New Orleans is host to many unique festivals and events throughout the entire calendar year. Some of these events, however, are just not ideal for the solo traveler. That’s why Astrid Solo Travel Advisor compiled a list of recommendations for the most solo-friendly New Orleans festivals and events happening in 2019! One reason why we believe New Orleans is so well-suited for solo travelers, is because the locals are so kind and warm-hearted. Don’t be surprised when people just strike up a conversation with you, a perfect stranger. New Orleanians are skilled in making strangers feel like friends, and friends like family. Go into these events with the right attitude, and you’re sure to fall in love with New Orleans and everything that makes this city so special.
January 6: Krewe de Jeanne d'Arc
This walking parade (meaning the people in the parade are walking, not you) kicks off the Mardi Gras season. This parade, sans the giant floats, is a great way for the solo traveler to get their feet wet if this is their first New Orleans Mardi Gras. Melt into the crowd, catch a few beads and embrace the excitement!
January 6 - 27: The Orléans Collection at the NOMA
In celebration of New Orleans’ tricentennial last year, The New Orleans Museum of Modern Art is showcasing about 40 key pieces from Philip II Duke of Orleans’ collection of famous artwork. For the art-loving, solo traveler, this exhibition is sure to impress. Learn more here. Also check out The Baroness de Pontalba and the Rise of Jackson Square which tells the story of how this father-daughter duo influenced the distinct architectural style of Old New Orleans. Learn more here.
January 27: King Cake Festival
If you can’t make it to New Orleans for Mardi Gras weekend, get a taste of the Carnival season at this annual festival. Sample some of the city’s best king cakes, listen to a live performance from this year’s headliner, Better Than Ezra, and join other travelers and locals alike for this lighthearted gathering. For solo travelers that want to have their cake and eat it too, consider the Rep Run, a 4.5K run around the Super Dome to #EarnDatKingCake !
February 15 - 21: New Orleans French Film Festival
Held in Louisiana’s oldest single-screen movie theatre, the Prytania Theatre, The New Orleans French Film Festival offers an out-of-the-ordinary experience for the movie buff. Enjoy French films (with English subtitles), free lectures and live music during this week-long event. Learn more here.
March 5: Mardi Gras
For a comprehensive, solo traveler’s guide to Mardi Gras, click here!
March 14: Top Taco NOLA
Ideal for the foodie solo traveler, this festival will feature over 50 restaurants and bars competing for titles from the most creative taco to the best margarita. The event is limited in size in order to create a more pleasant and relaxed environment. A VIP experience with private lounges, an open bar, and more is also available this year. Learn more here.
March 29 - 20 : Hogs for the Cause
Also a great event for the foodie solo traveler, this event features some of the city’s best BBQ, live music, and more. For more information, see the Hogs for the Cause website.
April 3 - 7: New Orleans Wine and Food Experience
This 5-day-long festival features everything from wine dinners and galas, to parades. This is a great opportunity for the solo traveler to get a taste of the Best NOLA has to offer. Read more about the experience here.
April 6: Freret Street Festival
This event features local live music, one-of-a-kind shops and fine food. This festival can give the solo traveler an insight into the lives of New Orleans residents, as this Freret St. Market is nestled inside a neighborhood area that is easily missed if you don’t know where to look. Click here to learn more.
April 11 - 14 : French Quarter Fest
This festival brings together over 1,700 of musicians in order to celebrate every genre of music New Orleans has to offer. French Quarter Festival features the best in New Orleans music, cuisine, art, and culture. It is the optimal opportunity for any solo traveler to see what this city is really about!
April 15: Pink Martini
Pink Martini is a symphony orchestra featuring songs in over 25 languages., and will be held at the beautiful Orpheum Theater. This is the perfect excuse to get dressed up, and enjoy an elegant night out in the city. Buy tickets here.
April 20: Crescent City Classic
For the solo traveler that wants to stay active, this 10K race is a great way to see the city of New Orleans and enjoy local food and drink at the post-race party. This is a very casual race, with many participants sporting fun costumes and drinking on-the-go in true New Orleans style. Learn more here.
April 25 - May 5: New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival
No festival is a better representation of New Orleans’ rich history and vibrant culture than Jazz Fest. Some of the absolute best local, national and international performers have preformed here. Jazz Fest is a great way for the solo traveler to sample a little bit of everything New Orleans: soulful music, authentic cuisine, and magnificent artwork. Learn more here!
May 4: Jammin’ on Julia
This is an event featuring local art, live music and New Orleans food and drink hosted by the Arts District of New Orleans. A great option for the art-loving solo traveler. Learn more here.
June 1 - 2: Oyster Festival
Another event for the foodie solo traveler is Oyster festival. Complete with live music, local restaurant vendors, art and entertainment. Visit the festival’s website for more info.
June 8 - 9: French Market Creole Tomato Festival
This festival is centered around a true New Orleans icon: the creole tomato. This day features amazing food, contests, live music and fun. This event is a great way for the solo traveler to feel apart of New Orleans culture, with just as many locals in attendance as there are visitors. Learn more at here.
