As the New Orleans summer heat fades into a crisp and tempered – though short-lived – autumn, the city is preparing for another festival season. September, October and November promise a smorgasbord of events celebrating burlesque, fried chicken, rodeos and more. With more festivals in the city than days of the year, narrowing down the list to only 11 was a challenge. In an attempt to give readers a sense of variety, we wanted to consider what New Orleanians love most, which ultimately brought us to four categories: food, music, culture and art and entertainment, and each of the festivals listed includes at least one of these if not more. This list offers insider tips, happy hour specials and after party details, along with what’s new this year and social media campaigns to follow. These are all on our agenda this season and we hope to see you there, happy fall festing.



Fall Festivals

Hell Yes Fest


New Orleans Film Festival
Oct. 12-20

Offering screenings from both local and national talent, the film festival gives New Orleanians a first look at some of the most innovative creations to hit the big screen yet.

Admission: Individual screenings are $5-$12. All-access passes are $200 for New Orleans Film Society members and $270 for non-members.

Location: The Orpheum, Contemporary Arts Center, Ace Hotel, Theatres at Canal Place, The Broad Theater and Ashé Cultural Arts Center among a few others.

Must-See Film: Miss Ella: Commanding the Table about the life and legacy of the legendary New Orleans restaurateur Ella Brennan (see “Read & Spin” on pg. 52 for more on this film and book of the same name).

Best Deal: Join the New Orleans Film Society for special rates and first choice of screenings; the all-access pass at a member’s discount also gets you into all of the exclusive parties.

Lagniappe: The film festival also plays host to industry leaders for panels, roundtable discussions and networking opportunities.

New Orleans Burlesque Festival
Sept. 16-18

Leave the kids at home for this festival, and break out the glitter. Dance competitions, pre-parties, after-parties and the social nature of burlesque bring everyone together in the name of all things sexy.

Admission: $20-$52 depending on show and seating preference.

Location: Civic Theatre, Harrah’s Casino Theater and House of Blues

Happy Hour: Refer to the festival’s website while at Bar Tonique, Sylvain, Cane and Table or Cellar Door for cocktail specials during the festival.

Parties: “The Angel’s Envy Party” is a free kick-off party 5-7:30 p.m. on Sept. 16 at CellarDoor in the Central Business District. The closing party, “Danse Macabre: A Burlesque Celebration of Unearthly Delights” is $15 at One Eyed Jack’s on Sept. 18. The event includes dancers followed by a DJ and featured cocktail specials.

Insider Tip: Do not be afraid to dress up for the shows. Get out your favorite bustier and leather and glam it up with your friends or partner for the full experience.

Hell Yes Fest
Oct. 7-16

Hell Yes Fest is a comedy festival showcasing national and local talent with more than 250 performers, including nearly 60 New Orleanians participating this year.

Admission: $5-$100, depending on show and seating preference.

Location: Joy Theater, NOLA Brewing, Saenger Theatre, The New Movement, Hi-Ho Lounge, Cafe Istanbul, Art Garage and NOLA Playhouse.

Headliners: Sarah Silverman, Clayton English and Nick Swardson

Insider Tip: The fest will be selling a “St. Claude Pass” this year, which gives attendees access to all of the shows on St. Claude Avenue during the festival.



Fall Festivals

Fried Chicken Festival


Fried Chicken Festival
Sept. 25, 11 a.m.-8 p.m.

Shockingly enough, New Orleans has never seen an official festival event celebrating this southern food staple until now. Presented by Raising Cane’s, the Fried Chicken Festival will offer an array of fried chicken dish adaptations.

Admission: Free

Music: Sweet Crude, John Boutte, Tank and the Bangas, Brass-A-Holics and DJ Mannie Fresh

Location: Lafayette Square

Parking: Find discounted rates at One Shell Square and 650 Poydras St.

Lagniappe: Lafayette Square has a Pokémon

Go gym, so come ready for battle.

Emeril Lagasse
Foundation’s Boudin,
Bourbon & Beer
Nov. 4, 6-10:30 p.m.

Boudin, Bourbon & Beer is a foodie’s dream come true. Top chefs from renowned restaurants around New Orleans, including GW Fins, Sac-A-Lait, Three Muses, Coquette, Commander’s Palace, NOLA Restaurant, Shaya among many more, showcase their best boudin-themed dishes.

Admission: $99 advance; $125 at the door

Location: Champion Square

Insider Tip: The event includes an open bar of bourbon cocktails and Abita beer, so if you plan to indulge, be sure you have a designated driver.

After Party: With Boudin, Bourbon & Beer being the more “accessible” kick-off event, Emeril Lagasse Foundation will host their largest fundraising event of the year, a posh gala fit for the most prestigious of palates, called Carnivalé du Vin on Nov. 5.

Lagniappe: Celebrity chefs Emeril Lagasse, Donald Link, John Currence and Stephen Stryjewski will also be in attendance.

Oak Street Po-Boy Festival
October 23, 10 a.m.-8 p.m.

Take the day to indulge in carbilicious bread dressed with mouth-watering toppings as Oak Street Po-Boy Festival, now in its 10th consecutive year, asks vendors to come up with innovative ways to compete for the title of “Best Po-Boy.”

