New Orleans JazzFest Party Scene & Tips
How-To Guide To Annual Two-Week Music Festival
It's not just the bands that make JazzFest so great but the party and atmosphere.
New Orleans JazzFest 2013 Dates: April 26-May 5
Hosted by a town that has drinks named hurricane, monsoon and hand grenade, Jazz Fest in New Orleans is one of the world's great outdoor festivals.
The main stage at JazzFest is like a big outdoor party picnic.
Jimmy Buffett brings up the fins when he plays JazzFest.
New Orleans is really the Big Easy during JazzFest.
For two weekends each Spring, this lively Southern city located at the corner of the Mississippi River and the Gulf of Mexico is swamped with people and music, and flooded with alcohol. The 2013 lineup includes the folliowing
First week: (Saturday) Billy Joel, Jill Scott, Allen Toussaint, Rebirth Blues Band, Ivan Neville's Dumpstaphunk, Eddie Palmieri Salsa Orchestra. (Sunday) Dave Matthews Band; B.B. King; Earth, Wind & Fire; Gipsy Kings; The Nevills; Better Than Ezra; Big Sam's Funky Nation.
Second Week: (Friday) Willie Nelston & Family, Jimmy Cliff. (Saturday) Fleetwood Mac, Phoenix, Los Lobos, Preservation Hall Jazz Band, Little Big Town Frank Ocean. (Sunday) Black Keys, Daryl Hall & John Oates, Irma Thomas, Aaron Neville.
Flags fly all around Jazzfest as beacons to where groups are partying.
Tickets are $50 per day in advance; $65 at gate Children’s tickets (ages 2 - 10) are still only $5 and are available only at the gate.
There are other Jazz Fests in the United States – six more, to be exact – but none pack the party punch of New Orleans.
A crazy Cajun community to begin with, "Nawlans" (as it is pronounced by locals) is already the happy host to Mardi Gras and the country's most raucous New Year's Eve bashes.
Jazz Fest is just another notch on this city's social calendar.
Those who attend Jazz Fest do so in minimal clothing – the men, it seems, are all shirtless – and with at least one hand continually accompanied by a cocktail. Few people actually remember much about Jazz Fest, except that they must have had a good time because they return time and time again for years on end.
Jazz Fest is an outdoor concert/party featuring several types of live music during a two weekend period in April and May. Stages featuring jazz, gospel, zydeco, blues, Cajun, R&B, Latin, African/Caribbean and rock comprise the lineup.
Popular bands such as Jimmy Buffett, Sting, Hootie and the Blowfish, the Allman Brothers, the Doobie Brothers and Steve Miller are just a few of the bands that have headlined Jazz Fest.
Regular participants include New Orleans favorites the Nevelle Brothers and the Radiators.
Jazz Fest New Orleans Top Party Tips
PubClub.com at JazzFest, one our top party events.
• JazzFest 2013 is April 26-May 29 and May 5.
• Get a roomi n advance
• Rooms become available off and on as reservations are released leading up to the event. A hotel may have nothing in late March, but some rooms a few weeks later. Just keep checking.
• Most people pick one of the two weekends to attend; the second usually has the bigger-name bands.
• Don't get a rental car in New Orleans; use your feet or taxis for transportation.
• Tickets go sale in mid-February. There are also on-line advance purchases. They are also available at the gate ($45 in advance, $60 on the spot). The official Jazzfest website is: /www.nojazzfest.com/
• The concert lineup is announced in February each year.
• Buy your booze on-site. It's cheaper by the case and stay clear of the booths near the stages where the big bands are playing.
• Bring a 12-pack-sized collapsible cooler. You can buy as many beers at a time as you like and they also give you ice.
• The food is amazingly tasty, especially for an outdoor festival.
• Blankets and ground tarps cannot exceed 6'x8' in size. Video and/or audio recording equipment is prohibited.
• Flags mark your spot; these are a huge part of the scene at Jazzfest.
• Pack rain gear (just in case) and a big bladder
The Music, Bands, Food and Party Scene
Jimmy Buffett, who used to be on Bourbon Street, loves playing JazzFest.
With bands in the background, PubClub.com parties at JazzFest.
The stages pack in the people for the party and the bands.
