This Week's Must-See Events

Well, that was quick. Even with a relatively early Mardi Gras this year, the “break” we get between Carnival season and the start of Louisiana’s springtime festival season never feels all that long – barely enough time to catch your breath after the stretch of holidays and revelry, much less to make amends for its excesses.


But there are worse problems than having too much to do, and March arrives with a calendar full of events. Here’s a short list of a few things on the radar for the next few days alone:  


Wednesday at the Square

The Wednesday at the Square concert series is one particular harbinger of the season I always look forward to, and it begins tonight in Lafayette Square from 5 p.m. until 8 p.m.


Admission is free, and the public supports the event simply buying drinks and food from vendors at the site. Over the years, these concerts have become immensely popular, turning Lafayette Square into one giant, outdoor CBD happy hour while the music plays and the drinks flow.


The Wednesday at the Square lineup this year features popular local acts, as usual, plus a number of touring performers joining the roster. Tonight, things get rolling with local roots rocker-singer/songwriter Colin Lake, opening for local favorite Anders Osborne.


Looking ahead, there’s Col. Bruce Hampton, a dual bill with trumpeters Kermit Ruffins and Irvin Mayfield, long, tall Marcia Ball and the Meters, among other acts. Click here for Wednesday at the Square details and schedules.


New Orleans International Beer Festival

New Orleans has seen a bumper crop of quality beer lately, whether it’s made locally by the rising number of homegrown commercial brewers or brought in from craft breweries around the country. You see it at bars sporting newly expanded draft selections, at restaurants promoting beer alongside their wine lists, and you’ll certainly see it this Saturday, March 9, when the New Orleans International Beer Festival takes over Champions Square, the festival area in the shadow of the Mercedes-Benz Superdome.


Previously held in Mandeville and called the Top of the Hops Beer Festival, this event features a series of beer gardens pouring 150 beers and ciders and a pay-one-price admission to sample the field. The event is from 2 p.m. to 6 p.m., tickets start at $40 (or $20 for designated drivers). Details are here.


Starlight Racing

A historic horse track is full of pageantry and tradition. There’s the pre-race paddock parade of magnificent thoroughbreds, the drama of races coming down to the wire and the beer garden where it seems half the eligible singles in town are posing and preening for each other.


Perhaps that last item isn’t so traditional, but it is indeed part of the scene when the Fair Grounds Race Course stages its Starlight Racing, a series of evening events that continues this Friday, March 8, and next Friday, March 15.


The Fair Grounds is still a temple to the sport of kings, but it’s also courting a younger clientele these days. Starlight Racing is part of that bid. During these events, the track resembles something between a nightclub and a festival, with bands, food stands and more bars set up around the facility. This includes the Miller Time Beer Garden, a partially tented, partially open air corral with DJs, sharp-dressed patrons and an unimpeded view of the horses as they come around the final turn.


Starlight Racing general admission is $5. Clubhouse and Miller Time Beer Garden admission is $10. The first post (that is, the first race) is at 5 p.m. Click here for details.


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