New Orleans

The Ultimate Guide to Celebrating Jazz Fest 2022 in New Orleans

Get to know the most exciting, culturally rich, and star-studded music fest in America.

New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival
New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival
New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival

With the heat turning up and the sun setting later in the evening, festival season has officially landed in New Orleans. The city is king at keeping the party going all summer long, with bashes big and small taking to the streets almost every weekend. In case you haven’t heard, this year’s Mardi Gras celebration was nothing short of a smashing success. And while French Quarter Fest, Greek Fest, and Essence Fest are all great reasons to pop down to the Big Easy for a long weekend, the city truly hits its stride during the annual New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival, held this year from April 29 through May 8.Back in 1970, musical icon Duke Ellington and New Orleans’ own Mahalia Jackson performed at the Louisiana Heritage Fair in what is now Congo Square. Imagine-for just $3, you could have witnessed that incredible marriage of brilliant sound and local pride. City officials had been trying to create an event they deemed worthy of the birthplace of jazz, and finally found the right recipe by blending the best of both worlds: A fair featuring parades and live global acts, vendors dishing up Cajun and Creole cuisine, and an area dedicated to one-of-a-kind arts and crafts during the day, followed by an evening concert series highlighting big name artists. To no one’s surprise, it quickly became a festival force to be reckoned with.

Photo by Paul Broussard
Photo by Paul Broussard
Photo by Paul Broussard

The spontaneity and spirituality of the genre itself combined with the festival’s consistent pedigree has kept folks coming back for more each year, albeit for a bit more than $3 a ticket these days. And after a two-year hiatus due to COVID-19, Jazz Fest is back and better than ever. Here’s everything you need to know about Jazz Fest 2022, from the event’s humble beginnings to its modern day spoils-plus who to see, where to party, and what to eat and drink between sets.

New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival
New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival
New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival

The lineup

Festivities aside, Jazz Fest is really all about the jazz-and nobody does jazz like New Orleans. Heavy with rhythmic improvisations, the music is always executed with finely tuned skills and a hearty dose of existential knowledge about the movement. New Orleans’ grand diversity greatly aided in the birth and development of the genre, a marvelous blend of ragtime, marching band, blues, and other historic influences led to jazz having little, if any, limits. Kick back and listen to local favorites like Trombone Shorty & Orleans Avenue and The Preservation Hall Jazz Band-even jazz skeptics can’t resist this festival’s down-right infectious cast of characters.No foolin’, take a look at this lineup: Stevie Nicks, Lionel Richie, The Who, Willie Nelson, Erykah Badu, Norah Jones, Jimmy Buffet, Jason Isbell and The 400 Unit, Nelly, Death Cab for Cutie, Foo Fighters, The Avett Brothers, the Red Hot Chili Peppers, Ziggy Marley, The Black Crowes, Ludacris, Elvis Costello & The Imposters, Melissa Etheridge. And that’s literally just scratching the surface. The list is endless and the curatorial taste is exquisite. Local and global acts of extremely high caliber will be kicking things off every day after 11 am, entertaining festival-goers with their musical stylings until well after dark. Check out the full schedule online and prepare to be wowed.

New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival
New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival
New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival

The layout

The Fairgrounds’ 145-acre expanse will host more than 10 stages and tents catering to different aspects of the fest’s core offerings. Expect an area dedicated to gospel, a tent stocked with stuff to keep the kiddos on their toes, and the recent addition of a space set up expressly for discussions, interviews, and exchanges with artists arriving in the Big Easy.

Frequent flyers of the fest are already familiar with the event’s fun and user-friendly layout. Each act can be located on the official Jazz Fest map, boxed out in cubes with their start times throughout the grid. DIY your day by sketching up your own plans ahead of time or hit up Jazzfest Grids for a handy, ready-made victory lap of sorts, complete with a list of the best live music to catch around town each day and night before, during, and in between Jazz Fest. They don’t miss a beat by updating their listings on a near daily basis.

WWOZ 90.7 FM New Orleans
WWOZ 90.7 FM New Orleans
WWOZ 90.7 FM New Orleans

The eats

Over the decades, Jazz Fest has held steadfastly true to a staunch “no carnival food” ethos. With five designated dining areas spanning over 70 food vendors, you’re bound to find a booth or two that perfectly matches your mood. Sno-balls, Gulf oysters on the half shell, red beans and rice, beignets, boudin, po-boys, pralines-that’s just a fraction of the tasty goods up for grabs, including lots of vegan and vegetarian options available, as well. Start your engines by peeping the complete vendor list here.

