Catch Spring Fever in NOLA

March 07, 2022
Springtime in New Orleans is like nature’s way of saying, “laissez les bons temps rouler.” Coming right off the heels of Mardi Gras, we go from beads and floats to bonnets and festivals. This year is especially exciting with the return of some highly anticipated festivals and holiday celebrations.

Even though you may have missed Carnival this year, the parade has not passed you by. In spring, we have some incredible holiday celebrations, from St. Joseph and St. Patrick’s Days to Easter, and they all include parades. Get lucky at any of the numerous Irish and Italian parades that happen in the French Quarter, Irish Channel and Downtown neighborhoods, as well as in Chalmette and Metairie, located just a few miles outside of the city. These parades are known for their nontraditional throw such as cabbage, onions, carrots, lucky beans, garter belts, and even Irish Spring soap. In addition to the parades, there are two block parties at Parasol’s and Annunciation Square, both in the Irish Channel, on St. Patty’s Day. Or stop by one of our famous Irish drinking establishments in the French Quarter like Pat O’Brien’s, Molly’s on the Market, Kerry Irish Pub, Erin Rose, Ryan’s Irish Pub, Finnegan’s Easy, Molly’s Irish Pub and Boondock Saint, just to name a few. For more information and event dates, go to

Easter weekend is another noteworthy time to visit the city filled with parades, parties, bunny hops (bar crawls), Easter egg hunts and bonnet contests. Spend the entire day Easter Sunday in the French Quarter and enjoy three unique parades and a bonnet contest. The lineup of parades starts early with The Historic French Quarter Easter Parade from Antoine’s Restaurant to St. Louis Cathedral for Mass. Ladies in their finery and large hats hand out candy and stuffed bunnies riding in mule-drawn carriages. In the early afternoon is the Chris Owens French Quarter Easter Parade. The larger-than-life French Quarter entertainer Chris Owens reigns supreme as the Grand Duchess of this annual parade, loved by locals and visitors alike.

The final parade of the day is the Gay Easter Parade put on by Ambush Magazine and the city’s LGBT community. Their route passes most the gay bars, restaurants, shops, and businesses in the French Quarter. The parade boasts a rainbow of participants from the gay community, such as flamboyant drag queens and kings, to leather-clad men, and women wearing Easter bonnets; all riding in horse-drawn carriages and convertibles wearing their glittering Easter best. The parade culminates with the annual Easter Bonnet Contest at Good Friends Bar, a LGBT neighborhood bar at the corner of Dauphine and St. Ann.

In addition to these holidays, spring is also known as Festival Season in the Big Easy. Our festivals celebrate everything from our music and cuisine to our rich and diverse culture. New Orleans may be called Hollywood South, but we were French way before that. In March, the New Orleans Film Society presents the 25th New Orleans French Film Festival, one of the longest-running foreign language festivals in the country, between Mar. 11–17, at the historic Prytania Theatre in Uptown. All films will showcase excellence in contemporary and classic francophone Cinema. (

Mar. 12 and 13 introduces Wanderlust to New Orleans, the world’s first outdoor festival to celebrate, inspire, and connect traveling women will happen in downtown New Orleans at various locations. Hundreds of travel lovers from around the world join together for a weekend filled with speakers, live musical performances, a Celebrate Women global marketplace, excursions around town and parties. (

For cocktail lovers, be sure to check out the New Orleans Bourbon Festival between Mar. 23–26. This festival brings together the finest Bourbon distilleries and restaurants at the Contemporary Arts Center in the Warehouse District. (

Tennessee Williams said, “America has only three cities: New York, San Francisco, and New Orleans. Everywhere else is Cleveland.” Our city honors this famous American playwright in the best way we know how: holding a festival in his name. The 36th Annual Tennessee Williams New Orleans Literary Festival takes place Mar. 23–27 in the French Quarter. The fest brings authors, actors, and musicians from around the globe for this five-day event. Be sure to make it to the “Stella” shouting contest, a stellar part of the festivities. Attendees enjoy writing workshops, theatre events, literary panels, scholars conference, literary walking tours, music events, culinary and cocktail events. (

The 19th Annual Saints and Sinners Literary Festival, held in conjunction with the Tennessee Williams Festival, is also in the French Quarter. The Saints and Sinners Literary Festival was founded in 2003 and has grown into an internationally recognized event that includes LGBT publishers, writers, and readers. The festival features panel discussions and master classes around literary topics that provide a forum for authors, editors, and publishers to discuss their work benefitting emerging writers and for fans of LGBT literature. (

