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Your Guide to Summer in the French Quarter | French Market Inn

New Orleans Summer Festivals, the Perfect Time to Party With Friends

Jazz player at Jazz Fest in New Orleans

People come from all over to experience New Orleans’s eccentric culture, flavorful food, and unique customs and traditions. Get your firsthand New Orleans experience at one of the many interesting festivals happening this summer!

Bringing Friends Together at Summer Festivals in New Orleans

Kick off the summer fest season with the French Market Creole Tomato Festival (June 8-9) that celebrates the arrival of the beloved Creole tomato. In its 33rd year, the free festival will again feature two live music stages, cooking demos, kid’s activities, and the Bloody Mary Market in Dutch Alley.

The free Louisiana Cajun-Zydeco Festival (June 22–23) features top Cajun and Zydeco musicians from New Orleans and Acadiana on two stages at the Louis Armstrong Park, plus a big arts market, cooking demos, and numerous food options from local vendors, with emphasis on Cajun and Creole food. This year, the Grammy winners and festival regulars The Lost Bayou Ramblers will headline again along with the Grammy nominees Dwayne Dopsie & the Zydeco Hellraisers.

The annual Independence Day weekend is shaping up to be spectacular as usual, filled with special events, fireworks, and — this being New Orleans — great food and music. Kick off the festivities with Go 4th on the River celebration, a free Dueling Barges fireworks show over the Mississippi River at the Riverfront.

What to Do on the Fourth of July Weekend in the French Quarter

Fourth of July Weekend in the French Quarter
Photo courtesy of Paddlewheeler Creole Queen on Facebook

The upcoming Independence Day weekend is shaping up to be spectacular, filled with special events, fireworks, and — this being New Orleans — great food and music. If you’re planning to spend yours in the French Quarter, here are some things we suggest for you, your friends and your family to do.

Kick off the festivities with Go 4th on the River celebration, featuring a free Dueling Barges fireworks show over the Mississippi River at the Riverfront at 9 p.m. Pick up a muffuletta from Central Grocery on Decatur Street, or an “All That Jazz” po-boy from Verti Marte on Royal (we also heartily recommend the Cuban sandwich); and set up a picnic by the river at the Woldenberg Park while you wait for the fireworks.

There’s plenty of grass and benches, as well as street performances along the Moonwalk, which is a walkway named for former New Orleans mayor Maurice “Moon” Landrieu. Watch the boats go by and take in the public art that liberally dots the space.

Another option is to book a steamboat cruise on the Mississippi River and watch the show from the deck while you party. Creole Queen‘s Fourth of July Celebration Cruise boards starting at 7 p.m., and includes an open bar, a buffet, and lots of music (DJ, piano, and jazz band in three different rooms). The buffet’s menu is posted on the company website. Billed as “American favorites,” it includes BBQ chicken, pulled pork, corn on the cob, and apple pie. Tickets are $129 for the adults, $69 for children 6-12 and $20 for kids 3-5.

Don’t want to commit to a cruise? Take a ferry across the river to Algiers Point for $2. A great view of the fireworks is guaranteed — en route and from the other bank.

While you are at the Riverfront, you can’t miss the French Market across the street. The best way to experience it is to walk through its open-air mall, starting with the food stands and ending at Esplanade. As the oldest continually operating public market in the country since 1791, the French Market has a structure of a traditional European market. It covers roughly five blocks, from Cafe du Monde on Decatur St. across from Jackson Square to the daily flea market at the end of Esplanade Avenue.

The flea market has local arts and vendors from all over the world. You’ll find souvenirs, handmade art and jewelry, t-shirts, music, and more. Sample local food and cocktails from the food stands or the nearby restaurants sprawling in every direction, or pick up pralines and a beignet mix to take home from any of the surrounding retail shops at The Shops of the Colonnade.