New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival
New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival
New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival

The art

Similar to its culinary makeup, the festival’s arts and crafts showcase encompases a tasteful and impactful web of intricate and interesting creations. Peruse jewelry, pottery, paintings, and photographs you won’t find anywhere else-for real, we’ve looked. Hundreds of regionally and nationally acclaimed artists will be in attendance and they can’t wait to strut their stuff at the Congo Square African Marketplace, the Louisiana Marketplace, or the Contemporary Crafts Center. Be sure to snag a Jazz Fest t-shirt for yourself, because if you didn’t get the t-shirt, did it even happen?

Faubourg Beer
Faubourg Beer
Faubourg Beer

The after-parties

The music doesn’t stop when the lights go up at the Fairgrounds, y’all. Among other raucous shindigs, Thrillist favorite Big Freedia has April 30 covered with a massive takeover at One Eyed Jacks-y’all don’t wanna miss this. The String Cheese Incident is set to rock out at Faubourg Brewery Co. during the sudsy two-day Daze Between New Orleans bash presented by Live For Live Music Presents (May 3 – May 4), while the Disco Biscuits close things out at the Joy Theater on May 7. Keep an eye on Jazzfest Grids to track down all the top venues set to get you bumpin’ until the wee hours.

Photo by Paul Broussard
Photo by Paul Broussard
Photo by Paul Broussard

The end

We’ve said it before, and we’ll say it again: There’s no place like New Orleans. The city has so much love to give, and you can genuinely feel it in the people, the music, and the spirit bouncing off every corner. Whether you’re stopping by for a single night of Jazz Fest or planning to stay the course, odds are you’ll be back sooner than later. Want more Thrillist? Follow us on InstagramTwitterPinterestYouTubeTikTok, and Snapchat.

Joshua Bock is a contributor for Thrillist.

New Orleans

Where to Go on a Perfect Date in New Orleans This Spring

Woo that special someone with sultry live music and inviting outdoor date ideas.

Photo courtesy of Louisiana Travel
Photo courtesy of Louisiana Travel
Photo courtesy of Louisiana Travel

Whether you’re searching for the perfect spot for a first date or looking to spend some time with your longtime love, you should have no problem planning a romantic outing in New Orleans. Our amazing restaurants and bars are classic settings for some quality time, but think outside the date night box and literally get outside. Spring is the most gorgeous time of year here, so you can score some serious romance points. From strolls in the park and outdoor music to cozy wine bars and sultry jazz nights, here are some can’t-miss ideas for the perfect date in New Orleans.

Spend an afternoon in City Park

Mid-City
One could spend hours strolling beneath City Park’s moss-drenched oaks, but combine this beautiful setting with the park’s other offerings and you’ve got yourself a date. Start with coffee and beignets at Cafe du Monde to ease into things. Explore the collections at the New Orleans Museum of Art or stroll through the sculpture garden. Continue your romantic walk around the Big Lake, or rent a boat and paddle your way around. If things are going well, finish up with a well-earned drink and a bite at Ralph’s on the Park.

Grab bagels and bike on the Greenway

Mid-City
Bike the Lafitte Greenway and you’ll get moving while having plenty of time to connect. Fuel up at Flour Moon Bagels with coffee and stellar carbs before you hit the pavement. The Greenway’s linear path is 2.7 miles, but you can make it a longer ride by linking up with the Wisner Trail or the Norman C. Francis bike path. The Greenway goes all the way to the Quarter, but you can save that for another date. End up back where you started and cool down with a pint or two at Skeeta Hawk Brewing.

Create some Magazine Street magic

Uptown/Garden District
Magazine Street boasts six miles of unique, locally owned businesses. There are plenty of one-off date options along the street (like grabbing coffee and chocolate at Piety and Desire, having a romantic dinner at Coquette or Saffron, or ordering wine and small plates at Saba). But for a longer get-to-know-you date, the street is perfect for an all-day stroll. Browse esteemed art galleries and shops, have a well-made cocktail at Bouligny Tavern, stop for fresh oysters at Basin, taste a few wines at Spirit Wine, and admire the mix of architecture along the street. Why stop there? Shop for some vinyl at Peaches, grab a casual dinner at Picnic Provisions & Whiskey or Tito’s, then see who’s playing at Le Bon Temps.

