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What to Do in New Orleans in October

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This post covers things to do in New Orleans during the month of October, including free, nighttime, as well as family-friendly activities, all updated for 2021. 



This is our list of the 10 most interesting and entertaining attractions and events in New Orleans during the month of October. 

For tips on the most popular activities in New Orleans, check out our popular posts:

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

1) Attend a Live Concert/Performance

Thanks to the rich history of music in New Orleans, you can usually count on at least a few great concerts every month.

October is no exception, as there are several notable bands and musicians planning to perform.

There will also be at least one significant comedy show.

Here are a few of the more popular concerts/performances happening this month: 

The French Quarter Festival is also scheduled for early October, and there will be plenty of great live music to enjoy. 

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

You can find all major events and concerts here.

2) Go to a Sporting Event

At this point in the year, the football season is in full swing and there are at least a few games to see every month.

New Orleans is home to the Saints, and they will be playing two home games that you can attend in October:

This is a very popular team, so you may want to purchase tickets well ahead of time.

October is also the month when professional basketball returns to the city as the New Orleans Pelicans begin their journey for the 2021-2022 season.

For a chance to see one of the brightest young stars take the court, make sure to check the Pelicans schedule/get tickets as soon as possible.

Check out all the events and sports available this month.

3) Take a Ghost Tour

New Orleans is often referred to as one of the most haunted cities in the United States.

With Halloween just around the corner, this is a perfect time to take one of our spooky walking tours.

Most of these tours are pay-what-you-wish, and they are all offered several times per week.

Reservations will be required, so make sure to secure your spot in one of the following tours ahead of time to avoid missing out.

TIP: If you’re interested in learning more about vampires and other creepy subjects, make sure to read our full post about haunted tours in New Orleans.

If you're looking for more Halloween-themed activities or things to do in the evenings, check out our things to do at night section.

4) See a Theatrical Production

Theatre is back in New Orleans this fall, and some of the first theatrical productions will be taking place at the Saenger Theatre this October.

The month will kick off with Escape to Margaritaville, a musical based on the work of Jimmy Buffet.

At the end of the month you'll have the chance to see an interpretation of Set It Off live on stage.

You can find all shows and events in New Orleans here.

A few of these shows are live versions of popular kids cartoons, which are fun options for a family night out. We have more family-friendly options in the section below. 

5) See Famous Comedians Perform Stand-Up

The famous comedian Jim Jeffries will be performing at the Saenger Theatre on October 21st. This is one of the better comedy shows scheduled for this month in New Orleans.

Even so, there will undoubtedly be several other opportunities to enjoy some live stand-up in NOLA this October.

Check this list of comedy shows in and around New Orleans to see who will be performing this month.

In addition to these opportunities, you can also check our list of free comedy performances.

6) Attend Jazzfest 2021 (canceled)

The Annual New Orleans Jazzfest was pushed back this year due to the pandemic, and it is now scheduled to take place from October 8th - 17th, until it was canceled again.

As usual, you can expect a lot of great musicians to be performing at this festival, including some of the following bands and artists:

  • The Rolling Stones
  • Foo Fighters
  • Stevie Nicks
  • The Black Crowes
  • Elvis Costello
  • The Beach Boys
  • Jimmy Buffett
  • Boz Scaggs
  • And more!

Purchase tickets for the New Orleans Jazz Festival or learn more.

7) Enjoy Halloween in the Garden District

If you’re looking for a great neighborhood to go trick-or-treating or enjoy some of the best decorations in New Orleans, the Garden District is an absolute must.

Even before the 31st, many homes will begin decorating for the holiday with a lot of spooky ornamentation. This is one of the best ways to take part in the festivities of Halloween and it’s entirely free!

Visitors who want to learn more about this area may want to consider taking our Garden District walking tour.

This trip includes a visit to the Lafayette Cemetery, a perfect addition to this creepy time of year.

You can also use our GPS-enabled audio tour of the neighborhood if you’d rather enjoy a self-guided outing. For more affordable activity ideas, check out the free things to do section below.

8) Celebrate Oktoberfest in NOLA

Even if Tremé Fall Fest doesn’t interest you, there’s another festival you may want to consider.

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.

While some people might come for the food, there’s also a lot of wonderful music and dancing during this festival.

You’ll also find a historical exhibit on display providing a lot of interesting information about Oktoberfest.

The great food and music could make this a fantastic family-friendly outing. Speaking of which, the prices for kids aren’t bad, either!

  • Tickets: $8/Adults | Kids under 12 are free
  • Friday Hours: 4 pm – 11 pm
  • Saturday Hours: 1 pm – 11 pm
    • October 22nd - 23rd
    • October 29th - 30th

Learn more about Oktoberfest.

This is a fantastic activity you can enjoy after dark. If you’re looking for even more fun when the sun goes down, make sure to check our section on things to do at night in New Orleans.

9) Go to the Crescent City Blues & BBQ Festival

New Orleans loves to party, so it’s no surprise that there are so many festivals taking place in October.

The 14th Annual Crescent City Blues & BBQ Festival is going to be a hell of a show featuring such notable acts as The Allman-Betts Band, Tucka, Erica Falls, and Little Freddie King.

As the name of this festival implies, you can also expect a lot of fantastic barbecue and other local foods during this event.

Although you might want to bring some money for the food, admission to the festival itself is entirely free.

