Cheap dates

A benefit of living in a cultural preservationist city like New Orleans is that there are many organizations that work to keep cultural activities alive and accessible. Here is a list comprising some of New Orleans’ summer fêtes. Many activities are free of charge, but those that aren’t cost less than $10!

Ongoing Events

  • Thursdays through Oct. 8, the New Orleans Botanical Garden in City Park will host “Thursdays at Twilight” concerts in the Pavilion of the Two Sisters. Performers set to appear include Paul Soniat, Panorama Jazz Band, Darryl Barnes, Pfister Sisters and Phil Melancon.

Performances begin at 6 p.m. and the cost is $6 for adults and $2 for children ages 5 to 12. No outside food or drink is allowed, but you can buy refreshments at the shows. For information call 483-9386 or visit

  • The Historic New Orleans Collection is abundant with free cultural exhibits. Through Sept. 13, the Williams Gallery at 533 Royal St. will house “In the Spirit: The Photography of Michael P. Smith,” a free exhibit. For information call 523-4662.

Through Aug. 29, the Williams Research Center at 410 Chartres St. will be showcasing the paintings of Josephine Crawford, a French Quarter resident who passed away in 1955. For information call 598-7171.
No reservations are required, except for groups of eight or more. THNOC is open Tuesday through Saturday, 9:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.; Sunday hours are 10:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.

  • Through Sept. 13 the New Orleans Museum of Art in City Park will display “Women Artists in Louisiana, 1825-1965: A Place of Their Own,” a collaborative project of NOMA and the THNOC. The exhibit, the first in a two-part series, will feature all types of artwork from former Louisiana visitors and residents. (Part two of the series is set to open in 2010.) For information call 658-4128 or visit

Through Oct. 11, NOMA will display “The Art of Caring: A Look at Life through Photography,” a traveling exhibit of 175 photos by artists such as Tina Barney, Sally Mann, and Tatsumi Orimoto on subjects including love, family and wellness. Also on display will be works from the Time/LIFE collection and photos lent from the private collection of Annie Leibovitz.
Admission to NOMA is free to Louisiana residents (with a state ID or driver’s license); other rates are $8 per adult, $7 for senior citizens, and $4 for visitors 18 and younger.

  • Through December, The Louisiana State Museum and the Zulu Social Aid and Pleasure Club present “From Tramps to Kings: Zulu 100 Years” showing at the Presbetere, 751 Chartres St. The exhibit features artifacts donated by Zulu members, costumes, photos and memorabilia, as well as an in-depth look at the famous Zulu coconuts. For information, call 568-6968 or visit or
  • Through Nov. 28, the Arts Market of New Orleans will appear in Palmer Park on the last Saturday of each month. There is no admission charge to enter the market, but crafts are for sale. Visitors can purchase paintings, ceramics, jewelry and other items from more than 50 artists each month. There is also music, food and a kids area. For information call 523-1465.
  • Although the YLC Wednesdays at the Square concert series is closing in June, there’s still time to catch one or two last free shows at Lafayette Square (across from Gallier Hall). The line-up: June 3, Trombone Shorty & Orleans Avenue play with John Boutte and Paul Sanchez; June 10, The Boogie Men play with Dr. Gonzeaux; and June 17, the last show of the series, will feature Galactic and the Hot 8 Brass Band. Shows are 5 to 7:30 p.m., rain or shine; pets and lawn chairs are welcome, and food and drink tickets can be purchased in advance. For information call 585-1500 or visit
  • Thursdays through July 30 the Ogden Museum of Southern Art at 925 Camp St. presents “Ogden After Hours” each Thursday from 6 to 8 p.m. Performers include Alex McMurray, Larry Sieberth and friends, Brian Seeger, and The Geraniums.

