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Free Things to Do in New Orleans

Ranked by Local Tour Guides

Updated: November 16, 2023

This post covers free things to do in New Orleans and includes, nighttime, family-friendly, as well as cheap options. 

There are quite a few free and affordable things to do in this city, but some are more interesting than others.

And we should know.

We offer free walking tours of New Orleans to tens of thousands of visitors each year.

And, we are asked regularly for recommendations on free and cheap things to do.

In the video below, Andrew, one of the guides for us, Free Tours by Foot New Orleans, lists some of the top things to do in New Orleans for free or cheap.

We also manage the New Orleans Travel Tips Facebook group.

A common question that we answer has to do with free and affordable things to do in New Orleans.

Taking this into account, we've decided to provide a list of our 50 fun activities for both locals and visitors. 

Be sure to also check out our free walking tours and our master post on things to do in NOLA.


1. Hear the Music of New Orleans

As you can probably imagine, the city of New Orleans has a rich history of jazz and blues music.

Although these are undoubtedly two of the most popular genres in NOLA, this city actually attracts a wide variety of musicians and artists from around the world.

The best part is you can actually hear plenty of this music for free! 

We even have a walking tour that covers the music traditions of the city Andrew gives a preview of in the video below.

In addition to hearing live street music, you can also enjoy events such as Wednesday at the Square (Mar-May) and Jazz in the Park (Sept-Nov).

Alternatively, you can enjoy a free drum circle on Sundays in Congo Square in Louie Armstrong Park or a free Opera performance from Bon Operatit once every month!

The New Orleans Jazz Museum has free admission for its 2 pm Tuesday Courtyard Concert Series.

If these activities don't strike your fancy, we have a post providing a variety of tips on hearing live music in and around New Orleans.

We also offer a free tour that explores the musical and artistic history of the city.


2. Take a Trip to the Garden District

There are a lot of wonderful neighborhoods in and around New Orleans, but few are as beautiful and historic as the Garden District. 

Once known as the American sector, as it developed after the U.S. took control of the city in the early 19th century, it boasts the city's most spectacular residential architecture. 

It is entirely free to walk around this area and see all of the incredible houses for yourself.

And, in this video, Andrew takes you on a virtual walk through the Garden District with a stop at Lafayette Cemetery #1.

Be sure to use our guide to the Garden District, which contains a self-guided tour, to make the most of your time there. 

Getting to the Garden District is often a good excuse to ride New Orleans' famed streetcars

Alternatively, you can always enjoy our pay-what-you-want professionally guided tour of this neighborhood.

We also offer a dozen different free self-guided tours in New Orleans that you might find interesting.


3. Discover the Swamps

Although most of the swamps in this area aren't actually in New Orleans, it's definitely worth a short drive to reach them. 

The one located in the city is Bayou Sauvage, just 25 minutes from the French Quarter.

It is free and you can enjoy activities such as hunting, fishing, photography, and wildlife viewing.

In addition to this location, the Barataria Preserve in Jean Lafitte National Historical Park is also free to visit as is City Park (right here in the city).

And in case you are wondering, you could spot alligators and other swamp creatures in all 3 places.  

If you are looking more for an organized tour with a boat cruise through a swamp, then take a look at our review of swamp tours available in and around New Orleans.


4. Visit a Cemetery

There are several historic cemeteries in New Orleans and all but one of them is entirely free to visit.

But just 4 or 5 get attention from visitors.

And, in the video below, Andrew takes you on a virtual walk through Metarie Cemetery.

Unfortunately, the Catholic Archdiocese of New Orleans no longer allows visitors to enter St. Louis Cemetery #, the most famous cemetery, without an organized tour. 

The good news is that we provide daily pay-what-you-want walking tours of 2 of the city's most popular cemeteries:

For more information, visit our guide to New Orleans Cemeteries.


5. Stop by the Historic New Orleans Collection

If you're a fan of art and history, the Historic New Orleans Collection is a must.

Throughout the year, this museum offers certain exhibitions for free. 

The Historic New Orleans Collection on Royal Street. Image Source: Wikimedia user Infrogmation on July 1st, 2009.

