5 Reasons to Visit New Orleans This Spring

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5. Festivals Galore

The New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival, held April 28-May 7, pays homage to the birthplace of jazz. (Photo credit: Jay Combe)

Each year, New Orleans features more than 135 festivals, including the New Orleans Wine & Food Experience (May 25-28), where special events and seminar series showcase local flavors and new creations from the city’s top restaurants and chefs all paired with wine, and The New Orleans Oyster Festival (June 3-4), where oyster lover’s can find just about every preparation of the oyster they could ever dream of this bivalve mollusk. Not-to-miss activities at The New Orleans Oyster Festival include the Acme Oyster Eating Contest, P&J Oyster Shucking Contest, and various cooking demonstrations.

A trip to New Orleans wouldn’t be complete without sampling some of the city’s jazz. Visitors can head to the fairgrounds for the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival (April 28-May 7), which pays homage to the birthplace of jazz through various stages dedicated to musical genres, like gospel, zydeco, jazz and more. At the family-friendly Bayou St. John for Bayou Boogaloo (May 19-21), guests take in live music, art and food, all for free.

4. King Crawfish

Visitors can sample crawfish at New Orleans’ restaurants and seafood markets.

In New Orleans, springtime is synonymous with crawfish boils. While these freshwater crustaceans can be enjoyed year-round, the crawfish population reaches its high numbers in spring when they’re big enough to make fixing and peeling them worthwhile. Don’t worry if you haven’t been invited to a backyard boil, like the locals do, because these tasty critters can be found at New Orleans’ restaurants and seafood markets, including Frankie & Johnny’s, a 77-year-old restaurant serving crawfish, cold beer and a mean gumbo, and J & J Seafood, a takeout-only seafood market serving boiled seafood to the West Bank for 23 years.

3. Easter Parade

The Historic French Quarter Easter Parade makes its way from Antoine’s Restaurant to St. Louis Cathedral for 11 a.m. mass. (Photo credit: Chris Granger)

On Easter Sunday (April 16), visitors can participate in a lineup of parades from sun up till sun down. The Historic French Quarter Easter Parade begins at Antoine’s Restaurant at 9:45 a.m. and marches towards St. Louis Cathedral for 11 a.m. mass, featuring mule-drawn carriages, old convertibles, and stuffed Easter bunnies for the kids.

Later, around 1 p.m., the Chris Owens French Quarter Easter Parade makes its grand debut featuring renowned French Quarter singer, dancer and entertainer Chris Owens, the parade’s Grand Duchess, on an elaborately decorated float.

2. Springtime Weather

New Orleans’ Garden District. (Photo credit: Chris Granger)

New Orleans’ pleasant springtime weather is ideal for spending time in the great outdoors. Try a free outdoor concert series, like the Square and Jazz in the Park, held every Wednesday through May 17 at Lafayette Square, or a picnic surrounded by centuries-old oak trees in one of the nation’s oldest urban parks, such as City Park, or uptown’s Audubon Park.

1. Historical Pursuits

Guests can take a guided or self-guided tour via foot, bike or streetcar in New Orleans. (Photo credit: Cheryl Gerber)

Visitors can take advantage of the mild spring weather with a guided or self-guided tour via foot, bike or streetcar around the historic French Quarter, celebrated cemeteries and oak-lined St. Charles Avenue. Civil War Tours offers walking tours, history and heritage tours, plus city and neighborhood tours and more.

For more information, visit neworleanscvb.com.