New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival: the world's best jazz party
Posted on 18/04/2017
CultureUnited States of America
The birthplace of jazz music, the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage festival is the embodiment of the city's vibrant mix of music and cultures. Internationally acclaimed, it's one of April's headlining acts around the globe.
Although jazz music spills out from every corner of New Orleans each day no matter the occasion, in April, the birthplace of jazz hosts an unmissable festival. This year the 48th New Orleans Jazz and Heritage festival will take place on April 28 - 30 and May 4 - 7 at the historic Fair Grounds Race Course.
Louisiana's world famous festival takes place just a stone's throw from Downtown and the French Quarter and beckons visitors from far and wide. There's nothing sotto voce about this explosion of rhythm - the music represents an integral part of the city's life and the cuisine on offer is a nod to its eclectic mix of cultures.
The root of American pop, the father of rock, the sibling of blues and a complimentary beat to hip-hop, jazz is more than just a part of New Orleans' culture; it is engrained, inextricably intertwined. Jazz was in fact born here, and the Jazz and Heritage Festival pays tribute to the cultural significance of the genre and its history.
These year's headliners include Stevie Wonder, Tom Petty and The Heartbreakers, Maroon 5, Leon Bridges, Corinne Bailey Rae, Trombone Shorty & Orleans Avenue and the Rebirth Brass Band. Be sure to make a beeline for the Gospel Tent at some stage, where top church and school choirs perform each day.
New Orleans is a mecca for foodies thanks to its vibrant mixture of influences - French, African, American and French-Canadian, to name a few. The city is famed for its Cajun and Creole cuisine, and you can grab a bite of the action, sampling some of the flavours making up the city's rich culinary history.
At the Jazz and Heritage Festival, you can find two cooking stages at the Fairgrounds Grandstand which serve as a microcosm of the city's gastronomic prowess. Here famous chefs, fishermen, farmers and home cooks demonstrate their expertise. There are also plethora of dishes on offer in the festival grounds, from crabmeat stuffed shrimp and crawfish bisque to Cuban sandwiches and jambalaya.
From craft exhibitions to cultural marketplaces, the Jazz and Heritage Festival is a feast for the eyes as much as for the ears.
Festival Crafts showcases the work of local and national artists, whilst Contemporary Crafts, amongst the blues and gospel tents, displays handmade, artisanal artwork. From woven baskets to hand-coloured photographs, the Louisiana Marketplace has something for even the quirkiest of tastes, whilst the Congo Square and African Marketplace exhibits both ancient and modern art stemming from the African Diaspora.
New Orleans bursts with pride of its multiculturalism and rich heritage. You can dive headfirst into exploring the history of Louisiana's largest city at the festival itself. Established in 1996, this year the Cultural Exhange Pavillon celebrates Cuba, and the Native American Village is a tribute to the cultural importance of the state's indigenous people. The Louisiana Folk Life Village also invites you to learn the traditions of the Mardi Gras Indians, marveling as float-makers create carnival masterpieces from papier-mâché.