French Quarter Festival
Unlike the paraded and celebrations of Mardi Gras, there is one festival in New Orleans that focuses on the rich community that is known as the French Quarter. It’s largely hidden within New Orleans under the shroud of numerous bars, hotels, and shops, so for a total of four days in April, this community is an open page that celebrates its existence and vitality among a city that’s seen it all!
Do You Really Understand The French Quarter?
It’s easy to judge a book by its cover when it comes to the colorful masked party festival known as Mardi Gras. Most of these events wind through the French Quarter and the legendary Bourbon Street. Historically, the French Quarter is as old as the birth of the US and has significant parts of its long and rich history tied to Spain, long before France had anything to do with it.
Much of the older décor still employs the Spanish concept of semi-fortified street design with walled-off courtyards and adjoining brick wall buildings. The elegance of wrought iron gates and balconies is not French but Spanish. Well after the Louisiana Purchase and following the Battle for New Orleans in 1815, the city was a mishmash of culture that benefited from the Slave Trade through cotton, sugar, and obviously slaves.
By the end of the Civil War, the city was once again plunged into economic turmoil with many Creoles moving out of New Orleans. It was largely occupied by a new wave of Sicilians who were driven by famine into empty mansions throughout the French Quarter. Much of the city struggled to reclaim its former glory and became a refuge for the down-trodden of society.
This is perhaps why it became a Mecca for musicians, writers, and artists who heard of the freewheeling dystopia that became the model for what was later named “The Big Easy”. Had it not been for the birth of Jazz and the revitalization that New Orleans was able to build upon, the city would otherwise look more like modern-day Detroit. Obviously, the concept of marketing, tourism, and more festivals than any other city in America play an important part.
The Creation Of The French Quarter Festival
A new concept began in 1984 to help bring back residents to the French Quarter and start with extensive rehabilitation to this part of the city that was in dire need of repair. It was a bold move that saw the rebuilding of sidewalks and revitalized business for those who resided there for the last century.
The result was a concept that not only gave local residents empowerment to improve the image of the city but a portion of New Orleans that would once again regain a sense of renewed strength within the community and provide an image that wasn’t just bars and sleazy strip clubs of the late 70s and 80s.
Now in its 38th year, this lucrative festival has bloomed into a widespread event that attracts locals and tourists alike to a 4-day event like no other. The most innovative part is that the organizers of this festival can benefit from the help of local community volunteers. They place a heavy influence on making this event primarily a celebration of local musicians, artists, and restaurants in addition to the wide variety of cultures and lifestyles.
This year, the festival returns to the French Quarter from April 21-24th, 2022, and is promising to make up for their cancellation in 2021 due to COVID-19. This year’s event will feature food, entertainment, and more than 25 musical stages placed all throughout the French Quarter. All musicians and entertainers will be announced shortly but we did get a sneak peek at the food lineup that covers a lot of ground.
This is a huge event that is going to need serious planning before you go. With that in mind, you’ll want to map out where you want to be and which days are best for you. As always, there are plenty of supporting hotels and places to stay for this festival too. For a better understanding of how this is working you can check out this info page that tells you more about planning this year’s French Quarter experience.
The entire event is free, although there is an option to up your game by using VIP Family Passes. This VIP access passes provide you with great VIP hospitality lounges, free snacks, drinks, and entry to stage risers that the general public can’t reach. If you’re serious about getting to see more of the French Quarter than ever before, this is your best ticket to see more than you could ever expect.