New Orleans is a lively city in Louisiana on the Mississippi River, located close to the Gulf of Mexico. It’s nicknamed “Big Easy” for its 24-hour nightlife, dynamic live-music scene, and spicy, unique food that reflects its past as a melting pot of French, African, and American cultures.
New Orleans is known for Mardi Gras, the late-winter celebration that is renowned for colorful costumed parades and street parties.
No matter the time of the year, a visit to this beautiful city guarantees a great time! With unforgettable special events happening throughout the entire year, warm weather, unique things to see and do around every corner and so much more, you’re bound to have a good time in New Orleans.
Keep reading to see when the perfect time will be for you to visit New Orleans.
Best Time To Visit New Orleans
There isn’t a bad time to visit New Orleans, as all of the different seasons offer something amazing to experience.
Determining the best season to visit really depends on what you want your New Orleans experience to look like. Do you want to experience the hustle and bustle of the festival season, or would you prefer to travel during the shoulder season to avoid crowds and high prices?
Spring in New Orleans – End of March to Late June
Spring is one of the greatest times to visit New Orleans because the weather is often nicer than the rest of the year: not too hot and not too wet!
April and May are the driest months of the year, with an average of only four rainy days each.
The weather during the spring months is pleasant, with average high temperatures ranging from 20 to 27 degrees Celsius.
Spring in New Orleans means you can expect plenty of fun in the sun, JazzFest, and other outdoor celebrations – making New Orleans ideal for a long weekend escape, or a complete spring break vacation!
Spring Events in New Orleans
Tennessee Williams Literary Festival: March
The Tennessee Williams & New Orleans Literary Festival is a five-day festival hosted in New Orleans’ historic French Quarter each spring that draws visitors from all over the world who will attend workshops, panels, and much more.
French Quarter Festival: April
The French Quarter Festival is a free, annual music festival held in early April in New Orleans, Louisiana’s historic French Quarter. This year, it will take place from Apr 13 – Apr 16, 2023.
New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival: April – May
The New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival is an annual celebration of local music and culture held at New Orleans’ Fair Grounds Race Course. Every year, thousands of travelers attend New Orleans for Jazz Fest!
The lineup for the 2023 event, taking place from April 28 to May 7, features performances by Lizzo, Ed Sheeran, and many other incredible artists.
Summer in New Orleans – End of June to Late September
As summer approaches, tourists leave the city as the hottest months bring the heat and humidity, leaving a trail of fantastic hotel room offers in their wake! If you’re okay with the heat, this is a wonderful time of the year to visit New Orleans and snag some great hotel rates.
Keep in mind that the average summer temperatures remain in the hot low 30s, making walking around the city during the heat of the day somewhat uncomfortable. This is also the rainiest season, so bring an umbrella for the rainy days! With the summer heat and it being hurricane season, the summer months are the cheapest time to visit New Orleans. You can find amazing hotel deals, and fewer tourists during this time.
The summer months in New Orleans also usher in a plethora of free events, including outdoor art markets, festivals, and free museum entry days. Visit a city park, go gallery hopping, cool off with some refreshing cocktails, and relax by a pool.
Summer Events in New Orleans
Essence Music Festival: June – July
The Essence Festival, sometimes known as “the party with a purpose,” is an annual music festival that began in 1995 as a one-time event to commemorate the 25th anniversary of Essence, an African-American women’s magazine. It grew to be the largest gathering of African-American culture and music in the United States.
New Orleans Wine & Food Experience: June
This is a gourmet feast throughout New Orleans featuring great chefs, fine wine, and one-of-a-kind entertainment happening June 7-11, 2023. Experience banquets, galas, grand tastings, demonstrations, seminars, promenades, and more at various venues throughout the metro area.
New Orleans Pride: June
Every year in early June (this year – June 7-11, 2023), New Orleans Pride celebrates the LGBTQ+ community in the Crescent City and beyond in the French Quarter. Pride is an excellent opportunity to see the welcoming nature of New Orleanians.
New Orleans Pride typically involves parties throughout the French Quarter, special events at Bourbon Street bars and beyond, burlesque shows, culinary events, and other activities.
Fall in New Orleans – End of September to Late December
Fall months in New Orleans provide relief from the heat and are a pleasant time of the year to travel to New Orleans. Average hotel rates remain low, and temperatures stay around the mid-20s. But make sure to keep an eye on the weather, since late August and early September are the height of hurricane season.
