Family Fun in the Big Easy: New Orleans Jazz Fest
By Rhyan Davis
This year from April 25 to May 5, The New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival presented by Shell (also known as Jazz Fest) will celebrate its 50th anniversary. Jazz Fest is known for its large selection of locally and nationally famous musicians and artists and an undeniably good time. A few of the headliners this year include the Rolling Stones, Katy Perry, and Dave Matthews Band. With a little planning, Jazz Fest can be a fun cultural experience for your family. As a Jazz Fest veteran, I have a few tips to ensure your experience is as enjoyable as possible.
Prepare for sun! This means a wearing a high SPF sunscreen and hats and bringing personal-size umbrellas (no beach umbrellas are allowed) and lots of water (must be factory sealed or empty refillable bottles – small coolers are allowed). Water and other drinks are, of course, available for purchase at the festival, but you can save a few bucks by bringing your own. A battery-operated fan is also a good investment. Most of the festival is in an open field with lots of sun, so lightweight clothing is a must. If you or your children get too hot, visit the Grandstand for shade and air conditioning (and unique art exhibits!).
Adjust your schedule. Consider the schedule your children are accustomed to and stick to it as closely as possible. If your family is usually up and out the door by 8 o’clock, try to do the same on Jazz Fest day. If you know your kids will be ready for a nap at 2 o’clock, try to leave the festival by then so they can nap on the drive home. Also consider travel time. New Orleans is about 3 hours from Jackson, and an hour and a half from Hattiesburg and Biloxi. If you’re able to take your children on a weekday, Thursday and Friday are less busy than the weekend.
Visit the Kids’ Tent. In the past, the Kids’ Tent has offered youth programming such as puppet shows, youth choirs and bands, arts and crafts, and stilt walkers, so the lineup this year is sure to be a good time for all. Near the Kids’ Tent is a kids’ food area if you want to purchase food at the festival, or take my next tip.
Pack your own snacks. Although New Orleans is known for eccentric cuisine (trying it can be part of the experience!), snacks can get pricey when feeding a whole family. Cut costs by bringing your own snacks for the day. Familiar food will help keep kids happy and energized for the whole festival. However, enjoying a fresh squeezed lemonade or a handmade ice cream sandwich is a great way to cool down.
Bring your own seating arrangements. Prepare for lots of walking by ensuring that you have a place to sit when you reach your destination. Folding chairs are allowed, along with picnic blankets. It’s also important to note that no wagons are allowed, but strollers are welcome. Cut down on walking by taking a taxi or shuttle to the fair grounds or paying to park much closer.
Jazz Fest holds new and exciting events each year and could become a new tradition for your family. With artists and food that people of all ages will love, you can create fantastic memories by taking in all that the Big Easy has to offer, even if only for the day.
Rhyan Davis is our Digital Media Specialist and writer, who lives in Brandon with her husband and two fur babies.
Photo Credit: Jacqueline Marque
Tickets, a music lineup, a festival map, and a list of FAQs can be found on the Jazz Fest site nojazzfest.com.
When: April 25-28 and May 2-5
Where: New Orleans Fair Grounds
Cost: Child’s ticket: $5 (available at the gate only, ages 2 – 10, adult must be present with child) Advance ticket: $75 Gate Price: $85 Each ticket is valid for any single day of the weekend other than May 2.
Important to note:
- No pets are allowed at Jazz Fest.
- It may be a good idea to bring baby wipes, hand sanitizer, or anything that will make you or your family more comfortable using a Porta Potty.
- Avoid ATM lines by bringing cash.
- Child-size earmuffs can help protect little ears from loud music throughout the day.
- In any large crowd, many parents have anxiety about losing their child. Try writing your name and number on your child’s hand to give yourself some peace of mind. For teens, set rules about checking in regularly if you decide to give them the freedom to roam the festival.