It’s April in New Orleans, which can mean only one thing — It’s time for Jazz Fest!
Short for New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival, “Jazz Fest” has provided tourists and locals alike with hundreds of thousands of hours of musical entertainment over the years. The Festival started in 1970 when Mahalia Jackson, the greatest gospel singer, came home to New Orleans to perform at the Louisiana Heritage Fair in Congo Square (then called Beauregard Square). She was walking with Duke Ellington when they came upon the Eureka Brass Band leading a second-line through festival grounds, and they sang along and joined the parade. Jazz Fest was born!
Don’t let the name fool you— thousands of acts have performed at the Festival throughout the years, of all different genres. It’s not uncommon to have rap, hip-hop, r&B, soul, jazz, zydeco, and pop artists all gracing different stages at the same time. It’s not uncommon to have them all on the same stage, especially if they’re feeling an impromptu jam session. The most important thing about Jazz Fest is that it’s a place where magic happens.
If you’re new to Jazz Fest, here are some helpful tips:
- Stay Hydrated — New Orleans is known for many things, among them is her humidity. Do not underestimate this, especially if you plan on dancing. Make sure to drink water throughout the day, and visit the many misting tents that are available at the Festival.
2. Bring a towel, blanket, or chair — You’ll likely want to camp out to watch a musician, or stay at the same stage for many hours. You may even decide to carry your purchased foods to a certain spot and eat a picnic lunch. There are no tables at jazz fest, and very few tents have chairs. You’ll want to carry a portable fabric folding chair with you, or a blanket or towel that can easily fold into your bag.
3. Be prepared — You’ll also want to bring bug spray, sunscreen, and possibly even an umbrella or pancho. If you forget any of these things, they are available at the festival, but can be extremely pricey!
4. Find the “secret” spots — they really aren’t secret, but locals know the ways to protect themselves at Jazz Fest— seven days of outside partying is a lot even for us! If you need a real bathroom, or to get out of the sun for a second, you can try inside the grandstands. Or, you can sit down on a real chair inside the Gospel Tent.
5. Try everything — some of the happiest accidents at Jazz Fest happen because you didn’t want to wait in a long line for a food and meandered to another stage or another food line. You might try something you don’t like, but you’ll likely try something that you’ll love forever.
I hope you enjoy Jazz Fest! Please share this with your friends & family who are going out to the festival this year! As always, I’m your friendly neighborhood New Orleans real estate agent, and I’m here to help you with all things New Orleans. And I’ll be at Jazz Fest every day, so please come and find me while you’re there!
Jennifer Fagan, Realtor®