Celebrate like a local with these New Orleans Festivals
New Orleans is home to the most iconic festival in the United States-Mardi Gras. Millions head to the French Quarter district of the city to be a part of the month long celebration. Of course Mardi Gras is indeed worth partaking in during your internship. But a host celebrations take place all over New Orleans throughout the entire year that are just as enjoyable. Make a point to take part in any or all of these New Orleans Festivals during your internship.
No one does Carnival like New Orleans. On the twelfth night (January 6), residents begin gearing up for the Mardi Gras season. Locals and visitors quickly become infatuated with eating king cakes and oysters, dressing up in masks, tossing beads, and hosting parades. During the Endymion Krewe parade, you’ll delight at the colossal floats and flambeaux walkers.
As Ash Wednesday nears, the city’s intensity grows. Fat Tuesday is the height of entertainment of Mardi Gras. This is the final day of gluttonous eating and excessive partying that many will partake in until Lent is over. If you can only pick one festival to attend during your internship to New Orleans, Mardi Gras should be it.
St. Patrick’s Day
While technically the ‘holiday’ is on March 17 each year, New Orleans celebrates the Irish day for a week and a half! The Irish Channel, located in the Garden district of the city is where many Irish immigrants first settled. It is here where you can enjoy several St. Patrick’s Day parades and legendary block parties.
The Sunday before St. Patrick’s Day, head to the lower section of Magazine Street and St. Charles Avenue. There, you’ll witness a plethora of green clad parade marchers tossing celebratory beads and doubloons to the crowds. As part of tradition, ingredients for Irish Stew are also tossed to the crowds. Be on the lookout for onions, cabbages, potatoes, and carrots!
If you do plan on attending one of these fun filled New Orleans Festivals on St Patrick’s Day, be sure to wear something green. Local parade goers strictly enforce the rules for attire so if you don’t wear green, you may get pinched!
French Quarter Festival
Kicking off the spring festival season, the French Quarter Festival takes place the second week of April. The free festival boasts tons of food, music, art, history and is rich in Louisiana culture. Pump your parasol and let the good times roll while you dance to live music played by Cajon and Zydeco performers who travel from all across Louisiana to perform.
New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival
Held the last weekend of April and the first weekend of May, the Jazz and Heritage Festival draws big name musicians each year. You will get your musical fill as you wander through the different mini-venues, like the Blues Tent, Congo Square Stage and the Gospel Stage. Locals and visitors alike head to the Fair Grounds Race Course for the one of a kind performances and unforgettable experience.
Many of New Orleans residents are Catholic making Easter a major celebration in the French Quarter. And no New Orleans festival celebration is complete without an over sized parade. After morning mass, residents clad in colorful Easter fashions head to the streets. Easter egg hunts commence and are followed by live singers, marching brass bands, dancers, and of course lots of food.
New Orleans Oyster Festival
Charbroiled, raw, stuffed, fried, or Rockefeller, New Orleans knows it oysters. The Oyster Festival is a great opportunity to explore just about everything there is to know about them. The first weekend of June, head to Woldenberg Park for a day of eating and learning about the Louisiana Gulf Oyster. You can meet some of the farmers who harvest them and make a small donation to help raise funds for coastal restoration. If you’re up to the challenge, take part in the oyster eating contest. Otherwise, you can enjoy the live music and watch the festivities from afar.
As the second busiest of New Orleans Festivals, Halloween celebrations are definitely a must see during your internship. Vampires, ghosts, goblins, and zombies parade up and down the streets of the French Quarter on October 31. You can kick off your Halloween celebration with a ghost tour of many known haunted sites throughout the city. After, stroll through the cemeteries where stories of orbs and spirits make their presence known. You can also stop in one of the many voodoo shops in the French Quarter for a bit of history or learn some incantations. While you’re there, don’t be alarmed if you feel the presence of Marie Laveau, the High Priestess of 19th century New Orleans. She has been known to pop in a few of the shops.
Will you celebrate one of these New Orleans festivals?
There are so many lively concerts and parades taking place each month New Orleans. New Year’s Eve alone has more than six major celebrations across the city. Christmas and Thanksgiving also have their fair share of festivities. No matter what holiday or festival you choose to celebrate, make a point to immerse yourself in the eclectic New Orleans’ culture at least once during your internship. You won’t regret it.