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New Orleans Jazz And Heritage Festival 2019


by Cordelia Sorenson



Welcome to the vibrant, soulful, and electrifying world of the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival. Known colloquially as Jazz Fest, this iconic event is a celebration of the rich and diverse culture of New Orleans, Louisiana. Each year, music lovers, food enthusiasts, and art aficionados flock to this beloved festival to soak in the soul-stirring sounds, devour delectable Creole cuisine, and revel in the city’s vibrant heritage.


The New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival is not just a music festival; it’s a cultural extravaganza that encapsulates the essence of the Big Easy. From jazz and blues to gospel, rock, and funk, the festival showcases a myriad of musical genres that embody the spirit of New Orleans. It seamlessly blends established legends with emerging talent, creating a dynamic and unforgettable experience.


What sets Jazz Fest apart from other music festivals is its deep connection to the city’s roots and traditions. New Orleans is a melting pot of cultures, and the festival serves as a platform to honor and celebrate the diverse heritage that has shaped the city’s unique identity. From Mardi Gras Indian tribes to second line parades and traditional crafts, Jazz Fest embraces the authentic cultural expressions that define New Orleans.


Stepping into Jazz Fest is like immersing yourself in a joyful, pulsating sea of music, art, and heritage. The festival’s vibrant atmosphere, filled with laughter, dancing, and a palpable sense of community, is a testament to the indomitable spirit of New Orleans.


In this article, we will delve into the fascinating history of the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival, explore its iconic lineup of artists, discover the mouthwatering culinary delights and exquisite crafts on offer, and provide you with valuable tips to make the most of your festival experience. So, get ready to indulge your senses and embark on a journey that will forever leave a mark on your soul.


History of the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival

The New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival traces its roots back to the 1960s when a group of forward-thinking individuals recognized the need to celebrate and preserve the rich musical and cultural heritage of New Orleans. In 1970, they organized the first Jazz Fest, which was initially a smaller, more intimate gathering.


Over the years, Jazz Fest has grown exponentially in size and scope, attracting visitors from around the world. What began as a modest celebration of traditional jazz has evolved into a multi-genre extravaganza, showcasing a diverse range of music styles and cultural expressions.


The festival’s inception was a response to the declining presence of traditional New Orleans jazz in the music scene. The founders believed that a dedicated event would not only revive interest in this unique art form but also provide a platform for local musicians to showcase their talent.


Since its early days, Jazz Fest has strived to maintain a balance between honoring tradition and embracing innovation. Musical legends like Louis Armstrong, Duke Ellington, and Jelly Roll Morton served as early inspirations, setting the stage for the festival’s commitment to preserving the city’s musical legacy.


However, Jazz Fest didn’t stop at jazz. It quickly expanded to incorporate other genres that played a significant role in the city’s cultural tapestry. Blues, zydeco, gospel, R&B, rock, and funk found their place alongside jazz, creating a diverse musical lineup that continues to draw enthusiasts of all ages and backgrounds.


While music remains the heart and soul of Jazz Fest, the festival has also become a platform for celebrating New Orleans’ rich heritage beyond the realm of music. Cultural exhibits and demonstrations, including Mardi Gras Indian tribes, traditional crafts, and second-line parades, offer a window into the city’s unique cultural traditions.


Jazz Fest has not been without its challenges. In 2005, the festival faced significant disruption in the wake of Hurricane Katrina. The storm wreaked havoc on New Orleans, displacing residents and causing unimaginable devastation. However, Jazz Fest became a symbol of hope and resilience as it returned the following year, playing a crucial role in the city’s recovery and restoration.


Today, the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival stands as a testament to the indomitable spirit of New Orleans and its enduring cultural legacy. It is a celebration of the music, food, art, and traditions that make New Orleans a truly unique and vibrant city. The festival has not only become an international attraction but also a source of immense pride for the people of New Orleans, who continue to preserve and cherish their rich cultural heritage.


