Last updated: 08:35 PM ET, Tue April 12 2016

Let the Good Times Roll

New Orleans' 140-plus annual festivals serve as a major tourism draw.

Vacation Agent | Destination & Tourism | Claudette Covey

Let the Good Times Roll

Kim Priez jokes about the fact that New Orleanians never need an excuse to throw a party. “We celebrate everything from seafood and local produce to music genres and literary geniuses, or even just completi ng a successful work day,” say Priez, senior vice president, tourism for the New Orleans Convention & Visitors Bureau.

So it should come as no surprise that one of the city’s biggest tourism draws is its vibrant portfolio of festivals, including, of course, its annual Mardi Gras celebrations. “The city hosts more than 140 festivals each year with even more events popping up on the calendar every year,” says Priez. “Festivals are a huge part of New Orleans’ culture.”

She notes that the city’s festivals enable visitors to experience the best elements of New Orleans in a central setting. “There’s no other way a visitor can hear multiple great local bands play while sampling New Orleans cuisine and shopping booths of local arti sans,” she says. “Some of the renowned fine-dining restaurants in the city participate in festivals – where you can get a version of a menu item for a fraction of the cost.”

READ MORE: 15 Free Things To Do In New Orleans

Following is a sampling of spring, summer and fall festivals that you can recommend to your clients.

The French Quarter Festival. Scheduled for April 7-10, the festival (pictured above) brings together hundreds of musicians who perform on 22 stages throughout the French Quarter. The festival also features what New Orleans has dubbed the “World’s Largest Brunch.” Dates for 2017 are scheduled for April 6-9.

New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival. Held annually over two consecutive weekends at the Fairgrounds Race Track, the festival’s slate of performers will include Stevie Wonder, Pearl Jam, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Neil Young, Snoop Dogg and Paul Simon. Dates for this year are April 22-24 and April 28-May 1. Next year’s dates are scheduled for April 21-23 and April 28-30.

New Orleans Wine & Food Experience. Hundreds of restaurants and wineries participate in this event, which is set for May 26-28. Highlights include the “Big Gateaux Show,” a pastry competition featuring burlesque stars; a “Royal Street Stroll,” where participants can stop at tents offering food and wine along the route; and the “The Grand Tasting,” which puts the spotlight on domestic and international wine and food provided by upwards of 75 New Orleans chefs and vintners.

Louisiana Cajun-Zydeco Festival. Now in its 10th year, the festival will include a musical lineup featuring Nathan & the Zydeco Cha Chas, Steve Riley & the Mamou Playboys, Roddie Romero and the Hub City All-Stars. It will be held June 18-19 on the grounds of the Old U.S. Mint on the perimeter of the French Quarter between the French Market and Esplanade Avenue.

Tales of the Cocktail. The festival brings together local and international bartenders who compete in mixology contests and create cocktails that can be paired with meals. The event is scheduled for July 15-19.

Voodoo Music Experience. Held at City Park Oct. 28-30, the high-energy festival encourages participants to come in Halloween costumes. The slate of 2016 performers has not yet been announced. Past acts have included Florence and the Machine, Jane’s Addiction, Ozzy Osbourne and Third Eye Blind.

Louisiana Seafood Festival. Travelers can sample an array of Gulf Coast seafood, including gumbo, charbroiled oysters, Louisiana shrimp, soft-shell crab, crawfish and alligator from some of New Orleans’ most celebrated restaurants. The festival will be take place at the City Park Festival Grounds Sept. 4-6.

Crescent City Blues and BBQ Festival. Scheduled to be held at Lafayette Square Park from Oct. 14-16, the event couples barbecue and other smoked dishes along with a musical lineup including such soul and blues musicians as Ruthie Foster, Marcia Ball, Kenny Neal, Swamp Dogg, Lazy Lester and Carol Fran.

Oak Street Po-Boy Festival. The annual event pays homage to one of New Orleans’ culinary staples – the po-boy. The festival includes panel discussions on such topics as the traditions of French bread making, along with music, arts and crafts, and a children’s area featuring games and prizes. The festival is slated for November. Specific dates have yet to be announced.


The New Orleans Convention & Visirors Bureau (CVB) has long been a strong advocate of the travel agent community.

"Travel agents have always been important to New Orleans. We have been working and investing in agents since 1975," says Thu Tran, New Orleans CVB dedicated sales manager for travel advisors. ''We are a destination that has a lot to offer, and many visitors only have a long weekend. Agents help their clients with the must-see opportunities and also introduce them to what is new in the city."

The CVB offers an arsenal of information and programs that can be found on its agent website at "New Orleans has invested time and resources to nurture our excellent relationship with agents," says Tran. "On the website, agents can access educational courses to become a New Orleans specialist, find information on fams and promotions, and learn about complimentary tools and resources when selling New Orleans."

For more than 20 years, the CVB has been hosting summer and Christmas fams for agents. 

"We know that seeing is believing, so we are thrilled to continue these programs in 2016," says Tran. "new Orleans confirmed how important agents were to the city after Hurricane Katrina. The CVB invited over 2,500 agents to the city to see the recovery first hand and they were instrumental in our quick recovery."

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Vacation Agent Magazine

A version of this article appears in print in the April 2016 issue of Vacation Agent Magazine.