In the mood for more shopping? The Outlet Collection at Riverwalk is an indoor outlet mall hosting more than 75 retailers and restaurants, including Nordstrom Rack and Mike Anderson’s Seafood. It is a short walk/streetcar ride along the riverfront from the French Market.

The Shops at Canal Place are a short walk away from the Riverwalk, featuring dozens of upscale retailers like Saks Fifth Avenue and Brooks Brothers, plus a small food court. For yet more shopping, check out the shops along N. Peters Street, including H&M and Sephora.

Need a respite from the heat but don’t feel like hanging in the mall? The sprawling Harrah’s New Orleans Casino is within walking distance from the riverfront as well, on Canal Street. The complex features everything a large casino could offer. Foodwise, you can get a taste of local food at The Steakhouse or Acme Oyster House. There’s always the buffet, too, of course.

If you don’t mind venturing a bit further away from the French Quarter toward the Convention Center, the Mardi Gras World museum will give you a taste of Mardi Gras with a grand tour of all things Carnival and a free slice of King Cake. Tickets are $19.95 for adults and $12.95 for children ages 2-11. There’s a free shuttle available with designated pickup stops in the French Quarter and downtown if you’re interested in booking a tour (map and contact info on the website).

ESSENCE Fest will also be held that weekend at the Superdome and the Convention Center (the Convention Center events are free, registration required), wrapping up on Sunday, July 7. The lineup is stellar as always, and the Convention Center will host a food court and the arts-and-crafts market.

Gear up for the best in R&B, hip-hop, jazz, and blues with ESSENCE Festival (July 5-7), held at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome and the Convention Center. Beyond the concerts held each night of the fest at the Superdome, the free daytime activities at the Convention Center include motivational seminars, beauty and style presentations, celebrity interviews, cooking demos, and lots more. Michelle Obama, Brandy, Missy Elliott, Mary J. Blige, Nas, and Pharrell Williams are all scheduled to make an appearance.

Kick Off Your Summer With Essence Festival in New Orleans

Looking for something fun to do in New Orleans coming up this July? Look no further. ESSENCE Festival will be taking place in New Orleans over the Independence Day weekend (July 4-7). This unique New Orleans festival hosts multiple famous musical guests, renowned speakers, unforgettable food, fashion, beauty, culture, and much more. Music lovers from all over simply can’t go wrong with all the incredible names in this year’s lineup.

Over the four days, the event will be held mostly at the two New Orleans venues: the Mercedes-Benz Superdome for the evening performances and the New Orleans Ernest N. Morial Convention Center for the daytime activities. Some of the daytime events like the conferences and the exhibits will also be held at the Contemporary Arts Center (CAC), and the new Wellness House experience will be held in the Arts District downtown at the Lighthouse Glass Gallery (743 Camp St.).

Photo courtesy of Essence Festival on Facebook

Soak In the Music at Essence Festival in New Orleans

Essence Festival is a music lover’s dream, and this year’s lineup includes many acclaimed musical artists with chart-topping hits. You will have the chance to see live performances from renowned musical artists like Brandy, Missy Elliott, Mary J. Blige, Nas, Big Freedia, Pharrell Williams, Timbaland, and many more.

The traditional Sunday Gospel Celebration at the Convention center will feature the greatest gospel hits, and admission is free. ESSENCE After Dark is a series of late-night jam sessions, comedy shows, underground performances, live podcast recordings, and more.

More Events

The festival has a lot more than just music. One of the highlights of this year’s keynote events is the chance to see Michelle Obama on the Superdome mainstage on Saturday, July 6, who will talk about her bestselling memoir. A slew of exciting conferences, exhibitions, roundtables, and other experiences is also scheduled, including a series of keynotes with Rev. Al Sharpton, Congresswoman Ilhan Omar, Mayor Latoya Cantrell, and Pharrell Williams. The Beauty Carnival and Wellness House experiences will bring beauty influencers and wellness experts to the stage, and the celebrated ESSENCE Eats will once again have cooking demos and the food court with the vendors from all over the South offering a wide range of classic New Orleans food, world cuisine, vegan and vegetarian fare, desserts, and beyond.