Dates and Location

The New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival is held annually over two consecutive weekends, usually in late April and early May. The festival dates vary slightly each year, so it’s essential to check the official festival website for the most up-to-date information.


The festival takes place at the Fair Grounds Race Course, a historic horse racing track located in the Gentilly neighborhood of New Orleans. The Fair Grounds spans over 145 acres and provides an expansive and picturesque backdrop for the festivities.


With its lush greenery, grandstand seating, and open-air stages, the Fair Grounds creates a unique festival ambiance that blends the beauty of nature with the excitement of live performances. The sprawling grounds offer ample space for festivalgoers to roam, explore, and immerse themselves in the Jazz Fest experience.


Getting to the festival is relatively easy, as the Fair Grounds is conveniently located within close proximity to the city’s main attractions and neighborhoods. If you’re staying in the French Quarter or the Central Business District, a short taxi or rideshare trip will get you to the festival grounds in no time.


For those looking for public transportation options, the New Orleans Regional Transit Authority (RTA) operates bus routes that serve the area around the Fair Grounds. The RTA also offers a special Jazz Fest shuttle service during the festival, providing a convenient and affordable way to reach the event.


It’s worth noting that the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival is an outdoor event, so it’s important to come prepared for the unpredictable weather. The festival takes place rain or shine, and the Louisiana climate can be quite hot and humid during the springtime. It’s advisable to bring sunscreen, a hat, and comfortable shoes to ensure a comfortable and enjoyable experience.


Whether you’re a local resident or visiting New Orleans for the festival, the dates and location of the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival make it accessible and enticing for music lovers from all walks of life. So mark your calendars, pack your bags, and get ready for an unforgettable celebration of music, culture, and community at the Fair Grounds Race Course.


Lineup of Artists

The lineup of artists at the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival is nothing short of extraordinary. Year after year, the festival attracts some of the most iconic and talented musicians from around the world, as well as local New Orleans legends who embody the spirit of the city’s musical heritage.


From legendary jazz musicians to contemporary pop acts, the festival offers a diverse range of musical styles to suit every taste. Traditional jazz remains a prominent feature of Jazz Fest, with performances by renowned artists who carry on the legacy of New Orleans jazz pioneers. Expect to be mesmerized by the soulful melodies of trumpet players, the fiery improvisations of saxophonists, and the infectious rhythms of world-class jazz bands.


The festival also celebrates other genres that have influenced and shaped the vibrant music scene of New Orleans. Blues enthusiasts can immerse themselves in the raw emotion and captivating storytelling of blues legends, while fans of rock and funk can groove to the electrifying sounds of iconic bands.


But it’s not just about the big names. Jazz Fest also provides a platform for emerging talent, showcasing up-and-coming artists who are making waves in the music industry. This commitment to supporting local and rising talent ensures that the festival remains a hotbed of creativity, innovation, and discovery.


In addition to the musical performances, Jazz Fest often features special collaborations and unique one-off performances that you won’t find anywhere else. Artists from different genres and backgrounds come together on stage to create magical moments that transcend boundaries and leave a lasting impact on both the performers and the audience.


The lineup is carefully curated to provide a balance of crowd-pleasers and hidden gems, ensuring that there’s always something new and exciting to discover at the festival. Whether you’re a long-time fan of a particular artist or simply looking to explore new sounds, the Jazz Fest lineup guarantees an exceptional musical experience.


The full lineup is typically announced in the months leading up to the festival, allowing attendees to plan their schedules and prioritize the performances they don’t want to miss. Be sure to check the official festival website or follow Jazz Fest on social media for the latest updates on the lineup.


Prepare to be captivated, enchanted, and moved by the breathtaking musical talent that graces the stages of the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival. It’s a celebration of the power of music to unite, inspire, and transport us to a place where melodies and rhythms touch our souls.


Performance Schedule

The New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival is known for its jam-packed performance schedule, offering a multitude of musical acts to cater to every musical taste. With multiple stages spread across the festival grounds, attendees can choose from a diverse range of performances happening simultaneously throughout the day.


