Are you as thrilled as I am that winter is over? I know we don’t exactly live in the tundra, but still — my old lady bones just don’t shake the chill like they used to. And I know that we’re facing another sweltering summer, but while we’re here, all nestled in the lovely, comfy, temperate cradle of spring, let’s enjoy the weather!
If you’re less than rugged and outdoorsy, like me (as in, let’s keep the traipsing through the woods and paddling through swamps to a minimum), our jam-packed festival season is just the ticket. There are so many super cool events coming up on both shores to satisfy your culinary, cultural, and musical cravings, while soaking in the vitamin D and breathing some fresh (albeit, perhaps a bit pollen-y — take your Claritin!) air.
Here’s a big, fat sampling of what April has to offer…
March 21-April 3 — Chalmette hosts this annual spring event, which originated in 1975. It features authentic Cajun cuisine in all its glory, Cajun entertainment and current hit parade bands, arts and crafts, plus a giant midway loaded with carnival games, cotton candy, candied apples and rides.
April 1-2 — This annual BBQ competition helps families with children battling pediatric brain cancer under the banner of the Pig City Park. 97 BBQ teams will cook up a storm, while 15 bands provide the jams. Gates open at 3pm on Friday, and 11am on Saturday.
April 2 — Over 150 local vendors showcase their arts, crafts, and wearables at this street festival, while live music plays on three differents stages and the food court features the city’s finest chefs and picnic seating. “Slightly used dogs and cats are available for adoption by Zeus’ Place, Zeus’ Rescues and other local rescue organizations. 11am-6pm.
April 2 — Cooks from all over the country come to make and serve their regional specialties to foodies strolling through the French Market weekend-long celebration of America’s hometown eats. From Yankee chowder to Tucson tamales and from Memphis barbecue to genuine mint juleps, everything is a great American classic, cooked and served by the culinary folk artists who know how to make it right. 11am-6pm.
April 7-10 — The largest free music event in the United States, French Quarter Festival features 1,700 musicians playing 400 hours of free, local music from a variety of musical genres — from gospel to jazz, from funk to classical, from Cajun & Zydeco to brass band– on 23 stages throughout the French Quarter. The community festival also features the ‘World’s Largest Jazz Brunch,’ festival food booths operated by some of New Orleans finest restaurants. Music starts at 11am daily.
April 8-10 — This family-friendly outdoor festival is filled with lots of great food, games, entertainment, and fun for people of all ages. Highlights include egg tosses, strawberry eating contests, sack races, midway rides, a parade, and a whole lot of great live bands, like Bag of Donuts, Category 6, and Five Finger Discount. Friday 5-10:15pm; Saturday 11:30am-10:30pm; Sunday 9am-6pm
April 9 — New work by dozens of artists from around the Southeast Region will be showcased at this festival, which also includes live music at various outdoor and indoor locations, gallery openings, art demonstrations, boutique shopping, and fine dining throughout downtown Covington. 6-9pm
April 10 — Okay, how much will the kids love this? Held at the Hilton Riverside Hotel, this event features the world’s largest and most elaborate balloon displays (some are interactive!) and entertainment, plus it allows guests to view and/or purchase large balloon sculptures, balloon couture and other masterpieces. 11am-3:30pm.
April 15 — It’s not exactly a festival, but what a festive-sounding outdoor event! Participants are invited to enjoy mint juleps, small bites, and music as they shop at dozens of participating businesses and stroll Girod Street in Mandeville as the sun goes down on Lake Pontchartrain. 5:30pm–8:30pm
April 15-17 — This annual event, hosted by the Northlake Nature Center, takes place as many species of birds are migrating north through Louisiana from Mexico and South America. Highlights include a social, photo workshop, and multiple trips to visit local habitats, including swamps, wetlands, pine savanna, and hardwoods of southeast Louisiana. Visit the website for the various times and events.
April 16 -17 — Held at the Trailhead downtown, this festival features over 100 booths, live auction, appraisals, live demonstrations, walking tours, food, music and more. 10am-5pm
April 17 — This one-day festival of street musicians is sponsored by the Abita Springs Trailhead Museum, with music provided by the Abita Springs Opry in partnership with the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Foundation. It also features food, art, crafts, and of course, dancing. Times TBA. Check the website for updates.
April 25-May 1 — New Orleans’ premier golf tournament and the only PGA TOUR event in the region, this event boasts a rich history, with play dating back to 1938 and past winners including golf greats like Jack Nicklaus, Davis Love III, and Vijay Singh. Over $11 million has been raised for over 40 charities that serve thousands of children in need in the southeastern Louisiana region.
April 22-24 & April 28-May 1 — The granddaddy of them all, Jazz Fest is an annual celebration of the music and culture of New Orleans and Louisiana. Of course, this means a huge array of music and some of the biggest national and international acts, as well as hometown favorites. This year’s lineup is incredible, including Pearl Jam, Van Morrison, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Snoop Dogg, Bonnie Raitt, and tons more. Plus, there’s all the fabulous food and crafts, and it all happens at the Fair Grounds.
April 24 — Touted as New Orleans’s premier benefit event for children of all ages, Audubon Zoo is transformed into a magical play land, complete with live entertainment & musical performances, arcade games, inflatables, face painters, crafts, complimentary food and beverages, and much more. sponsor & patron party 5-9pm; early admittance 5:30-9pm; and general admittance 6:30-9pm.