The Paddlewheeler Nachez in the Port of New Orleans. Max Hartshorne photo.
The Paddlewheeler Nachez in the Port of New Orleans. Max Hartshorne photo.

As summer fades and the humidity disappears, New Orleanians celebrate with fall festivals and events that highlight the city’s unique and inspired food, music and culture. Experience the one-of-a-kind ambiance, temperate climate and Southern hospitality characteristic of the Big Easy, as these events, among many others, gear up to electrify the city!

1. Spooktacular Fun – New Orleans is one of the most haunted cities in America, so what better place to celebrate Halloween and experience the city’s eerie mystique. Take a ghosts and spirits walking nighttime tour through the storied French Quarter with history lurking around every corner. Then, delve into the origins of New Orleans Voodoo, a set of spiritual folkways that developed from the traditions of African diaspora. Pay homage to Voodoo Queen Marie Laveau, who codified practices locally and gave the religion a beautiful but mysterious public face, by visiting her grave in St. Louis Cemetery No. 1, meticulously maintained by legions of followers who still place offerings there, including food and various Voodoo paraphernalia. Then, stop in to the New Orleans Pharmacy Museum and check out one of their many exhibits that feature real-life “gris-gris” potions used by Voodoo practitioners. And, in true New Orleans fashion, gather the family to revel in the excitement of Krewe of Boo (October 24), the official Halloween parade of New Orleans

2. Keep Calm and Game On – Tied for hosting the most number of Super Bowls, New Orleans has become a prime destination for major sporting events due to its walkability and affordability. Arrive early to tailgate with the Saints Nation at spots around the Mercedes-Benz Superdome and enjoy the fanatical costumes, music and one of-a-kind cuisine, such as gumbo and fried turkey. No one tailgates better than the South. With the first home game of the Saints regular season kicking off September 20, head to New Orleans to cheer on the city’s beloved NFL team and 2009 National Champions! Learn the city’s “Who Dat” chant and cheer along with Saints fans, or support your home team when they travel to New Orleans for a friendly rivalry.

3. Fall Festivals –New Orleans’ offering oflocal festivals continues to expand. Last year, the city counted 129 festivals in New Orleans attended by an estimated 4 million people! Packed with live music, local food, dancing, family and southern hospitality, festivals are a bite-sized sampling of the best New Orleans has to offer. From celebrating zydeco music and po’boys, to the mirliton, oyster and Creole tomato harvests, New Orleans has a festival for just about everything and everyone. So pack walking shoes and get to festin’!

Fall festivals you won’t want to miss:

  • New Orleans Burlesque Festival (September 17-20, 2015)
    Celebrate New Orleans’ stars of the striptease. Revel in the glamour, humor and jazz of traditional burlesque with showcases, workshops and panel discussions. The main event will boast some the best burlesque dancers in the world competing to earn the coveted Queen of Burlesque title.
  • New Orleans Film Festival (October 15-22, 2015)
    What began as a local production has developed into a premier, Oscar-qualifying, film festival, attracting thousands of producers, directors, writers and actors from across the globe. Films are shown throughout the city and include full-length features, shorts, animation and music videos.
  • Crescent City Blues and BBQ Festival (October 16-18, 2015)
    You’re sure not to get the blues at this food and music experience. Located in the Central Business District, this festival offers easy access to the French Quarter if you wish to continue the party.
  • Tremé Creole Gumbo Fest (November 14 – 15, 2015)
    Come hungry to take on the 8th annual celebration of New Orleans’ signature dish – gumbo! The event will feature a smorgasbord of gumbos in every variety – including vegan – complete with a side of the city’s finest brass, jazz and R&B bands.
  • Oak Street Po’Boy Festival (November 22, 2015)
    Celebrate the famous New Orleans sandwich with this annual street party. The festival features more than 40 restaurants offering everything from traditional roast beef and oyster, to fried lobster and softshell crab. Bon appétit!
At Brennan's you can get the best breakfast you've ever had with some of the most professional servers you've ever met!
At Brennan’s you can get the best breakfast you’ve ever had with some of the most professional servers you’ve ever met! The menu is incredible, and that’s just for breakfast.

4. Foodies Unite –The city is home to more than 1,400 restaurants, and its chefs and restaurant scene are evolving to extend beyond traditional genres that most are accustomed to associating with NOLA cuisine, like Creole and Cajun. New restaurants like Shaya, offering modern-Israeli cuisine by James Beard Award-winning  Chef Alon Shaya, and the historic St. Roch Market, offering food vendors who specialize in everything from West African cuisine with Lagos to Korean-Creole fusion with Koreole, are adding an infinite variety of new chefs, approaches and takes on world food. And food trucks, chef pop-ups and supper clubs, like Dinner Lab, are making excellent dining affordable for any budget and occasion, not to mention the slew of food festivals.

Of course, all the old-guard bastions of fine-dining that made New Orleans a food destination are still here and as good as you remember them being, including Antoine’s, who celebrates 175 years this year, Arnaud’sCommander’s Palace and the recently renovated Brennan’s, just to name a few.

5. Arts & Culture–New Orleans’ Old World roots have created a strong foundation and long-standing appreciation for the arts. Today, the scene thrives via countless galleries, performance spaces and museums, including The National WWII Museum – the city’s number one visitor attraction with the expansion of its newest pavilion; the New Orleans Museum of Art, located in City Park – one of the nation’s oldest and largest urban parks; and the newly reopened Southern Food and Beverage Museum, which celebrates the foodways and culture of the American South, offering exhibits, tastings, demonstrations and more in the cultural district of Oretha Castle Haley Boulevard. But perhaps what sets New Orleans’ cultural institutions apart from those of other cities is their ability to embody the joie de vivre (joy of life) so prevalent in the city.

So whether you are perusing the Ogden Museum of Southern Art and Contemporary Arts Center, or taking in the sounds of some of your favorite rockers at the Voodoo Music + Arts Experience (October 30-November 1, 2015), New Orleans’ unique culture and love of food, music and fun blends perfectly with the Crescent City’s vibrant arts scene, creating experiences you can’t find anywhere else.

For trip-planning assistance, from hotel reservations to restaurant recommendations, as well as a full list of events, visit www.neworleanscvb.com.

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