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French Quarter Festival
New Orleans, La.
April 2012

The French Quarter Festival is a free festival featuring New Orleans musicians on 21 stages throughout the French Quarter for four days each April. Locals told us the bigger and better-known New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival a couple of weeks later is for tourists, but natives go to the French Quarter Festival.

The French Quarter Festival was to celebrate its 30th year of presenting music in every genre, from traditional and contemporary jazz to R&B, New Orleans funk, brass bands, folk, gospel, Latin, zydeco, classical, cabaret and international, in 2013. More than 574,00 people attended the 2012 festival over the course of its four days, according to the festival website.

We wish we had more photos, but in truth, we just happened to be in town for a professional conference when we attended the French Quarter Festival in 2012, and it hadn't occurred to us at the time to create pages for out-of-state festivals on the Carolina Music Festivals site.

Our hotel room was on Canal Street; New Orleans' French Quarter is to the right, the riverfront below.

The great thing about the French Quarter Festival, besides the fact that it is free and the music is great, is that there's so much of it. The French Quarter is always wide open, but in addition to the 21 stages, there was likely to be a musician or two - of just about any age - busking on any corner of the street when we walked the Quarter. And of course there was more inside clubs and restaurants.

We spent most of our time in Woldenberg Park, along the banks of the Mississippi River at the end of Canal Street. It has four stages (one is a kids' stage), food, souvenir and information tents, and the amenities of the park, such as benches and paved walkways.

The festival officially kicks off at the Louis-Louis Pavilion Stage (that's Prima and Armstrong), which is a permanent bandshell in Woldenberg Park.

The riverside stages are close to each other but on separate lawns divided by walkways and a few trees. The trees plus the food and souvenir tents pretty much keep the sound from one area from bleeding into another.

The festival's other stages include six around the French Market, which is just up from the northern end of Waldenburg Park, four each on Bourbon and Royale streets, one at Jackson Square and a few more closer to the riverside park.

The Abita Beer Stage, below, (they're all named for sponsors, of course) is on the largest of three lawns at Woldenberg Park. Oddly, the lawn slopes downward moving up from the river.

Below is a side view of the Capital One Bank Riverside Legacy Stage.

The food and drink tents, by the way, are manned by New Orleans restaurants and, again, we were told by locals at the conference to eat at the festival instead of worrying about getting into a restaurant. (We did both.)

It's all easily walkable, though crowded, and of course everything else the Quarter has to offer is right there, too.

Minor celebrity sighting! Melissa Harris-Perry, the MSNBC host and a Tulane University professor, was partying right behind us as New Birth Brass Band played on the Abita Beer Stage, and Pam sneaked a photo.

Return to the Carolina Music Festivals home page.

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