Plan Your Experience
French Quarter Fest is all about celebrating the music, food, history and people that make New Orleans like nowhere else in the world. With 25 stages throughout the already bustling, historic heart of the city, it’s also a celebration best enjoyed with some advance planning and a little insider info.
That’s why we’ve compiled this travel resource to help you navigate your stay without missing a thing.
NOLA BOUND: TRAVEL TO AND FROM NEW ORLEANS
FQF via MSY: The new, larger New Orleans International Airport, or MSY, is now open at 1 Terminal Drive in Kenner, LA. If you last visited the Crescent City prior to November 2019, be prepared for some changes, including the new MSY’s vastly expanded restaurant options and a dedicated pickup spot for ride app users (Level 1 outside Baggage Claim between doors 9 and 11).
- United Cabs and other major taxis are also available on Level 1 outside Baggage Claim. Airport Shuttle tickets can be purchased at the booth in Level 1 Baggage Claim between doors 3 and 4.
- Car rentals are also available at MSY. But if you’re staying at a French Quarter hotel like our official hotel, the Omni Royal Orleans, other hotel partners Royal Sonesta New Orleans, Westin New Orleans Canal Place, Windsor Court Hotel, or you may find it’s easier to skip the traffic and walk, Lyft, taxi cab, Blue Bike or pedicab it to most destinations within the city.
- For more airport information, visit https://www.flymsy.com/ and watch Twitter for MSY updates at https://twitter.com/flyneworleans
FQF via BUS or TRAIN: New Orleans’ Union Passenger Terminal at 1001 Loyola Ave. offers Amtrak, Greyhound and Megabus service to and from cities across the country.
FQF via CAR: Driving to New Orleans? Downtown traffic can sometimes be a challenge. We highly recommend using a maps app that features real-time traffic updates and road alerts like Waze.com.
Once you arrive in town check out our travel page for detailed festival parking and ground transportation. https://frenchquarterfest.org/travel/.
SLEEPYTIME DOWN SOUTH: HOTELS
We love our official hotel, the Omni Royal Orleans, located in the heart of the neighborhood. The hotel also hosts one of our stages on Saturday of festival! Visitors should also check out the digs at the Royal Sonesta New Orleans, Westin New Orleans, or Windsor Court when planning their stay.
FESTIVAL ACCESS: PICK YOUR EXPERIENCE
French Quarter Fest is free and FQF offers three tiers of access:
- FQF is free and open to the public. To keep it that way, please leave outside beverages, glass containers, fur babies and weapons at home — we do reserve the right to check bags at all stage entrances. Find more info on what you can and cannot bring to the fest here. https://frenchquarterfest.org/faqs/
- Feelin’ VIP? Snag a NOLA.com Fest Family VIP ticket for perks like elevated viewing stands, private bars and hospitality lounges, air-conditioned restrooms, and exclusive programming, all while helping to keep our nonprofit community organization in tip-top financial shape https://frenchquarterfest.org/fest-family/
- Feelin’ helpful? We always need volunteers! Register here to donate a few hours of your time in exchange for a nifty FQF shirt, free food and drink tickets, complimentary Blue Bike access and lots of extra love from the FQF staff and artists.https://frenchquarterfest.org/volunteers/
We highly recommend coming prepared to walk — a lot! — at FQF. Before and after, however, you have plenty of transportation options, from Blue Bike rentals to pedicabs to regular cabs to Lyfts and more. Check ‘em all out on our travel page.
Check out our top local tips for your best festing practices, from tipping the band (do it!) to sunblock (use it!) to hats (wear ‘em!) to footwear (comfy is cool!):
- Live music best practices: Throw a tip into the jars found at our beverage booths or text FQFEST to 44-321 to donate. Every dollar goes directly to our fest artists.
- Check out the Music and Culture Coalition of New Orleans’ handy guide to being an awesome visitor in our town: https://maccno.com/good-visitor-guide-to-new-orleans
- Protect Your Skin: Pack sunscreen with a minimum SPF 30 and remember to apply throughout the day.
- Magnet for bugs? We advise you bring bug spray with you, especially during evening headliners’ sets.
- Protect the Environment: Reduce, Reuse, Recycle! The 2021 festival is Geauxing Green! Look for the marked recycling receptacles provided Pepsi throughout the grounds and entry-points, and buy a reusable souvenir cups featuring festival artist Tank and the Bangas from our festival beer booths!
