Jazz Fest

Helpful hints for first timers and their Jazz Fest

Successful festing involves a little bit of planning. There are some very important do's and don'ts that you will want to keep in mind to get the most of out your fest experience (and to keep your friends from having to drag your dehydrated butt around town all week).

This page is just a starting point. A lot of other kind folks have put together some very comprehensive pages filled with helpful tips for the first timer.

Don't be left holding the bag, check Jazz Fest's admission policy. It can be a long walk back to your car or hotel to put away prohibited items (such as recording devices, oversized tarps, food, etc). Check out Jazz Fest's list of prohibited items (PDF).

Where is this "Jazz Fest" held? The Heritage Fair portion of JazzFest takes place at the Fair Grounds Race Course, 1751 Gentilly Boulevard, about a 10 minute drive from the French Quarter. Hours of the Heritage Fair are 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. In addition, night clubs throughout the city book all the fantastic artists to play throughout the event. Check the Nightlife Grids for who's playing where.

Getting to the Fest. The Jazz Fest Express – from the Sheraton Hotel (500 Canal St.), the Steamboat Natchez Dock (Toulouse St. at the River – next to Jax Brewery), and a City Park location at the Wisner Blvd. Lot (at Filmore Blvd.; “5700 Wisner Blvd.” on Google Maps) daily.

A special entrance will be used only by Jazz Fest Express vehicles to avoid traffic and bring Festival-goers inside the gates of the Festival. For more information, visit https://www.graylineneworleans.com/all/seasonal/jazz-fest-express

Other options are to take the city bus or taxi cab. Parking at and around the Fair Grounds is very limited. If you do drive, be sure to know what is a legal parking spot, towing is strictly enforced. Do not leave any valuables in your vehicle.

Packing for the Fest. Check out what is on the kats packing list.

You will learn from personal experience what style of festing suits you best. Read some of the reviews of past fests.

A few important "do's":

  • DO drink water and plenty of it!
  • DO wear a hat!
  • DO drink more water!
  • DO put on liberal amounts of sun screen!
  • DO drink more water!!
  • DO have a lot of fun!
  • DO drink more water!!! (getting the point?)
  • DO take some time on Thursdays to check out the Crafts and other exhibits.
  • DO order the "large" and share with your friend
  • DO stash some toilet paper or tissues for bathroom breaks, 80K+ people can use up the daily supply.
  • DO check the forecast. There may be cool or rainy days (note that large trash bags fold up small, and work as makeshift rain coats). 
  • If there's rain, there's mud. Be prepared. Flip flops don't work in mud.
  • DO pack shorts, light shirts, rain gear, a jacket, sunblock because it may be hot, cold, rainy, sunny. 

Where there are do's there are don'ts...

  • DON'T forget to be polite! It's crowded for all of us!
  • DON'T forget to eat! The food is great and it helps keep your energy up! Order the large and share with a friend.
  • DON'T forget to listen to your body! Rest when you need to...
  • DON'T count on beer for your fluids, you WILL regret it...
  • DON'T forget to drink lots of water! (did you think we forgot?)
  • DON'T try to see everything on every stage. There are tons of bands playing and it's impossible to see everything, and enjoy it too. Check out acts you haven't heard before.
  • DON'T miss all the crafts. Master artisans show off their skills in the Louisiana Folklife Village, the marketplace in Congo Square, as well as the Heritage Square where Louisiana artists show off their wares.

Good Festin' Links

Gambit Magazine - look for a rundown of every performer at the fest.
Offbeat Magazine - known as the Jazz Fest Bible.
Nightlife Grids
Swag's Jazzfest FAQ
WWOZ 90.7 FM - The sound of Jazz Fest.
NOLA.com -  festival news.

Jazz Fest Packing Primer

The Krewe redrew what one may expect on a Jazz Fest Packing List, going outside the lines and off the page. Check out the krewe's humorous PDKK Essential Festival Packing List.

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