Their Louisiana History Galleries are permanent fixtures, and they have been described by some as "the best introduction to the city that a visitor can get."

While some of these galleries include artwork and artifacts that predate colonial history, others explore the events of Hurricane Katrina. 


6. Stroll through City Park

As you might imagine, there are several public parks in the Big Easy that you can visit for free. 

The grandest of them all is City Park, which you could easily spend a day in and still not see it all. 

And, in this video, Andrew takes you on a virtual walk through part of City Park.

Come and see the beautiful park landscapes and the live oaks and Spanish Moss.

If you're near the Treme neighborhood, you might want to take a walk through Louis Armstrong Park.

Named after the legendary musician by the same name, this location includes sculptures, duck ponds, and the historic Congo Square – a meeting place for slaves in the 1800s.

It is also a stop on our Voodoo Tour.

Fans of Armstrong and his music should also consider visiting the New Orleans Jazz National Historical Park, where you can take an 11-stop tour of jazz history sites.

Alternatively, you can also head to Uptown and check out Audubon Park and see some of the most beautiful oak trees in NOLA.

This is also the site of Audubon Zoo, which provides a lot of fun and family-friendly activities for guests of all ages.


7. Discover the French Market and Other Local Markets

There are a few very nice markets in New Orleans that are free to visit and peruse. 

Over 50 different vendors provide services on 4 different days in 4 different locations.

This includes the French Market in the French Quarter, ensuring a wide variety of different tasty treats.

In this video, Kayla, also a guide with Free Tours by Foot, joins Andrew to show you this legendary market.

Whether you're just looking for fun or you actually want to buy a few things for dinner, the Crescent City Farmer's Market is a fantastic place to find fresh food. Check out this video.


8. Go Window Shopping and Antiquing

There are a lot of wonderful shopping districts in New Orleans that are perfect for window shopping.

Even if you don't want to spend any money, chances are you'll find a lot of interesting stores to visit on Magazine Street.

Located just a few blocks from the Mississippi River, this road is filled with several different businesses including antique shops, clothing stores, art galleries, and more.

And yes, Andrew has a video for Magazine Street.

Alternatively, you can also check out Royal Street to see the historic architecture on display while looking at all of the different shopping locations.

You'll find another excellent window shopping opportunity at Louisiana Loom Works, where you might just catch them while they're weaving a rug.


9) People Watching

New Orleans is known for its eclectic and interesting neighborhoods.

And you can expect to see quite a few fascinating people either walking around or perhaps even performing in the street.

Whether you want to see people showing off their talents or hear some excellent music, we recommend visiting the following locations:

  • Royal Street
  • Frenchmen Street
  • Bourbon Street
  • Jackson Square
  • French Quarter

So, grab a coffee and beignet from Cafe Du Monde or any of the city's other create cafes, and find a place to sit, and watch the New Orleans world go by.


10) Get a Power Pass

Although the pass itself isn't free, some of the activities available with the Power Pass could be free if you use it effectively.

If you get this attraction pass and use it to take a bus tour, visit the Zoo, and see the Aquarium, the service will already have paid for itself.

After that point, every activity you take part in is entirely free.

You could take this opportunity to discover the history of Oak Alley Plantation or experience Mardis Gras World.

Whatever you choose to do, there are quite a few fun and family-friendly attractions included with this city pass. 


11. Explore Algiers Point

Algiers Point is situated just across the Mississippi River from the French Quarter, but it feels like it's much further.

Take a step back in time to imagine what New Orleans used to look like. We have a self-guided tour of the area.

n this video, Daniel, a tour guide with Free Tours by Foot, takes you on a ferry ride across the Mississippi River to Algiers Point.

Algiers Point is best reached by ferry at Canal Street, next to the Audubon Aquarium.

The ride offers stunning views of the New Orleans skyline. It costs $2 each way ($1 for seniors 65+ and children 2 and under are free).


12. Explore Lafitte Greenway

The Lafitte Greenway is a long, green biking and walking trail from the French Quarter to Mid-City.

Yes, Andrew again in another video.

