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Tourists enjoying the New Orleans French Quarter

What to Do in New Orleans This August

Satchmo SummerFest
Photo courtesy of Satchmo SummerFest on Facebook

Don’t let the long, hot Louisiana summer get you down — there’s plenty to do in New Orleans in August. These five happenings are a testament to our willingness to eat, drink, dance, mingle, strut, and even run — in the heat, humidity, and that inevitable afternoon rain. From brass bands to block parties to a parade to running in a fancy dress for a good cause, August has got something going on every weekend, spilling into the first week of September.

Satchmo SummerFest

What: A jazz-centric music festival/tribute to Louis Armstrong

When: Friday-Sunday, August 4-6, noon-8 p.m. Opening reception Thursday, August 3, 7-9 p.m.

Where: U.S. Mint, 400 Esplanade Ave.

Admission: $5 wristband for daily admission for adults, available at the gate; free for children under 12

More information:

Satchmo SummerFest, named so after one of Louis Armstrong’s nicknames, started as a tribute in 2001, on Armstrong’s 100th birthday. It has been traditionally held on the first week of August and marked by strong attendance. The three-day festival is back this year to its original location at the U.S. Mint at the foot of Esplanade Avenue, after last year’s switch to Jackson Square.

Produced by the nonprofit French Quarter Festivals, Inc., and sponsored by Chevron, Satchmo SummerFest will have music all weekend on its two outdoor, tented stages on the Mint’s grounds, plus dance lessons and demos on the dance floor located on the Mint’s second floor.

Other events will include a Sunday morning Jazz Mass at the historic St. Augustine Church in Treme, seminars and film screenings, kid’s activities, and a second-line parade. For schedule and updates please check the event’s website or its Facebook page.

The lineup is stellar as usual: Meschiya Lake, Hot 8 Brass Band, John Boutte, Ellis Marsalis, Charmaine Neville, and many more. The local Pin Stripe Brass Band, jazz vocalist and musician Nicholas Payton and singer Stephanie Jordan are new this year.

The opening reception will be held on Thursday, August 3, at the Omni Royal Orleans Hotel, featuring local chanteuse Germaine Bazzle. Tickets are $65 per person; $100 for two people. The festival closes on Sunday with a trumpet tribute to Louis Armstrong by Kermit Ruffins.

Crepes a la Cart and Praline Connection are back this year as food vendors, as is Ajun Cajun, with two new po-boys. Also new this year are Bloody Mary singles and doubles.

Whitney White Linen Night

What: A block-party style art event, open house for galleries

When: Saturday, August 5, 5:30-9:30 p.m. After-party at the CAC 9 p.m.-midnight

Where: 300-700 blocks of Julia Street, Warehouse District

Admission: Free; the after-party $10 general admission, free to CAC members

More information:

This popular art event is held on the first Saturday in August in the Warehouse District, centering around the galleries on Julia Street. The 300-700 blocks of Julia Street will be closed off for a block party, with three stages for live music and dozens of food and drink stands (25 restaurants are expected to participate this year). About 20 galleries on and around Julia St. will be open to the public.

Started in 1994 in an attempt to attract visitors to that revived area (now known as Arts District New Orleans), White Linen Night has been growing steadily, attracting more visitors and vendors every year. Help the White Linen Night live up to its name by wearing white, though this is decidedly optional, as there’s no dress code.

The after-party at the Contemporary Arts Center (CAC) will have a cash bar, food, and a DJ. During White Linen Night, CAC’s Cool Down Lounge will be set up at 743 Camp Street. Entrance fee is $50 ($40 for CAC members). Check the CAC event website or Facebook page for updates and a full list of participating galleries.

Red Dress Run

What: An annual fundraiser race for local charities

When: Saturday, August 12, 12:30 p.m.-until (9 a.m. suggested gathering time)

Where: Starts at Crescent Park, 1008 N. Peters St.

Admission: $60 through August 7; $80 after that (cash only on the day of the event)

More information:

Red Dress Run isn’t exclusive to New Orleans, but the local participants take it up a notch by costuming on top of wearing their best and/or most outlandish red dress, regardless of gender. This is an annual fundraiser run for local charities organized by hashing groups (adults-only, non-competitive social running clubs) all over the world. They call themselves “drinking clubs with a running problem” and the local group, New Orleans Hash House Harriers (NOH3), is no exception.

All proceeds from the run will go directly to local charities, according to NOH3. You can check a full list of charities here. You can also register online. Cost varies depending on how early you sign up. For non-hashers, it’s $60 through August 7 and $80 after that and on the day of the event.

The New Orleans Red Dress Run will be in its 23rd year this year, held traditionally on the second Saturday of August. This year the run will start at Crescent Park, though the route will not be publicized until the day of the run. The run won’t take off until 12:30 p.m., but the participants can start showing up as early as 9 a.m. for beer and live entertainment.

The few rules to be aware of, if you plan to participate: Registration fee is cash-only on the day of the event. A red dress is a must, no exceptions. And you must be 21 to participate, because the alcohol will be flowing.

Dirty Linen Night

What: Art, food and music block party

When: Saturday, August 19, 7 p.m.-midnight (end time approximate)

Where: 200-1000 blocks of Royal Street, French Quarter

Admission: Free

More information:

Dirty Linen Night, as you may have guessed, takes after another annual art event, White Linen Night. It follows the White Linen Night exactly one week after, on the second Saturday in August. It is similar in format, though looser in structure and spanning more territory. The multi-block party takes over the 200-1000 blocks of Royal Street and some cross streets and adjoining areas in the French Quarter, including Jackson Square and Dutch Alley. About 40 galleries are expected to participate this year, plus a number of shops and restaurants.

Although Dirty Linen Night does riff off White Linen Night, it wasn’t created to compete with the Warehouse District event but to promote the many galleries and shops of Royal Street. It does have fun with it though. Dirty martinis and dirty rice cheekily make an appearance as food and drink of choice served by some galleries and stores. The event organizers also encourage participants to “wear the dirty clothes they wore the previous week to White Linen Night — no laundry needed.”

Southern Decadence

What: The 46th annual festival celebrating LGBTQ culture

When: Wednesday, August 30 through Monday, September 4; times vary

Where: Various locations

Admission: Depends on the event, but most are free

More information:

What started as a going-away party in the early 70s has evolved into an immensely popular annual event that attracts participants from all over the world. It’s considered the fifth largest event in New Orleans after Mardi Gras, Jazz Fest, Essence Festival, and French Quarter Festival.

Indeed, Southern Decadence is massive. According to the event’s website, last year the festival “broke all records, with over 200,000 gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender participants, and an economic impact estimated to be in excess of $250 million.”

This year’s theme is “Electrified,” with the featured colors announced as “All Colors in Neon.” Just like every year, most activities will be centered in and around the French Quarter, with lots of block parties and dance parties at bars and clubs on Bourbon Street starting on Wednesday.

The free show/block party at the corner of Bourbon and St. Ann Streets is back, as are the two parades. Both parades will take place in the French Quarter. The Friday parade will roll at 7:30 p.m. with about 15 floats starting at Elysian Fields by Washington Park. The Southern Decadence Grand Marshal Parade on Sunday starts at 2 p.m. at Decatur and Barracks Streets. It’s a walking parade.

A lot of events are free and open to the public. You can purchase a VIP Weekend Pass online ($110) for access to all events that do charge an entrance fee and may sell out.

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