To be honest, this was not a trip I was looking forward to. It was a gift (from me) to my husband for his birthday. He had been dying to go and I figured, how bad could it be? It is definitely one of the best festivals we have ever been to. It is extremely well-organized and attended, with lots of food, lots of entertainment, and plenty of security. We bought the tickets in advance through Ticketmaster, and it allowed us entrance any one of the 3 days (that week). Meaning, we did not need to commit to a day in advance. At the time, the tickets were $18 per person.
The best way to get there is via bus. The most popular location to catch the bus is in front of the Sheraton Hotel. The fare was about $10/per person roundtrip and it brought you directly to the New Orleans Fairgrounds. This is definitely the best way to get in and out of the fest and definitely the most efficient. It is a decent drive, and if you plan to drink while there, it’s just not practical to drive back.
The crowd varies… I think it’s safe to say that there are at least 100,000 people there at any given time. It is a very controlled crowd and very mellow by all accounts.
Dress casually and comfortably. Don’t bother bringing any food or alcohol with you – everything but one bottle of water per person is confiscated before you are allowed onto the grounds. I do recommend taking a blanket or a fold-up chair (like the ones that fold into a small canvas bag). The only places with seats are under the tents, so if you plan to watch any of the shows/music going on at the outside stages, you will need something to sit on (most of the stages are outdoors). In addition, I would recommend a hat and/or some heavy sunscreen. You will be outside most of the day, and if you’re drinking, you won’t realize how hot it gets.
Overall, there were about 15 or so stages, and after receiving a schedule (when you walk in), you find that you can stop and see about 10 to 15 acts at any given time. The music varied from gospel to country, from jazz to rock, and even to Dave Matthews. To keep things fresh and to keep people coming back, the headliners vary ever year.
Most of the vendors selling food are run by nonprofit organizations, and the food is broken up by areas. You can’t go wrong here. Everything is fresh, fast, cheap, and delicious. Some of the delicacies include crawfish (a big draw here), gumbo, etoufee, and fried everything else. There are no tables to sit and eat, just high tables to stand and eat. Booze is in large supply as well – hello, you are in New Orleans. Hurricanes are the local specialty, so try one out.
There are also vendors selling trinkets, art, music, T-shirts, etc. The booths were sporadic, but some contained beautiful pieces and it was worth a glance to say the least.
Overall, it was a great and perfect time to visit New Orleans. Go early and make a day of it. The shuttle runs constantly throughout the day, so you can always leave if you’ve had enough. Note: Bathrooms are porta-potties - keep in mind that you are on fairgrounds.
Results 1-8of 8 Reviews
New York, New York
January 13, 2005
From journal Jazz Fest - Nawlins Style
May 7, 2001
Instead, we encountered a record-setting crowd of 160,000 people (previous record of 98,000), we couldn't even get near any stage, people were pushy and rude. Almost immediately, we started over to the (main) Acura stage, and before we could even hear the band on the stage (much less see the stage), we ran into a wall of people and people camped out EVERYWHERE. Blankets, chairs, beer, and half-naked, sunburned people covered the ground. We were stuck, we could do nothing but be pushed along by the crowds, hoping not to lose each other.
Eventually, we had shuffled far enough were we could actually see the stage, and by then we realized that there was NO WAY we were going to be able to sit down. So, the only way out was to start climbing over people and their blankets. People were not happy about this, but there wasn't much they could do about it. An hour later, we were back where we started, but at least we were out of the crowd.
From there, we decided we could still go catch Mystikal on the Congo Stage. So, we made it over there, found a spot very far away from the stage (the closest we could get), and sat down. As the time for him to start approached, more and more people crowded in the stage area, but not near as bad as over at the Acura stage. We waited over an hour for Mystikal to come onstage. No announcements, apologies, NOTHING. He was supposed to play for only an hour - what could be taking so long!? Eventually, we decided we were fed up with this mess, we'd been there for almost 3 hours, hadn't seen one band, it was way too crowded, so we left.
Hopefully, based on this year's crowds, maybe they'll change their ticket-selling policies. They just sold WAY too many tickets. If there had been an emergency, or a riot, I don't know what they would have done. It was insane. Tickets were $18 via ticketmater (inc service charge), but we also paid $12 for a RT bus ticket to/from the fairgrounds from our hotel (the Crescent on Canal).
The good parts of Jazz Fest were the weather (it was gorgeous), the mango freezes (yum!), the interesting booths of artwork and displays, and the people-watching (Jazz Fest attracts all types).
From journal Jazz Fest Weekend in New Orleans
by montana boy
May 17, 2006
From journal Jazz Fest 2006
January 7, 2001
From journal The Big Easy- on the inside!
las vegas, Nevada
September 10, 2000
From journal "Laissez Les Bon Temps Roulez" Let the Good Times Roll
February 20, 2005
From journal Springtime in New Orleans
North Liberty, Iowa
December 18, 2002
From journal New Orleans - The NON-Bourbon Street Version
February 18, 2003
What to expect:
* Several stages (10-20+), with a different artist on each stage. At any one given time, you can choose between 10+ acts.
* Various musical acts from all around the country, ranging from famous New Orleanians (the Nevilles), to Popular Stars (Lil' Romeo, Better than Ezra) to local church and school choirs.
* Various types of food, with lots of homegrown New Orleans choices, like Seafood po' boys, gumbo, crawfish etoufee, crawfish bread, fried okra, etc. For the unadventurous type, there's also stuff like turkey legs, chicken, and pasta. And lots and lots of drinks. Smoothies, Lemonade, and of course, beer!!
* Several areas with booths, like a crafts fair. You'll be able to view and purchase anything from custom made dog bowls, to ties, to scarfs.
* Areas with cultural exhibits, similiar to indoor museums with movies, slides, pictures, etc.
Also, be prepared for:
* The HOT New Orleans sun. Do not underestimate this. Best way to dress: shorts (or light pants, flowy long skirts), and a tank top. You may want to keep another t-shirt on that you can easily remove. Many also wear bathing suit tops.
* No chairs. This is outdoors, you WILL be sitting in the grass. And mud. Bring a picnic blanket.
*No parking. Unless you want to walk blocks, try using the Free Shuttle service. You can park at City park, or other locations around town, and be shuttled. Saves a lot of time/effort.
* Food/Drinks are a bit expensive, so try sneaking some bottled water in with you!
* Don't forget a camera! And pen, for autographs
* Buy tickets at the door to save the Ticketmaster service charge
* When eating, if you're okay with missing out on the music for a bit, go sit in the museum (or one of the covered presentation Q&A areas) for air conditioning
* See the inside areas for bathrooms (clean) as well to avoid those Port O Potties.
Jazz Fest is a GREAT experience, whether you love music, culture, or having a good time! Make sure you check it out!
From journal New Orleans - Party Capital of the World!