However, for some, New Orleans is more pleasurable to visit in the fall compared to the summer because of the more mild temperatures and the abundance of cultural events. You’re bound to experience nonstop fun, whether you’re a foodie eager to sample the best of New Orleans cuisine or take part in football season and soak up the atmosphere of a Saints game.
Fall Events in New Orleans
New Orleans Film Festival: November
With a focus on new, diverse storytellers from around the world, the New Orleans Film Festival delivers the finest in independent film to New Orleans in early November.
Beignet Fest: September
Experience New Orleans Beignets at Beignet Fest, which is held at New Orleans City Park’s Festival Grounds at the end of September. Bring your hunger and load up on delectable, decadent goodies like classic Beignets dusted with powdered sugar or unique savory Beignets filled with cheese, shellfish, and more.
Voodoo Music + Arts Experience: October
In New Orleans, there is a multi-day music and arts festival that takes place in October called the Voodoo Music and Arts Festival. On Halloween weekend, you can experience some of the top musical performers in the nation. Of course, this festival’s best attraction is the fantastic music! However, the festival experience wouldn’t be complete without the food; the three-day festival will also feature chefs from New Orleans’ best restaurants.
Winter in New Orleans – End of December to Late March
The winter months are a sweet spot in New Orleans for tourism. With normal high temperatures around 15 degrees Celsius, the city has had time to cool down, and the spring celebrations haven’t yet begun.
January is the coldest month and it is also the time just before Mardi Gras, when the city really gets busy. Because of this, January draws fewer travelers, which results in more affordable accommodation prices. It’s also a wonderful time to travel during the winter holiday season because you’ll be able to see the city decked out in festive decorations!
Once Fat Tuesday (February 21, 2023) gets closer, the Mardi Gras celebrations begin and the crowds start rolling in. With Mardi Gras season comes higher prices and large crowds, since this is the most popular time to visit New Orleans.
Mardi Gras Travel Tips:
Hotel rates are high during Mardi Gras season, so make sure to book your accommodation well in advance, even up to a year in advance for the best price. Keeping this in mind, Mardi Gras 2024 is on Feb 13, 2024.
It’s important to note that many of the city’s most popular attractions are closed during Mardi Gras, so plan a trip that doesn’t coincide with the holiday if sightseeing is your top priority.
Winter Events in New Orleans
Sugar Bowl: January
The Sugar Bowl is an annual college football bowl game in the United States that takes place in New Orleans, Louisiana. It is the second-oldest bowl game in the nation, behind only the Rose Bowl Game, and has been played every year since January 1, 1935, together with the Orange Bowl and Sun Bowl.
Mardi Gras: February
Celebrating Mardi Gras actually begins earlier than Fat Tuesday, with parades beginning weeks in advance! There are many activities to do in New Orleans during Mardi Gras and the Carnival season other than watching parades, getting dressed up in beads and masks, eating king cake, visiting Mardi Gras World (where a lot of the parade floats are created), and much more. The primary festivities for Mardi Gras 2023 will take place two weeks before the actual date, which is February 21st this year.
Check out the 2023 Mardi Gras Parade Schedule here.
Best Things To See and Do in New Orleans
The French Quarter is a must-visit destination all year round. The Vieux Carre, the city’s oldest area, is home to stunning architecture, a tonne of history, a wide variety of food and music, and a colorful cast of characters that includes long-time locals, chatty tour guides, and skilled street performers. Take in the vistas of the Mississippi from the edge of the Quarter and don’t forget to visit historic sites like the Historic New Orleans Collection.
The amazing nightlife of New Orleans is embodied by Bourbon Street. Every tourist who visits New Orleans needs to experience Bourbon Street at least once. Neon lights illuminate the street, alive with music and embellished with balconies and beads. Visit iconic bars, enjoy live music, experience luxury hotels and restaurants, and much more.
New Orleans Jazz Museum
Given that New Orleans is the location where jazz music originated, it only seems to make sense that there would be a jazz museum there. You can see and hear the history of jazz in this extensive collection of objects from the very start of the 20th century. Additionally, the museum conducts instructional programs for children (and adults, too) who want to perform jazz like the city’s jazz greats, including Louis Armstrong, Al Hirt, Louis Prima, and more. It also hosts more than 365 concerts annually.
New Orleans City Park
1,300 acres of beautifully maintained green space known as City Park are home to moss-covered oak trees, tranquil strolling trails, and native birds. Rent a swan boat at the Big Lake, take the kids to Storyland, and let your inner child loose at Carousel Gardens Amusement Park. Don’t miss the Couturie Forest, a varied nature walk that includes Laborde Mountain, which rises a remarkable 43 feet above sea level and is New Orleans’ highest point.
