Wednesday, May 22, 2024

French Quarter Festival Brings Food, Music And Fun To New Orleans

The 41st annual French Quarter Festival in downtown New Orleans welcomed 950,000 guests over four days eager to experience a vibrant celebration of Louisiana music, food, and culture.  The festival is one of the largest free music festivals in the world and this year expanded upon its already vast footprint with the addition of the PosiGen Solar DJ Stage and Culinary Stage sponsored by Kingfish Kitchen & Cocktails.

Photo Credit: Tiffany Anderson/The Travel Addict
French Quarter Festival Brings Fun To New Orleans
Photo Credit: Tiffany Anderson/The Travel Addict
Photo Credit: Tiffany Anderson/The Travel Addict

Opening day began with a welcoming parade featuring four brass and marching bands including the Paulin Brothers Jazz Band and Black Magic Drumline, Homer A. Plessy Community School band, and Baby Dolls alongside local organizations and partners. “I didn’t realize there was a pre-party too!” exclaimed Tabi, who traveled in from Asheville with her friends to attend the festival for the first time. 

French Quarter Festival Brings Fun To New Orleans
Photo Credit: Tiffany Anderson/The Travel Addict
French Quarter Festival Brings Fun To New Orleans
Photo Credit: Tiffany Anderson/The Travel Addict
Photo Credit: Tiffany Anderson/The Travel Addict

The 2024 French Quarter Festival aimed to highlight New Orleans Living Legends including George Porter Jr, Little Freddie King, Irma Thomas, Kermit Ruffins, and, making his long-awaited festival debut, Ivan Neville.

French Quarter Festival Brings Fun To New Orleans
Photo Credit: Tiffany Anderson/The Travel Addict
Photo Credit: Tiffany Anderson/The Travel Addict
French Quarter Festival Brings Fun To New Orleans
Photo Credit: Tiffany Anderson/The Travel Addict
Photo Credit: Tiffany Anderson/The Travel Addict
Photo Credit: Tiffany Anderson/The Travel Addict

This year’s collectible poster was created by local artist Monica Rose Kelly. The background of the poster incorporates a design from the top of the St Louis Cathedral steeple along with a dreamy fusion of New Orleans’ classic ironwork and ethereal botanicals, along with a map of the festival stages. Kelly decided to pay homage to the contributions of female musicians by prominently featuring them on the poster. This aligns with the festival’s ethos, which aims to showcase the influential female culture bearers of New Orleans. 

French Quarter Festival Brings Fun To New Orleans
Photo Credit: Tiffany Anderson/The Travel Addict
Photo Credit: Tiffany Anderson/The Travel Addict

An abundance of talented female artists across genres were highlighted at this year’s festival. Maybe none more excited than WWOZ’s venerable DJ Leslie Cooper, whose set was unfortunately cut due to rain in 2023. With only her rich voice filling the air this year, Cooper delighted the crowd, old and young alike, filling Royal Street with dancers. 

Photo Credit: Tiffany Anderson/The Travel Addict
French Quarter Festival Brings Fun To New Orleans
Photo Credit: Tiffany Anderson/The Travel Addict
Photo Credit: Tiffany Anderson/The Travel Addict

Another standout performance of the weekend was the festival debut of The Coven, which celebrates women, queer persons, witches, and all marginalized others in popular music including Cher, No Doubt, and Fleetwood Mac. Powerhouse vocalists Arsène DeLay, Mia Borders, Kimberly Kaye, Debbie Davis, and Carolyn Broussard took turns hypnotizing the crowd, but as local legend Denise Sullivan said best, “Individually [they] are all powerfully talented, collectively [they’re] other worldly indeed!”  In agreement, Brett Milano gushed, ‘If anyone asks, “What did you hear this year that you never heard before?” I will answer War Pigs in three-part harmony!’.”

French Quarter Festival Brings Fun To New Orleans
Photo Credit: Tiffany Anderson/The Travel Addict
Photo Credit: Tiffany Anderson/The Travel Addict
French Quarter Festival Brings Fun To New Orleans
Photo Credit: Tiffany Anderson/The Travel Addict

While no stranger to performing at French Quarter Festival, Big Freedia made her solo act debut to a packed crowd on Thursday night on the Chevron Stage. Big Freedia’s commanding presence and her dancers’ electric moves delighted the crowd, solidifying her position as not only the Queen of Bounce, but a Queen of French Quarter Festival.

