I am one of the least outdoorsy people I know. I don’t camp, don’t fish, don’t hike (you get the picture!), but living in New Orleans I have found that there are many fabulous things to do outside at all times of the year. Soaking up the sun, drinking a cold Abita and listening to live local music is a magical combination and I’m a huge fan of being anywhere you can create this experience. There are the obvious outdoor things in NOLA to do such as Jazz Fest and parades at Mardi Gras, but I am going to uncover lesser-known, but equally as awesome outdoor activities in New Orleans and bring them to you from time to time: Welcome to Outdoor Nola.
Festival Season is upon us!!! If it seems everywhere you look people are celebrating something (including every ingredient of every Louisiana dish), it’s because they are. In the coming months, there will be festivals in the Greater New Orleans area dedicated to each of the following: wine, French culture, oysters, strawberries, jazz, barbeque, tomatoes, Italian culture, crawfish, Zydeco music, watermelons, beer, gospel, cocktails, shrimp, oranges, Greek culture, and many, many more.
This past weekend was Roadfood Festival and the Tennessee Williams Festival. The Roadfood festival, , which took place on the 300-600 blocks of Royal St. in the French Quarter, featured small plates from all over the United States. It also featured a beignet-eating contest between the Fire Department and the Police Department as well as free samples of the world’s largest po-boy, estimated at three city blocks long. The Tennessee Williams Festival, always a classic in New Orleans, took place last weekend as well, featuring literary events as well as its infamous “Stella” shouting contest.
Coming up this weekend, we have the Freret Street Festival on April 2nd, which is basically a mega-version of the usual market. This year there will be four stages of music as well as the usual food, crafts, drinks, and general merriment. If you’re feeling cultural, also stop by the annual Fete Français at Ecole Bilingue on General Pershing Street. This event features French food, music, and children’s activities.
If you were hoping to escape the city, it’s a perfect weekend to head over to Algiers Point on the free ferry leaving from the French Quarter. This weekend is the annual Old Algiers River Fest featuring gospel and brass band music, food, and a Mardi Gras Indian parade! There will also be free shuttles from the ferry landing to the festival.
On Saturday night, if you are feeling artsy, the New Orleans Art District is presenting Jammin’ On Julia- a fundraiser featuring music, food, and 21 museums and galleries opening from 6-9 to showcase some amazing artwork.
All of these events are going on THIS weekend! It is a perfect weekend to take advantage of all of these wonderful free outdoor events complete with music, food, and drinks- what more could you want? This, in fact, is only a preview of even more Louisiana festivals to come later on this month. Next week is the famous French Quarter Festival, the Cajun Hot Sauce Festival, and the Fleur de Lindy Exchange (featuring swing dance bands & competitions from around the U.S.)!
Even though it’s only the beginning of the week, it’s never too early to start planning for the weekend! Check nola.com’s festival calendar here:
(http://www.nola.com/festivals/index.ssf/2011/03/south_louisiana_festival_guide.html) , pick some festivals that sound good, and mark your calendar. I hope you are feeling FESTIVE and ready to enjoy free Louisiana entertainment at its best!