[Courtesy of Where Y'at Staff]

Insider Tips for Navigating Jazz Fest

07:00 April 22, 2024
By: Kimmie Tubré

Survival of the Festist

Can you believe that festival season is here already? Well, it is, and New Orleans is pretty stoked about it.

While there are many festivals to love in and around the city, Jazz Fest is among the most anticipated, raking in over 450,000 attendees last year and the year prior. Affectionately known by many as Jazz Fest, the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival stands as a testament to the dynamic cultural heritage and musical legacy of the Crescent City. Since its inception, attending the iconic festival has become a tradition for many families and has served as an annual pilgrimage for music and food enthusiasts worldwide.

Today, with 13 stages and tents, mega-star headliners, unpredictable yet very predictable weather, and larger crowds, surviving Jazz Fest may require a few insider tips. Fortunately, you have an insider who's been attending this event for many years (starting as early as rolling around the Fair Grounds in a stroller). Surviving Jazz Fest requires preparation and a willingness to immerse yourself in the unique culture and energy of the event. Here are some tips to help you navigate and enjoy the experience.

Things You Must Know Before You Go

[Courtesy of Where Y'at Staff]

Ask Mother Nature

We know that heat and rain are Jazz Fest's disagreeable cousins. Whatever day you plan to attend, be sure to check the weather. If it rains the day before, the ground will likely be muddy. While this is a fun adventure for some, it's always nice to be prepared with closed toe shoes or galoshes. Don't forget sunscreen and a hat or small umbrella to protect yourself from the sun.

Keep it Comfy

Comfort is key when you're getting ready for the festival. You'll likely be doing a lot of walking and standing, so wear comfortable shoes and clothing suitable for the weather. Having a poncho on hand is also a good idea. Chairs and blankets are your best friend.

Grab a Where Y'at Schedule

Jazz Fest features multiple stages with performances happening simultaneously. Check Where Y'at Magazine's Jazz Fest performances grid in advance and plan which artists you want to see. Be sure to allow some flexibility in your schedule as you may discover new acts or want to spend more time at a particular stage.

[Gustavo Escanelle]

Arrive Early

Jazz Fest can get crowded, especially on weekends and during popular performances. Arriving early will give you the best chance of securing a good spot, whether you like being close to the stage or off to the side and away from the dense crowd. Arriving early can also help you to avoid long lines at food and drink vendors.

Must Have Credit

While tipping in cash is accepted, that's the only time you can use it. Jazz Fest went cash-free a couple of years ago and plans to continue that this year. With that said, be sure to bring your credit card, tap, or Apple Pay for all of your purchases. You can also get a prepaid card on the festival grounds for a minimum of $500.

How to Be Your Best At The Fest

Hydration is Key

New Orleans can get hellishly hot, especially on the shadeless Fair Grounds. Make sure to stay hydrated by drinking plenty of water throughout the day. You are allowed to bring factory-sealed water bottles to save money. But, of course, you can also purchase water at the festival.

[Courtesy of Where Y'at Staff]

Eat, Drink, and Be Merry

While this may not be a survival tip for some, if you love food, this tip is essential. Jazz Fest is as much about the food as it is about the music. Take the opportunity to try some delicious Louisiana cuisine from the numerous food booths and vendors scattered throughout the festival grounds.

Breaks Are A-Okay

With so much to see and do, it's easy to get overwhelmed. Take breaks throughout the day to rest, recharge, and soak in the atmosphere. The best way to do this is to have a base. Take advantage of the friend who enjoys sitting at the same stage all day. If you don't have that friend, are a solo attendee, or forget your chair and blanket, you can always visit one of the tents for a nice seat, some shade, and some good music.

Keep it Safe

While Jazz Fest is a very safe, family-friendly festival, you still may want to be aware of your belongings and surroundings. Be sure to drink and act responsibly. If you're planning to drink alcohol, make sure to hydrate as well.

Respect the Culture

Remember that Jazz Fest celebrates New Orleans' rich cultural heritage. Respect the performers, the locals, and the traditions of the city. Take some time to explore the cultural exhibits and demonstrations happening alongside the music.

[Courtesy of Where Y'at Staff]

Live it Up

Above all, remember to have fun. Jazz Fest is a unique and vibrant experience, so take the time to enjoy the music, the food, and the company of fellow festival-goers.

Here's hoping that these few survival tips will ensure a dynamic festival experience.

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