It's a useful way between these neighborhoods, and along the way, it's got huge sculptures and murals, cafes and restaurants, and some beautiful landscaping, plus vestiges of a 1700s shipping canal.

Website


13. The Sazerac House Tour

The Sazerac is a native cocktail to New Orleans that is made with rye whiskey, bitters, and absinthe and is one of the top 12 cocktails to try when you visit.

The Sazerac House is a distillery and museum that offers tastings, exhibits, and complimentary guided tours of the attraction.


14. Visit Sites Affected by Hurricane Katrina

Many visitors to New Orleans are interested in exploring the areas impacted by Hurricane Katrina, which ravaged the city in 2005, as well as the revitalization that has occurred since.

We've designed this self-guided tour of sights related to Hurricane Katrina so you can visit by car or bike.

The trip should take about 2-3 hours by car and 5 hours by bike.


15. Join a Second Line

A second line is a foot parade led by a brass band, and any significant event can inspire a second line, from weddings to festivals to protests.

The first line consists of the band and the people at the heart of the event and at the front of the procession.

The second line, which gives the event its name, follows behind them - these are the general attendees and the crowd that had gathered spontaneously during the walk.

You could usually join a second line, but there is some etiquette to follow, which we discuss along with schedules in our post on joining a second-line post.


Crescent Park and the Bywater Neighborhood

The Bywater neighborhood has grown rapidly in the last decade.

The Bywater is a must-see for any New Orleans visit, with its quaint restaurants, one-of-a-kind artwork, and laid-back nightlife. 

And we show you the area in this video, a virtual walk with Andrew.

It's home to the relatively new Crescent Park and Studio Be is also located there.

This place is unquestionably worth visiting if you're curious about New Orleans' history.


Honorable Mentions

  • Free Yoga on Saturday mornings at the French Market at 10 am. A Jazz pianist is on hand to perform live music while you exercise.

FREE MUSEUMS AND ATTRACTIONS

In addition to all the free activities and attractions already mentioned in our top 10 section, there are dozens of other attractions and museums you can visit for free (or by donation only).

We list our other favorites below.


St. Louis Cathedral

This historic location is free to visit throughout the week.

During the winter months, this church also offers free concerts and other activities.


Wednesdays at the Square - Lafayette Square

In addition to the parks we mentioned in our Top 10 list, you can also enjoy this public square.

Not only is this location historic, but it is also the site of a spring concert series called Wednesday at the Square which takes place every year.


Sculpture Garden

You'll find the Sydney and Walda Besthoff Sculpture Garden at the New Orleans Museum of Art.

There are over 60 pieces of art to enjoy and admission is free every day of the week.

You can also take advantage of a free audio tour provided by the museum!


Mardis Gras Museum

Located at Arnaud's Restaurant, the Germaine Cazenave Wells Mardi Gras Museum includes more than two dozen historic costumes and other memorabilia.

Mardi Gras Museum Armands

Visitors are free to explore this museum during restaurant hours.


Fair Grounds

If you enjoy watching horse races, a visit to the Fair Grounds might be in order.

General admission is free on most days, and you are welcome to watch from the Grandstand.

Even when admission isn't free, tickets are still reasonably priced at between $5-$10 per person.


Madame John's Legacy

This location is a must for history buffs and those with an interest in architecture.

Madame John's Legacy is an 18th-century building complex and an excellent example of the French Colonial style.

Admission is free for all visitors and they are open most days of the week.


Cigar Factory

Although their products aren't free, you are welcome to visit the Cigar Factory and watch them roll cigars.

In addition, this business also houses a museum featuring incredible relics from the 19th century.

Visitors are welcome to see the museum and learn more about the business at their leisure.


The House of Dance & Feathers

This museum features cultural artifacts related to the Mardis Gras Indians and other similar subjects.

Director Ronald W. Lewis welcomes visitors to experience a side of Mardi Gras's history that brings the community together.

Although they do accept donations, general admission is entirely free. 

It is also a stop on our self-guided Hurricane Katrina Tour.


Musician's Village

This neighborhood was designed and constructed as a response to Hurricane Katrina.

