Number One For Fun! French Quarter Is "The" Place To Come And Party

January 30, 2013
It's party time in New Orleans and the French Quarter is rockin'!

Once again Bourbon Street is Ground Zero for the fun and excitement as a New Year kicks in. Whether you're here with your fraternity or sorority, or with a group of friends, or even by yourself (which you won't be for long!) you'll find plenty of exciting things to keep your partying spirit going here in The Big Easy. If you're not here yet, you need to make your plans and reservations now. The fun is just beginning and you'll want to be close enough to be able to walk to and from it.

Mardi Gras, Super Bowl, Spring Break and St. Paddy's Day are just the beginning. Then come French Quarter Festival and JazzFest. The action might not always begin in "The Quarter" but you can be sure it will always end up there.

After a long day of watching the Mardi Gras parades that go on from late January through Fat Tuesday (Feb. 12), you can be among the festive crowd of revelers, necks laden with beads caught from parade floats, which throng to Bourbon Street for the parades' "after-parties." And Bourbon Street is ready for you! The bars and music clubs have stocked up on plenty of beer, liquor and mixers, and the most experienced bartenders in the world know how to handle the crowds. You'll have no trouble finding your favorite beer or mixed drink, along with many other local concoctions you've probably never heard of. But, if you're an adventurous "spirit" (pun intended), you will definitely want to try them.

You can enjoy a Hurricane at world-famous Pat O'Brien's as you take part in the spontaneous cheering that can erupt at any time for any reason. Or you can let your senses explode with a Hand Grenade from the Tropical Isle while dancing you not-so-tired feet off to a live cover band. Or you can try a Sazerac, a Ramos Gin Fizz, an Absinthe Frappe or some other exotic, imaginative concoction you'll only find in New Orleans. A word of caution, though: Go easy on those house specialties. They don't call them "Hurricanes" and "Hand Grenades" for nothing! One - no more than two - should be your limit.

And, if you happen to catch a brass band leading a second-line parade through the streets of the Quarter, feel free to join in. If you a have white handkerchief, whip it out and wave it in the air (or even a simple white paper napkin will do). It's an old New Orleans tradition and it's not only fun, it's FREE!

If you're thinking of coming to town for Super Sunday (Feb. 3) and don't have a ticket for the big game, don't let that stop you. Nothing beats cheering your lungs out in a French Quarter sports bar, especially if you're from a city that hosts one of the participating teams. The sports bars throughout the French Quarter will be the scene of super Super Bowl parties and celebrations, the likes of which you won't find in any other host city, and there are plenty of them. Large-screen, high-def TV screens are everywhere you go and the drinks are no more than a few feet away from you. Raucous fans from both teams will rock the house with their cheers and enthusiasm! Whichever two teams make it into the NFL Championship Game, Super Sunday in New Orleans and the days preceding it will be a blast. Free concerts, fan participation events, tailgate parties and, of course, more fun in the Quarter are all in the cards for those making the trek to the Big Easy for Super Bowl weekend.

The Verizon Super Bowl Boulevard, four days of attractions, music, food and beverages, live national television broadcasts and interactive The NFL Experience, "pro football's interactive theme park" staged in the New Orleans Convention Center, will offer participatory games, displays, entertainment attractions, kids' football clinics, free autograph sessions and the largest football memorabilia show ever. Then there's the NFL "Fan Jam," a free concert on the day before fan events along the scenic Mississippi Riverfront.

Going to the Big Game? It will no doubt impress you! The top two teams in the NFL this year will be sure to provide you with excitement, along with some of the biggest names in today's music world. And, when the final gun is sounded, you can take to Bourbon Street and whoop it up for your winning team. Go ahead: you came all that way to be here, now let it all out!

The same level of excitement and fun comes on just a few weeks later when the nation's colleges take their Spring Break. Once again Bourbon Street is the main drag for the action and excitement, with eight blocks of all-night bars and music clubs where you can eat, drink, dance and party till you drop. For the GLBT set, the clubs in the 800-1000 blocks of Bourbon Street are the focal points for nonstop music, dancing, partying and meeting new connections. And, directly across Esplanade Avenue from the Quarter is Frenchmen Street, two blocks of hot music clubs that are a magnet for the college-age crowd.

Unsure where to go? Friendly undergrads from the New Orleans area colleges will be happy to tell you where the local action is. But, even without their help, you can find a fun time just about anywhere you look if you're in the right place.

For those of Irish descent, and even those who are not, what better excuse to party than the "Auld Sod's" festive national holiday, St. Patrick's Day. Two parades celebrate the occasion in the French Quarter: a carriage and walking parade to and from Molly's at the Market (1107 Decatur Street) on March 15 and the Downtown Irish Club Parade on the 17th.

Be sure to wear something green and . . . ladies . . . be forewarned. If a costumed marcher offers you a paper rose they expect a kiss in return. Likewise for you guys. Watch out for "The Shady Ladies" of the Shady Ladies Marching Club. They're kissy bugs too!

Wrapping up the springtime fun and action are the two festival "biggies" of the season: French Quarter Festival and the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival. For lively, free entertainment at its best, FQ Fest is as good as it gets. Nicknamed "The World's Largest Block Party," the action takes place in dozens of venues, both outdoors and indoors, over an area that takes in about a third of the French Quarter. Fifty or more of New Orleans' top musical entertainers in all genres, plus fabulous food selections, artwork, crafts and exotic drink specialties; they're all there, and more. It's an entire weekend of nonstop partying.

And then, two weeks later, comes the two-weekend, seven-day extravaganza known locally as JazzFest. One of the world's premiere music festivals, JazzFest offers every kind of music under the sun and even a few new genres they're only just now coming up with names for. You'll also find food selections you never dreamed existed, plus exotic drink specialties, arts, handicrafts and lots of indigenous New Orleans culture, including brass bands and Mardi Gras Indians. And then at night, after the festival shuts down, the parties continue in the music clubs of the French Quarter and along Frenchmen Street.

So, if you're in the partying spirit, the French Quarter is the place to come and cut loose. And, if you're already here, get out there and enjoy what we have to offer. To quote from the old Gary U.S. Bonds song about New Orleans, "If you ain't been to heaven then you ain't been there." Come see what he and millions of others found out for themselves.

For more complete information about these events, here is a handy list of websites you can check out:
Mardi Gras Parade Routes and Schedules:
Super Bowl: and
Spring Break:
St. Patrick's Day:
French Quarter Festival:
New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival: