The word “FUN” is nearly synonymous with the term Festivals in New Orleans. New Orleans is known to be a fun town, full of festivities, parades, music, food, art, and the Mississippi River.
Mardi Gras is just one of the many New Orleans festivals that this city can boast, and it is a very big one, indeed. From January until its huge parade on Shrove Tuesday, Mardi Gras is the big draw to the Big Easy. But there are other New Orleans festivals going on all year round in this town that never seems to sleep.
The French Quarter Festival runs during four days in mid-April where non-stop 275 hours of musical entertainment can be enjoyed on twenty stages. The festival attracts more than 500,000 participants for this New Orleans music fest. Begun in 1984, the French Quarter Festival is the largest free music festival in the South. A multitude of musical genres such as traditional and contemporary jazz, R & B, New Orleans funk, brass bands, folk, gospel, classical, opera, Zydeco, Latin World, International, and children’s music are represented. Food and drink is available in beautiful Jackson Square and a free shuttle service will take you from stage to stage.
The Satchmo Summerfest is an event that music lovers everywhere should not miss. This New Orleans jazz fest is dedicated to the life and music of New Orleans born Louis “Satchmo” Armstrong. It is a free music festival enhanced with speakers, seminars and food and drink.
There is no Christmas like Christmas New Orleans Style, a festival held during the month of December. Food, romance, art, architecture and music, this festival has it all. Enjoy the gospel choirs in the St. Louis Cathedral. Feel like a little child again as you stroll or ride along the oak trees all lit up in City Park. See the homes gaily decorated in the Garden District. Every nook and cranny of New Orleans is ready for the holidays during the entire month of the season.
Don’t miss the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival in April and May. The music tents are set up in Heritage Square and Louisiana Marketplace along with a showcase of original handcrafted clothing, gorgeous leather goods and crafted musical instruments, along with a colorful array of paintings, photographs, sculptures and one-of-a-kind jewelry items. You will find delectable food items in Congo Square, Heritage Square and the other food areas selling such wares as Po-Boys, Cajun Jambalaya, Alligator Pies, Beignets, Crawfish Bisque, Pralines, and fresh pies to name a few items. It is food and music galore. On the crafty and cultural end, there are “villages” set up to represent the various heritages such as Louisiana Folklife Village where Cajun musicians handcraft accordions, boat builders ply their craft, and you will learn the traditions of Mardi Gras Indians and Marching Clubs. The Native American Village will introduce you to a real pow-wow with traditional dances, drumming and singing.
Natchez Riverboat Dinner Jazz CruiseToulouse Street Wharf – Behind Jax Brewery New Orleans, LA 70130 (504) 569-1401 www.steamboatnatchez.com firstname.lastname@example.org
Let it be known that many native New Orleanians are aware of the beauty that lives within this wonderful, beautiful, photogenic city. Taking into account the long-running advertisement, “Be a tourist in your own hometown,” I was bound for the Mississippi River and The Natchez Riverboat Dinner Jazz Cruise. It was an evening well spent! The view from the river of the city at sunset is breathtaking. As the sun goes down, the city and its skyline of lights come to life. From the many colorful lights of Harrah’s Casino to the lights of the many hotels that line the river, it is a sight to behold. The majesty of the Mighty Mississippi is a sight better seen then told and there is no better view than cruising amongst its powerful, muddy waves. Be it a birthday celebration, anniversary, reunion, or if you just want to experience life cruising on an authentic steamboat, The Natchez is the place to be. It is and has been a popular destination for locals and tourist alike. If you decide to take this venture, hourly parking is available a short walk away at the lot on Decatur Street (not included in cost of cruise ticket).
