While Mardi Gras remains the “greatest free party on earth,” it is far from the only grand party in the Big Easy. For one long weekend in April and one long weekend in May, the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival takes center stage.
The journey through Jazz Fest transports you to a rich world of culture stretching from the state of Louisiana to a state of mind. While Jazz reigns supreme it is far from the only music to get your feet tapping.
During the 2012 festival expect to hear Bruce Springsteen, the Beach Boys and Jimmy Buffett mixed in with the sounds of Zydeco, gospel and of course lots of Jazz. A complete lineup along with a way to customize your musical tour is available on the New Orleans Jazz Fest website. You can even listen to music clips from the artists scheduled to perform.
Music is only part of the cultural immersion you can experience during Jazz Fest. This event is a celebration of music, art and food.
As you meander through the labyrinth of stages you will find dozens of places to get a real taste of the region. Vendors serve up Jambalaya, Po Boys, Alligator Pie and Crawfish Bread, a gooey treat filled with cheese and bits of crawfish.
Jazz Fest isn’t the big “free” party like Mardi Gras. In fact, this event can have you emptying your wallet rather quickly. While the ticket prices are considered reasonable, you can expect to pay premium prices for food and souvenirs. Parking near the fairgrounds is not recommended and you will likely need to have money for one of the shuttles to the festival. Think of Jazz Fest as a “theme park” where the music and culture bring you the thrills instead of rides.
While in New Orleans be sure and take a stroll through the French Quarter and visit Bourbon Street to heighten your cultural experience. This is a city unlike any other in the country which probably explains why the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival is so unique, drawing 400-thousand people each year.
The dates for this year's Jazz Fest are April 27th,28th, and 29th and May 3rd, 4th, 5th and 6th. New Orleans is a 10-hour drive from Knoxville and is easily accessible by air. Hotels do book up fast during large events like Jazz Fest. All inclusive hotel and ticket packages are available through the Jazz Fest website.