The Ellis Marsalis Center for Music serves as a gathering place for the community which provides a plethora of entertainment and activities for visitors.

Needless to say, you're welcome to walk around and see the beautiful new houses in this area.

Tickets for events at the Ellis Marsalis Center are typically very affordable, so you might also want to see what they have to offer. 

It is also a stop on our self-guided Hurricane Katrina Tour.


New Orleans Museum of Art - Free Wednesdays

In addition to the Sculpture Garden, Louisiana residents are also welcome to visit this incredible museum for free every Wednesday.

This is a wonderful opportunity to see some of the most beautiful artwork in New Orleans.


CHEAP THINGS TO DO IN NEW ORLEANS

Although there are quite a few interesting attractions you can visit for free in this city, you might be surprised to find out how much more you can experience with just a little pocket change.

These services make it easier to get around town in style and have fun without spending too much money.


Ride the Street Car

The streetcars in New Orleans drive right through the heart of the city, and they are very affordable.

Unlimited use for the entire day will cost only $3, while one-way rides are $1.25. 

This video demonstrates how to ride the New Orleans streetcars with tips on choosing the right ticket, seeing the best sights, and understanding the streetcar’s history.

Arguably the most popular ride is on the St. Charles Line from the French Quarter to the Garden District

We even offer a free audio tour of the ride. 

For more information, check out our post about the New Orlean Streetcars


Algiers Ferry

Much like the streetcar, this ferry is also very affordable.

It only costs $2 to ride each way, allowing travelers to easily cross the river without breaking the bank.

The Algiers Ferry runs 7 days a week with extended service hours on the weekends.

In addition to being a useful means of transportation, this is also a great way to see NOLA from the water. 

You will also depart the boat in Algiers, a quaint and historic neighborhood just across the Mississippi River from the French Quarter. 

If you want to see New Orleans without the tourists, explore this neighborhood for free. 

If you're looking for more fun on the Mississippi River, you might also want to consider one of the many riverboat cruises available in New Orleans.

Although a cruise will be more expensive, there are some services for as little as $28 per person.

For more information, check out our New Orleans Riverboat Cruise section. 


Free Comedy Show

New Orleans might be better known for its Jazz music, but there are quite a few hilarious comedians in this city as well.

As a matter of fact, stand-up comedy is big enough in NOLA that several establishments offer free comedy nights throughout the year.

Although you're welcome to come and enjoy the laughs for free, there may be a cover charge at certain locations and drinks will not be on the house.


Grab Some Free and Cheap Oysters

New Orleans is a fantastic place to find delicious oysters.

Some restaurants even offer oyster happy hours, and others even give them away for free!

Every Friday night, Le Bon Temps Roule serves free raw oysters starting at 7 pm and continuing until they run out.

If you can't make it out on Friday, the following restaurants serve oysters for less than $1 at various times throughout the week.

Check each menu for more information about their oyster deals.


NOLA Jitterbugs

Over the past decade, New Orleans has slowly been developing a swing dancing scene.

The musical history and style of this city have made it the perfect backdrop for professional swing dancers to both perform their routines and teach locals how they do it.

Every Sunday at 8 pm, the NOLA Jitterbugs provide a free drop-in class at the Allways Lounge.

Alternatively, you can also join them earlier in the day on Sunday for a Jitterbug Jazz Brunch at the Maison.

Although the food and drinks are not free, there is no cover charge for either event.


FREE THINGS TO DO WITH KIDS

If you're looking for something fun and family-friendly in NOLA, there are quite a few awesome activities available.

As mentioned in our previous sections, visitors with an interest in nature can spend some time in one of the beautiful city parks, ride the streetcars, or take a trip to one of the nearby swamps.

Be sure to read our master post on visiting NOLA with kids.

Artists both young and old might also enjoy a trip through the Sculpture Garden or the Historic New Orleans Collection.

Music lovers will undoubtedly enjoy the chance to hear live Jazz both on the street and in special venues.

If none of these ideas seem like a hit, the following options could make for excellent alternatives. 