Photo Credit: Tiffany Anderson/The Travel Addict
French Quarter Festival Brings Fun To New Orleans
Photo Credit: Tiffany Anderson/The Travel Addict
French Quarter Festival Brings Fun To New Orleans
Photo Credit: Tiffany Anderson/The Travel Addict
French Quarter Festival Brings Fun To New Orleans
Photo Credit: Tiffany Anderson/The Travel Addict

Emmy-nominated band The Rumble featuring Chief Joseph Boudreaux Jr performed on the Jack Daniel’s Stage in its new location at Spanish Plaza, expanding French Quarter Festival into the edges of the Central Business District for the first time. When asked what the highlight of the festival is, Boudreaux said, “The people! The people give you the energy to keep going!” And the people definitely gave the energy to the band, cheering wildly and singing along to hit songs like Wildman,’ ‘Bow Down,’ and ‘My People.’ Sitting in with The Rumble on saxophone for the festival, Amari Ansari was excited to seek out new adventures after their set. “I’m going to go to every stage I can,” Ansari enthused. “Get a little sprinkle!”

Photo Credit: Tiffany Anderson/The Travel Addict
French Quarter Festival Brings Fun To New Orleans
Photo Credit: Tiffany Anderson/The Travel Addict
Photo Credit: Tiffany Anderson/The Travel Addict
French Quarter Festival Brings Fun To New Orleans
Photo Credit: Tiffany Anderson/The Travel Addict
Photo Credit: Tiffany Anderson/The Travel Addict

And there were musical downpours to be found! With over 300 performances on 22 stages, French Quarter Festival offers an abundance of acts that reflect the richness and diversity of the musical landscape in Louisiana. The gumbo of international influences could be seen in performances from Afro-Latin electro-jazz group ÌFÉ, Columbian psychedelic Cumbia band Los Guiros, Moroccan musical prodigy Mahmoud Chouki and dozens of others.

French Quarter Festival Brings Fun To New Orleans
Photo Credit: Tiffany Anderson/The Travel Addict
Photo Credit: Tiffany Anderson/The Travel Addict
French Quarter Festival Brings Fun To New Orleans
Photo Credit: Tiffany Anderson/The Travel Addict
Photo Credit: Tiffany Anderson/The Travel Addict
Photo Credit: Tiffany Anderson/The Travel Addict

The diversity in musical acts extended within the individual performances themselves, perhaps exemplified by none more than The Iceman Special. The swamp psych rock band invited special guests for turns on some of their biggest hits. Miles Lyons, who lends his talents to News Orleans Nightcrawlers, Soul Brass Band, and The California Honeydrops, joined the band on trombone giving the typically hard-hitting Iceman set a particularly deep, rich groove. For a two-song turn, including the crowd favorite ‘Expectations’, the band was joined by August Doussan and Jude Hughes, otherwise known as Hell Priests of the Burning Earth. Not only did this mark the festival debut for the Hell Priests, but it made an excellent pre-birthday gift for Jude who turned thirteen the day after the performance!

French Quarter Festival Brings Fun To New Orleans
Photo Credit: Tiffany Anderson/The Travel Addict
Photo Credit: Tiffany Anderson/The Travel Addict
French Quarter Festival Brings Fun To New Orleans
Photo Credit: Tiffany Anderson/The Travel Addict
Photo Credit: Tiffany Anderson/The Travel Addict
Photo Credit: Tiffany Anderson/The Travel Addict

Sit-ins like these and countless other magical moments are the reason nearly a million people come to the heart of New Orleans for French Quarter Festival every year. It truly is an experience not to be missed!

French Quarter Festival Brings Fun To New Orleans
Photo Credit: Tiffany Anderson/The Travel Addict

The next French Quarter Festival will be held on April 10-13, 2025

Words and photos by: Tiffany Anderson @feralphotography

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