The New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival (also known as the Jazz Fest) will be held April 28- May 7 this year at the Fair Grounds Race Course, which is located in Mi-City. This annual event features a lot of big name acts that perform between the hours of 11 a.m. and 7 p.m. each day. These performers are from many different musical genres which includes everything from jazz, gospel, rock and rap. It’s a great event to attend if you want to see a variety of artists all in one place.
History of New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival:
“Mahalia Jackson, often called the greatest gospel singer, returned to her hometown to appear at the first New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival in April of 1970. While attending the Louisiana Heritage Fair in Congo Square (then known as Beauregard Square), she and Duke Ellington, who also appeared at the event, came upon the Eureka Brass Band leading a crowd of second-line revelers through the Festival grounds. George Wein, producer of the Festival, handed Ms. Jackson a microphone, she sang along with the band and joined the parade…and the spirit of Jazz Fest was born.”
In the past, the festival only featured local acts. As it grew in popularity, it expanded to add popular artists from around the country.
This year, performers will include:
-Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers
-Usher & the Roots
-Dave Mathews Band
-Harry Connick Jr.
-Earth, Wind & Fire
Click here for the full line up.
This year will also include a celebration of the Cuban culture – the largest in the U.S. since the 1950’s in honor of New Orleans’ deep historical connections with Cuba. The rhythm of the Conga Los Hoyos parade will lead crowds around the Fair Grounds and to the Cultural Exchange Pavilion. Performers include Septeto Nacional Pinerio, Grupo Caury, Dayme Arocena, Conga Los Hoyos and Roman Diaz. There will also be Cuban craftsmen and artists along with Cuban dishes.
What To Eat, See And Buy at the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival
What To Buy
Besides the music, there are a variety of other things to do. For those that love crafts, there are three craft areas: the Louisiana Marketplace, Contemporary Crafts and the Congo Square African Marketplace. The Louisiana Marketplace has things like art, jewelry and baskets. Contemporary Crafts feature instruments, leather goods and handmade clothing. Visitors can also watch pottery, painting, fiber and metal demonstrations here. At the Congo Square African Marketplace visitors can purchase a wide variety of items from artisans all throughout the world.
What To See & Do
Throughout the event there will be several parades. Some of them have a Mardi Gras feel at times. Parades features marching and brass bands and Mardi Gras Indians. Visit the Louisiana Folklife Village and you can learn how to sew a shrimp net, paint a Day of the Dead sugar skull or master the art of hair braiding. You can also see local artists making crafts and musicians playing. These are just a few of the dozens of traditions featured of Louisiana’s culture and history.
These are only a few of the dozens of traditions featured in the Louisiana Folklife Village that bear witness to our state’s unique cultural history.
What To Eat
Despite it being a festival, carnival food is not allowed here. Vendors have to actually go through a strict screening process to ensure that they will be providing quality foods. With over seventy food booths, visitors can try a whole host of different items. These include jambalaya, crawfish, muffulettas, pecan catfish meuniere, fried shrimp, BBQ and fried green tomatoes. Most of the items are made from local ingredients and are prepared by hand. One of the nice things about his event is there is also a Kids’ Food Section where parents can take their little ones to get more “kid friendly” items.
As you can imagine, the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival is a popular event. It’s expected to bring in over $300 million dollars to the city and quite a few visitors. If you do plan on visiting it, expect crowds and come hungry.