One of dozens of delicious offerings at October's Oak Street Po'boy Festival. (©Shawn Fink)
New Orleans boasts more than 130 annual festivals, many of them food-focused. Alligator, oysters, gumbo, mirliton—if it’s edible, we’ll celebrate it. Here, we’ve mapped out the best the city’s food fetes month-by-month. Dig in, y'all!
King Cake Festival: A Mardi Gras must-have, king cake comes in a variety of flavors, both sweet and savory. Local bakeries serve up their signature takes on the Crescent City confection during this Carnival season celebration at Champions Square.
Soul Fest: New Orleans’ African-American influences are highlighted during this annual Audubon Zoo affair, which features a number of Creole and soul food vendors. Pork chop po'boys? Yes, please.
Fêtes Fest and Fêtes des Chefs: Celebrity chef John Besh cooked up Fêtes Fest as an affordable offshoot of his big-ticket/big-talent Fêtes des Chefs fundraiser, which takes place the following evening with nationally known culinary talents dishing up intimate dinners in local homes.
Top Taco New Orleans: This offshoot of the popular Top Taco Denver nods to NOLA's growing number of Mexican eateries. Chefs compete in a variety of categories (most creative, most traditional, fan favorite), while area bartenders battle it out for top margarita.
Louisiana Crawfish Festival: Mudbugs are the star attraction of this annual affair in nearby Chalmette. Crawfish pie, crawfish cake, crawfish bread, crawfish pizza, crawfish eggrolls; all hail the Crawfish Queen!
Hogs for the Cause: What began as a small cook-off among friends has morphed into a wildly popular pork-a-thon. Close to 100 award-worthy barbecue teams compete while you pig out on the results.
NOLA FoodFest: Regional specialties from around the nation (Philly cheesesteak, Memphis barbecue) join with local faves (gumbo, jambalaya) in this two-day chow fest. Save room for the beignet-eating contest.
French Quarter Fest and Jazzfest: Most New Orleans food fetes incorporate music—and vice versa. But the two receive near-equal billing at the French Quarter Festival and New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival. French Quarter Fest claims “the World’s Largest Jazz Brunch,” while Jazzfest counts 70-plus must-try food vendors.
New Orleans Wine & Food Experience: More than 1,000 vintages from world-renowned wineries, award-worthy cuisine by leading local chefs and dozens of restaurants offering vino-paired menus—that’s the recipe for success behind this foodie fantasy.
New Orleans Greek Festival: The oldest Greek Orthodox congregation in the U.S. mounts this celebration of the city’s Greek culture. Stuffed grape leaves, fried calamari, souvlaki, goat burgers, feta fries and homemade pastries...Opa!
New Orleans Oyster Festival: Bivalve lovers, come out of your shells. The city’s leading seafood restaurants serve up incredible oyster dishes while live acts perform along the Mississippi riverfront during this annual ode to ersters.
Tales of the Cocktail: Bartenders and distillers from around the globe take part in this annual booze fest. But you don’t have to be in the industry to get into the spirit of things; restaurants join in the fun with special “spirited” menus.
COOLinary New Orleans: With dozens of eateries offering specially priced prix-fixe menus throughout the month, this way-cool summertime dining promotion makes the dog days bearable.
Daiquiri Season New Orleans: This Tales of the Cocktail offshoot offers sweet relief from end-of-summer heat, with city bars and restaurants serving kicked-up versions of the frozen concoction.
We Live to Eat Restaurant Week: Hungry for a great dining deal? You’re in the right town at the right time. Numerous fine-dining venues offer budget-minded, two-course lunch and three-course dinner menus. Never eaten at Antoine’s? Here’s your chance.
Louisiana Seafood Festival: Seafood fans get their fill during this salute to the glories of the Gulf and the state’s waterways. From alligator and oysters to crab and shrimp, get a taste of it all while chefs conduct demos and live bands perform.
Fried Chicken Festival: Area eateries weigh in with their trademark takes on this deep-fried classic. Bone up for the chicken wing eating contest.
Crescent City Blues and BBQ Fest: This annual celebration of two Southern staples spotlights regional blues legends and local pit masters.
Oak Street Po-Boy Festival: Established in the wake of Hurricane Katrina in an effort to “preserve the po'boy,” this homespun happening draws thousands to Oak Street, where dozens of vendors vie for top honors.
Boudin Bourbon & Beer: Emeril Lagasse, local James Beard Award winners Donald Link and Stephen Stryjewski and other top chefs from around the nation pay homage to the state's signature sausage with this perennially packed pork-out.
Carnivale du Vin: Named one of the Top 10 charity wine auctions by Wine Spectator, this tony affair, a fundraiser for the Emeril Lagasse Foundation, pairs world-famous vintners with top-notch national chefs.
Bywater Mirliton Festival: Mirliton—aka chayote—once grew like weeds throughout the Bywater neighborhood. Now “the unofficial squash of New Orleans” is making a comeback, thanks to this annual autumnal event.
Tremé Gumbo Festival: All gumbos great and small are the focus of this deliciously fun event conducted by the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Foundation. Warm up and get down to live bands in Armstrong Park.
Reveillon Dinners: During the 1800s, locals would gather for multicourse meals following Christmas Eve Mass. Now they’re served throughout December at restaurants citywide. Restaurant bars make things even merrier with holiday drink specials.