JazzFest is held at the New Orleans Fair Ground Race Track near the famous French Quarter. The music starts in the morning and goes until 7 p.m. Considering they were probably out until sunrise in that French Quarter, most people do not arrive until the middle of the afternoon, at which time they camp out in front of one of the many stages featuring the type of music or artist they want to hear.
One of the best shows PubClub has ever seen at JazzFest is Elvin Bishop.
Each stage features a particular theme in music.
The quality of the food is outstanding. Softshell crab sandwiches, crawfish pie and gator pie are just a few examples of the fabulous fare.
Parties pop up like toast at these locations. The overall area is so huge that large groups mark their spot with decorated totem poles. This makes it somewhat easier for people to find their way back to their spot after leaving their friends to check out another stage, locate a bathroom or chase down a desirable member of the opposite sex.
Most of the socializing occurs at these picnic parties. With people drinking beer by the caseloads, it's an understandable process.
The festival ends at about 7, after which many head to a bar located across from the entrance; this is a good place to catch up with the people you lost during the day or to meet up with that special someone with whom you were socializing earlier.
At about 9, it's back to the hotel for a shower and clothes change, then out to the Bourbon Street bars.
There are too many bars on Bourbon Street to name them all, but it's hard to go wrong by just cruising down the street and picking one out of the crowd. One of the best is the legendary Pat O'Briens, with its outdoor flaming fountain and intimate piano bar that features "dueling" pianists and audience sing-alongs. It's signature is a drink called the Hurricane, one of the strongest cocktails found anywhere in the world.
Other bars on Bourbon Street are the Dungeon (which doesn't even open until midnight), Krazy Korner, Cat's Meow, Tropical Isle (which brags about serving the city's most potent cocktail, the green-colored Hand Gernade) and Lafitte's Blacksmith Shop which is one of the oldest bars in the area that features a great sing-along piano bar that goes past sunrise.
– Jazz Fest Photos –
The Jazzfest grounds are a huge
spot for partying.
Luau Larry lounges at Jazzfest.
Some people get really charged up at Jazzfest.
People claim their spots, then wander around to other stages.
Jimmy Buffett on stage at Jazzfest; he plays one long set.
Parrotheads react to Buffett playing "Fins."
Jimmy Buffett is at home on the stage at New Orleans Jazzfest.
Girls lay out and get a tan on the grass at Jazzfest.
PubClubbers Luaux Larry and Wild Randy were jazzed to be in New Orleans.
Here's what the JazzFest party looks like, day and night.
Where To Party After JazzFest
Sometimes around Jazzfes, Jimmy Buffett plays at Margaritaville in New Orleans.
Just off Bourbon Street, one can relax in Margaritaville – Jimmy Buffett's Margaritaville, that is. The owner occasionally takes the stage here. The House of Blues often has big-name acts such as Better than Ezra or Boss Scaggs playing.
About a 10-minute walk away are still more options. Cafe Brazil features dancing which makes it popular with the girls and The Mermaid with its magical-looking waitresses. A short cab ride away is Tipitinas, which often features local favorite The Radiators; The Maple Leaf and F&M Patio Bar, packed with a good mix of gals and guys (it also serves cheese fries and alligator sausage fajitas to satisfy the munchies).
Don't worry about any lines at these place. Just grab a drink from the street vendor and use the line to mingle.
Those still standing at closing time retreat to their various hotel rooms for all-night after-hours parties.
Food For Thought
One cannot go to New Orleans and not eat. Even if the objective is to drink, the food is so plentiful and outstanding, it's worth noting some of the city's finer dining places. And we're not talking about the "lucky dogs" served from stands in the Bourbon Street area.
For starters, Cafe' du Monde in the French Market on Decatur Street makes hot French doughnuts with sprinkled sugar called biegnets (pronounced ben-yeahs) and strong coffee. The Bluebird uptown and Cameila Grill on Carrollton Street serve full breakfasts as well as lunch.
Bars that serve food are quite popular in New Orleans. Igor's at St. Charles is a New Orleans original, a 24-hour bar/grill/Laundromat combo. Bon Temps Roulez, which basically means "Let' the good times roll" in French/Cajun lingo, has a reasonably-priced and reasonably-tasty bar/grill menu.
Finally, pralines are everywhere. They are Cajun "cookies" made from fresh Louisiana pecans and brown sugar.