The festival typically starts early in the afternoon and continues well into the evening, ensuring non-stop music and entertainment for festivalgoers. Each day is filled with performances from a variety of genres, allowing attendees to curate their own unique musical journey.


One of the unique aspects of Jazz Fest is the ability to move between stages and catch different performances throughout the day. Whether you plan your schedule meticulously or simply go with the flow, there’s always something exciting happening at any given moment.


The main stages at Jazz Fest showcase performances by some of the biggest names in the music industry, while smaller stages offer opportunities to discover emerging talent and niche genres. You might find yourself torn between catching an iconic jazz legend on the main stage or exploring the intimate setting of the smaller stages to enjoy the up-and-coming artists.


The performance schedule is usually released in advance, allowing festivalgoers to plan their itinerary and ensure they don’t miss their favorite artists. It’s worth noting that schedules are subject to change, so it’s a good idea to check for any updates or adjustments closer to the festival dates.


In addition to musical performances, Jazz Fest often features other types of entertainment, such as dance troupes, cultural demonstrations, and spoken word performances. These diverse offerings further enhance the festival experience by providing a well-rounded program of entertainment for attendees.


While it can be tempting to try and catch as many performances as possible, it’s important to pace yourself and allow for breaks to rest, refuel, and explore the other attractions the festival has to offer. Consider prioritizing the performances that resonate with you the most, but also leave room for serendipitous discoveries along the way.


Ultimately, the performance schedule at the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival is designed to provide an immersive and unforgettable experience. It’s an opportunity to witness extraordinary musical talent, be exposed to different genres, and celebrate the vibrant and diverse culture of New Orleans.


Food and Crafts

No trip to the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival is complete without indulging in the delectable food and exploring the exquisite crafts on offer. The festival is renowned for its diverse culinary offerings and vibrant display of local craftsmanship, adding an extra layer of sensory delight to the overall experience.


New Orleans is known for its distinctive culinary scene, blending flavors from French, African, Spanish, and Caribbean cultures. At Jazz Fest, you’ll find an array of food booths and vendors serving up mouthwatering Creole and Cajun delicacies that will tantalize your taste buds.


From classics like jambalaya, gumbo, and crawfish étouffée to po’ boys, fried seafood, and beignets, there’s something to satisfy every craving. You’ll also find a wide range of vegetarian and vegan options, ensuring that everyone can enjoy delicious fare that captures the essence of New Orleans cuisine.


As you wander through the festival grounds, you’ll have the opportunity to explore the Crafts Area, where local artisans display their handmade creations. From intricate jewelry and colorful textiles to pottery, paintings, and sculptures, the craftsmanship on display is a testament to the rich artistic heritage of New Orleans.


The Crafts Area is not just an opportunity to admire beautiful artwork; it’s a chance to connect with the artists themselves. Many vendors are more than happy to share the stories and processes behind their work, offering a glimpse into their creative journey and the cultural influences that inspire them.


Supporting the local artisans by purchasing their crafts is not only a way to take home a unique and meaningful souvenir but also contributes to the preservation and evolution of the vibrant artistic community in New Orleans.


In addition to the Crafts Area, the festival also features other interactive exhibits and demonstrations that showcase the cultural and heritage aspects of New Orleans. From traditional Mardi Gras Indian tribes displaying their stunning handmade costumes to dance troupes performing heritage dances, these exhibits provide an opportunity to learn and appreciate the rich cultural tapestry of the city.


Whether you’re savoring the flavors of a perfectly spiced gumbo or admiring the craftsmanship of a local artist, the food and crafts at the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival are an essential part of the experience. They not only delight the senses but also offer a deeper understanding and connection to the unique spirit of New Orleans.


