New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival
Experience electrifying music, culture and food – from Louisiana and around the world – at New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival.
For more than 50 years, the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival – known to locals as Jazz Fest – has brought together millions of people from around the world to celebrate jazz in Louisiana. The grand event unfolds during the last weekend in April and the first weekend in May.
Spanning over eight days, the festival features performances on multiple stages around the Fair Grounds Race Course, and brings along with it dozens of nightly performances at New Orleans’ music venues.
History of New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival
Sprouting from the unique culture of New Orleans music in 1970, Jazz Fest was created to celebrate New Orleans’ jazz legacy. The first lineup included legends like Mahalia Jackson, Duke Ellington, Fats Domino and Al Hirt. For decades, the festival has remained a steadfast representation of the vibrant community, food, culture and people in the city.
Today, you’ll find a wide variety of genres represented at the festival, including Cajun zydeco, Delta blues, rock, rockabilly, gospel, hip-hop, salsa, swamp pop and more. Past lineups have included popular artists, like Elton John, Foo Fighters, Lizzo, Jimmy Buffet and Stevie Nicks.
You won’t want to miss the stages showcasing Louisiana-style music, including Harry Connick, Jr., Trombone Shorty & Orleans Avenue, The Preservation Hall Jazz Band, Aaron Neville and Big Freedia. While you’re at the festival, you’re likely to spot the Mardi Gras Indians, who impress year after year.
Our top tips for the New Orleans Jazz Festival:
- Check out the Cultural Exchange Pavilion to enjoy music from around the world.
- Chow down on authentic Cajun and Creole food.
- Shop for unique gifts in the Bayou State.
- Pack the essentials for long, hot days at the festival.
- Bring the kiddos to the Kid’s Tent for family-friendly acts.
Surround yourself with color.
Jazzfest offers experiences for every age.
Nom on delicious, authentic seafood inbetween shows.
People travel from across the globe for Jazzfest.
5 Ways to Get the Most Out of Jazz Fest
1. Visit the Cultural Exchange Pavillion
While the main stages are a big draw, a visit to the Cultural Exchange Pavilion is always a good idea. Each year, the Cultural Exchange Pavilion holds a special showcase highlighting a different culture from around the world. The annual showcase includes daily musical performances on stage, demonstrations and exhibits. The sounds at the Pavilion provide insight into the culture being highlighted and feature amazing bands playing music from around the world.
2. Indulge in authentic Cajun and Creole food
Brass-band sound may be the star of the weekends, but the festival would be nothing without the food booths! Vendors serve up a host of local and international dishes, reflecting the culture of New Orleans and beyond. You can't go wrong with any of these tasty bites, but a fan favorite every year is the Crawfish Monica. This creamy, cheesy dish of pasta and crawfish will give you the energy you need for all-day festival activities. Don’t worry, there are plenty of vegetarian options as well. When you need to cool off, make sure to grab a Mango Freeze for a refreshing bite — it's sweet, smooth and, most importantly, cold!
3. Shop ‘til you Drop
There are three markets within Jazz Fest boasting mostly Louisiana-made products. Congo Square African Marketplace is energetic with music and arts and crafts. Here you will find an array of local, national and international artisans exhibiting ancient crafting techniques. Contemporary Crafts is your destination to find handcrafted clothing, leather goods, paintings, sculptures and jewelry. In the Louisiana Marketplace, you will find traditional and modern art inspired by the cultural landscape of the Bayou State. And don’t forget your commemorative Jazz Fest poster.
4. Pack for the heat
While the days are full of fun and spectacular music, they can also be long, so make sure you pack sunscreen, a hat and a folding chair. You can also bring a small soft-sided cooler filled with sealed bottled water.
5. Bring the whole family
Jazz Fest is a great event for all ages — strollers are allowed (no wagons) — and there is a Kid’s Tent featuring kid-friendly acts each day.
Pro tip: The first Thursday in May is deemed Locals Thursday and is notorious for lighter crowds. The day is open to all, but if you’re a Louisiana resident, you qualify for a discounted entry!
Icons like Irma Thomas have graced the stage.
Watch Mardi Gras Indians perform.
Energetic crowds bring the fun.
Trombone Shorty never disappoints.
New Orleans Jazz Festival 2024 General Information
Eight fun-filled festival days, spanning Thursday, April 25 – Sunday, April 28 and Thursday, May 2 – Sunday, May 5, 2024.
Fair Grounds Race Course, 1751 Gentilly Blvd, New Orleans, LA 70119
Tickets go on sale in tandem with the lineup announcement in January. Purchase your festival tickets here.
Because on-site spots are limited and parking in the surrounding neighborhoods is for residents only, the festival encourages event-goers to take advantage of public transportation, including the Jazz Fest Express. This official shuttle of the New Orleans Jazz Fest departs from three different areas; check out the festival’s FAQ to learn more about the shuttle schedule.
On-site parking is available for pre-purchase with VIP packages Big Chief, Grand Marshal and Krewe of Jazz Fest.
Accessible parking is available for people with disabilities for $50 per day at the gate — make sure to come early, as these spots are doled out on a first-come, first-serve basis. Any accessibility questions? Email [email protected] or call 504-206-2064.
Riding a bike to the festival? Limited on-site parking is available free of charge at the Gentilly Boulevard and Sauvage Street gates. Oversized vehicles like charter buses and RVs are prohibited on-site.