The French Quarter Fest Celebrates 40th Anniversary This Spring

The festivities kick off April 13th and admission is free!

How do you celebrate the 40th birthday of one of the largest free music festivals in the country? You invite the Soul Queen of New Orleans Irma Thomas to sing on the banks of the Mississippi River against a backdrop of brilliant fireworks!  

 That’s how the French Quarter Fest presented by Chevron will kick off on April 13, following a fabulous second line parade down Bourbon Street. The four day fest spans twenty stages across New Orleans’ oldest neighborhood, made famous for its incomparable musical and culinary roots.

Irma Thomas

Cedric Ellsworth

“That’s part of our mission — to celebrate what makes New Orleans so unique and the richness of our diversity and our culture,” Emily Madero, President and CEO of French Quarter Festivals, Inc. told Southern Living.

Created in 1984 to bring local residents back to the French Quarter after the World’s Fair, the annual event has grown into the largest showcase of Louisiana talent in the world entertaining about 200-thousand people each day of the fest.

Opening Day French Quarter Fest

Cedric Ellsworth

“It started as a highly local event,” Madero explained, “but it’s grown into an event that attracts people from all over the country and the world.”

More than 1700 local musicians will perform, from perennial favorites like Rockin Dopsie and the Rebirth Brass Band, to more than fifty new artists making their debut. 

April is arguably the most beautiful month in New Orleans with temperatures averaging in the upper seventies. Savor the sun as you stroll from the Mississippi River to Bourbon Street grooving to the beat of every genre from Jazz and R & B to Zydeco, Folk, Gospel, Funk and more.  And don’t forget your appetite.  With 60 culinary vendors showcasing Louisiana’s mouthwatering cuisine, there’s something to satisfy every craving.

The fest is open from 11AM to 8PM daily. The entertainment is free, but expect to pay for food, drink, and merchandise.

“It’s a big open block party!” Madero exclaims as she extends the invitation.

Check out the full line-up and schedule here

A free music festival in one of our favorite Southern destinations? Pack the bags and let’s go! 

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