Visit Music Box Village 

Music is everywhere in New Orleans and we've already mentioned it in 2 previous sections (both of which apply to families). 

However, Music Box Village is particularly great for families.

This experimental art installation and performance space will keep your kids (and you) entertained and happy. 

While it's free, this venue works on donations.


Stroll Along the Moonwalk

Although they call it the Moonwalk, this brick promenade running along the Mississippi River is easily accessible both day and night.

During the day, artists often line the sidewalk and perform either music or various routines for the passers-by.

In addition to the opportunity for a show, the Moonwalk also offers excellent views of both the river and the city.

This walk will take you right to the ferry, which you can then use to cross the river for a very low price. 


Take a Self-Guided Tour

The best way to take a tour with your family is by taking control of the entire experience.

A self-guided tour allows you to take breaks when necessary and skip or add locations depending on the interests of your clan.

Thankfully, we offer a number of free self-guided tours of New Orleans which you can use to provide a fun and educational experience for your family.

Many of these and more are available in an audio tour format.


Take the Kids to Storyland

If you're looking for a fun attraction that your kids will enjoy, Storyland is an absolute must.

Located in City Park, this location includes dozens of displays featuring classic fairy tale figures.

The best part about Storyland is that it's absolutely free for kids under 36" in height.

Adults and anyone taller will have to pay $4, but that's a very affordable price to pay for such an interesting activity.

As if that weren't good enough, paying customers are also granted admission to the Carousel Gardens Amusement Park for free! 

City Park itself is a great place to bring your kids for free activities.


FREE THINGS TO DO AT NIGHT

There are a lot of fun and free events you can enjoy after dark in New Orleans.

As a matter of fact, we've already covered a lot of these opportunities in the sections above.

In addition to learning how to swing dance, enjoy live comedy, and eat some delicious oysters, you can also partake in one of the following activities.

Be sure to read our master post on things to do at night in NOLA.


Art Market

This is one of the most interesting locations on Frenchmen Street.

Known colloquially as the Art Garage, this market welcomes artists who wish to sell their work.

They also host several events and art shows at various times throughout the years. Needless to say, it's free to visit and look around! 


Join the Cats of Jackson Square

It might sound odd, but Jackson Square is known for more than just festivals and parades.

When the sun goes down, the cats come out and take over this public space.

Since the square never officially closes, you are free to come and spend some time with these cats whenever you wish.

Although these felines are technically wild, reports indicate that they are pretty calm and docile around most people.

Animal lovers will definitely want to consider this fun and interesting activity! 

Find out what else you can see at Jackson Square.


Dance Down Frenchmen Street

In addition to the live music you'll hear while walking up and down this street, there are also several clubs in the area that don't require a cover charge.

Although drinks and food won't be free, you are welcome to walk up and down Frenchmen Street and visit each of these locations at your leisure.

Even if you want to get refreshments at some point, chances are that you won't break the budget while dancing around New Orleans.  

Be sure to read our guide on live music on Frenchmen Street, which includes several free options.


Take a Free Ghost Tour

New Orleans is rich with around 300 years of history, so it probably shouldn't surprise anyone that several people report rather spooky experiences in the area.

Anyone interested in learning more about the creepy and sometimes disturbing tales of this city should consider taking one of our pay-what-you-want ghost tours.

Although we do recommend giving your tour guide a tip, it is not required to enjoy this outing. 


Julia Street Art First Saturdays

This is a free Art Walk featuring new exhibit openings at galleries in the Arts District. It takes place on the first Saturday of each month.

The ADNO galleries and museums are open all day, with opening receptions from 5-8 pm.


FREE SEASONAL ACTIVITIES IN NEW ORLEANS

Depending on when you visit NOLA, there may be several free events related to holidays and celebrations.

As a matter of fact, there are so many seasonal activities available in New Orleans that we decided to provide information about them in separate posts.

If you want to learn more about free attractions leading up to Mardis Gras and Christmas, click one of the links below for additional information.


January - (weather)

Mardi Gras Parade

The Mardi Gras season begins on the Day of Epiphany (January 6th) and kicks off with five free parades, most of which take place in the evenings and are geared toward adult audiences.

