A Local’s Guide to Surviving New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival


New Orleans is known for its party culture — all-nighters on Bourbon Street and Mardi Gras are the most popular festivities. Even though there are spirits and 24-hour bars to entertain old and new visitors for days, Jazz Fest steals the crowd every year. Nothing compares to a sunny day in the Gospel Tent, crawfish beignet in hand.

Each spring season, the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival occurs at the Fair Grounds Race Course in Gentilly. For two consecutive weekends, thousands of people gather to eat, drink, and dance. Jazz Fest showcases New Orleans, the birthplace of jazz, and the music and culture of its people.

Many festivalgoers get caught up in booking hotels and scanning the lineup for their favorite artists. While excitement is encouraged, preparing for anything, inclement weather included, will make Jazz Fest a stress-free experience.

Transportation to and from New Orleans Jazz Fest

Attendees arriving at Jazz Fest early experience the luxury of short lines. Planning transportation ahead of time will ensure you can avoid waiting in long lines or experiencing sold-out food and merchandise. New Orleans offers many transportation options like bike rentals, buses, and shuttle services.

Ride or Rent a Bike

Jazz Fest is bike-friendly. Bikers have access to designated parking spaces near the festival. Many locals bike to Jazz Fest to avoid traffic and parking fees. It’s easily the most efficient and affordable transportation option.

Utilize New Orleans’ Public Transportation

Buses are another transportation option for getting to Jazz Fest. New Orleans’ public transportation system, RTA, offers three-day bus passes for visitors. The Jazz Fest bus stop is just a few blocks from the festival entrance.

Jazz Fest Express Shuttle

Jazz Fest offers its patrons a round-trip transportation shuttle from four departure points. The shuttle runs every day of the festival from 10:30 a.m. until everyone leaves the festival grounds. Attendees can purchase shuttle tickets with their festival tickets.

Dress Fashionably and Comfortably at Jazz Fest

In New Orleans, the weather always decides what one wears to Jazz Fest. Long dresses and skirts get dirty fast, and anything white is bound to get muddy if it rains. The ultimate goal is to wear cool, comfortable clothing and shoes.

Prepare for Rain or Shine at Jazz Fest

Good weather is never a sure thing in New Orleans, but Jazz Fest will commence rain or shine. Festivalgoers experience at least one rainy day every year. Being prepared for inclement weather is always helpful. The following items will ensure a good time at Jazz Fest, even in the rain:

  • Rain boots
  • A rain poncho
  • A Waterproof bag for electronics and valuables


On the days of clear skies, Jazz Fest attendees get to experience southern heat and humidity. Festivalgoers can avoid sunburns and dehydration by doing the following:

  • Applying sunscreen frequently
  • Drinking plenty of water
  • Bringing a hand-held fan
  • Wearing a hat
  • Cooling off in the air-conditioned Grandstands
  • Enjoying the shaded Gospel and Blues tents

What to Bring to Jazz Fest

Showing up empty-handed to a festival is never a good idea. A backpack or fanny pack full of necessities will save money and time at Jazz Fest.

Cash and Credit Cards

Festival ATMs are frustrating and expensive. Avoid fees and long lines by bringing cash and credit cards into Jazz Fest.

Chairs and Blankets to Sit On

Jazz Fest allows its attendees to bring in folding chairs and blankets. Tarps, chairs, flags, ice chests, and dancing bare feet cover the festival grounds shortly after the gates open.

Bottled Water

Unlike most music festivals, Jazz Fest allows attendees to bring one sealed water bottle daily. Buying bottled water at the festival is costly. Taking advantage of the water allowance will make room in the budget for more delicious Jazz Fest food.

Get Familiar with the Jazz Fest Cubes

Closer to the festival weekends, Jazz Fest releases its lineup in an organized grid schedule called “cubes.” The locals study the cubes and plan their weekends accordingly, ensuring they experience as much music, food, and shopping as possible.

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