July 4: ESSENCE Festival
Organized by ESSENCE magazine, this festival brings together music, inspirational speakers and experiences designed to showcase African American culture. This is a huge event, but the plentitude of activity is sure to keep the solo traveler busy, and encourage new connections and friendships.
August 1 - 31: Coolinary Month
This month-long event could not be better suited for the foodie solo traveler. During the month of August, many of New Orleans’ top restaurants will feature special prix fixe menus, many of which will include 2 and 3-course meals at extremely affordable prices. This is affordable luxury at its finest. Don’t miss out on this opportunity if you are in New Orleans during the month of August. Learn more at here.
August 10: Red Dress Run
Perhaps the most anticipated run of the year, the annual New Orleans Red Dress Run is hosted by The Hash House Harriers “a local drinking club with a running problem”. This event is loads of fun; however, if you’re participating solo, remember to watch your alcohol intake, but certainly indulge in some of the best people-watching. More information can be found here.
September 9 - 15: Restaurant Week in New Orleans
Similar to the Coolinary concept, Restaurant Week features some of the best restaurants in New Orleans. These restaurants will offer special menus during this week at about 25% off the regular price, which is a great, money-saving opportunity for the solo traveler. Restaurants are likely to be packed during this time, but solo travelers may be able to take advantage of single spots at chef’s tables and squeeze into otherwise fully- booked restaurants. If a restaurant you’re dying to try is participating in Restaurant Week this year, we recommend making a reservation in advance if possible. Learn more here.
October 18-20: Crescent City Blues and BBQ Festival
October is usually a beautiful month in New Orleans. This is the time of year when the summer heat finally wears off, and the air gains a little bit of autumn crispness. The Crescent City Blues and BBQ Festival combines some of the best blues artists with some of the best BBQ, for a delightful event filled with soulful music and food. Read more here.
October 16 - 24: New Orleans Film Festival
This film festival features both national and international films including documentaries, short films, and animations. It draws crowds of over 20,000 every year, featuring hundreds of filmmakers and films. This festival is made even more memorable by a special New Orleans touch of local cuisine and music. Learn more here.
October 19: Krewe of Boo
Can’t make it to New Orleans for Mardi Gras? Get you parade fix with this Halloween weekend parade! If you’re looking for other haunting New Orleans activities, check out these other Halloween events and the 5 most haunted places in the French Quarter!
November 2: Mirliton Festival
Mirliton (pronounced mel-a-tonn) Festival is similar to the Creole Tomato Festival in that it celebrates another New Orleans produce icon. This festival also celebrates New Orleans’ hip Bywater neighborhood, and offers the solo traveler a unique perspective into one of the city’s under-explored gems. If you’ve never tasted (or seen) a mirliton, here’s your chance!
November 30 - January 1: Celebration in the Oaks
Thousands of oak trees, many of them hundreds of years old, are part of what make New Orleans so stunningly beautiful. City Park is home to 30,000 of these majestic giants, which take on a truly magical quality around the holidays when they become covered in hundreds of thousands of lights. City Park’s annual Celebration in the Oaks is a must-see event for any traveler visiting the city during the holidays!
November 29 - December 31: Merriment on Magazine
Magazine Street is home to some of the city’s best shops and boutiques. Beginning on Black Friday, Magazine Street will become a winter, wonder (shopping) land. This is the prefect opportunity to enjoy food and drink from local restaurants and shop for unique gifts from local vendors!
For details on all the holiday festivities that the city of New Orleans has to offer, click here.
Exact date TBD: Caroling in Jackson Square:
If you happen to be traveling alone during the holidays, it’s easy to feel a little lonely. To find a bit of that Christmas spirit, try caroling in Jackson Square. Every year, hundreds of people gather in the square to join together to sing Christmas songs under the light of the stars and a few hundred candles. As each individual voice joins together to form one beautiful sound, this truly goose-bump worthy experience will make any person feel part of something much bigger than themselves. We highly recommend this one!
Every Saturday until June 1, 2019: Live Art Saturday
Palace Market on Frenchman Street features local artists selling a variety of handmade goods and art pieces. This is a great place to find a unique souvenir!
Every Wednesday until November 20, 2019 : Sunrise Yoga at the Riverwalk
This is a great opportunity to squeeze in some exercise and stay healthy while traveling. This kind of event is sure to have travelers feeling right at home if yoga is part of your regular routine. And if its not, this is a great opportunity to try something new! Note: You’ll need to bring your own mat. (Consider buying a travel yoga mat to make your life a little easier.)
Every Saturday until January 2, 2020: Jazz Brunch Saturdays at Pythian Market
Pythian is a chic, cafeteria-style gathering place in the New Orleans CBD. Every Saturday, a collection of 13 local vendor gather to serve up a variety of brunch options, complete of course, with bloody marys and mimosas. The open-air atmosphere is great for finding a cozy spot, sipping a coffee or a drink, and observing all the activity. Read more here. For a slightly more upscale experience, check out the weekend Jazz Brunch offered by Commander’s Palace! For a more eclectic brunch, consider Sunday Burlesque Brunch at SoBou.
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