If you are traveling with children, the Joan of Arc Parade listed further down in this post is a good option.

One parade not to miss is the Phunny Phorty Phellows.

Along the way, they will be handing out classic Mardi Gras beads to the spectators. Check the Mardi Gras website for more details


Battle of New Orleans Reenactment

Every January, live actors reenact the events of the final battle of the War of 1812, which took place just outside of New Orleans at the Chalmette Battlefield.

Spectators will enjoy period music, hear stories of the battle, and even see cannon and musket firings.

The events take place over three days and it is free to attend.

Another way to see the Chalmette Battlefield, you can take a historic river cruise on the Creole Queen.


Tet Fest: Vietnamese New Year

During the weekend of January 27th-29th, 2023, 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. 

The event takes place at Mary Queen of Vietnam Church at 14011 Dwyer Blvd and admission to the fest is free.

For even more great activities that don't cost a dime, please read our post covering things to do in New Orleans in January.


February- (weather)

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 is for you. Learn about how to visit Bayou Sauvage for free.


Family Gras

Family Gras is a free family-friendly three-day event just ten minutes from Downtown New Orleans.

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. 

Past lineups have included John Oates, Michael McDonald, and Brett Eldredge.

For even more great activities that don't cost a dime, please read our post covering things to do in New Orleans in February.


March- (weather)

Enjoy a Free Wine Tasting Session

Whether you’re interested in learning more about wine or you just want to try some new flavors, this is an excellent opportunity you won’t want to miss.

Every Wednesday, Faubourg Wines provides a free wine-tasting event that covers four different wines.

This is a great way to find out about brands and vintages you’ve never tried before.

This service takes place from 5 pm – 7 pm on Wednesday nights.

They do not require reservations, so all you have to do is drop in and join the group.


Celebrate St. Patrick’s Day

St. Patrick’s Day is a multi-week celebration complete with parades and block parties.

While many of the festivities are hosted by pubs and include plenty of drinking, you’ll still find great activities to do with the whole family.

The Irish Channel Parade on March 11th in the Garden District is one of the largest and most interesting parades to attend in New Orleans.

Visitors who are looking for more adult fun should head to Parasol’s Block Party Celebration, a recurring event that takes place in March.


Irish Channel Parade

The Irish Channel Parade on Magazine Street is one of the biggest family-friendly parades to attend in New Orleans during the month of March. 

Your kids will enjoy participating in the fun of catching not only colorful beads but also cabbage, carrots, and potatoes amongst other things thrown off floats by riders.

For even more great activities that don't cost a dime, please read our post covering things to do in New Orleans in March.


April- (weather)

French Quarter Fest

(April 13th-16th) brings together rhythm & blues, zydeco, rock, swing, classical, jazz, and much more across 12 stages over a 3-day weekend. 

Accompanying the amazing music is an impressive spread of local food and drink vendors. You can expect everything from Rouses Crawfish Broil to jerk chicken. 

The entertainment is free and the food and drinks are well-priced making this an excellent outdoor experience to consider for families.


Celebrate Easter Weekend

Easter marks the end of Lent for the many Catholics who populate New Orleans, and the city celebrates big with parades and other family-friendly activities.

There are at least three parades in the French Quarter on Easter Sunday (April 9th, 2023).

These parades are the Historic Fench Quarter Easter Parade, the Chris Owens French Quarter Easter Parade and the Gay Easter Parade.

For even more great activities that don't cost a dime, please read our post covering things to do in New Orleans in April.


May- (weather)

Head to Wednesday at the Square

The spring series of Wednesday at the Square gives you three opportunities to enjoy live music for free.

Each of these concerts will begin at 5 pm and run until about 8 pm, making this an excellent activity to enjoy after dark.

Since admission is free, all you have to do is visit Lafayette Square.


Go to Bayou Boogaloo

Enjoy the warm weather and the waterfront with a free concert with a great lineup!

The Bayou Boogaloo is a three-day event to celebrate what NOLA does best – music and food – located on the banks of Bayou St. John.

And it’s not just music! There's also a section with local artists selling stoneware, woodworking, and voodoo dolls!


