Everything You Should Definitely Do in New Orleans This Summer

Hot time, summer in the city, amiright? [Author checks smartphone, sees exactly how dated that reference is, fails to apologize] Yeah, everyone knows that it’s humid and terrible in New Orleans during the hottest of months, but that doesn’t mean the 504 is any less fun, if you’re up for wading through it. Plus, there are scads of cool and cooling events in town to keep you occupied until everything turns into football. Here are our favorites.


Drink a beer on the Ferris wheel at June Under the Moon

Here are some words for you: Wacky Shack, miniature train, carousel, Tilt-a-Whirl, Musik Express, bumper cars, Slime Buckets, Coney Tower, Scrambler, and a Ferris wheel with a view of the Superdome. Also: beer and cocktails, all in the most glorious municipal park in the country. Plus beer and cocktails, because this is NOLA. No excuses for missing this one, friends.

Quaff a brew at the New Orleans International Beer Festival

Well, hell, the name says it all, doesn’t it? Granted, pretty much any day in NOLA is a beer festival, but this one will have some really cool stuff going on if you’re into the brew-o-logical sciences.

Shuck ‘em and suck ‘em at the New Orleans Oyster Festival

So you’d imagine it to be counterintuitive to throw an oyster festival in June, right? Nope! Our warm waters help cultivate beautiful bivalves year-round, and you can have ‘em every which way at this shindig: from fried to charbroiled, and naturally, even raw.

Get down with your bad self at the 610 Stompers "Ball Crawl"

Maybe you didn’t make it past the try-outs this year, but that doesn’t mean you can’t revel with the "Ordinary Men with Extraordinary Moves." This is their time to shine -- and it could be yours, too. It’s a pub crawl and party for the ages. Well, ages 21 and up, of course. Tickets are 40 clams, but donations are also readily and happily accepted. Check website for details.

Try ‘maters and more ‘maters at the French Market Creole Tomato Festival

Anyone who tells you that "New Orleans doesn’t have seasons" is a dirty, dirty liar, and probably from Atlanta. Of course we have seasons -- and of course most of them are food-related. During summer, that means glorious local tomatoes in all their splendor, which you’ll find at the festival in abundance... and in super-cool preparations. Plus, this is the 30th anniversary of the fest, so be prepared for gazpacho and bloodies for all!

Show off your New Orleans Pride

Ah, Pride. When New Orleans turns into a tumult of rainbows, fierce outfits, and super-talented drag queens. There are different events going on all over that you should consider checking out, but expect pretty much the entire city to be full-on fabulous this weekend.

Cut a rug at the Louisiana Cajun-Zydeco Festival

We refuse, categorically, to make snide Cajun jokes about this fest, only to say that if ice-cold beer, cowboy boots, and a classic two-step dancing doesn’t make your heart happy, your sense of fun is abnormally skewed, and we hope you get that fixed right soon.

Get your ESSENCE on!

You can expect R&B and soul at ESSENCE Fest... but we’re guessing this is going to be one for the ages. Expect Prince tributes galore (RIP, Purple One). Tyra, Kendrick, P-Diddy, Maxwell, they’ll all be there. Will you?


Ooh and ahh over the Independence Day French Quarter Fireworks

Well, it wouldn’t be July Fourth in 'Murica without blowing some stuff up, right? As per tradition, the NOLA version of this spectacle happens on river barges, and is free to all. USA! USA!

Get chased down at the San Fermin in Nueva Orleans

Who needs bovines and a plane ticket to Spain to enjoy the running of the bulls? Not NOLA! Granted, our "bulls" are kick-ass roller-derby girls, and the chances for goring are significantly slimmer. But hey, you’re going to look sexy as all get-out in that white ensemble and red scarf.

Get your Francophone fix at the French Film Festival

There’s plenty of smoking and existential ennui to be found at this film fest, which is growing each and every year... so make sure to get your tix in advance, Marcel.

Get your revolution on at the Bastille Day Fête

Well, given the rich French history of NOLA, it would be just plain silly not to plan a fête for Bastille Day, right? There’ll be plenty of wine, cheese, and revelry -- and thankfully, no guillotines.

Experience the glory that is Tales of the Cocktail

The One and Only. What was once a humble meeting of likeminded mixologists has become the gold standard for the hooch industry, with loads of seminars, tastings, and -- this being NOLA -- the high likelihood of favorably unsavory activities. If you need a primer in contemporary cocktail culture, this is a great one.

Celebrate the amazing women in your life at FestiGals

This one is all about the ladies, ladies: FestiGals is here for empowerment and education, but also a hell of a good time, for a hell of a good cause. And dudes can come, too! (If accompanied, clearly.) There will be the largest second line parade for women in NOLA, and a "Bodacious Bra Challenge," to boot. Sign. Us. Up.


Defeat the mugginess of a NOLA August at COOLinary New Orleans

August in NOLA, for lack of a better word, sucks. This is no mystery to anyone who lives here. That said, we have COOLinary (get it!) to take the edge off with tasty morsels and dining deals all month long.

Get down at the Satchmo SummerFest

New Orleans famously birthed jazz, but that kid would have been nothing if not for Louis Armstrong. One of the most fun (and elucidating) summer events in NOLA, this one celebrates not just Satchel Mouth and his prodigious talent, but the glory and history that we know as "trad jazz" in NOLA. Get ready for live music events, lectures, and more for everyone to enjoy.

Look and feel cool as a cucumber at Whitney White Linen Night

Fancy Schmancy! If ever there were a moment to enjoy both the arts scene in NOLA and wear summer Southern styles, including the eponymous fabric (which, we have to admit, is genius in wicking away the humidity) this is the one.

Join in the fun at the Red Dress Run

This fun run may have jumped the shark a decade ago, but that’s not stopping New Orleanians from joining in the madness. Get in, or get out, it’s up to you -- but the truth is, it’s a hell of a party.

Throw down at Dirty Linen Night

People might call it a "follow-up" to White Linen night, but that’s pure Crescent City snobbery in action. This art crawl is for y’all (see what we did there?). Come all ye unwashed masses, and enjoy!

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Scott Gold is a writer in New Orleans who has really nice legs that show up well in a red dress, at least according to his wife. Follow him on Twitter @scottgold.