There are two ways to experience The Natchez. It can serve as a dinner buffet (lunch and a Sunday Jazz Brunch are also available), or you can just board to take in the atmosphere, scenic view from the deck and the wonderful music of a Grammy nominated authentic jazz band, the Dukes of Dixieland. The sights and sounds package is at a cheaper price of $43.00 for adults (children 6-12 are $21.50 and 2-5) are free. This is an ideal choice for families who are traveling on a budget. Payment is accepted in all forms from traveler’s checks to credit cards. My partner and I decided to splurge and take in the dinner buffet, sights along the river, and the sounds of the Dukes of Dixieland. At a price of $72.50 for adults (children 6-12 are $34.00 and children 2-5 are $14.00), a buffet of regional food was served piping hot. It included a green salad, dark roux file gumbo with shrimp, Andouille sausage and chicken, Louisiana style fried catfish, pork lion with Creole mustard sauce, maque choux (a Cajun dish of deep roasted corn and tomatoes, creole spices, peppers and celery), creole creamed spinach, and to top it off, bread pudding deliciously complimented with a Jim Beam bourbon sauce. No meal is complete in New Orleans without French bread and French Market coffee, and this buffet is no exception. There is also bottomless unsweetened tea to quench your thirst if you prefer not to purchase the alcoholic beverages and sodas available at the well-stocked bar on board. I found the wait staff to be very friendly and courtesy. Many held conversations with the tourists regarding suggestions on attractions to visit before leaving the city.
If your plans are to attend the dinner cruise, note that there are two seatings. You are given the choice of a 7:00 p.m. seating or a 9:00 p.m. seating. The riverboat boards at 6:00 p.m. and cruises promptly at 7:00 p.m., so make sure you are on time. There is a lot to take in at The Jax Brewery if you would like to go down to this area early to ascertain you arrive on time. If you decide not to purchase the dinner, lunch or brunch on The Natchez, there are loads of places around to catch a quick bite. Shopping is also plentiful in this area. The city’s first H&M Store opened recently and I hear bargains are plentiful. Tickets for The Natchez can be purchased in advance online or you can take a chance if it’s a last minute decision and purchase them dockside at the Lighthouse ticket office if spaces are still available. It is recommended that groups of 10 or more make reservations to make sure they are accommodated and to receive a special group rate. There is a package deal with Gray Line Tours which also includes a city tour for the cost of $102.00 and $49.00 for children 6-12. We opted for the second seating of 9:00 p.m. so that we can take in the sights along the river in daylight. We were also able to view the magnificent sunset with this choice. Make sure to have your camera ready because the best view of The St. Louis Cathedral can be seen from the river’s view from the left side of the boat. The captain will point out locations and bits of historical information to you as you cruise along the river over the loud speakers. It’s a good idea to take along a sweater or jacket.Some may find the breeze from the river to be a bit cool. You can always revert to inside quarters, but it is better to experience the ride and view from the deck. There will also be Natchez employed photographers on board to capture you on your cruise. The photos will be made available to you when you debark. If you are not ready to purchase, you will be given a card with information instructing you on how to view and purchase your photos online at a later time.
The Natchez has a wonderful informative website (www.steamboatnatchez.com) that answers many of the questions you may have regarding in climate weather to reservations and discounts. The Natchez Riverboat has it all! Great regional food, New Orleans jazz, and sightseeing from a picturesque vantage point, all while cruising down the river on an authentic steamboat. Wow! Because this is all obtainable in one location, Nola Roux recommends this attraction by awarding 4 fleurs-di-lis. During the cruise, make sure you take time to visit the gift shop to take home a remembrance of your time spent on the waters of the Mighty Mississippi.
The story of the New Orleans Jazzfest in song.
George Wein thrilled the audience with a bracingly candid blues rap at the grand opening party for the George and Joyce Wein Jazz & Heritage Center. Video by Demetric Mercadel.
Image courtesy of youtube.com
If you are interested in food, music, history and partying, there are cruises from New Orleans that will let you enjoy a little bit of the culture in New Orleans before you set sail to other ports. There are some extremely popular cruise lines that sail right out of New Orleans. Ocean lines such as Royal Caribbean, Norwegian Cruise Lines, Carnival and others all offer cruises out of New Orleans.
Get to New Orleans a day or two early, before your cruise sails, and enjoy all that New Orleans has to offer before you take off. If you can purchase a New Orleans vacation package, it will hopefully include a couple of night’s stay at a luxury New Orleans hotel, vouchers for some of the tourist attractions and a fun-filled itinerary that will not let you miss out on anything and get you to your cruise ship on time.