How to Get Your Tickets

You can get your tickets a la carte (for the evening concerts at the Superdome and for the ESSENCE After Dark) or in bundled day and VIP packages, online. The headliners sell out fast, so don’t wait till the last minute! All the events held at the Convention Center during the day are free and open to all (registration is required).

Stay Close to the ESSENCE Festival

 If you are attending ESSENCE, book your stay at a beautiful New Orleans hotel close to the sounds of the city, the French Market Inn! This historic hotel is located in the heart of the New Orleans French Quarter, close to a multitude of popular New Orleans bars, restaurants and landmarks, including the Superdome and the Convention Center. This quaint hotel also gives you old New Orleans charm, without sacrificing any of the modern-day amenities that you want when staying at a hotel. When you stay at the French Market Inn, you can walk through meandering gardens and a beautiful stone-paved courtyard that allows you to enjoy little oasis away from the hustle and bustle of the city.

Running of the Bulls brings Encierro to New Orleans on July 12-14, except the bulls are the Big Easy Rollergirls. San Fermin in Nueva Orleans pays annual homage to the world-famous Encierro of Pamplona, Spain, running through the CBD starting at the Sugar Mill on Saturday, July 13. The annual opening and closing parties happening that weekend are also great fun (check out the schedule on the event’s website).

Run Like No One’s Watching at Running of the Bulls in New Orleans

running of the bulls NOLA

It’s 6:30 a.m., and thousands of people have gathered in the streets of downtown New Orleans, drinking, eating, and preparing for an event like no other. This isn’t your ordinary Saturday morning. This is New Orleans’s version of Spain’s Encierro de Pamplona, San Fermin in Nueva Orleans!

The “bulls” are actually the Big Easy Rollergirls (plus the participants from the other roller derby leagues across the country) on skates. The runners, wearing white with red accents, attempt to run away from the girls as they chase after them with wiffle ball bats. This eccentric festival will be taking place in New Orleans from August 23-25, centering around the Sugar Mill (1021 Convention Center Blvd.) in Downtown New Orleans.

The Encierro

The festival stretches over the weekend, but the run itself takes place on Saturday, August 24. Beginning at 6:30 a.m., join thousands of runners, wearing all white and accessorized with red scarves and handkerchiefs, by the Sugar Mill. Live music, beer, sangria, and food trucks on site to get things going. The participants get the party started by saying a prayer to Saint Fermin (Pamplona’s patron saint). After the Procession of San Fermin and the Invocation, the race starts at 8 a.m. sharp.

While there is no dress code, the runners are encouraged to dress in the style of Spain’s Encierro de Pamplona: white top and bottom, with something red around the waist and the neck. This being New Orleans, many runners do, and get very creative with their gear. The Derby girls wear red and black with horns and various other accessories meant to intimidate the runners.

Wrought-Iron balconies in the New Orleans French Quarter

The Pre- and Post-run Events

The run lasts till about 11:30 a.m. (you can check out the route here), followed by a live music show back at the Sugar Mill. After that, you can attend the traditional La Fiesta de Pantalones, held this year at the Rusty Nail (1100 Constance St.) starting at 11:30 a.m., or join the other revelers who stick around to make a day of it bar-crawling downtown.

On Friday, August 23, the festival opens with El Txupinazo (and pronounced “el choo-pin-AHT-so”), hosted by one of the charities that benefits from this festival, Beth’s Friends Forever, at the Sugar Mill, 5-9 p.m. There will be an auction, live music, and food from Apolline, Atchafalaya, Bacchanal, Commander’s Palace, Sobou, and Tavolino.