Combining art and music, the BUKU Music + Art Project will take place March 25–26 at Blaine Kern’s Mardi Gras World. The festival has local as well as international art, live music, dance performances, art installations, performance art, and world-renowned food vendors. BUKU music festival tends to focus on indie-rock and hip-hop music, while still offering around 50 unique music acts. (

Between Mar. 26 and 27, 2022, people can enjoy two festivals with the combining of The Tremé Creole Gumbo and Congo Square Rhythms festivals taking place in historic Congo Square, located on the outskirts of the French Quarter in Tremé. Congo Square was the location enslaved African people gathered on Sunday afternoons to play music and socialize. Their legacy continues with Tremé Creole Gumbo / Congo Square Rhythms Festival, a free, family-friendly event with food, music, an art market, and kids’ activities. (

Festivals pop up all over our city. The Mar. 26 Freret Street Festival started as a block party, and has since expanded into six blocks containing over 200 local artists and chefs, three stages, and 20 bands. Catch this art and music festival on Freret St. between Napoleon and Valmont. (

Take up the cause on Apr. 1 and 2 at Hogs for the Cause at the UNO Lakefront Arena.

This two-day barbecue festival welcomes local and regional barbecue masters and backyard chefs to participate. Like all good festivals it has local breweries and music, but at the heart of this event is their fundraising aspect. Hogs for the Cause works with local and national children’s hospitals, including Children’s Hospital of New Orleans, Ochsner Hospital for Children, Duke Children’s Hospital, Medical University of South Carolina (MUSC) Children’s Hospital, Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta at Scottish Rite, and Children’s Hospital of San Antonio, to offer monetary relief to families with children who have brain cancer. (

Two of our city’s most famous festivals are in April. French Quarter Festival, presented by Chevron, is Apr. 21–24. The New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival, presented by Shell, is Apr. 29–May 8.

Between Apr. 21–24, the entire French Quarter sets the stage for French Quarter Festival, the largest showcase of Louisianan music in the world. With more than 20 stages throughout the French Quarter, entertainers represent every genre, from traditional and contemporary jazz, to R&B, New Orleans funk, brass bands, folk, gospel, Latin, Zydeco, classical, cabaret, and international. There is delicious cuisine from some of the city’s best restaurants and caterers served in Jackson Square, the Jazz Museum at the Mint, JAX Brewery, and Woldenberg Riverfront Park. Some of the exceptional events returning to this year’s fest is the French Market Traditional Jazz Stage and the Chevron Cajun-Zydeco Showcase, which will feature dancing classes in the Traditional Jazz, 1920s Charleston, Swing Dance, Cajun Jitterbug, and Zydeco. Another great feature at this year’s event will be the Chevron STEM Zone, which features local community partners an incorporating the elements of “STEM” (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) into hands-on learning activities for children. Spend the weekend being a tourist in your own city and stay at a hotel downtown. Enjoy the festival during the day, dine at one of your favorite restaurants, followed by cocktails and music at the many bars and clubs. Your options are endless. (

From Apr. 29 to May 8, The New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival is probably one of my favorite festivals in the city. Held at the New Orleans Fair Grounds Race Course and Slots, the third oldest racetrack in the country, this music, food and art festival enjoys a mixture of local, national and international artists. This year some of the headliners include Stevie Nicks, The Who and Lionel Richie. I can already taste the crawfish bread and Rosemint herbal iced tea. (

Get your jam on at Jammin’ on Julia on May 7, the first Saturday in May. Happening in the New Orleans’ Warehouse Arts District (primarily on Julia St., hence the name), this celebration will have bands taking the stage, food and refreshments from local vendors, an art market, and of course all the galleries will be open showcasing their latest exhibitions. (

Come boogie on the Bayou at Bayou Boogaloo between May 20–22, in Mid-City along Bayou St. John. Come enjoy the best in Louisianan art, food, culture, and music on four stages. (

Opa! If you love Baklava, gyros and Ouzo daiquiris, then the New Orleans Greek Festival is the place to be. It is held over Memorial Day Weekend, May 27–29, on Bayou St. John at the Holy Trinity Greek Orthodox Cathedral. This year’s theme is EAT! DRINK! DANCE! There will be homemade traditional Greek food, wine, pastries, live, traditional Greek dancing, Greek bands playing near the Bayou, tours of the Cathedral, a marketplaces with everything Greek, and my favorite part a Greek grocery with delectable cheeses, dips, spices, and other goodies. (

Please note, in the ever-changing world of COVID, some of the dates and times of the above festivals may change. It has been a long two years, but we will persevere. KEEP CALM AND FEST ON!