Go on a Free Swamp Hike

If you’re up for a 30-45 minute drive, consider heading to either the Barataria Preserve or Bayou Sauvage.

Each location is free to visit and there are several great trails to walk. 

There is also a small swamp in City Park that won’t cost a dime to explore.


June- (weather)

Experience St. John’s Eve

If you’ve ever wanted to learn more about voodoo culture, you might want to check out one of the events that are held during St. John’s Eve which is celebrated annually on June 23.

This is a day when practitioners will hold celebrations and perform rituals.

One such ritual is held at the International House Hotel, where a spiritual ceremony will usually be performed by an actual voodoo priestess.


Commemorate Juneteenth

Each year on June 19th, Juneteenth takes place. This is the day Americans commemorate the abolition of slavery in the United States. 

If you haven't been to the New Orleans African American Museum yet, you might want to visit on Juneteenth when Black vendors are featured at their monthly art market.

You could also visit Studio BE, a 35,000-square-foot warehouse where the artist Brandan 'Bmike' Odums tells the stories of the Black community through his amazing works.


NOLA Caribbean Carvinal

The NOLA Caribbean Carnivale celebrates the culture, music, dance, and cuisine of the Caribbean, a region that plays a big part in New Orleans's heritage.

Events take place June 23rd-25th and usually take place around Congo Square.

The big event is the NOLA Colour Me Krazy Carnival Parade, complete with paint and colored powder being thrown around, which takes place along Canal Street.

For even more great activities that don't cost a dime, please read our post covering things to do in New Orleans in June.


July- (weather)

Celebrate American Independence Day

There are several fun activities to enjoy on the 4th of July in New Orleans.

One of the most popular events is Go 4th on the River, a free, annual fireworks show on the Mississippi River.

One popular choice is to schedule a riverboat cruise during the show and see it take place from the water.

Another excellent alternative is to visit one of the parks along the river. Woldenberg Park is just north of the Audubon Aquarium which offers a discount to all visitors on July 4th.


Bastille Day Block Party

The block party takes place in the 3100 block of Ponce de Leon Street in the city’s historic Faubourg St. John neighborhood, and includes live music, food and drinks, games, arts & crafts, and other family-friendly activities.

Although the event itself is free to attend, you can probably expect to pay for food, drinks, and other things from various vendors.

Bastille Day is celebrated on the closest Saturday preceding July 14th every year.

For even more great activities that don't cost a dime, please read our post covering things to do in New Orleans in July.


August- (weather)

Dirty Linen Night

On the second Saturday of August 13th in 2023, the art galleries and antique shops on Royal Street hold an alternative event to White Linen Night.

Visitors are welcome to stop by and enjoy the artwork on display.

There may also be live musicians on hand, and some shops have been known to offer free martinis and dirty rice.


Attend Satchmo Summer Fest

The music and life of Louis Armstrong have meant a lot to New Orleans. Every year, they hold a music festival in his honor.

Satchmo Summer Fest is free for kids. Adult tickets can be purchased ahead of time for $7, and at the door for $10.

In addition to a packed music schedule, there are loads of food options to try out (think cajun seafood eggrolls, fried crawfish tacos, shrimp remoulade, and more.)


White Linen Night

On the first Saturday of August, New Orleans residents don their best white linens and descend upon Julia Street in the Arts District.

During this special event, visitors are invited to hop from one gallery to the next and perhaps even support local artists by purchasing some of their work.

Although the block party is free to attend, you can also buy a food & drink ticket for $10.

For even more great activities that don't cost a dime, please read our post covering things to do in New Orleans in August.


September- (weather)

Celebrate Smithsonian Museum Day

If you’re interested in visiting a popular New Orleans museum but you can’t afford the tickets, this is a day you won’t want to miss.

Smithsonian Museum Day takes place on September 17th, 2023 when participating locations offer free entry.

You will have to download your tickets ahead of time from the Smithsonian website.


NOLA Bluedoo Fest

The festival brings folks together for some great music, food, and drink, all to raise funds for cancer research.

