If you are a festival hunter like me, then you probably spend a lot time travelling the globe for the next entertaining jamboree to attend. From the colourful Hindi festivals in India to Asia’s Dragon-themed galas, I can boast of having attended some raving events around the world.
You should increase your flier miles too, after all they come with some perks. This time, I am focusing my lens on New Orleans, America’s culture-rich energetic south. With a heritage as impressive as New Orleans’, you can imagine how exhilarating their festival will be.
Travelling to the US?
Unfortunately, there has been some global attention focused at the US following President Trump’s immigration ban on citizens of certain high-risk “terrorist” countries. Only recently, a Seattle judge blocked Trump’s executive order. If you are a citizen or travelling en-route any of these countries, you can still enter the US as long as you have a valid visa.
Aside from the travel ban, citizens from Visa Waiver countries still have to apply for an ESTA Approval before they purchase their flight tickets. An ESTA is a document permitting nationals of designated countries to travel to the US.
Now that we’ve sorted all that, let’s proceed to the juice of this article.
What makes New Orleans’ festivals tick?
New Orleans’ summer festivals are the talk of the town. You can’t afford to be a penny-pincher if you want to make the most of the occasion. Events range from colour-specific dress codes, public spanking events and gatherings where pants are an option for your leather chaps.
Some of these events are free, including two of the finest curated music concerts in the city. Foodies will love two of the harvest festivals that celebrate foods native to the city. If you are unsure of the best times to visit, here’s a guide of the festivals and their dates.
- New Orleans’ Oyster Festival (June 3 – 4, 2017)
They say oysters are an acquired taste. At Louisiana, the locals enjoy the delicacy right from childhood. The slurpy dish is celebrated at a gathering that is open to residents and tourists alike. The venue is at Woldenberg Park, giving you an uninhibited view of the Mississippi River.
There are grassy picnics and several tents for people who want a taste of the cuisine New Orleans’ chef have to offer. You’ll be amazed at how much they can do with succulent bivalves and some sauce. Look out for the oyster eating and shuckers contests.
- French Market Creole Tomato Festival (June 10 – 11, 2017)
Yet another food festival, this event celebrates the glories of Louisiana’s lush Creole tomatoes, farmers and the Pelican State’s exclusive cultural and food offerings. Here, nobody cares how you pronounce it- the joy is in the eating. This free gathering features local sous-chefs showcasing their culinary skill.
All foods on display are farm fresh and can be bought at reasonable costs. The over 20-year old festival provides a shady setting, and guests are welcomed with live music, open dance opportunities and well-organised children’s activities. Some foods you can enjoy include fried green tomatoes, Creole tomatoes with shrimp salad, Stuffed shrimp with grilled tomato and jasmine rice.
- Essence Festival (June 29 – July, 2 2017)
This four-day event celebrates African American music and culture, including free empowerment gatherings with notable speakers and panels. At night, there are concerts organised by artists that encompass a wide range of hip hop and soul music. Artists like Kendrick Lamar, Mary J. Blige, Erykah Badu, Common and more, have performed at the Essence Festival.
This year, John Legend, Jasmine Sullivan, India Arie, and Chaka Khan are some of the artistes expected to feature. Although it’s a paid event, early bookings attract reasonable discounts. It will be sponsored by Coca Cola.
- Running of the Bulls (July 7 – 9, 2017)
Spain may have their famous bull run festival in Pamplona, but it has got nothing on the Big Easy roller girls at Louisiana. Thousands of guests turn out to for the chance to run on the streets and dodge the girls who hit at them playfully with their light-weight plastic batons.
The three-day celebration, officially known as San Fermin in Nueva Orleans, hosts a wine dinner, Spanish brunch, a procession and many more. Registration has begun already, and participants are in for a fun experience.
Festivals aside, New Orleans boasts of being one of the liveliest cities in America’s South. It is also a cultural buff’s haven. Have you started making plans already? I hope so.