A guide to the season's celebrations
Paul Kieu photo
Various locations in the French Quarter
Admission: $50 weekend pass, $100 VIP weekend pass
What makes it special: While some other cities just have a pride parade, New Orleans hosts a full scale Labor Day gay-cation that’s an around-the-clock party.
Louisiana Seafood Festival
City Park Festival Grounds
11 a.m.-7 p.m.
What makes it special: Besides copious seafood, there’s a beer garden, live music, an arts village and chef demonstrations — and admission is still free.
Louisiana Shrimp & Petroleum Festival
715 Second St., Morgan City
1 p.m.-11 p.m. Thursday; 11 a.m.-11 p.m. Friday; 8 a.m. to 11 p.m. Saturday; 8:30 a.m. to 11 p.m. Sunday; 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. Monday
What makes it special: Celebrating unusual Louisiana bedfellows, the party extends from Thursday until the very end of Labor Day weekend.
New Orleans Burlesque Festival
AC Hotel, 221 Carondelet St.
What makes it special: You can watch burlesque dancers from around the country vie for the Queen of Burlesque title.
Natchitoches Meat Pie Festival
Riverbank Stage, Downtown Natchitoches
2:30 p.m.-10:30 p.m. Friday; 10 a.m.-10:30 p.m. Saturday
What makes it special: You can experience the small town’s signature street food, as well as live music, kid’s activities and arts and crafts.
NOLA Horror Film Fest
Rare Form, 437 Esplanade Ave.
5:30 p.m.-11 p.m.
Admission: Ranges from $10 for single screening to $150 for a weekend VIP pass
What makes it special: Get in the Halloween spirit early with weekend of indie horror films (short and feature-length) from Louisiana and filmmakers from around the country and world.
Ascension Hot Air Balloon Festival
Lamar Dixon Expo Center, 9039 S. Landry Road, Gonzales
4 p.m.-10 p.m. Friday; 10 a.m.-10 p.m. Saturday
Admission: $5, free for children 12 and under
What makes it special: Make your Instagram followers jealous with all the beautiful shots you’ll get of colorful balloons floating up to the sky. Besides the dozens of hot air balloons, there’s a children’s village with activities and carnival rides. Inside the expo center is where you’ll find more than 100 vendors.
Bogalusa Blues & Heritage Festival
Cassidy Park, 129 Ben Miller Drive, Bogalusa
5 p.m.-10 p.m. Friday; 10 a.m.-10 p.m. Saturday
Admission: $10 day pass, $20 weekend pass
What makes it special: A fairly new festival (it began in 2012) it’s already drawing blues travelers from around the south for its strong music lineup.
New Orleans on Tap Beer Festival
City Park Festival Grounds
1 p.m. to 8 p.m., VIP early entry noon to 1 p.m
Admission: Free; tickets for food and drinks are for sale
What makes it special: It’s dog-friendly, benefits the LA/SPCA and features homebrews among the 300-plus offerings.
Festivals Acadiens et Creole
Girard Park, 500 Girard Park Drive, Lafayette
5:30-9 p.m. Friday; 10 a.m.-8 p.m. Saturday; 9 a.m.-7:30 p.m. Sunday
What makes it special: For those craving Lafayette’s signature spring festival, Festival International de Louisiane, this offers cultural heritage (although specifically to Louisiana) in the form of a killer music line-up. Playing at the free fest this year are many Cajun or Cajun-influenced bands that have found younger audiences, including Feufollet, Pine Leaf Boys, Sweet Crude and Lost Bayou Ramblers. The festival also features Creole and Cajun food, a craft fair and kids’ activities.
Admission: Concerts $60 per night, $110 festival pass
What makes it special: The fest celebrates the “unsung” heroes of rock ’n’ roll with concerts, a music history conference and a record sale.
Hell Yes Fest
The New Movement, 2706 St. Claude Ave., and other locations
What makes it special: Besides funny and experimental sketch, stand-up and improv from around the country, the comedy fest also includes a film component and plenty of parties.
