What to Do in February in New Orleans

This post covers things to do in February in New Orleans (updated for 2019), including a top 10 list, free events, things to do at night and family-friendly activities. 

 

 


TOP 10 THINGS TO DO IN FEBRUARY 

This section covers our top 10 activities that you can enjoy in New Orleans in February. Many of the events listed here are good for a night out in New Orleansfamily-friendly, or free. Sometimes all three! You’ll find lots of ideas in all sections as there is some overlap. 

For tips on the most popular activities in New Orleans, check out our ghost, swamp, plantationriverboat, and dinner cruise posts.

Many of these items are already included for free with the purchase of a tourist discount pass.

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1) Mardi Gras Parades

Though Mardi Gras falls on March 5, 2019, February has plenty of Mardi Gras parades and festivities to partake in. Most Mardi Gras parades are at night and are free to attend. These parades can be quite ‘adult-themed’ so if you are traveling with children to stick with one of the children’s parades we list below in the family-friendly section.  

 

 
Most parades occur on the weekend days and nights, but not all of them. Check the official schedule for dates, times and Krewes.

To learn about Mardi Gras beads and other traditions, see our post about Mardi Gras and Carnival Season.


2) See a Concert 

A rock band on stage

So many great bands are in town this month, it would (almost) be easy to forget about all the Mardi Gras festivities.

Here’s a list of our picks for this month’s shows:

For more concerts, check our post about finding live music in New Orleans.


3) Sightseeing Tours

February is a great time to see the sights. The weather is mild but not cold and the city is in a festive mood. 

Look no further than our pay-what-you-like walking tours. We offer tours of the French Quarter, the Garden District, ghost tours, cemetery tours, voodoo tours, and food tours.

 

 
We even have GPS-guided audio tours.

There’s no cost or obligation to sigh up to our tours. You pay only at the end of the tour what you think it was worth or what you could afford. You can see our live tour calendar here.

The city also has numerous bus tours, including one double-decker, hop-on-hop-off option, as well as tours to the swamps and plantations surrounding the city.


4) See a Sports Event

A great family-friendly way to spend an evening is to go see the New Orleans Pelicans play basketball. Their home court is the Smoothie King Center and you will have several opportunities to see a game. Find dates and tickets here

 

 


5) Eat King Cakes

For those who aren’t aware, King Cake is a traditional dish typically served during Mardis Gras festivities. It’s also one of the top 13 foods you must try in NOLA. Unless you have eaten a king cake, you haven’t truly experienced New Orleans. 

 

 
The history of king cakes goes back to the Middle Ages. Today, king cakes are baked treats with a trinket inside, usually, a plastic baby said to represent the Christ child.  The video below explains more. Also, King Cakes are part of our pay-what-you-wish French Quarter Food Tour.


6) Watch The Rock ‘n’ Roll Marathon

This well-known marathon occurs on February 10, 2019, starting at 7:30 am. What makes this a Rock ‘n’ Roll Marathon is that there are dozens of local bands stationed along the entire 26-mile route to give runners extra encouragement. It is free to watch the marathon so this means you can see some great New Orleans bands for free!

 

 

The marathon route passes through the French Quarter and the Garden District


7) Church in the Crescent Exhibit 

St.-Louis-Cathedral-New-Orleans-French-Quarter s

The Church in the Crescent is an exhibit exploring the Catholic Church’s three centuries in the crescent city. Held at the Old Ursuline Convent, it focuses on the St. Louis Cathedral from its beginnings as a small wooden church to its present-day structure.

This special exhibit features records and artifacts dating back to the late 1700s. There is also a lot of information regarding the importance of the Ursulines Sisters and their contribution to education in New Orleans.  

For help planning your visit, see our post about the Old Ursuline Convent Museum. For more background on St. Louis Cathedral, read our post.


8) Black History Month

Celebrate black culture at a family-friendly event like Get Yah Praise On, a gospel show on February 16, at the Audobon Zoo. You can also find special exhibits at museums and institutions that are open year-round. Click here for more information.

For a look into the darker times in black history, you can visit Whitney Plantation, the only plantation that focuses solely on the experience of enslaved people. The plantation serves as a museum featuring artwork, narratives and restored buildings that capture the conditions of the slaves who worked on the plantation.

 

 
Find out more about visiting the Whitney Plantation or others by reading our post comparing the different plantations in the New Orleans area. 


9) See The Book of Mormon

the marquee of the Saenger Theater

The Book of Mormon has arrived in NOLA! 

One of the most popular musicals of all time is in town from Feb. 5 – Feb. 10, 2019. The show is at the renown Saenger Theatre.

There will be one evening performance on Feb. 5, 6, 7 and 8. On Saturday, the 9th and Sunday, the 10th, there will be two shows: a matinee and an evening performance. Purchase tickets here.


10) Learn about Mardi Gras Indians at the Backstreet Cultural Museum 

This museum is a wonderful place to learn about the origins of the Mardi Gras Indians, who are a somewhat secretive organization, made up of members of the African-American communities of New Orleans’s inner city. They took their name as a way to honor the native Indians who, during the slave era, sheltered runaway slaves. 

