New Orleans: Festivals, Food & All That Jazz

New Orleans curves around a horseshoe bend in the Mississippi River. Nicknamed the “Big Easy”, this unique city is famous for its live music, party-til-dawn nightlife and spicy Creole cuisine. Home to the historic French Quarter and the colourful, costumed parades of Mardi Gras – a celebration that really shows off the city’s vibrant spirit.

New Orleans French Quarter
Exploring the French Quarter, the oldest section of New Orleans

There’s no denying it, New Orleans loves to throw a good party! Almost every weekend brings a new festival, and Giltedge Incentives was fortunate enough to escort a group to one of the best of them all, the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival. This phenomenal festival is held annually at the Fair Grounds Race Course outside just outside the city.

New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival

Jazz Festival at the New Orleans Fair Grounds
The festival takes place at the Fair Grounds, just outside the city

Coaches and school buses run shuttles throughout the city, taking festival-goers to the Fair Grounds, which are littered with tents, stages and hundreds of food vendors. Over seven days, close to half a million people pass through the festival, drawn by some of the finest bands, singers, groups and entertainers in the world.

New Orleans Jazz Festival 2018
Sting and Rod Stewart rocking it on the main stage

For our group, the musical highlight was the last slot each day at the main Acura stage. Here, we got to listen to Bonny Raitt, Sting and Rod Stewart belt out their oldies, crowd favourites and latest numbers. The audience loved it!

Mississippi Steamboat Cruise

Steamboat cruise on the Mississippi
Natchez is the last authentic steamboat on the Mississippi River

Along with the festival, we also visited all of the usual and unmissable New Orleans attractions. On our second day we enjoyed a jazz lunch cruise onboard the Steamboat Natchez, as it paddled along the mighty Mississippi past the old French Quarter. For all its history and romance, the excitement of riding a steamboat is as rich and genuine now as it was a century ago.

Learning to Cook the Louisiana Way

Cooking class in New Orleans
Great fun at the New Orleans School of Cooking

An absolute highlight was our visit to the New Orleans School of Cooking.  Here, we spent a fun, interactive morning learning to cook local delicacies and treats. Our host Rob, a New Orleans native, dished out cooking tips interspersed with entertaining stories of yore. Who knew the history of Bananas Foster!

Top-Rated Attraction in New Orleans

Inside the National WWII Museum
The visual and immersive exhibits at the National WWII Museum

Next, it was on to the National World War II Museum, one of the most popular and engaging attractions in New Orleans. Housed in an impressive five-building campus, this museum needs a good few hours to really get the most out of your visit. More than just a place to look at objects, it transports you back to another time and place, where you can virtually experience the challenges faced by the nations who fought in World War II. A solemn, yet profoundly moving experience!

After a couple of long days and even longer nights, it was time to board the plane for our journey home to reality – armed with memories and experiences of a lifetime.

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New Orleans is a one-of-a-kind city. And, with over 130 festivals a year, there’s a celebration for everything and everyone. Want to find our more? Drop us a message.