Everything Fun You Can Do in New Orleans This Weekend

Celebrate crawfish season, head to a literary festival, or get outside and enjoy spring in NOLA.

As parade season winds down—don’t forget about the Irish Italian Islenos parade—and festival season gears up, it’s time to get outside and enjoy the beauty of spring. The best things to do in New Orleans this time of year typically revolve around being outdoors, listening to live music, and eating incredible food. So it’s only right that this weekend brings a slate of literary festivals for book lovers of all stripes, plus celebrations of iconic local fare like crawfish, gumbo, bourbon, and more.

Friday, March 24 – Sunday, March 26
One of the most anticipated annual springtime events, Art in Bloom at the New Orleans Museum of Art features gorgeous floral installations complementing works of art throughout the galleries. It’s pure eye candy as the art world and the natural world intertwine. This year’s theme is “Paradise Under the Palms,” so expect to see stunning tropicals on display.
Cost: $15-$20 (includes museum admission)

Friday, March 24 – Sunday, March 26
Salute our favorite seasonal crustacean by checking out the Louisiana Crawfish Festival at the Frederick Sigur Civic Center in St. Bernard Parish. There will be live music by Rockin’ Dopsie Jr. and the Zydeco Twisters, The Boogie Men, and The Topcats, plus amusement rides, activities, and, of course, tons of hot, spicy boiled crawfish.
Cost: $8-$10, pay-as-you-go rides and food

Friday, March 24 – Sunday, March 26
French Quarter
The annual Tennessee Williams New Orleans Literary Festival is a highlight for authors, scholars, actors, and Tennessee Williams fans. The schedule includes panel discussions, parties, readings, walking tours, fringe shows, performances, and writing workshops. Special events include happy hour cocktails at Peychaud’s followed by an interview and book signing with mixology maestro Neal Bodenheimer, and a Books and Beignets event featuring a discussion of Kate Chopin.
Cost: $20-$100

Friday, March 24 – Sunday, March 26
French Quarter
In conjunction with the Tennessee Williams Festival, the Saints and Sinners Literary Festival is focused on LGBTQ works of literature. Highlights include readings, panel discussions, and workshops on writing, screenwriting, and publishing, plus plenty of celebratory events. New this year, The Last Bohemia Fringe Festival promotes artists whose work exists beyond the boundaries of traditional theater. Don’t miss A Drag Brunch Named Desire at Dickie Brennan’s Bourbon House, hosted by Poppy Tooker.
Cost: $25-$150

Friday, March 24 –Saturday, March 25
CBD/Arts District
The annual New Orleans Bourbon Festival will return to the Hilton Riverside for its fifth year this weekend. Some of the best American whiskeys will be served alongside top tastes from around the Crescent City. An educational seminar series covers everything from Bourbon Basics and Mastering the Manhattan to Pairing Whiskey and Cigars. The highlight of the weekend’s events will be two grand tastings at the CAC, pairing pours from some of the country’s finest distilleries with bites from top local restaurants.
Cost: $79-$379

Friday, March 24
New Orleans East
Bring your skates and take a spin around Faubourg Brewing’s expansive park with the skaters from Big Easy Roller Derby. Get to know the pros, then hit the pavement for some retro fun on wheels. If you’re feeling adventurous, you can even sign up to join the Derby. Fete au Fete will be serving up tasty bites and of course there will be plenty of fresh beer.
Cost: Free, pay-as-you-go beer and food

Saturday, March 25 –Sunday, March 26
Armstrong Park
The Treme Creole Gumbo & Congo Square Rhythms Festival offer an unbeatable two-fer in Armstrong Park. Two stages will feature brass bands, African drumming and dancing, Mardi Gras Indians, and more. Taste your way through all manner of gumbo—from seafood, chicken, and andouille to alligator and even vegan—as well as other top-notch festival fare. There will be an arts market and kids activities too.
Cost: Free

Saturday, March 25
From Napoleon to Valmont, already-buzzing Freret Street will transform into one of the most fun neighborhood fests around this weekend. Browse dozens of art, craft, and food vendors, pop into the street’s varied businesses, and dance to the sounds of Layla Musselwhite, Margie Perez, Space & Harmony, Alvin Youngblood Hart, and more.
Cost: Free

Saturday, March 25
City Park
Even newbies will have a blast at the Big Bass Fishing Rodeo. In addition to the bank-fishing main event, contestants can reel ‘em in from kayaks or canoes on Bayou St. John. The concurrent “Fishtival” will feature music, educational exhibits, a raffle, kids’ activities, and fishing gear both new and used for sale.
Cost: $10-$25

Sunday, March 26
Central City
The Southern Food & Beverage Museum will host the Eat! Drink! SoFAB Writers Festival this weekend with a stellar lineup of culinary authors including Ian Wilson, Sue Strachan, Zella Palmer, and others whose writing highlights the food and culture of the South. Admission is free, so you can browse the museum in between book signings, meet-and-greets, and panel discussions.
Cost: Free

Sunday, March 26
Metairie Cemetery is the final resting place of many of the most prominent men and women in the business, cultural, political, and social arenas of New Orleans life. This annual fundraiser for Save Our Cemeteries is a 1-mile and 5K run/walk through the historic cemetery, which is now a national landmark. After the race, enjoy music, beer, and food at the family-friendly race party.
Cost: $30-$50

Friday, March 24 –Sunday, March 26
Meadville, Mississippi
For anyone still trying to recover from Mardi Gras and rest up before peak festival season, Getaway Homochitto in Meadville, Mississippi offers a quick escape to nature just a couple hours from New Orleans. Enjoy the peace and quiet of one of 40 cute, secluded cabins in the forest with a 1.5-mile trail leading to views of the Homochitto River.
Cost: $100-$250

Want more Thrillist? Follow us on Instagram, Twitter, Pinterest, YouTube, TikTok, and Snapchat.

Gerrish Lopez is a Thrillist contributor.