Gretna Heritage Festival
Huey P. Long Avenue, downtown Gretna
4 p.m.-11 p.m. Friday; 2 p.m.-11 p.m. Saturday; 12-9 p.m. Sunday
Admission: Ranges from $20 for a single day ticket to $350 for a VIP Package
What makes it special: Rap-rocker Kid Rock headlines this year’s fest, which includes a German beer garden and Italian village.
Fall Angola Prison Rodeo
Sundays, Oct. 4-25
Louisiana State Penitentiary
What makes it special: There’s really nothing like this anywhere, and you can come back with handcrafted souvenirs that are truly one of a kind.
Zwolle Tamale Fiesta
Zwolle Festival Grounds
What makes it special: The festival celebrates the tamale as a symbol of the Spanish and Indian heritage of the tiny (estimated population: 1,975) town.
Oct. 9-10, 16-17 and 23-24
Deutsches Haus, 415 Williams Blvd., Kenner
4 p.m.-11 p.m. Friday, 3 p.m.-11 p.m. Saturday
Admission: $6; free for children under 12
What makes it special: With three weekends of festival, there’s no excuse not to experience everything: There are adorable Dachshund races, a beerstein-holding contest, German food and beer, beer and more beer.
Pontchartrain Park, Press Drive and Prentiss Avenue
6-9 p.m. Friday; 12-8 p.m. Saturday; 12-7 p.m. Sunday
What makes it special: There’s a gospel tent for anyone having Jazz Fest withdrawals.
Voice of the Wetlands Festival
5403 West Park, Houma
(985) 226-1004, firstname.lastname@example.org
What makes it special: Wetlands conservation – the festival’s raison d’etre – is music to your ears with acts like the fest’s resident Voice of the Wetlands All Stars, a supergroup of Louisiana funk and blues musicians.
New Orleans Museum of Art, 1 Collins Diboll Circle
10 a.m.-4:30 p.m.
Admission: $5 general admission; free for NOMA members
What makes it special: It’s the biggest celebration of Japanese culture in the city where you can buy Japanese arts and crafts and see an authentic tea ceremony.
Various French Quarter and downtown locations
What makes it special: Hispanic-American Musicians and Artists Cultural Association’s festival focuses on the music with acts from Latin America, as well as local artists.
Madisonville Wooden Boat Festival
Lake Pontchartrain Basin Maritime Museum, 133 Mabel Drive, Madisonville
10 a.m.-8:30 p.m.
Admission: General admission $10; $5 for seniors over 65 and children 12 and under; free for active military with ID
What makes it special: Up to 100 antique, vintage and contemporary boats typically line up along the Tchefuncte River.
Audubon Zoo, 6500 Magazine St.
10 a.m.-5 p.m.
Admission: Free with zoo admission; $18.95 ages 13-64; $14.95 ages 65 and older; $13.95 ages 2-12; free for members
What makes it special: You can stroll through the zoo to the sounds of Latin bands.
International Rice Festival
6 p.m.-11 p.m. Thursday; 11 a.m.-11 p.m. Friday; 10 a.m.-11 p.m. Saturday; noon-6 p.m. Sunday.
What makes it special: Suspend your no-carb diet for Louisiana’s oldest agricultural festival: you won’t want to miss the rice dish contest.
New Orleans Film Festival
Dates. Oct. 15-22
What makes it special: Catch Oscar hopefuls before they hit the big screen and sometimes rub shoulders with celebrity guests at the fest’s many parties.
Crescent City Blues and BBQ Festival
Lafayette Square Park, 540 St. Charles Ave.
5 p.m.-8:30 p.m. Friday; 11 a.m.-8:30 p.m. Saturday-Sunday
What makes it special: Equal amounts of blues and barbecue – what could be better?
New Orleans Healing Center, 2372 St. Claude Ave.
Admission: Free general admission; $25 VIP
What makes it special: The Halloween festival with spirited live music has Haitian influences.