Take in the West Bank nature and noodles

Marrero
Take the Crescent City Connection and head down to the Barataria Preserve to explore acres of secluded wetlands that’ll confirm you’re really in south Louisiana. A boardwalk winds through swampy land packed with all the best regional flora and fauna, including alligators. April is typically peak iris season, so check the bloom forecast. Before you head back across the river, stop by Tan Dinh or 9 Roses for excellent pho and other Vietnamese faves.

Nevbrown/Flickr
Nevbrown/Flickr
Nevbrown/Flickr

Go on a wine bar crawl

Various locations
A wine bar presents a perfect middle ground between grabbing casual beers and sipping superior cocktails. You’ve got chill environs, curated selections, and just enough nibbles to sustain your conversation. Second Vine Wines and Faubourg Wines are thoughtfully curated shops that serve wines by the glass, so you can start off with a couple of glasses then buy a bottle if the date moves to another location. Tell Me Bar and Pluck offer rotating selections of intriguing wines you’ll want to learn more about. And of course there’s Bacchanal, where you can enjoy wine, good vibes, and live music under the stars.

Cross the river by boat

Algiers Point
There’s something undeniably romantic about standing at the bow of a boat with wind blowing through your lover’s hair, so take the Algiers Ferry to behold the mighty Mississippi and gorgeous views of the city. Stroll charming Algiers Point, grab a drink with the locals at the Old Point Bar or Crown and Anchor, and then enjoy dinner at Tavolino, Tonti’s Hand, or Plume.

Saunter down St. Charles Ave

Uptown/French Quarter
The streetcar is an underrated date option-get to know each other while rolling past the majestic St. Charles Avenue mansions. Start with a late afternoon drink at The Chloe before hopping aboard. Once you’re in the Quarter, take a spin around the bar with a cocktail at Hotel Monteleone, take a stroll through Jackson Square, then pick from swoon-worthy dining options like St. John, Jewel of the South, Cane & Table, Doris Metropolitan, or MaMou.

Explore Lake Pontchartrain

Lakefront
Take a trip out to Lake Pontchartrain for some sun, fresh air, and seafood. Cruise Lakeshore Drive, check out the Mardi Gras Fountain, maybe take a roll down the levee to connect with your inner child, then sit and watch as the boats and birds go by. As the sun sets, head over to The Blue Crab for fresh seafood or JB’s Fuel Dock at West End Park for pizza and beers.

Photo courtesy of Three Keys NOLA
Photo courtesy of Three Keys NOLA
Photo courtesy of Three Keys NOLA

Let music and lounge vibes set the mood

Various locations
Let someone special know just how you feel by taking them out for a classy evening of fine cocktails and world-class jazz. Grab a prime spot to watch Jeremy Davenport do his thing at his namesake lounge at the Ritz-Carlton, listen to the smooth sounds of solo artists at the intimate Bayou Bar at the Pontchartrain Hotel, or pop into the Jazz Playhouse at the Royal Sonesta next time you do a French Quarter outing. For a new-school option, check out a performance at the Ace Hotel’s Three Keys.

Go the extra mile with a day trip

Covington/Abita Springs
Driving the Causeway’s 24 miles will give you plenty of time to go beyond small talk, making a nearby road trip the ideal activity for upping the ante on your relationship. Head to Covington to enjoy the boutiques and galleries of the quaint historic downtown before grabbing a bite at Lola or Tavi, or rent bikes and ride the Tammany Trace to the Abita Brewery where you can take a tour and sample some of the finest local beers. Even better, head over when the brewery is hosting one of its food truck roundups or live music.

Photo courtesy of Urban South Brewery
Photo courtesy of Urban South Brewery
Photo courtesy of Urban South Brewery

Peel crawfish and sip local beer

Various locations
Spring means crawfish boils, and the city is loaded with experts bringing their boil skills to some of the top local breweries. Crawfish and beer make a perfect pair, and what better way to gauge relationship potential than by observing peel technique and spice tolerance? Check their calendars, but breweries including Faubourg Brewing, Urban South, NOLA Brewing, Miel, and Parleaux usually host boils on weekends throughout the season.

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Gerrish Lopez is a Thrillist contributor.

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