Cultural and Heritage Exhibits

The New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival is more than just a music and food extravaganza; it’s a celebration of the rich cultural and heritage traditions that define the spirit of New Orleans. Throughout the festival grounds, attendees have the opportunity to explore a variety of cultural exhibits that showcase the city’s vibrant history and diverse cultural influences.


One of the most captivating cultural exhibits at Jazz Fest is the display of Mardi Gras Indian tribes. These unique and colorful groups honor the traditions of the Native Americans who offered refuge to African slaves, merging African and Native American influences to create beautiful handcrafted costumes and participate in ceremonial dances.


Additionally, the festival often features exhibits highlighting the complex and fascinating history of the city’s African American heritage. From the roots of jazz music and the civil rights movement to the impact of African traditions on the local culture, these exhibits provide a deeper understanding of the rich tapestry of New Orleans’ history.


The Louisiana Folklife Village is another highlight of the cultural exhibits at Jazz Fest. Here, attendees can immerse themselves in demonstrations and workshops featuring traditional crafts, music, and storytelling. From boat-building to furniture making, and from French language preservation to Cajun music traditions, this village celebrates the diverse cultural expressions that make Louisiana so unique.


Second line parades, an iconic aspect of New Orleans culture, are also a prominent part of the cultural exhibits at the festival. These lively processions, characterized by brass bands and spirited dancing, pay homage to the African American communities that have long been an essential part of the city’s identity.


In addition to the interactive exhibits, Jazz Fest often hosts panel discussions and talks that delve into the history and cultural significance of various aspects of New Orleans’ heritage. These informative sessions provide a deeper understanding of the traditions, social issues, and artistic expressions that shape the dynamic culture of the city.


The cultural and heritage exhibits at the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival are not only informative but also serve as a platform for celebrating the diverse communities and contributions that have shaped the city. They provide an opportunity for attendees to deepen their appreciation of the cultural fabric of New Orleans and connect with the rich history and traditions that make the city so extraordinary.


Ticket Information

Attending the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival is a bucket list experience for music lovers and culture enthusiasts alike. To ensure your spot at this iconic event, it’s important to have the necessary ticket information at your fingertips.


Tickets for the festival can be purchased in advance through the official festival website or authorized ticketing outlets. It is highly recommended to secure your tickets in advance, as the festival attracts a large number of attendees and tickets can sell out quickly.


There are typically a few different types of tickets available for Jazz Fest. General admission tickets provide access to all the music performances, food vendors, and cultural exhibits throughout the festival grounds. VIP and premium ticket options may also be available, offering enhanced experiences with additional amenities such as reserved seating, exclusive lounge areas, and expedited entry.


It’s worth noting that each day of the festival requires a separate ticket, so if you plan on attending multiple days, you will need to purchase tickets accordingly. Prices for tickets vary depending on the day of the week, with weekends often being slightly higher in cost.


Children’s tickets are usually available at a reduced price for younger attendees, making the festival a family-friendly event. Children under a certain age may even receive free admission with a paying adult. However, it’s important to check the festival’s age policy and guidelines regarding children attending the event.


In addition to single-day tickets, the festival may also offer multi-day passes or packages that allow you to attend multiple days at a discounted rate. These options are perfect for those who want to fully immerse themselves in the Jazz Fest experience and catch as many performances as possible.


Jazz Fest also offers the option of purchasing tickets at the gate on the day of the event, but availability is not guaranteed, especially during popular weekends or if the festival is nearing capacity. It’s recommended to secure your tickets in advance to avoid any disappointment.


Once you have your tickets, it’s important to follow any guidelines and instructions provided by the festival organizers. This may include information on entry procedures, prohibited items, and any safety protocols in place to ensure a pleasant and secure festival experience.


Attending the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival is not just a concert or event; it’s an immersive journey through the vibrant culture and musical heritage of the city. By securing your tickets ahead of time and planning your festival experience, you can ensure a seamless and unforgettable time at Jazz Fest.