Tickets are $10 for an adult; $8 for a senior citizen or student older than 18, with ID; admission for children 5 to17 is $5; and attendance is free for museum members and children younger than 5. For information visit

  •  The first and third Wednesday of each month, from 12 to 1 p.m., the National World War II Museum, located at 945 Magazine St., presents “Lunchbox Lectures,” presentations on various WWII-related topics. As the title indicates, the museum invites guests to bring a bag lunch if you like. All of the Lunchbox Lectures are free and no RSVP is necessary. For more information call 527-6012 ext. 229 or visit
  • Until September, Audubon Nature Institute’s Entergy IMAX Theatre will be showing three films: Dinosaurs Alive 3D (shows at 10 a.m., 11 a.m., 2 p.m., 5 p.m.); Wild Ocean 3D (12 p.m., 4 p.m.); and Hurricane on the Bayou (1 p.m., 3 p.m.). Moviegoers can get tickets in the IMAX lobby, or at one of the ticket machines in the lobby, or online (online ordering adds a $1 service fee per ticket). An adult ticket to an IMAX movie is $9, $6 for kids (2 to 12) and $8 for seniors. The Theatre is right next to the Audubon Aquarium, where Canal Street meets the river.

Single Occurrence

  • June 5, 4 to 6 p.m. at Heritage Park in Slidell, Kids Fest Children’s Art Festival will offer a host of activities for little ones including art activities, dancing, and nature exhibits; fest admission is free. For information call (985) 646-4375.
  • June 5 is also the day of the last installment of Music in the Park at Heritage Park in Kenner. From 6:30 to 9:30 p.m., guests can enjoy free music by The TopCats and check out all of the food and craft vendors. For information call 468-7293.
  • New Orleans Vieux-To-Do is a mega-fest, including within its celebration three other festivals: the Louisiana Cajun-Zydeco Festival; the Louisiana Seafood Festival; and the Great French Market Creole Tomato Festival, all on June 13 and 14.

The Louisiana Cajun-Zydeco Festival will be held at the French Market and will feature usual fest fair (food, arts and crafts) as well as performances: on Saturday, Bruce Daigrepont, Steve Riley & the Mamou Playboys, Beausoleil and Rosie Ledet take the stage; Sunday, Amanda Shaw, Pine Leaf Boys and Terrance Simien perform. The Louisiana Seafood and Creole Tomato festivals will showcase cooking demos and, of course, lots of seafood and tomato dishes for revelers.
For information on Tomato Fest, call 522-2621; for information on Seafood Fest, call 286-8736 or visit; for information on Cajun-Zydeco Fest, call 558-6100
or visit

  • July 4, New Orleans’ 19th annual Go Fourth on the River presented by the Riverfront Marketing Group will treat New Orleans to a day of patriotic revelry starting at some riverfront spots as early as 3 p.m. Festivities include a parade, music acts, and in the evening, fireworks shot off of “dueling” barges on the Mississippi River. The fireworks show begins at 9 p.m. and lasts about 15 minutes. For more information visit
  • 2009 will mark the 12th year for the annual Slidell Heritage Festival held July 4 at Heritage Park in Slidell. The Fourth of July fête features music, inflatable children’s rides, art, food, fireworks (9 p.m.) and a host of other fresh-air-friendly activities for the family. For more information visit
  • July 30 through Aug. 2 French Quarter Festivals Inc. puts on Satchmo Summerfest in the French Quarter. The fest features contemporary and traditional jazz stages and a brass band stage to showcase local performers. For more information call 522-5730 or visit
  • That same weekend, Chalmette will host the Red Fish Cup, a professional fishing tournament paying out tens of thousands of dollars in prize money. There is also a tailgate party, food and crafts if you want to bring the family. For more information call (888) 372-6544 or
  • A summer sensation, Whitney White Linen Night, brings art patrons to New Orleans’ Warehouse Arts District on Aug. 1. For this event, art galleries in this city neighborhood open their doors at night to welcome people into their galleries to peruse (and buy, if the fancy strikes). Food and drink tickets can be purchased on site, but touring the art galleries is free. For more information call 528-3800 or visit
  • The following week, Dirty Linen Night, held Aug. 8 on Royal Street, pokes fun at the pristine revelry of White Linen night by inviting locals to wear last week’s unwashed linens out for another night on the town. For more information call 957-3540.
  • July 10 through 12, New Orleanians can enjoy a taste of Pamplona by participating in “San Fermin in Nueva Orleans.” This festival, fairly new as New Orleans festivals go, is highlighted by the encierro (“Running of the Bulls”) in the French Quarter. Revelers will have to run fast to avoid the “bulls,” which are played by the Big Easy Rollergirls. The encierro takes place at precisely 8 a.m. on Saturday. For more information visit

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