New Orleans is a city that loves to party and doesn’t need much of an excuse to celebrate culture and music, or both! While Mardi Gras is without a doubt the most popular festival for foreigners, JazzFest is a musical extravaganza that really shouldn’t be missed. Book those tickets to New Orleans, the festival is about to begin!
The New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival is a sprawling, rocking celebration of all things Louisiana, not just music. It’s a celebration of the state’s southern culture and food. And as for the music, it’s not only jazz! You’ll also hear rock, country, R&B, Latin, world music and folk. Expect crowds, more than 80,000 people attend this festival but it can be a lot of fun if you have a little patience and you’re smart enough to buy your tickets in advance. The festival kicks off this year on April 25th and lasts until May 4th, 2014.
First-timer at the New Orleans JazzFest? Here are our tips:
1. Bring your own water into the event. You can bring in a 1L bottle of water into the event as long as it hasn’t been opened it. Freezing one bottle is a good idea, so that’s it’s still cold later on in the day. Keep your bottle and refill it al one of the Fairground fountains; sure beats paying for expensive bottled water at the event.
2. Remember to pack a hat. April may be spring but the humidity is in full force when JazzFest arrives and the sun can really be something brutal. Pack sunblock and reapply often.
3. Leave the high heels back at your hotel. You’ll spend a lot of time walking and especially dancing so wear a pair of shoes you can really move in, comfortably. Keep in mind potential downpours and dusty conditions when choosing your footwear.
4. Bring a chair with a small sun umbrella. If you’re hoping to catch the big headlining acts at the Acura Stage, then you’ll need to get there bright and early to stake your spot in front of the stage. You’ll need to defend that territory all day long so make sure you have sun proaction with an umbrella.
5. Leave the chairs at home if you’d rather wander and discover new acts. There’s really two types of festival-goers. Those who stick to the main stage and those who wandering and out of the smaller tents, discovering acts that aren’t very well known. Both are good!
6. Make sure everyone in your group has their own grid. A grid is the set-up of who is playing where and when. Everyone will get one on the day but you can also access it in advance on the festival website (see below). Best to make a plan where you want to be and who you want to see before the festival. Everyone should have their own or you’ll spend most your time passing it around instead of enjoying the music.
7. Don’t be afraid to split up. It’s more than likely that you’ll want to see different acts than your friends and it’s pretty likely they’ll be playing at similar times. Don’t settle if you have your heart set on seeing a particular set, go and enjoy it!
8. Choose a meeting place at the end of the day. As you can imagine, the system can get a little overwhelmed with thousands of people trying to use their phones all at the same time. Texting can also be delayed so do it the old-fashioned way and choose a meeting place and time and stick to it when meeting up with your group at the end of the day.
9. Don’t miss the Grandstand, it’s small stage in the courtyard is an intimate setting and it’s hardly crowded. Plus, they have real toilets! Tip 9B: Bring your own stash of toilet paper or tissues… enough said.
10. Eat for free! There are alway cooking demonstrations from top New Orleans chefs in the Grandstand and there’s only one thing to say: free samples. Get in! In other parts of the festival, it’s always a good idea to order the large portion and share with friends.
That’s about as prepared as you can get! Get ready to have a smashing time!
For official event information, check out: Nojazzfest.com.