New Orleans

For a relatively small city, New Orleans has a remarkably vibrant and varied performing-arts community. While there are many traditional performance venues around town, one of the most exciting movements in recent years is the fringe theater action along Saint Claude Avenue, in the Bywater neighborhood. The annual Fringe Theater Festival brings pop-up performances, but there are also some permanent venues as well.

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  • 1. Essence Music Festival

    Held around Independence Day, this three-day festival brings in more than a half-million visitors and draws top names in R&B, pop, and hip-hop to the...

    Held around Independence Day, this three-day festival brings in more than a half-million visitors and draws top names in R&B, pop, and hip-hop to the Mercedes-Benz Superdome. The event also includes talks by prominent African American figures and empowerment seminars.

    1500 Sugar Bowl Dr., New Orleans, Louisiana, 70112, USA
  • 2. Mahalia Jackson Theater of the Performing Arts

    Tremé

    A $27-million post-Katrina renovation returned the lights to this fabulous stage and restored the sculpture-filled Armstrong Park grounds. With a 21st-century sound system, a digital...

    A $27-million post-Katrina renovation returned the lights to this fabulous stage and restored the sculpture-filled Armstrong Park grounds. With a 21st-century sound system, a digital cinema screen, enhanced lighting, a new orchestra shell, and cutting-edge ballet flooring, the 2,100-seat theater once again plays hostess to the Louisiana Philharmonic Orchestra, the New Orleans Opera Association, the New Orleans Ballet Association, the New Orleans Jazz Orchestra, Broadway shows, and much more.

    1419 Basin St., New Orleans, Louisiana, 70116, USA
    504-287–0350
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  • 3. Mardi Gras

    The biggest event on the city's cultural calendar is also the oldest—it's been around for more than a century. Parades roll almost nightly for the...

    The biggest event on the city's cultural calendar is also the oldest—it's been around for more than a century. Parades roll almost nightly for the last few weeks of the Carnival season, which starts on Twelfth Night and culminates on Mardi Gras (or Fat Tuesday), the last blow-out party before Lent begins on Ash Wednesday. The big day itself is a city holiday, with the streets taken over by costumed revelers, floats, marching bands, and throngs of partiers. Plastic beads are the currency of the day. Every year, Mardi Gras falls on a different date, but it's always in either February or March.

    New Orleans, Louisiana, USA
  • 4. New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival

    Gentilly | Cultural Festivals

    Top-notch local, national, and international musical talent takes to several stages the last weekend of April and first weekend of May. The...

    Top-notch local, national, and international musical talent takes to several stages the last weekend of April and first weekend of May. The repertoire covers much more than just jazz, with big-name rock and pop stars in the mix as well as dozens of lectures, quality arts and crafts booths, and awesome food to boot. Next to Mardi Gras, Jazz Fest is the city's biggest draw; book your hotel as far in advance as possible.

    1751 Gentilly Blvd, New Orleans, Louisiana, 70119, USA
  • 5. Trinity Artist Series

    Garden District

    Gratifying concerts of all types—solo, choral, orchestral, and chamber—fill the vaulted interior of Trinity Episcopal Church most Sunday evenings. Organized by local organist Albinas Prizgintas,...

    Gratifying concerts of all types—solo, choral, orchestral, and chamber—fill the vaulted interior of Trinity Episcopal Church most Sunday evenings. Organized by local organist Albinas Prizgintas, the series features both local and regional artists, though the occasional star passes through. Admission is free, and a relaxed, enjoyable evening is assured. And if you're fortunate enough to be in town the right weekend in late March or early April, don't miss "Bach Around the Clock," a 29-hour performance marathon that features everything from the eponymous composer's fugues and variations to classic rock hits arranged for organ.

    1329 Jackson Ave., New Orleans, Louisiana, 70130, USA
    504-522–0276
  • 6. Anthony Bean Community Theater

    Uptown | Theater

    This community theater also houses an acting school, providing young local actors with an audience. Productions include musical dramatizations...

