Description of Jazz Fest by Dan Rabin
The annual New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival, or simply Jazz Fest, is a massive springtime music and cultural festival that takes place over two consecutive weekends in late April and early May. Many music lovers of all ilk consider it the country’s premier music festival and return year after year. Others have called it the best party in America.
The name Jazz Fest is somewhat misleading, as jazz is only one component of the festival’s musical offerings. Performers represent a wide range of genres including jazz, rock, blues, gospel, R & B, Cajun, zydeco, folk, bluegrass, African, Caribbean and Latin. Non-stop performances take place on a dozen stages scattered around the festival site. In addition to music, there’s a huge selection of regional cuisine, arts and crafts booths, second line parades and numerous other attractions.
Jazz Fest tips by Andreas Preuss | photos by Charlie London
Best to take a cab, ride a shuttle, bike or walk. Just like during Mardi Gras, streets around the New Orleans Fair Grounds will be clogged with traffic and city law enforcement. There are also some for-hire shuttle buses from downtown and French Quarter locations. The event provides free and secure bike parking, and I’ve been biking to the Fest in recent years. That way I can maximize my Fest time instead of looking for a legal parking spot. If you do travel by bike, remember to wear a helmet; New Orleans streets have lots of potholes, and drivers are not always bike-friendly.
Navigating the music
Check out the “cubes” on the Jazz Fest website. The time-slot stage boxes help you schedule your movements during the Fest, optimizing your music listening experience for each stage. I print one out, circle my must-do’s and then hit the stages.
The New Orleans Fair Grounds becomes a city, with thousands of people navigating just about every pavement, sidewalk and grassy way. Having your plan in hand is a great way to take it all in. But also be flexible and let the happenstance music take you away. A small local act can be more inspiring than a big national touring group in many ways.
For the rest of the article, please visit the link: http://www.cnn.com/2010/TRAVEL/04/23/jazzfest.traditions/
TIPS BELOW FROM FAUBOURG ST. JOHN NEIGHBOR MICHAEL LUKE
Step 1: Tickets
Volunteering at Jazz Fest is a surefire way to get in for cheap, i.e. free, though it must be done early in the year and requires working part of the day. If you do buy tickets, buying them as soon as they go on sale is essential to save the most money on tickets – or buy weekend packages. The tickets for individual days traditionally go up as the Fest gets closer. To save money, buy your tickets ahead of time at the Superdome box office. If you are taking children, remember that tickets for children age 2 to 10 are $5, but they are available only at the gate.
Step 2: Packing the Essentials
Next to a hat, comfortable shoes and sunglasses, a backpack is indispensable for a day at the Fair Grounds, and there are several things that should always be inside said backpack:
- A small, six-pack size soft-sided cooler.
- Water and food. Jazz Fest allows a one-liter bottle of water, which must be sealed. Inside your cooler should be that bottle, a bag of ice in a sealed bag to prevent the ice from leaking and keeping your water cold, and a couple pieces of fruit. Oranges and bananas are perfect.
- Sunscreen. A must.
- Should it rain, or if rain seems remotely likely pack a re-sealable plastic bag — this is what your wallet, camera, cell phone, etc. goes inside to stay dry — and a small foldable raincoat or poncho.
- A small, emergency supply of toilet paper. Crude, yes, but also a possible life-saver or a stand-in for a napkin if needed. A pack of wet wipes can also serve here as well.
Don’t bring a chair. Controversial, but a fact. They’re laborious to carry around unless you want to camp at one stage for an entire day. (If you have trouble standing, a portable, compact stool makes life a whole lot easier, but don’t forget the seats in the tents and inside the Grandstand. Those can be an oasis for your weary legs.)
Step 3: Don’t drive there
Don’t drive there. This goes for locals and tourists alike. There is next to nowhere to park, and it costs a pretty penny if you do find a spot. If you must bring your car, park here. (Lagniappe tip for out-of-towners: Don’t pay locals to park on the street near the Fair Grounds. This common practice is illegal, a scam; it is public parking on the street. Also, don’t park illegally. You will get a ticket or get towed.) Also, forget trying to get a cab. Besides the expense, you’re competing against thousands all trying to get a cab at the same time and all trying to get to Jazz Fest.
If you can, ride a bicycle or take the bus.
Here’s the RTA info for public transportation to get to near Jazz Fest, requiring a walk for a couple of blocks:
- Coming from the French Quarter: Canal Streetcar Line – Stops 4 blocks from Fair Grounds’ Gate
- Coming from Uptown / River Bend: (Audubon Zoo, Xavier University, Canal Streetcar, Rouses Supermarket, Museum of Art) Bus Line 32-Leonidas – Stops 4 blocks from Fair Grounds’ Gate
- Coming from Irish Channel / Garden District / CBD / Esplanade: (Cemeteries Transit Center, Delgado Community College, City Park, Museum of Art, Fairgrounds, Canal Street, Canal Streetcar, St.Charles Streetcar, Wal-Mart) Bus Line 91-Jackson/Esplanade – Stops 2 blocks from Fair Grounds’ Gate
- Coming from New Orleans East: (Village De L’Est, Winn-Dixie Supermarket, Chef Menteur Highway, Fairgrounds, Dillard University, Canal Streetcar) Bus Line-94 Broad – Stops 2 blocks from Fair Grounds’ Gate
- The RTA suggests pre-purchasing a boarding pass, arriving to the bus stop early, and being courteous to other riders and patient with the increase need for service. Fare is $1.25 per ride.
- The RTA “Jazzy Pass” is valid for unlimited rides and transfers on the entire RTA fleet.
For more information how to create your transit itinerary and where to purchase a Jazzy Pass, visit www.norta.com, find NewOrleansRTA on Twitter and Facebook or contact the RTA Customer Care Ride Line at 504-248-3900.
A listing of some bicycle rentals places: http://www.neworleansonline.com/tools/transportation/gettingaround/bicycling.html
If you ride a bike, there are racks at both entrances — Sauvage and Gentilly — but they fill up fast, and you’ll need to bring your own lock.
Step 4: Pack some food and forget drinking alcohol
This isn’t the easiest rule to abide by – a cold beer is delightful at the Fest under the Louisiana sun and as is a tall Strawberry Lemonade. The problem is either isn’t cheap, same goes for sodas, $4, and bottled water, $3.
The food at the Fest likely the hardest to skip – in fact, it’s probably impossible – which is why the suggestion is to skimp on the food, not skip. Bringing in some snacks like fruit or a granola bars helps in that department. When you do decide to grab a bite, look for the food that delivers the biggest bang for your buck, like BBQ ribs or turkey leg plate near the Jazz Tent.
When you finish with the water bottle you brought in, don’t throw it away. There are several places to get free water inside the Fair Grounds: Water fountains inside the Grandstand and three water stations, which are marked on the Jazz Fest map.
Step 5: Bring cash
Even with these tips, you’ll likely need cash. The Fest does have several ATMs, but if these aren’t your bank, you’ll be hit with the service charges, and the lines for them can get long. Would you rather see music or stand in the ATM line? (If you do need to bite the bullet and use an ATM, go early in the day when crowds are smaller and the lines are still short.)
Step 6: Have fun