's easily accessible by streetcar. And the festival features more than 60 varieties of the city's beloved sandwich, along with local bands and art.
Cost: Free admission, but guests must purchase $5 wristbands in order to order food, which is also sold separately.
Fête des Fromages
Be a part of New Orleans' inaugural Fête des Fromages, and what will be the only cheese festival in the South. Held this year on November 17, the event celebrates all things cheese, wine, and music with more than 100 artisan cheeses from all over the world. It takes place in the New Orleans Jazz Museum at the U.S. Mint.
Cost: General admission is $25 and includes unlimited cheese samplings. Upgrade to a Fête Blanche ticket ($65) to add-on two wine/beer/cider tickets, a Formaticum cheese tasting notebook, unlimited reentry, entrance to the New Orleans Jazz Museum, a cooler bag, and bottled water; or to Fête Bleue VIP ($125), includes all of the aforementioned perks, plus early admission, access to VIP lounge with light brunch, one pre-registered seminar/Cheese 101 class with wine pairing, and unlimited drinks.