French Quarter Festival is an annual event that celebrates the music, food, and unique vibe of the historic French Quarter in New Orleans, Louisiana. It showcases the musical genres that the city is known for like blues, funk, folk, jazz, and zydeco.
The event was conceptualized in 1983 when ten New Orleanians were recruited by the Mayor’s office to organize a festival for the city. The sole musician in this committee was jazz pianist Ronnie Kole, who had a large role to play in determining the music direction and lineups. The first French Quarter Festival was held in 1984. In recent years, French Quarter Festivals, Inc., which produces other successful events like the Satchmo SummerFest, has run the event.
More than 20 stages are set up all over the neighborhood where top local and regional musicians and bands perform. In the year 2014, over 700,000 people attended the French Quarter Festival, making it one of the largest events of its kind in the country.
The festival serves as a platform for hundreds of local musicians every year and allows guests to experience culinary delights from many of the restaurants in the city. Thanks to its success and the high quality of the music performances, it is oft considered one of the best free festivals in region.
French Quarter Festival is free for everyone to enjoy, including the musical performances. You may only end up spending money on food, beverages, and any merchandise you decide to purchase. This is made possible thanks to generous donations, community partners, and corporate sponsorships. You can choose to give back to the community by volunteering at the event or by making a donation. For more information on the schedule and volunteer opportunities, take a look at the festival website.
It a good idea to park your rig at your chosen RV park and head to the festival area using an alternate mode of transportation. Driving in the area can be tricky, and motorists will want to check for road closures due to festival activities before arriving in New Orleans.
The performances take place at various stages throughout the French Quarter neighborhood. It’s a good idea to download or take a print out of the festival map provided on the website. This way, you can easily navigate from one point to the next. Watch for weather and road alerts through the Louisiana Department of Transportation or via 511 services.
Motorists may find several parking lots within walking distance of the festival like the French Market and Canal Place shopping areas. These fill up fast, especially on the days of the event, so you’ll need to get there early. You may also be able to park in the Marigny neighborhood nearby and walk to the venue. Keep in mind that much of the parking in the downtown area will best be accessed with a tow vehicle, campervan, or smaller rig.
You can get to the festival using the RTA buses or the Loyola Streetcar line which has a drop-off point near the French Quarter. If you’re traveling from the west bank, you also have the option of taking the Canal Street Ferry. The fastest way to reach the venue is by using a taxi service or a ride-hailing app.
Onsite camping is not permitted at the festival venue. It’s a good idea to book a spot at an RV park nearby in advance.
Travelers can look to enjoy some great RV parks within six miles of the French Quarter. Staying at one of these will get you in the epicenter of the scene in New Orleans. Some of them are just large parking lots where campers can dry camp, while others come equipped with facilities like full-hookups, WiFi, and laundry services.
The best way to get around the French Quarter area is on foot. There are many paved public sidewalks which are navigable by wheelchair. The main stages will have accessible viewing areas. Bicycles, Segways, skateboards, skates, golf carts, ATVs, and other personal vehicles will not be allowed within the venue areas.
New Orleans is warm and pleasant in the springtime, so go dressed for the weather. Wearing layers is a good idea, and you can’t go wrong with clothing made from lightweight fabrics like cotton. Make sure you wear flat-soled shoes that you can walk in all day or dance the night away comfortably.
Carry a light bag or backpack packed with essentials like sunscreen, wet wipes, a hat, a rain poncho, and a foldable chair or lightweight blanket. Although most vendors accept cards, It’s a good idea to carry some cash to purchase food and beverages or to pay for parking. ATMs will be present throughout the festival grounds.
Adequate hydration is absolutely essential to keep your energy up through all the days of the festival. Make sure you drink plenty of water and take breaks to get off your feet. There will be several shaded areas with seating. Thousands of people attend the French Quarter Festival, so keep an eye on your belongings and stay close to your group.
Cooking, stoves or grills of any kind will not be allowed on the festival grounds. Since the festival is free, outside food and beverages are not permitted, and organizers encourage guests to try some of the delicious local food on offer. Of course, you can cook meals at your campsite, and groceries can be picked up at several local stores.
You won't want to leave the French Quarter without trying some of its iconic dining experiences. The City of New Orleans is known for its exceptional cajun and creole cooking. Dine at one of the world-renowned fine dining restaurants for exemplary food and service, or grab a delicious po’ boy to take with you on the go.
The food is as important as the music at the French Quarter Festival. Every year new vendors are brought in to offer a range of dishes to seasoned festival veterans as well as first-time attendees. There will be both healthy and indulgent dishes to choose from at this eclectic outdoor event. Some of the must-tries are the meat pies, boiled crawfish, and jambalaya.
Due to the large crowds that flock to the festival every year, security is taken very seriously. Thorough bag checks will be conducted upon entry to all major stages and sites. Make sure you’re not carrying any prohibited items like weapons, drones, or alcohol. These will have to be surrendered to security or discarded.
Spring is a great time of year to travel to the city. Since the event takes place outdoors, there is always a chance that rain could impede the proceedings. In the event of heavy rain or thunderstorms, some performances may be postponed or canceled. Keep an eye on live updates and check if any road or weather alerts have been issued before traveling to the area.
Several first aid stations will be located throughout the festival grounds. Any medications you need will be permitted as long as the bottle is labeled with your name and you have a prescription. Service animals will be allowed, and patrons with disabilities can contact the organizers for any special requests.