Tips for Attending the Festival

Attending the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival is a thrilling experience, but being prepared can greatly enhance your enjoyment. Here are some tips to ensure that your time at the festival is seamless and memorable:

  • Plan your schedule: With multiple stages and performances happening simultaneously, it’s a good idea to review the festival lineup and create a schedule of the artists you want to see. Be mindful of stage locations and timing to avoid missing out on your favorite acts.
  • Arrive early: To beat the crowds and secure a good spot for performances, arrive at the festival grounds early. This will also give you ample time to explore the food vendors, crafts area, and cultural exhibits before the music starts.
  • Stay hydrated: New Orleans can get hot and humid, especially during the festival dates. Drink plenty of water throughout the day to stay hydrated and avoid dehydration. Some stages may have water refilling stations, so bring a reusable water bottle to save money and reduce waste.
  • Dress comfortably: Wear comfortable shoes and clothing to navigate the festival grounds with ease. Opt for lightweight and breathable fabrics, as the Louisiana climate can be quite warm. Don’t forget to bring a hat, sunglasses, and sunscreen to protect yourself from the sun.
  • Try the local cuisine: Jazz Fest is not just about the music; it’s also a gastronomic journey. Indulge in the mouthwatering Creole and Cajun delicacies offered by the food vendors. Don’t be afraid to try new dishes and explore the unique flavors of New Orleans cuisine.
  • Bring cash: While some vendors may accept credit cards or mobile payments, it’s always a good idea to have some cash on hand. ATMs may be available on-site, but they can have long lines and transaction fees, so it’s best to come prepared.
  • Respect the traditions: Jazz Fest celebrates the cultural heritage of New Orleans, so be respectful of the traditions and customs on display. Observe and appreciate the performances and exhibits, and engage with the artists and vendors to gain a deeper understanding of their craft and culture.
  • Stay connected: Download the Jazz Fest mobile app to stay updated with the latest information, lineup changes, and special announcements. The app also provides a helpful festival map and schedule to help you navigate and plan your day.
  • Take breaks and explore: Jazz Fest offers more than just music. Take breaks between performances to explore the Crafts Area, cultural exhibits, and interactive demonstrations. It’s a chance to immerse yourself in the rich heritage of New Orleans and discover the hidden gems of the festival.
  • Be mindful of the environment: Help keep the festival grounds clean by disposing of trash in designated bins and recycling stations. Consider bringing a reusable water bottle and utensils to minimize waste. Let’s all do our part in preserving the beauty of the festival and the environment.

By following these tips, you can make the most of your experience at the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival. Embrace the magic of the music, embrace the vibrant culture, and create lifelong memories in the heart of New Orleans.



The New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival is an extraordinary celebration of music, culture, and community. It encapsulates the essence of New Orleans, showcasing the city’s rich musical heritage and diverse cultural expressions. From the soul-stirring sounds of jazz and blues to the electrifying rhythms of rock and funk, the festival features a lineup of artists that cater to every musical taste.


But Jazz Fest is more than just a music festival. It’s a sensory experience that immerses you in the sights, sounds, and flavors of New Orleans. The delectable cuisine, the vibrant crafts, and the cultural exhibits all come together to create an atmosphere that reflects the city’s indomitable spirit and captivating charm.


Attending the festival requires a bit of planning and preparation, but the rewards are immeasurable. Planning your schedule, staying hydrated, and exploring the cultural exhibits will ensure that you make the most of your time at the festival. And while the music is undoubtedly the main attraction, don’t forget to savor the local cuisine and engage with the artisans who bring their craft to life.


Whether you’re a seasoned Jazz Fest veteran or a first-time attendee, the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival promises an unforgettable experience. It’s a vibrant celebration of New Orleans’ cultural heritage, a testament to the resilience and creativity of its residents, and a reminder of the power of music to unite people from all walks of life.


So, pack your dancing shoes, your appetite for great music and food, and your sense of adventure. Get ready to lose yourself in the enchanting rhythms of the Big Easy and let the magic of the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival sweep you off your feet.