    This community theater also houses an acting school, providing young local actors with an audience. Productions include musical dramatizations of musicians' biographies, as well as straight drama in small but careful productions. Some casts include local celebrities.

    1333 S. Carrollton Ave., New Orleans, Louisiana, 70118, USA
    504-862–7529
  • 7. Art for Art's Sake

    Art lovers and people-watchers alike pack Warehouse District and Magazine Street galleries in early October for the annual Saturday-evening kickoff to the visual arts season....

    Art lovers and people-watchers alike pack Warehouse District and Magazine Street galleries in early October for the annual Saturday-evening kickoff to the visual arts season. What's on the walls usually takes a back seat to the party scene.

    New Orleans, Louisiana, USA
  • 8. Bayou Playhouse

    Lockport | Theater

    Theater buffs routinely make the hour's drive from downtown New Orleans to this unique theater that sits on the banks of Bayou Lafourche in...

    Theater buffs routinely make the hour's drive from downtown New Orleans to this unique theater that sits on the banks of Bayou Lafourche in the small Cajun town of Lockport, Louisiana. Theater director Perry Martin is a hometown hero here, having spent years working on Broadway and in Los Angeles, directing and producing more than 80 theatrical productions, many of them award winning. Returning home, he has brought an incredible artistic vision and world-class talent to this charming and unlikely location. Productions celebrate life in the South and in Cajun Louisiana.

    101 Main St., New Orleans, Louisiana, 70374, USA
    888-992–2968
  • 9. Celebration in the Oaks

    Music

    City Park's majestic oaks, Botanical Gardens, Carousel Garden, and Storyland amusement park are awash in holiday lights and decorations during...

    City Park's majestic oaks, Botanical Gardens, Carousel Garden, and Storyland amusement park are awash in holiday lights and decorations during this popular weeks-long event. You'll find food and rides, a miniature train decked out for Christmas, and entertainment by local school groups.

    City Park, New Orleans, Louisiana, USA
    504-482-4888
  • 10. Christmas New Orleans Style

    Throughout the month of December, Canal Street sparkles with the season's decorations, and historic homes across the city put on their holiday best. St. Louis...

    Throughout the month of December, Canal Street sparkles with the season's decorations, and historic homes across the city put on their holiday best. St. Louis Cathedral opens its doors for free weekly concerts, and thousands of carolers gather in Jackson Square to raise their voices by candlelight. You'll find specials at hotels, as well as holiday reveillon menus at restaurants. Celebration in the Oaks lights up City Park, and bonfires are set on the Mississippi River's levee from New Orleans into Cajun Country—a Cajun tradition illuminating the way for Papa Noel.

    New Orleans, Louisiana, USA
  • 11. Easter Parades

    Cultural Festivals

    Three fun parades hit the streets of the French Quarter on Easter Sunday: one led by local entertainer Chris Owens, another dedicated to the...

    Three fun parades hit the streets of the French Quarter on Easter Sunday: one led by local entertainer Chris Owens, another dedicated to the late socialite Germaine Wells, and the last an incredible gay parade that takes the festive bonnet tradition to a whole new level.

    French Quarter, New Orleans, Louisiana, USA
  • 12. French Quarter Festival

    Music Festivals

    With stages set up throughout the Quarter and on the river at Woldenberg Park, the focus here is on free local entertainment—and, of course...

    With stages set up throughout the Quarter and on the river at Woldenberg Park, the focus here is on free local entertainment—and, of course, food. A lot of locals consider this April festival the best in the city.

    French Quarter, , USA
    504-522–5730
  • 13. Friends of Germaine Well Easter Parade

    Cultural Festivals

    Socialite Germaine Wells, step-daughter of the founder of Arnaud's Restaurant (and eventually its owner), started this New York–style Easter...

    Socialite Germaine Wells, step-daughter of the founder of Arnaud's Restaurant (and eventually its owner), started this New York–style Easter Parade in the French Quarter in 1956. Her legacy lives on, as women riding in convertibles and carriages don floppy chapeaus and hand out stuffed bunnies along the route. The parade ends in time for noon Mass at St. Louis Cathedral.