 

 
You may have seen a Mardi Gras Indian on TV, on the HBO show Treme. Beyonce’s visual album Lemonade also includes a Mardi Gras Indian. At the museum, you will see real artifacts including the impressive costumes and regalia of the Mardi Gras Indians. 

To find out more about this one-of-a-kind museum, as well as other activities to do nearby in the area, see our post Things To Do In The Treme.

 


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FREE THINGS TO DO IN FEBRUARY

This section lists several free activities you can enjoy this February in NOLA. Some of the items listed in the other sections of this post are also free, like the Tet Fest so be sure to look through this whole post for even more free event listings.

 

 

Also, check out our guide to visiting New Orleans on a budget and our list of free things to do in Nola for more free and almost-free ideas. 


Check out the Mardis Gras Museum

Your timing is just right! You are here during the Mardi Gras season, so why not check out this free museum located at the famous Arnaud’s Restaurant. The museum includes more than two dozen historic costumes and other memorabilia.

See the Mardis Gras Museum website for more information. 


Tet Fest: Vietnamese New Year

If you need a break from Mardi Gras, the free Tet Fest is just what you need. 

During the weekend of February 8-10, 2019, you can celebrate the Vietnamese New Year by trying authentic Vietnamese cuisine and watching performances of traditional music and dancing. There will be family-friendly activities, fireworks, and an evening dragon dance. 

  • Admission: Free
  • Times: Feb. 8, 6pm-10pm | Feb. 9, 10 am – 7 pm | Feb. 10, 12pm – 11 pm
  • Location: Mary Queen of Vietnam Church at 14011 Dwyer Blvd.
  • Get more information here.

Go to the Horse Races

Through all of February, you can see live horse races at the Fair Grounds Race Course & Slots. General Admission is free daily, with the exception of Stakes Days, Starlight Racing & Specialty Programming ($5) & Louisiana Derby Day ($10). Children 12 & under are admitted free every day.

The Fair Grounds is the second oldest horse-racing site in the U.S., having opened as the Union Race Course in 1852 as the Union Race Course. The building is historic but there are modern amenities, including slot machines and other casino games.

 

Family days are sometimes scheduled and include ‘wiener dog’ races and even races with exotic animals like zebras and ostriches.

The Fair Grounds are located at 1751 Gentilly Blvd. (map). Visit their website for more information.


Visit the Bayou Sauvage Swamp

Bayou Sauvage is a National Wildlife Refuge just 15 minutes from the French Quarter. The refuge contains a variety of different habitats including lagoons and canals where you might see alligators, snakes and more!

If you feel like getting off the beaten path, this activity if for you. Learn about how to visit Bayou Sauvage for free.

Also, see our post on swamp tours in New Orleans


Laugh at a Free Comedy Show

Every week The Howlin’ Wolf hosts free comedy shows. Tuesdays you can see the Comedy Beast and on Thursdays, Comedy Gumbeaux Shows start at 8:30 pm. See the venue website for more information. You can find out about other shows from our list of free comedy performances.


Take a Hurricane Katrina Self-Guided Tour

If you’re interested in visiting the areas affected by Hurricane Katrina and the revitalization of those areas since the storm came through the city, then consider our Hurricane Katrina self-guided tour.

Our tour is set up in such a way that it can be done in 2-3 hours by car and 5 hours by bike. There are 15 stops that cover everything from the Presbytere (which holds a permanent exhibit dedicated to Hurricane Katrina) to St. Claude Ave.

Be sure to check out our other self-guided tours of New Orleans. 


Consider Getting a Tourist Pass

Although a tourist pass isn’t free, it’s easy to save so much money by using them that you will eventually receive some services without paying a dime, particularly with the all-inclusive passes.

Here is an example of an itinerary where you could save enough with the New Orleans Sightseeing Pass that some of your activities would be free:

By the time you’ve taken the bus tour and gone to the aquarium, you’ve already paid for your pass. Even if you don’t manage to do everything else on this itinerary in one day, chances are you’ll at least be able to visit one or two extra attractions. Admission to each additional attraction would be free with this tourist pass.

Read our post about New Orleans city passes for more details on some of the other discount opportunities you may want to consider. 

 


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THINGS TO DO AT NIGHT IN FEBRUARY

A few things mentioned in our top 10 section, such as attending a Pelicans basketball game or attending Tet Fest, are great night options.

We’ve listed several more activities here, but there are plenty more so check our post on Things to Do in New Orleans at Night for even more ideas.   

 

 


Krewe of Chewbacchus Parade

On SaturdayFebruary 9 at 7 pm, you can see the most ‘out of this world’ krewes parade in the streets of Marigny.  The 900-member Intergalactic Krewe of Chewbacchus is a sci-fi themed krewe and their parade is one not to miss.

You’ll see stellar floats and costumes of characters of fantasy, horror, science fiction, and more. Click here for more information and a map of the parade route. To explore the area around the parade, check out our guide to Frenchmen Street and the Marigny.