New Orleans has a newly built port that is a pleasure to sail out of or in to. There are shops at the port, and it is a short walk to tourist attractions such as Jackson Square and the French Quarter. Enjoy yourself before you set out on a Norwegian Cruise line that will take you to the Western Caribbean to ports in exotic places such as Cozumel, Costa Maya and Belize and then back to party in New Orleans. Cruises from New Orleans take you to exotic and relaxing places, but it is always wonderful to come back and look forward to even more fun in the Big Easy.
Carnival Cruises From New Orleans
Carnival Cruises will leave New Orleans’s port and take you to beautiful Cozumel in Mexico with stops in Progreso and Yucatan. Or perhaps you want to book a cabin on one of the Royal Caribbean cruises from New Orleans.
Whether you arrive early and tour New Orleans or decide to visit the city after your cruise ship returns to the New Orleans port, there is plenty to see here. Do not let this opportunity to see New Orleans pass you by! The city has recovered and rebuilt after Hurricane Katrina wreaked havoc and left many without homes or businesses. But the French Quarter was not damaged, and over the years residents have returned to remodel, rebuild and make the town even better than it was before. Entertainers such as musicians, artists and chefs who cook the world-famous Creole and Cajun dishes are back to welcome you and make your visit, no matter how long or short, a visit you will never forget. If time permits, a visit to the Southern Food and Beverage Museum is a must. Housed in the Riverwalk Marketplace, it is a short distant from departing cruise ships.
As you embark on your cruise out of New Orleans on the Mighty Mississippi, take a long look at the wonderful, unique view of this one of a kind city that sparks the imagination and inspires musicians, cooks and architects the world over. If you love photography, make sure you have your camera ready to go. Setting sail, you will be at a vantage point to take wonderful photographs from the river’s view.
Audubon Zoo New Orleans is the number one family attraction. When you visit New Orleans, be sure to put at the top of your list. When you take a look at any New Orleans travel info guide, you will most certainly see the Audubon Zoo listed as one of the main to-do items, especially if you are looking for a family outing while in town. It is known as one of the United States’ best zoos.
The Zoo has animals from all over the world, including exotic ones, on its fifty-eight acres of natural living environments. Don’t miss the authentically built habitat exhibits. The Louisiana Swamp makes you feel as though you are truly getting a look at how the animals there live.You will also get a chance to look at the endangered whooping cranes. Other endangered species on view here include Amur leopards, originally from countries in the Far East.
Get a look at the rare white alligators at this amazing zoo. The exceptional white tigers, Rex and Zulu, call the Audubon Zoo their home also. Audubon Zoo claim to fame in the Garden District,is a combination zoo, water park and nature institute. The Cool Zoo is a place to cool off and have fun after touring the zoo. There is something for everyone in your family to appreciate at this tourist attraction. The kids will surely enjoy the Cool Zoo, a splash park where they can get away from the heat of the day and get nice and wet. You will all be smiling going down the Alligator Water Slide, running through the Spider Monkey Soaker and water-spitting snakes! There is a separate area for the toddlers and younger children to splash around, too.
The children and adults will love to take a look at the two Asian elephants housed here, namely Panya and Jean. Watch them swim in their giant pool and entertain onlookers with their presentations. There is also the Audubon’s Dinosaur Adventure to discover.
You are in New Orleans, so why not stroll through a swamp? You can do that at the Audubon Zoo New Orleans style. You’ll find rocking chairs located here and there as you make your way through the swamp area so you can take a moment to relax and take in the view. But don’t fret about feeling you are in the middle of nowhere – there’s an air-conditioned restaurant and you are actually in uptown New Orleans!
Monkey Hill was designed with the terrain of New Orleans in mind: the city is virtually devoid of hills. Build a 28-foot hill, the builders reasoned, and give New Orleans its highest point in order to show residents what an actual hill is.
Another cool way to view NOLA’s zoo is to take a ride on the Zoo Train. Audubon Zoo New Orleans is fairly large, but if you manage your time and make a plan beforehand, you can see it all in one day of fun.