    French Quarter, New Orleans, Louisiana, USA
  • 14. Friends of Music

    Uptown

    This organization brings superior performers from all over the world to Tulane University's Dixon Hall. Concerts take place approximately once a month, and tickets usually...

    This organization brings superior performers from all over the world to Tulane University's Dixon Hall. Concerts take place approximately once a month, and tickets usually cost $30 to $35.

    Willow St. entrance, New Orleans, Louisiana, USA
    504-895–0690
  • 15. Gay Easter Parade

    Cultural Festivals

    Fashion takes a front seat at this parade, which ambles through the Quarter midafternoon on Easter Sunday, passing gay and gay-owned bars,...

    Fashion takes a front seat at this parade, which ambles through the Quarter midafternoon on Easter Sunday, passing gay and gay-owned bars, restaurants and shops.

    French Quarter, New Orleans, Louisiana, USA
  • 16. Irish Channel St. Patrick's Day Parade

    Cultural Festivals

    For more than 65 years, the Irish Channel St. Patrick's Day Club has put on a Saturday-afternoon-before-St. Paddy's Day parade with floats,...

    For more than 65 years, the Irish Channel St. Patrick's Day Club has put on a Saturday-afternoon-before-St. Paddy's Day parade with floats, bands and marching groups. Preferred throws here include green beads, cabbages, carrots and the occasional potato.

    Starts at Magazine and Felicity streets, New Orleans, Louisiana, USA
  • 17. Jefferson Ballet Theatre

    Lakefront | Dance

    This community-based dance school and ballet company stages a few public performances each year, including festive balls and an annual winter...

    This community-based dance school and ballet company stages a few public performances each year, including festive balls and an annual winter concert.

    3621 Florida Ave., New Orleans, Louisiana, 70065, USA
    504-468–1231
  • 18. Jefferson Performing Arts Society

    Metairie | Music

    A wonderful fount of culture, if a bit out-of-the-way, the society stages musicals, ballets, recitals, kids' theater, and operas at multiple...

    A wonderful fount of culture, if a bit out-of-the-way, the society stages musicals, ballets, recitals, kids' theater, and operas at multiple out-of-town locations including Metairie, Slidell, and Meridian.

    1118 Clearview Pkwy., New Orleans, Louisiana, 70001, USA
    504-885–2000
  • 19. Le Petit Théâtre du Vieux Carré

    French Quarter | Theater

    Since 1916, Le Petit Théâtre has entertained the French Quarter with plays, musicals, and variety shows. The oldest continuously running community...

    Since 1916, Le Petit Théâtre has entertained the French Quarter with plays, musicals, and variety shows. The oldest continuously running community theater in the United States occupies a historic building in the Quarter. The community-based group were originally housed in one of the Pontalba apartments on Jackson Square, but they quickly outgrew that space and moved to this building in 1922. The flagstone patio with its fountain is postcard-perfect. Renovations have resulted in many improvements to the theater itself, and also made room for Tableau, a restaurant featuring contemporary Creole fare by local restaurateur Dickie Brennan. The theater presents children's entertainment in addition to its usual calendar of classics, musicals, and dramas, often with local themes. Events in the Tennessee Williams Festival take place here in March.

    616 St. Peter St., New Orleans, Louisiana, 70116, USA
    504-522–2081
  • 20. Louisiana Philharmonic Orchestra

    Central Business District

    The always good, sometimes excellent LPO now holds court at the Orpheum Theater while continuing to perform at Tulane and Loyola university auditoriums and at...

    The always good, sometimes excellent LPO now holds court at the Orpheum Theater while continuing to perform at Tulane and Loyola university auditoriums and at local churches. There's also a concert series in parks around town during the spring months.

    129 Roosevelt Way, New Orleans, Louisiana, 70112, USA
    504-523–6530

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