It’s that time of year again! People from around the world will soon flock to New Orleans for the annual Jazz Festival, a week-long celebration of Louisiana’s rich musical and cultural heritage.
With the first weekend approaching, Jazz Fest attendees are gearing up and planning out their days– scoping out the line-up, plotting when to arrive and where to camp out, creating totem poles and crowd markers so fellow posse members can locate their spot. Planning for the fest also means navigating the logistics of how many acts/stages you can possibly hit in one day, and needless to say, with so many tremendous performances at over ten stages, you’ll probably have to make some sacrifices.
And they’ll be tough sacrifices to make, as this year’s line-up boasts great talent from all over the map, highlighting the fact that diversity is a huge part of what makes this festival so unique. Jazz Fest 2015 consists of not only major national and international headliners such as Elton John, Wilco, Tony Bennett & Lady Gaga, Ryan Adams and the Who, but also New Orleans’ beloved homegrown talent, including Dr. John, Irma Thomas, Allen Toussaint, The Meters and Trombone Shorty. While such a star-studded list of headliners may be the initial draw for many attendees, any seasoned Jazz Fest goer will tell you that there is so much more to discover. You can expect to find some really great jazz of many different styles and genres, and a lot of the real magic happens in unexpected places, from the Mardi Gras Indians, the gospel choirs with voices that set the tent trembling, the Cajun dancing in front of the Fais Do-Do Stage and the brass bands that play throughout the festival, pulling people to join in and dance along the way.
Another unexpected favorite? The food. Generally speaking, music festivals aren’t known for their gastronomic delights, but at Jazz Fest, the many scrumptious offerings are yet another draw to the heritage celebration. Unfortunately, this mean that you won’t just have the dilemma of picking and choosing who to see, you’ll also have to pick and choose what to eat. Some Fest staples to get you started include Crawfish Monica, soft-shell crab po’boys, Cochon de Lait po’boys, crawfish bread and ya-ka-mein, but the options are endless.
For the next two weekends, New Orleans will be bubbling with hoards of tourists, but natives shouldn’t worry, because they’re ready to eat, sing, dance and party!
– Alicia Gallagher