For the past thirty years, locals from across the region and music lovers from around the world have fl ocked to the annual French Quarter Festival celebration. Held largely in Woldenberg Park, along with its surrounding areas by the river, this music, food, and cultural event has become a novelty occasion utilizing everything local. This year's festivities will be held during another beautiful spring weekend this April 11-14, and are expected to be an all-out extravaganza free to the public. Including around 20 stages of music, over 1,400 local musicians, dozens of local restaurants as well as beverage vendors, and more fun-fi lled cultural activities, the French Quarter Festival will be ringing in its 30th anniversary in true New Orleans style.
Along with bringing back many attractions used in past years, French Quarter Festivals, Inc. is also adding some new features to this year's big event. "It's our 30th anniversary this year, which means we're going to make it a little bit bigger and a little bit better than usual," says Executive Director Marci Schramm. This includes the popular Evening Concert Series, which has beenabsent for years, as well as a Battle of the Bands held Saturday evening between three traditional jazz groups on the steps of the Supreme Court building on Royal Street. Another special attraction that will close the festival is Dancing at Dusk, where a big band will play in the same spot on Royal Street and everyone is allowed to dance in the street as a ceremonial closing of the festival on Sunday evening.
A couple kid's areas will also make the event perfect for a family occasion. One area is geared towards awareness of physical fi tness, with fun activities such as a hula-hooping contest.
The other area, located on St. Louis Street at the Hermann-Grima House, provides an exciting way for young festival attendees to gain knowledge: here, local museums, such as the Louisiana State Museum, provide activities for the children to participate in while learning valuable skills.
Still, as the festival's food selection has been dubbed "The World's Largest Jazz Brunch" due to its high-class dining selection throughout the weekend, one cannot forget about the array of eats provided by past vendors like Galatoire's and Antoine's, along with some promising new vendors. Couple these amazing meals with a tidal wave of top-tier local musicians, and the bulk of French Quarter Festival is at your service.
Most musicians come from New Orleans, but many come from across the state as well. The variety of music is impressive in itself, and the stages often dictate style. Local headliners such as roots-rock favorite Honey Island Swamp Band offer quality songwriting and a New Orleans mesh of funk, blues, and southern rock. Other Crescent City acts like George Porter Jr. and his Runnin' Pardners will be there to funk things up, as the legendary bassist leads his band through some low-down tunes often reminiscent of his legendary band The Meters.
Other jazz favorites like dynamic contemporary jazz group Astral Project, who started in New Orleans over 30 years ago, also grace stages across the festival. Groups such as the Preservation Hall-Stars take over in support of the city's traditional jazz roots, and no one can forget about brass bands new and old. One of those is the Brass-A-Holics, who've pulled in a dynamic range of infl uences to bring their audiences a sound that contains the core elements of a New Orleans brass band—trombone, saxophone, trumpet, and sousaphone—while accentuating a go-go funk appeal by adding things like keyboard and a full drum kit. Still more traditional brass bands like the legendary Treme Brass Band can also be enjoyed over the weekend of live music.
Finally, an array of Zydeco acts will host audiences on the Zydeco Stage. The famous Lost Bayou Ramblers, who combine a rock element with the traditional Cajun music tradition, will be one of the many Lafayettebased bands to perform at this year's event.
In any case, for any genre and any person, French Quarter Festival provides a fun-fi lled weekend of Louisiana fl avor for all to enjoy. "That's why people love French Quarter Festival," explains Schramm. " It's all these great restaurants and all this local music…It's just the ultimate New Orleans experience."
For more information on the festival and all its happenings, please visit www.fqfi.org.