We all know about the music at the French Quarter Festival. What started out as a small, free party in the French Quarter for locals to gear up for the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival has grown into the largest free music festival in the South. With stages all over the Historic French Quarter of New Orleans, you can here New Orleans Funk, Jazz, Classical, Cajun/Zydeco, Rock and other genres of music. And of course, no festival in New Orleans would be complete without great food. That's why the largest Jazz Brunch in the world is set up in Jackson Square every year. But, even that's not enough, there's food booths lined up in Woldenberg Park. Drink, not a problem either. Bourbon Street has small stages with New Orleans Jazz all weekend. But, did you know about all the other special events that happen every year at the French Quarter Festival? If not, let me tell some of the other fun events that will make your French Quarter Festival experience the best it can be.
Kick Off Party
This being New Orleans, it probably would not surprise you to know that there's a kick off party before the festival. The TGIF (Thank Goodness it's Festival) party is usually held at the House of Blues with great New Orleans bands, food and drinks. This is not a freebee, but's it's a fundraiser for the festival.
Kick Off Second Line Parade
On Friday morning there's a Second Line Parade led by a New Orleans Brass Band that starts in the 100 block of Bourbon Street, just off Canal Street to kick off the festival. It usually starts at 10am.
Naturally, at a big party like French Quarter Fest, there's always imprompto dancing in the streets, Jackson Square and Woldonberg Park. But, there are dance lessons offered by professionals at the French Market Stage and the Cajun/Zydeco Stage at Audubon Plaza. At these stages you can learn the Cajun Jitterbug, BrassXcise, 20's Charleston, Swing Dancing and Zydeco. There's also Dancing at Dusk in the 400 block Royal Street from 6 to 7:30 Sunday, with dances of the 30's, 40's, 50's. So, get over there and Get In the Mood!.
Juried Art Show
Every day of the festival there's a juried art show in the alleys on either side of the St. Louis Cathedral. It's all original art and a great opportunity to bring home a special gift for youself, or someone who didn't get to come the French Quarter Festival this year.
Crawfish Eating Contest
On Saturday at noon, make it over to the old U.S. Mint for the World Championship Crawfish Eating Contest.
Series on Louisiana Music
There is a series of discussiions on Louisiana Music inside the Old U.S. Mint on the third floor. These discussions usually are held on Saturday and Sunday from noon to 4pm and are on different topics. You can get the full schedule at the French Quarter Festival official website.
For the Kids
Take your children to the Riverfront Plaza at the Aquarium of the Americas for family entertainment, face painting, fun activities, tai chi for kids, and more. On Saturday and Sunday be sure to go over to the Hermann-Grimma House for a very special experience. There are hands on projects for kids to better understand how people lived in the 1800's. This is really something different and kids love it.
Concerts in St. Louis Cathedral
On Saturday and Sunday night at 7:30 there are free concerts in the St. Louis Cathedral. This is a great way to sit comfortably and listen to a great concert.
On Saturday night at 9 pm there is a beautiful firework display over the Mississippi River.