It must be spring and after Carnival. The trees are sprouting their annual coat of strands of multi-colored beads. The neutral grounds on St. Charles Avenue and Canal Street are stripped of any form of grassy vegetation. Grocery store shelves are bare of chips and dips; coolers are bereft of beer; racks and tables formerly laden with King Cakes are empty; and cashiers now only have a light streak of green- or purple-dyed hair.
Residents are walking around with black smudges on their foreheads. Visitors are scurrying to the airport. And heavy trash-moving equipment are scooping, loading, and moving the mounds of trash from every corner of the French Quarter and the CBD.
It is absolutely spring and we have “done” Carnival. But that does not mean the party is finished. If you think that then you don’t know New Orleans.
There is a seamless grace about this city’s calendar. We effortlessly slide from the more universal seasons, like New Year’s, Easter, Thanksgiving and Christmas, into our important dates, like Twelfth Night, Carnival and Mardi Gras, St. Patrick’s Day, St. Joseph’s Day, French Quarter Festival, JazzFest, and Tales of the Cocktail.
Along the way, we accompany every excuse for celebration with the appropriate seasonal food: oysters, crawfish, King Cake, seafood gumbo, andouille gumbo, Creole Tomatoes, mirlitons, satsumas, and blood oranges. Then, because we are who we are, we toss in a beverage or two for good measure, some of which last the whole year-round: Sazerac, Bloody Mary, Brandy Milk Punch, big red wines, sparkling wines and Champagne, locally crafted pilsner-style beer, “hoppy” beer,” IPA-style beers, and cocktails of every sort, like a well-crafted Vieux Carre or a French 75.
As the young folks like to note, “That’s just the way we roll.”
Anyway, while we take a bit of breather after Carnival, which is code for “give me twenty minutes,” we have some big events on the immediate horizon:
St. Patrick’s Day – Irish Channel Parade is March 14; Metairie Parade is March 22
St. Joseph’s Day – French Quarter Parade is March 14; Metairie Parade is March 22
Super Sunday – Mardi Gras Indians, A.L.Davis Park and Tambourine and Fan, March 15
Tennessee Williams Literary Festival – March 25-29, French Quarter
Crescent City Classic – April 4 French Quarter and City Park
French Quarter Festival – April 9-12 Woldenburg Park
Ponchatoula Strawberry Festival – April 10-12 Ponchatoula, LA
Sandestin Wine Festival – April 16 -19 Destin, Florida
South Walton Beaches Wine & Food Festival – April 23 – 26 Destin, Florida
New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival – April 24 – May 3 The Fair Grounds Race Track and various other locations
Zurich PGA Golf Classic – April 20 – 26 TPC Louisiana
New Orleans Wine and Food Experience – May 20 – 23 various locations in the French Quarter and NO Convention Center
Greek Festival – May 22-24 Hellenic Cultural Center
New Orleans Oyster Festival – May 30 – 31 French Market
Cajun Zydeco Festival – June 6 – 7 Treme
Creole Tomato Festival – June 13 – 14 French Market and French Quarter
Essence Music Festival – July 3 – 5 Mercedes Benz Superdome and various other locations
Go 4th on the River – July 4 French Quarter and fireworks on the Mississippi River
San Fermin in Nueva Orleans – July 9 – 12 Running of the Bulls CBD and Warehouse District
Tales of the Cocktail – July 15 – 19 French Quarter and various locations
Okay, that sets the high points for the first part of the year, starting after Carnival. There are plenty more concerts, theatre performances, small area festivals, special events, almost too numerous to list. But you get the point. It’s never over.
And you will never hear the fat lady sing in the Crescent City, unless she’s fronting a brass band.