Recover the next day after the race at Sunday’s annual event, El Pobre de Mi (“Poor Me”), an Ernest Hemingway-themed party at Lula Restaurant Distillery (1532 St. Charles Ave.), 10 a.m. – 2 p.m., with Roxie Le Rouge’s Big Deal Burlesque, cocktails, and a Papa Hemingway look-a-like contest. This is a non-ticketed event, and there’s no cover.

All events happening on Friday and Saturday are ticketed (tickets are $30-$95). Proceeds go to Beth’s Friends Forever, a charity named after Nola Bulls cofounder Beth Hanning, which raises money for financially needy women fighting cancer in the Greater New Orleans area; and the  Big Easy Animal Rescue.

On a final note, do NOT underestimate the “bulls” as they will not hold back when it comes to whacking participants with the wiffle ball bats. In fact, some participants really get into it and even yell at the bulls to entice them to chase after them. Dangerous? You’ll have to decide for yourself!

A city renowned for its world-famous partying, New Orleans knows how to have a good time, and wants you to grab some friends and join in. After all, some of the world’s most famous cocktails were invented in this city, and New Orleans loves to celebrate its drinking culture. If you and your friends are interested in cocktails and drink-mixing, you may want to check out Tales of the Cocktail (July 16-21), a six-day festival packed with tastings, seminars, and special events that are all centered around exchanging ideas and techniques in the cocktail world. This lively festival is perfect for passionate mixologists, professionals and enthusiasts alike.

The Tales’ schedule is filled with seminars, workshops, tastings, book signings, bartender contests, networking, and much more. The festival’s signature annual blowout, the “best of” Spirited Awards, will be held on Saturday, July 20, followed by the always-popular after-party.

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: Traditionally held on the first week of August

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.,  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.

Whitney White Linen Night

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

When: The first Saturday in August in the Warehouse District

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.

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: Second Saturday of August

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.

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: Second Saturday in August

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 annual festival celebrating LGBTQ culture

When: Labor Day Weekend

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.

There will be a free show/block party at the corner of Bourbon and St. Ann Streets and two parades. Both parades will take place in the French Quarter.

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

Satchmo SummerFest (August 2-4) started as a tribute to Louis Armstrong over a decade ago, on his 100th birthday. The three-day festival is held at the New Orleans Jazz Museum at the Old U.S. Mint at the foot of Esplanade Avenue., and will have music all weekend on its two outdoor, tented stages. Other events will include a Sunday morning Jazz Mass at the historic St. Augustine Church in Tremé, seminars and film screenings, kid’s activities, and a second-line parade.

The White Linen Night (Saturday, August 3) is a free block party and an open house for galleries on the 300-700 blocks of Julia Street in the Warehouse District, with three stages for live music and dozens of food and drink stands. Participants are invited to wear white (hence the name). About 20 galleries on and around Julia St. will be open to the public, with an after-party traditionally held at the Contemporary Arts Center.

White Linen’s cheeky cousin, the Dirty Linen Night (Saturday, August 10) is similar in format, though looser in structure and spanning more territory. It actually wasn’t created to compete with the Warehouse District event but to promote the many galleries and shops of Royal Street. 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.

You and your friends may also have to buy a silly (or glamorous) red dress for this next New Orleans summer festival. The Red Dress Run (Saturday, August 10) also doubles as a fundraiser, donating to a number of local charities. Both women and men are required to wear red dresses while partaking in a pub crawl-like run. The run traditionally starts at Crescent Park, though the route will not be publicized until the day of the run.

The always fabulous Southern Decadence festival (August 29 – September 2) is traditionally held on the Labor Day weekend. This massive four-day festival celebrates LGBT culture and attracts participants from all over the world. 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, plus two parades.