Washington Parish Free Fair
115 Main St., Franklinton
What makes it special: It’s purported to be the largest county/parish free fair in the United States
Ghosts in the Oaks
New Orleans City Park
7 p.m.-10 p.m.; early admission 6 p.m.
Admission: $15 general; $12 Friends of City Park members; $20 early admission; free for children under 3
What makes it special: Unlimited rides in Carousel Gardens in a spooky setting.
French Food Festival
Larose Regional Park and Civic Center, 307 E. Fifth St., Larose
6 p.m.-11 p.m. Thursday; 5 p.m.-11 a.m. Friday; 11 a.m.-1 a.m. Saturday; 10 a.m.-6 p.m. Sunday
What makes it special: “French” here more refers to Cajun French, and that’s reflected in festival dishes such as shrimp boulettes.
Words and Music
Oct. 28-Nov. 1
Hotel Monteleone, 214 Royal St.
Admission: Ranges from $100-$800
What makes it special: The Pirate’s Alley Faulkner Society’s festival offers a host of literary happenings, including master classes and sessions with literary agents and critics for authors.
Voodoo Music + Arts Experience
Oct. 30-Nov. 1
New Orleans City Park
Admission: $125 (three-day general admission); $350 VIP; free for children 10 and under
What makes it special: Features favorite contemporary festival acts (Florence and the Machine) alongside 1990s nostalgia (Jane’s Addiction) in a trippy, late-night carnival setting.
Louisiana Book Festival
State Library of Louisiana, the State Capitol, the Capitol Park Museum and nearby locations in Baton Rouge
10 a.m.-5 p.m.
What makes it special: The one-day festival celebrating the state’s rich literary community is jam-packed with author appearances; panels; an exhibitor space with booksellers, publishing houses and scholarly programs; and more.
Oct. 31-Nov. 8
What makes it special: Female artists of different mediums challenge racism, homophobia and sexism through performance.
What makes it special: Formerly New Orleans Fringe, faux/real expands its predecessor’s experimental offerings beyond theater to include literature, food and drink events.
Louisiana Renaissance Festival
Weekends Nov. 7-Dec. 13
46468 River Road, Hammond
Admission: Ranges from $18 single day admission to $110 for season passes
What makes it special: If you bemoan the trend of festival attire that leaves nothing to the imagination, here is one place where people will be very much clothed (save for some heaving wench cleavages). As like RenFests everywhere, the Hammond version’s festivalgoers and workers take things really seriously here with accurate period attire and era-appropriate demonstrations. You can watch real jousting and falconry, holiday shop for your English major friends and even brush up your history.
Celebration in the Oaks
Nov. 7-Jan. 3
6-10 p.m. Sunday-Thursday; 6-11 p.m. Friday-Saturday
Admission: $8; free for children under 3 and Friends of City Park members
What makes it special: The surefire way for even the biggest cynics to get into the holiday spirit, the park is filled with giant light-up structures, Christmas carols, hot chocolate and other festive fun.
Three Rivers Art Festival
10 a.m.-5 p.m.
(985) 327-9797, email@example.com
What makes it special: More than 200 artists from more than 20 states, demonstrations, live music and food booths take over downtown Covington.
Tremé Creole Gumbo Festival
Armstrong Park, 701 N. Rampart St.
11 a.m.-7 p.m.
What makes it special: Even the animal adverse can have fun – the festival features a vegan gumbo cook-off.
Boudin, Bourbon & Beer
What makes it special: Emeril Lagasse and Donald Link’s event has serious chefs from around the country serving up boudin – it’s like a non-televised “Top Chef” challenge.
Christmas Festival of Lights, Natchitoches
Nov. 21-Jan. 6
What makes it special: This small town takes Christmas seriously with over a month of festivities. All season long there’s festivities, including light displays and a fireworks show every Saturday. The fun culminates in a parade and festival on Dec. 5.
Oak Street Po-Boy Festival
10 a.m.-6 p.m.
What makes it special: Local vendors get creative with their offerings to have an edge in the poor boy competition.