The festival takes place on September 17th, 2022 at Tulane University on Gibson Quad.

There will be a two-mile walk/run with registration opening at 3:00 PM. The race starts at 4:00 PM.


Attend the Burlesque Festival

It probably shouldn’t come as a surprise that the city that celebrates Mardi Gras like no other enjoys a little risque entertainment every now and then.

During the month of September, the Burlesque Festival will welcome artists from around the world to put on their best performance.

There will also be a contest to determine the “Queen of Burlesque".

Various comedians, singers, and other variety acts were on hand to celebrate the event.

For even more great activities that don't cost a dime, please read our post covering things to do in New Orleans in September.


October- (weather)

Celebrate Oktoberfest in NOLA

Oktoberfest takes place over three weekends, giving visitors more than one opportunity to enjoy the event.

In addition to serving over 20 different types of German beer and a variety of schnapps, you will also have access to a variety of excellent German food including brats, sauerkraut, schnitzel, pork loin, pretzels, and a selection of cheeses.

There's also a lot of wonderful music and dancing during this festival, a German costume contest, and a historical exhibit providing information about the history of Oktoberfest.


Celebrate National Gumbo Day

According to many locals, New Orleans is the only place you can even get a good Gumbo.

If that’s the case, it makes perfect sense to honor this national holiday while visiting.

National Gumbo Day takes place in October, which makes this the perfect time to celebrate one of the most delicious dishes ever concocted.

This popular Cajun dish typically includes shellfish, chicken, sausage, or even shrimp along with many delicious spices and veggies like okra and tomatoes.


Attend Tremé Fall Festival

Hosted by the St. Augustine Catholic Church, this Tremé Fall Festival celebrates the thriving culture of the Tremé neighborhood.

During Tremé Fall Fest, local businesses and artists provide free musical performances and a variety of delicious food.

There will also be children’s activities such as painting and building projects, making this an excellent family activity.

For even more great activities that don't cost a dime, please read our post covering things to do in New Orleans in October.


November- (weather)

Oak Street Po-Boy Festival

We cover po-boys on our French Quarter food tour, but there is actually a po-boy festival you can attend in November.

Admission is entirely free, but you’ll have to purchase wristbands for $5 each in order to get some food at the event.

In addition to the food, live musical performances will be held throughout the day and there will be fun activities for kids such as face painting.


Attend the Turkey Day Race

Every Thanksgiving, the New Orleans Track Club hosts a special event known as the Turkey Day Race.

Although it’s not free to enter the race, you can attend and cheer on the runners as they compete for awards and work off some of the Turkey Day calories!

If you do feel like entering, it’s worth noting that this race is open to all runners and walkers, regardless of whether or not you’re a member of any athletic club.

For even more great activities that don't cost a dime, please read our post covering things to do in New Orleans in November.


December- (weather)

Sugar Bowl Parade

In celebration of the Sugar Bowl which takes place on December 31st, the Sugar Bowl Parade will be held on December 30th. 

This parade begins at about 2 pm at the intersection of Elysian Fields Avenue and Decatur Street.

With a wide variety of floats, bands, and other participants, there will be plenty to see and do during this event.


Enjoy Christmas Activities

There are a lot of great things to do for Christmas in New Orleans, and several activities are actually free.

Here are a few examples of holiday events you can attend without paying a dime.

  • Krewe of Jingle
  • Sugar Bowl Parade
  • Winter Wonderland
  • NOLA Fest
  • Merriment on Magazine Street
  • Miracle on Fulton Street
  • Jackson Square Caroling

Other posts you might be interested in:

About The Author

Sarah Hester

Sarah first moved to New Orleans in 2001 to work for the American Red Cross of Southeast Louisiana. While working in the communities of New Orleans she fell in love with the unique culture of the Big Easy; it's food, music, architecture, wildlife, and most of all history. Read More... Sarah began her career with FTBF, first as a guide, then as an owner/operator. She believes every day is a good day if she gets to impart her love of her beloved New Orleans with Free Tours By Foot guests. She especially likes to convert new Who Dat Saints Fans!
Updated: November 16th, 2023
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