The French Market
The French Market has been operating since the late 18th century, and although it has changed throughout the years alongside the city, it still retains an open-air market-like atmosphere. The five-block-long French Market features a wide selection of regional foods, artwork, and retail stores. Dutch Alley, a pedestrian plaza, and the New Orleans Jazz National Park visitor center, where you may find the answers to all of your questions about jazz in the city. There are local restaurants in the area which are some of the best places to find amazing food, including a wide range of New Orleans staples such as po’boys, oysters, and more.
Visit Jackson Square
Jackson Square is a lovely French-style square modeled after Place des Vosges in Paris, France. Jackson Square is named for General Andrew Jackson, a celebrated Battle of New Orleans hero (who subsequently became President). The Jackson statue and the St. Louis Cathedral are two prominent landmarks in the French Quarter’s central square. Visitors won’t want to miss taking a trip around the region, as it is full of historic landmarks. Don’t forget to stop at the renowned Cafe du Monde for a cup of coffee and some beignets.
Brick buildings that were once warehouses have been converted into chic coffee shops, unique boutiques, and BBQ eateries in the popular Warehouse District in New Orleans. In this area you can also explore the famed National WWII Museum, see warplanes that are displayed in a towering pavilion, and view the local artwork on display at the Ogden Museum of Southern Art. Modern art galleries surround Julia Street, and at the Crescent City Farmers Market, vendors sell local food and baked goods.
If you’re looking for some unique outdoor activities in New Orleans, why not go on a swamp tour? Swap out the crowded tourist attractions of the city for peaceful surroundings and the possibility to see some local animals. Choose between sailing a boat through the wetlands or paddling on a kayak. Going on a swamp tour is an amazing way to get away from the hustle and bustle of the city and experience the natural wonders of Louisiana.
New Orleans Historic Voodoo Museum
Voodoo had a significant role in New Orleans’ past and learning the long history of New Orleans voodoo is one of the best ways to appreciate the city’s vibrant culture. This museum is dedicated to commemorating voodoo history, folklore, and its significance in modern New Orleans literature, film, and music. It is a favorite stop for voodoo experts. Locally crafted voodoo dolls, gris-gris bags, candles, and potions are available for purchase in the museum’s gift shop.
Best New Orleans Travel Guides
Fodor’s New Orleans
The local Fodor’s travel specialists in New Orleans provide guidance on everything from drinking on Bourbon Street to taking part in Mardi Gras to listening to jazz on Frenchmen Street. Maps, carefully chosen recommendations, and everything else you need to streamline your trip preparation and make the most of your time are all included in Fodor’s New Orleans travel guidebook.
Get your copy here: Fodor’s New Orleans
DK Eyewitness New Orleans
New Orleans is a city unlike any other since it is a mingling ground for cultures from Africa, the Caribbean, and Europe. This mix of influences has resulted in a city that constantly celebrates life, as proven by its contagious music, delicious cuisine, and vibrant party vibe.
With expert-led insights and guidance, thorough information on all the must-see attractions, and stunning photography and illustrations, DK Eyewitness’s guide brings New Orleans to life and transports you there like no other travel guide does. The trip of a lifetime is yours with DK Eyewitness New Orleans.
Get your copy of the travel guide here: DK Eyewitness New Orleans
The Best Time to Visit New Orleans
To sum it all up, no matter when you decide to visit New Orleans you’re sure to have a fantastic time, as each season offers something unique to experience.
Head to New Orleans in February to attend Mardi Gras if this has been on your bucket list! You could also choose to visit New Orleans between March and May, when the weather is at a comfortable temperature and the festivities are in full force. Or, if you want to avoid the craziness of Mardi Gras, choose to go in December or January when the city is its most quiet and you don’t have to worry about making hotel reservations a year in advance. Looking for the most affordable option? Travel in the summer or fall to score cheaper rates on hotel rooms.
There’s a perfect time of the year for everyone for a visit to New Orleans!
ARE YOU LOOKING FORWARD TO TRAVELING THE WORLD AGAIN?
We’ve got your back! When you’re ready to book your next getaway (maybe New Orleans?), contact one of our TierOne Travel agents. They will find the perfect place for your next vacation and will craft something incredible that is suited to your unique needs and will make sure your travel plans will be as stress-free as possible.
One call; endless experiences!
“Travel is the only thing you buy that makes you richer.” – Anonymous