Learn about New Orleans’ Dark Side on a Ghost Tour

We offer daily evening pay-what-you-wish ghost tours, including one that is family-friendly. The tour takes place in the heart of the French Quarter.

There are also many other companies offering different types of ghost, or pirate and even a night cemetery/ghost bus tour.

Read our guide comparing the different options.


Celebrate Valentine’s Day with a Jazz Cruise 

What could be more romantic than a jazz cruise on a steamboat with gorgeous views? To find out which night cruise is best for you, read our detailed posts on dinner cruises as well as historical sightseeing cruises to compare the different options


Take a Night Bike Tour

A truly unique way to explore New Orleans, Nola City Light’s puts participants on candy-colored, LED lit-up bikes complete with Bluetooth speakers to connect their favorite tunes. You’ll be guided through some of the main attractions in the downtown area before exploring the French Quarter.

There will also be quite a bit of bar hopping and a chance to take in the music scene at some of New Orleans most popular spots. Learn more on their website.

TIP: For other opportunities to explore the city by bike, consider one of our bike tours. View our review of New Orleans ghost tours for even more great ways to explore the city at night.


Preservation Hall

Located on St. Peter Street in the French Quarter, Preservation Hall is dedicated to bringing audiences authentic, traditional New Orleans Jazz music in an acoustic performing space. There are plenty of opportunities to catch a jazz show this month, check out the calendar to get tickets to a show.

Read our post on Preservation Hall for more information on tickets and schedule.


Bourbon Street

This famous street in the French Quarter is always bustling, but especially so in February while Mardi Gras celebrations are underway. Just two of the many iconic bars include Jean Lafitte’s Blacksmith Shop and the Old Absinthe House. You can find many places to hear live jazz but perhaps the most popular takes place in a 200-year-old building, Fritzel’s European Jazz Club. 

Read our post on things to do on Bourbon Street

See our post on Things to Do in New Orleans at Night for other great nighttime activities. 

 


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FAMILY-FRIENDLY ACTIVITIES

Below you’ll find a few ideas for things to do with kids in February. Many items listed in other sections of this post such as attending a Pelican’s basketball game or going to the horse races, so look at all sections for more ideas.

We also have a guide to New Orleans with kids for more family-friendly ideas for any time of year. 


Mardi Gras Parades for Children

While most parades are for the grown-ups, there are some parades that are just right for kids. One parade that people of all ages will love, provided they love dogs. It’s the Krewe of Barkus, a one of a kind lineup featuring dogs dressed in festive costumes. It takes place on February 24 at 2 pm. You can get the route information from their official website.

Another family-friendly parade is the Krewe of Little Rascals parade on Sunday, Feb, 17 at 12:00 pm in Metairie. For more Mardi Gras events that are family-friendly, see this helpful resource list: Mardi Gras with kids.


Family Gras

Family Gras is a free family-friendly three-day event just ten minutes from Downtown New Orleans. In 2019, it is being held from Friday, Feb. 22 through Sunday, Feb. 24. at the Clearview Shopping Center at 4436 Veterans Memorial Boulevard.

Family Gras sees large crowds enjoying Mardi Gras parades, an Art Market, food vendors, and lots of kid’s activities. There are also free concerts by local and national performers. The 2019 lineup includes John Oates, Michael McDonald, and Brett Eldredge. There will be even more music announced soon. See their website for all the details. 


Mardis Gras World

Although you can visit all year long, it’s, even more, fun to see Mardis Gras World right before the actual event! For those who don’t know, this is the location where several notable Mardis Gras floats have been created over the course of over 75 years.

 

 

Take a trip through the history of this celebration and find out how they build the floats that you see during the parade. Tours of the studio are affordable and fun for guests of all ages. See our detailed post for more information.

TIP: Mardi Gras World is included for free with both the New Orleans Sightseeing Pass and the New Orleans Power Pass. For more information, check out our post on discount passes in New Orleans.


Ride the Streetcar

In New Orleans, trolleys are called streetcars and they are quintessential to the Crescent City. This activity is great for families looking for a leisurely way to explore New Orleans. There are currently 5 streetcar routes that cover everything from City Park to the Garden District. Each route has its own special highlights to consider before embarking.  

TIP: Visit our blog post on New Orleans Streetcars for information on how to ride and highlights from each route.


Kid-Friendly Tours

There are many forms of tours that are kid-approved. Depending on the age of your child, some tours are better than others. Walking tours can be a good family tour, especially if you take one of our pay-what-you-like tours which won’t bust your budget.

Younger children benefit from a hop-on, hop-off bus tour as they have a chance to rest their little legs. Check out our post for Hop-On, Hop-Off New Orleans Bus Tours for more information.

There are also tours of the French Quarter designed especially for kids! You’ll find a uniquely designed tour for different age groups like the “Spooky Tour” for ages 5 – 10 years and tween and teen tour.  Check out the schedule here.

For more suggestions on family-friendly activities see our Guide to New Orleans with Kids.

 


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