Jazz It Up, New Orleans Style: Jazz and Heritage Festival

April 18, 2012 by

Springtime in New Orleans means one thing!  Jazz Fest (officially known as the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival).    Well, some might argue that it means heat and humidity, too, and they’d be right – but still.  Come the last weekend in April and the first weekend in May, New Orleans is the place to be for music and food lovers alike.

Jazz Fest is held in the Fair Grounds Race Course, 1751 Gentilly Boulevard, though there are multiple gates for entry. It’s truly an experience greater than the sum of its parts: good food, good music and good friends. As described by a few true Jazz Fest-ers:

Jazz Fest is probably the only place I’d ever be caught wearing a trash bag as a raincoat and actually enjoyed it and felt totally normal with the rest of the crowd! :)

Jazz Fest is the only place where a cold rain and a warm beer is a great combination……

The line up for music is beyond impressive this year, like it is every year. Bruce Springsteen, the Eagles, Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers, Kermit Ruffins, Bonnie Raitt, Aaron Neville’s Gospel Experience, Irvin Mayfield, Better Than Ezra, Jimmy Buffet, Buckwheat Zydeco, Rockin’ Doopsey, Ani DeFranco…an eclectic gumbo if you will.

There are 12 stages – including a kids stage! – so yes, it’s safe to say that any music you are into will be represented. Not to mention the impromptu walk-a-bouts by Mardi Gras indians.

As for food, you will find exotic alligator sauce picante, soft shell crab po-boys and turtle soup. Yes, there are other food groups besides the under-sea kind available as well like meat pies, roast beef po-boys, jambalaya and broccoli and cheese pie. There is even an official Jazz Fest food page, if you want to make your mouth water.

A local’s advice: drink rose mint tea or snowballs instead of beer. It’ll help with the hydration as well as the bathroom situation. And don’t forget your hat!

And sunscreen! And drink water! It’s hot. Also good to know: visit the mist tent early and often. It’s a tent that spurts out mist to cool you down. Kinda like coating your body in a fine layer of sweat…only less stinky. It works wonders.

Also, don’t miss the crafts section inside the fairgrounds. The Jazz and Heritage Foundation finds amazingly talented artisans to sell a wide range of lovely wares from jewelry to hats (if you forget yours) to pottery to paintings.

Lastly, there are tons of people so if / when you get separated from your crew, there is a great meet-up spot that the locals use: the blacksmith’s tent. You’ll know it when you see it. Always good to have a plan!

Now go…get your dancing shoes on!

photo credits: stage and Mardi Gras Indian by Tulane Public Relations, snowballs by louisianatravel, hat by cloud2013, mist by dsb nola.

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