- Fashion: Pack for warm days and cool evenings and don’t forget that poncho. Sneakers and hats with sun-blocking brims are your pals. Our merch tables have you covered if there’s anything you forgot!
As any local will tell you, festival season is a marathon, not a sprint — and even the most seasoned FQF attendees need to recharge. Here are some ways to do just that while enjoying the city’s unique local culture:
- Museums: Learn everything you ever wanted to know about Mardi Gras Indian and second line culture at the Backstreet Cultural Museum (1116 Henriette Delille St.). Become a jazz scholar by visiting the New Orleans Jazz Museum (400 Esplanade). Learn about New Orleans history at the Historic New Orleans Collection or spend an afternoon at the New Orleans African American Museum in nearby Treme. Don’t miss the New Orleans Museum of Art (1 Collins Diboll Circle in City Park) … or take a deep-dive into the history of D-Day and beyond at the World War II Museum.
- Art: Julia Street galleries, including those at the Contemporary Arts Center and Ogden Museum, plus the stretch of downtown galleries on St. Claude Avenue are your best art options outside the fest.
- Shopping: Take a break from the crowds and head to Magazine Street — a leisurely walk or quick bus/bike ride from the Hilton and Westin. Visit the Magazine Street Merchants Association for a detailed map of shops. Want to shop the dozens of French Quarter stores between sets? Stroll the French Market District or Check out this neighborhood shopping guide.
*PRO TIP: The Sydney and Walda Besthoff Sculpture Garden at NOMA is tranquil, beautiful, all outdoors — and free!
PRE AND POST-FEST BITES AND BEVERAGES:
Need a caffeine kick before the fest, a fancy adult beverage, and some AC after the last act wraps or a sit-down meal to cap off your trip? We got you covered.
- Cafes: Try one of the neighborhood Café Beignets for light bites, Beignets, coffee, or cocktails and enjoy live music. Exploring other neighborhoods? Check out Lower Garden District staple Hi-Volt on Magazine Street for fresh and healthy breakfast treats and great coffee, Fairgrinds on Esplanade Avenue for a Bayou St. John/Mid-City jolt or the Orange Couch in the Marigny on your way to the festival.
- Watering holes: Live music and great drinks — the AC and chairs are lagniappe! — are readily available steps from the fest at spots like Buffa’s on Esplanade, Pat O’Brien’s, and Tropical Isle. Not to be missed is the new Double Dealer located inside the Orpheum Theater! If boozy chatter is more your scene, wander down past the Hilton to the Bakery Bar to quaff your thirst and grab a sweet treat while you’re at it.
- Restaurant recommendations: When it comes to finding great food in a city that loves to eat, longtime New Orleans restaurant critic Ian McNulty and his Where NOLA Eats team never fail us. Check out their latest picks at NOLA.com or on Facebook’s Where NOLA Eats group https://www.nola.com/entertainment_life/eat-drink/
*PRO TIP: Looking for the best of both worlds when it comes to booze and caffeine? Cafe Envie (1241 Decatur St.), Molly’s at the Market (1107 Decatur St.), 13 (517 Frenchmen St.) and Erin Irish Rose (811 Conti St.) all offer adult beverage-laced caffeinated goodies.
CHECK OUT OUR NIGHTLIFE:
Did you take all our advice about sunscreen, water, rest and that whole marathon-not-a-sprint vibe? Great! Because you’re in the birthplace of jazz — and we stay up late.
Check music listings on the WWOZ Livewire (find it here online or announced at the top of each odd hour on 90.7 FM) or in Offbeat Magazine and plan your night.
*PRO TIP: If you find yourself catching a late-night show at Tipitina’s, ask about earplugs at the door by the Tip’s merch. They’re just $1 — and your ear drums will thank you.
SAFETY & CITY RESOURCES:
We love our visitors as much as we love our city — and we want everyone to stay safe. Take a buddy when you go out for a stroll, hire a car when you go out for the night and leave valuables at home — they’ll only weigh you down when you’re dancin’ anyway! For citywide emergency alerts about weather and more, visit https://ready.nola.gov/stay-connected/emergency-alerts/
- Can’t find your car? Check the impound lot: https://www.nola.gov/dpw/towing/
- Can’t get online? Guests at these French Quarter hotels can access free WiFi 24/7: OMNI Royal Orleans, Westin Canal Place, Royal Sonesta.
- Can’t stop sniffling? In addition to our festival First Aid tents, Touro Hospital maintains Urgent Care clinics throughout the city: https://www.lcmchealth.org/lcmc-health-care-locations/urgent-care/