There’s no better time to try out an award-winning restaurant or revisit the old favorite than August, thanks to the annual COOLinary program. COOLinary was conceived 15 years ago as a promotion to lure diners to local restaurants in the slower summer months, during which the restaurants all over the city offer discounted dining deals. This year, the deals follow the same format as in the previous years: the prix fixe three-course dinner and brunch menus don’t go over $39, and the two- to three-course lunch menus don’t exceed $20. Over 100 restaurants are expected to participate.

tales of the cocktail 6

Finding the Perfect Place to Stay in New Orleans

New Orleans offers tons of fun festivals and events for people of all ages and interests, appealing to both locals and tourists alike. If you are visiting the Big Easy this summer, be sure to book your stay at The French Market Inn, a charming historic hotel in the New Orleans French Quarter located close to all of the festivals and excitement.

End of Summer New Orleans Festivals

Even though the end of summer is approaching fast, there are still plenty of cool things to do and awesome festivals to attend this August in the beautiful city of New Orleans. From the great eats of the COOLinary Festival, to the zany fun of the Red Dress Run, excitement, food, and of course some drinks, can be found aplenty near the French Quarter this month. When you’re planning your visit to New Orleans to take part in the festivities, make sure you reserve your room at the historic French Market Inn in the heart of the French Quarter so you can be close to all the sights, sounds, smells, and attractions. After you book your place to stay, make sure you put these festivals on your list of things to do while you are in the Big Easy!

New Orleans Streetcar

COOLinary New Orleans

Get ready to send your taste buds on a whirlwind adventure in the month of August with COOLinary New Orleans. This dining promotion runs throughout the month and features more than 80 restaurants offering special prix fixe lunch, brunch, and dinner menus. Some of the best known restaurants with the best flavors will be participating, like Antoine’s, Cafe Degas, Galatoire’s 33 Bar & Steak, and Brigtsen’s just to name a few. The French Market Inn’s own sister hotel, The Prince Conti, even has it’s Bombay Club on the roster! Be sure to check out COOLinary New Orleans’ website for a full list of participants, all sure to keep you full yourself.

The Bombay Club in Prince Conti Hotel

Red Dress Run

The annual New Orleans Red Dress Run is an event you don’t want to miss! Where else than New Orleans can you find a whole gang of smiling runners all wearing red dresses Grab a red dresses and having a blast? Hosted by the Hash House Harriers (a self-styled “drinking club with a running problem,”), and the proceeds from this year’s run will go to over 100 charities! It’s a good time for a good cause.

Red Dress Run photos provided by our friend David Fary.

red dress run new orleans

Dirty Linen Night

If you missed the Red Dress Run or still want to party in your dirty red dress, Dirty Linen Night is for you! Taking place on Royal Street for six blocks, this is the time to wear your best dirty clothes, or “Linen”, and take part in a five hour event with showcasing art, drinks, food, and of course fun! The New Orleans French Quarter is full of culture, tradition, and flavor, and the Dirty Linen Night is a great representation of the character of the city. Be sure to swing by during your trip to the Big Easy.

dirty linen night

NOLA Downtown Music and Arts Festival

Making your New Orleans trip a little later in the summer? Be sure to hit up the NOLA Downtown Music and Arts Festival . Like the Red Dress Run, this is festival also for a good cause. You can eat, drink, have fun listening to live music all while supporting the Music Business Institute, a New Orleans based non-profit helping musicians and entertainment professionals. The Downtown Music and Arts Festival takes place near the French Quarter in the Warehouse District along Fulton and Diamond Streets, and will feature street music, pop-up shops, art, food trucks, and even bowling! If you are going to be in the city for this event, make sure to add this to your to-do list.

Stay in a French Quarter Hotel This Summer

Come partake in one of all of these outstanding New Orleans festivals coming up soon in the Big Easy! If you are visiting the city this summer and looking for a French Quarter hotel located close to all the action, book your spot at the French Market Inn! This historic French Quarter hotel is ideally located close to many of these great festivals and events, and provides guests with that southern New Orleans charm and impeccable service. Reserve your spot at the French Market Inn today!

Two bed hotel room in New Orleans

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