Let’s paint a picture. One with crowds of people dressed in a wide array of costumes. Some of them are rather frightening, while others decide to take a more comical route, wearing everything from the Looney Tunes characters to the Power Rangers. These costume-clad people are gathered around an arrangement of stages at one of the most anticipated festivals of the year. Whether they are visiting tourists from across the world or from Middle America or die-hard locals … Voodoo Music + Arts Experience has been casting its alluring spell on the masses since the late 1990s.
The popular festival, commonly referred to by fans as “Voodoo Fest,” has become one of the highest grossing festivals in New Orleans. With each passing year, the festival brings on newer and bigger talents. In return, the audience for the festival continues to grow, causing the festival grounds to regularly expand their boundaries.
The growing success and popularity of the festival has had tremendous effects on one of the city’s favorite holidays, Halloween. With the festival being held during the spooky holiday weekend, Voodoo Fest has attracted even more people to the city, bringing in more money during that already-popular time of year. Along with costume revelers strolling down Bourbon and Frenchmen Streets and attending Boo at The Zoo, Voodoo Festival has become a Halloween tradition.
But what is it about this festival? Why are so many people fascinated with the festival? Maybe, just maybe, there’s some Voodoo behind the Voodoo Music + Arts Experience.
Beginning in 1999, Voodoo Fest started out as a small festival inside of City Park’s Tad Gormley Stadium. The one-day event inevitably gained an extra day the following year. As the popularity grew, a third day was added, creating a three-day Halloween weekend extravaganza. Voodoo Festival continues to gain attention with its top-tier headliners. In over a decade, Voodoo Fest has featured everyone from Eminem to Pearl Jam, Snoop Dogg, Metallica, Red Hot Chili Peppers, The Black Keys, KISS, Outkast, Duran Duran, 50 Cent, Skrillex and so many more.
Not only is the fest famous for its major acts, but it’s also well known for its local and alternative-indie scene. Voodoo Festival hosts a wide variety of unique bands from around the world.
While the festival lives by the slogan, “Worship the Music,” music isn’t the only outstanding site at Voodoo Fest. Some of the city's best food vendors and restaurants serve up local cuisine at the festival. Along with delicious food, you can view several fantastic interactive art installations located all over the festival grounds, including the famous VOODOO sculpture. These sculptures and installations are created by pioneering artists from all over the world waiting for viewers to “Worship the Arts.”
Over the years, there have been many other majestic adventures at the Voodoo Fest, including fair rides, photo booths and arts & crafts stations provided by various advertisers.
With more than a decade of time under its belt, Voodoo Festival has taken over Halloween weekend with its spellbinding musical acts and its alluring charm. But is there an unexplainable Voodoo to the Voodoo festival?
There’s a large sense of appeal when it comes to the supernatural stories of Voodoo.
Every Voodoo store in New Orleans is selling Voodoo dolls by the dozens, waiting for bitter patrons and curious tourists to stick needles in them, wishing pain on their enemies. There are the tales of the Voodoo Queen, Marie Laveau, and her magical potions and healings of people in need. All of these items represent the witchcraft and fantasy of the “Hollywood” view of Voodoo—that misrepresented practice that we all love to fear.
But when the Hoodoo is taken out of the Voodoo, the actual religion is there: a real religion that is still being practiced by people all around the world from Haiti, to West Africa, to down south New Orleans.
Also known as Voudon, Voodoo is a religion that is based on various creeds and practices including unorthodox medical practices, which in many cases have been interpreted into the practice of witchcraft.
In fact, Voodoo is not only an African religion brought over during slavery, but also a blended religion with roots in Africa and in Roman Catholicism. The religion tends to incorporate facets from both religions, connecting many of the African Gods and deities with the Saints of the Catholic religion.
While historians have yet to pinpoint the actual origin of the Voodoo religion, it is said to be rooted and still heavily practiced in some West African countries.
Tying the Voodoo to the Voodoo Fest
How does Voodoo relate to the Voodoo Music + Arts Experience?
Well, there’s an automatic theme of Voodoo at the festival. One must “Worship the Music” and one must “Worship the Art.” Sometimes, there’s even an altar where you can leave some gifts and offerings—a traditionally styled altar usually with information about Voodoo and its practices. There’s also the eerie vibe of a festival being held in the middle of City Park during one of the spookiest times of the year, in one of the city's oldest neighborhoods.
There are many aspects about the Voodoo at the Voodoo Fest. However, the truth is that the festival is not about the Voodoo but more about the experience. The people attending, the music, the arts, the food, the vibe, and all of the in-betweens are what make the festival so magical.
The festival's name is simply a clever, very clever, ode to the ironic and misunderstood nature, traditions and culture of the city that hosts it. The mystical and magical vibe that patrons get while attending the festival is a vibe that is absolutely inescapable when surrounded by so much talent, culture and art. There’s no secret to why the festival is said to attract “the mystics, madmen, femme fatales, gods, goddesses and music lovers of all kinds under one collective consciousness.”
Like the city of New Orleans itself, Voodoo Fest is said to be one big pot of gumbo filled with a piece of each part of the city’s culture and blended with the various cultures around the world.
Voodoo Festival is not your average musical festival … it is an experience.
...And that’s the Voodoo behind the Voodoo Music + Arts Experience.