Admission: Free, but the average cost of a poor boy is between $5 and $10.

Location: Oak Street and surrounding streets Uptown.

Parking: Beware of parking on the levee and neighborhood streets because you will be towed or ticketed. Take the Carrollton Streetcar, the bus or have a ride-booking service take you. Bike Easy is offering free valet for bikers.

New: This year the fest has tents solely dedicated to regional and local craft brewing.

Insider Tip: Come early and bring friends to divide and conquer the lines so you can try a dish from each vendor.



Fall Festivals

Voodoo Music + Arts Experience


Sept. 24, 12 (VIP)-8 p.m.

Benefiting the Louisiana SPCA, NOLA On Tap is the largest beer festival in the Gulf South. Last year’s event raised $300,000 towards Louisiana SPCA’s community programs and services.

Admission: Free for children ages 12 and under; $5 general admission

Location: City Park

Music: Stoop Kids, Flow Tribe and Daria and the Hip Drops.

New This Year: For the first time in New Orleans festival history, attendees will be able to participate in a cashless wristband e-pay system. Rather than worrying about ATMs or credit cards, all of the vendor booths will accept payments through wristband credits called "blocks."

Insider Tip: The festival will have more than 400 beers, but check out the homebrewers selection before hitting all of the name brand tents to find taps you couldn’t try elsewhere.

Lagniappe: Bike Easy is returning this year to offer free valet for bikers.

Voodoo Music + Arts Experience
Oct. 28-30
#VoodooFest, #JoinTheRitual

If you aren’t familiar, Halloween is one of New Orleans’ favorite holidays outside of Mardi Gras, and the Voodoo Music + Arts Experience is one the many reasons why. This music festival promises an experience, and in recent years attendees have seen the introduction of carnival rides and interactive art installations, which are also returning this year. This is a Halloween festival, so costumes are a must.

Location: City Park

Admission: Free for Children 10 and under, but adult ticket prices steadily increase as the event approaches, with three-day passes starting at approximately $150.

Music: Tool, The Weekend, G-Eazy, Arcade Fire, Foals and many more.

Parking: Parking is limited, but the Canal Streetcar pulls up right in front of City Park. There are also bike racks around the park’s entrance.

Insider Tip: Each attendee is allowed to bring one unopened bottle of water, with free refills at watering stations.



Fall Festivals

Louisiana Renaissance Festival


Shrimp & Petroleum Festival
Sept. 1-5

Enjoy home-style Cajun cooking and a change of scenery for Labor Day weekend. The peculiarly named festival has been around since the 1930s, and includes traditional events such as The Blessing of the Fleet & Water Parade, along with carnival rides, unique vendors and a fireworks show on Sunday evening beginning at 9 p.m.

Admission: Free

Location: Morgan City is an approximate hour and a half drive from New Orleans.

Music: Cowboy Mouth, MoJEAUX, Don Rich and more.

Food: Boiled shrimp, fried shrimp, shrimp on a stick, roasted corn on the cob and more

Lagniappe: Try this year’s official festival drink, Petro Punch.

Angola Prison Rodeo
Every Sunday in October; gates open at 9 a.m.,
rodeo begins at 2 p.m.

The oldest prison rodeo in the United States, Louisianians know that when October rolls around it’s time to pack up the family and take a trip to Angola. The event is the only occasion prisoners have the opportunity to interact with the public and raise money for themselves and their families. Profits from the event also benefit the Re-entry Court program, helping short-term inmates rehabilitate and learn new skills to help them succeed in the outside world following their release.

Location: The Louisiana State Penitentiary is an approximate two-and-a-half hour drive from New Orleans.

Admission: $20

Festival Events: The rodeo offers exciting, heart-racing events such as “Convict Poker,” "Wild Cow Milking,” a chariot race and the rodeo’s toughest event,“Guts & Glory.”

Insider Tip: If you have a trailer or a vehicle with a large trunk, bring it. Vendors have items including furniture, outdoor fixtures and large art pieces. If you find something you love, like a hand-built porch swing, you’ll want to be able to take it home.

Louisiana Renaissance Festival
Every weekend in November and the first two weekends in December
#larf2016, #larenfest

Offering attendees a short break from reality, the Louisiana Renaissance Festival offers attendees young and old the opportunity to reinvent themselves as pirates, pilgrims, kings, queens, elves, fairies, jesters or really anything they want. 

Admission: $20 for adults; $11 for kids ages 6 through 12; free for children 5 or under.

Location: Hammond is an approximate hour and a half drive from New Orleans.

Festival Events: Every weekend there’s a different special event or theme.

The Celtic Weekend includes a prestigious bagpipe competition; Time Travelers Weekend is for all those who love Dr. Who, Star Wars or Star Trek; head to the closing weekend and bring your blankets to enjoy the close-up fireworks show on the lake just after dark.

Lagniappe: Spend the weekend at Camp Serenity. The festival’s welcoming atmosphere carries over to the festival goers enjoying bonfires and music, promising a spirited weekend for all.