  • Location: Lafayette Square Park
  • Dates: October 16th – 18th
  • Friday Hours: 5 pm – 8:30 pm
  • Sat/Sun Hours: 11 am – 8:30 pm

With live music and great food, this is definitely one of the best family events taking place this month.

If you’re looking for even more great ideas, make sure to read our section about things to do with kids in New Orleans.

Even if you miss the festival, you can still find great tunes by checking our post about live music in New Orleans. We also have more free events listed in our things to do for free section.

10) 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 on October 12th in 2021, which makes this the perfect month 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.

Check our post about where to find the best Gumbo for more details or test some out on our pay-what-you-like French Quarter Food Tour.

11) Save Money With a New Orleans Tourist Pass

A New Orleans tourist attraction pass can help you save a lot of cash on admission to several notable locations.

While some passes will give you unlimited access to dozens of activities for a specific amount of time, others allow you to pay one flat price for a set number of attractions.



No matter which option you choose, these services can help you save 50% or more on tickets – and they usually include skip-the-line access at some sites!

Here are a few of the more popular attractions included with these passes:

If you want to learn more about these services, make sure to read our full post covering New Orleans tourist attraction passes.

RESCHEDULED: Attend Tremé Fall Fest

Hosted by the St. Augustine Catholic Church, this annual 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.

NOTE: This event was postponed in 2020 due to the pandemic and rescheduled as a virtual concert in April of 2021. Although the festival usually takes place in the fall, it will not be held again this year.

TIP: Want to learn more about this wonderful neighborhood? Check out our post with many additional activities and attractions in the Tremé.



Even if you’re working with a budget, there are many fun and free activities you can enjoy this month.

This section will provide a few different ideas for interesting things you can do in New Orleans during October without paying a dime.



Also, check out our master post of free things to do in New Orleans for more budget-friendly ideas.

RESCHEDULED: Treat Yourself at Beignet Fest

New Orleans is known for a lot of excellent meals, but when it comes to dessert, the beignet reigns supreme.

If you’re looking for something sweet to eat, consider attending Beignet Fest on October 5th. 

This festival will feature more than 20 different styles of the popular treat from several different restaurants around the city.

In addition to the food, there will also be live music, an artist market, and a kid’s village.

Although you’re free to attend, there are VIP tickets and you might also want to consider bringing some money for the star attraction of this event – beignets!

NOTE: This event was rescheduled for September 25th, 2021.

TIP: If you’re looking for more things to do in the area either before or after the festival, check our City Park post.

To learn more about this delectable treat, read our post about beignets and where to find them in New Orleans.

Go on a Free Swamp Tour

Many visitors to New Orleans will take advantage of at least one well-reviewed airboat and swamp boat tours offered in the area.

These tours have a price, but there are also free options to explore the area’s swamps and wildlife.

If it’s a particularly nice day outside, you may want to consider heading down to the Barataria Preserve.

This area is located on the southern end of the Jean Lafitte National Historical Park, and it is entirely free to visit.

This photo of Small Airboat Combo Tour from New Orleans is courtesy of TripAdvisor

In addition to a visitor center and an environmental education complex, there are also several hiking trails in the area where you can see a lot of incredible wildlife.

You can also take a self-guided tour or a cellphone tour of this nature preserve.

If you’re more interested in a guided tour, consider attending the Wetland Walk at 10 am from Wednesday through Sunday.

Attend the Krewe of Boo

Parades are a relatively common appearance in New Orleans, so it shouldn’t be too surprising that there is also a Halloween parade.

Celebrating its 11th anniversary, the Krewe of Boo will make its way through the French Quarter on October 23rd, 2021.

This event will include floats created by artists at Kern studios (that’s Mardi Gras World), the creative minds behind a lot of the parade floats that you usually see during Mardi Gras.

During the parade, volunteers will be throwing fun treats out to the crowds including plush toys, snacks, t-shirts and more. If you become a member, you can actually ride on one of the floats!

In addition to being entirely free to attend, the Krewe of Boo will also take place after dark and it’s a great family-friendly activity.

Go to a Free Live Jazz Performance

If you're looking for some great live music to enjoy,  visit the New Orleans Jazz Museum. Every Tuesday, this museum offers a live musical performance on the 3rd floor for free.

If you can’t get enough jazz, head to the Ritz-Carlton from Wednesday - Sunday for a free performance from Jeremy Davenport.

TIP: If you’re looking for more free concerts, check our post about finding live music in New Orleans.

Experience a Free Art Fair

Magazine Street is home to several wonderful businesses and art galleries, and you’ll have an opportunity to visit many of these locations for free during the Art for Art’s Sake event this October.

Every fall, this art fair celebrates local artists with live music, wine, gallery openings, shopping, and more.


This photo of Magazine Street is courtesy of TripAdvisor


Art for Art’s Sake won’t cost a dime to attend, but some activities will not be free, so you may want to bring spending money.

Hop from one art gallery to the next and enjoy some of the most interesting artwork in the city without worrying about your budget!

This art fair takes place in the evening, which means it’s an excellent night time activity. For more fun things to do after dark, make sure to read our things to do at night section.

NOTE: This event has yet to be scheduled for 2021, but it typically happens in October.

Attend Gentilly Fest

With so many festivals taking place in New Orleans this October, Gentilly Fest can, unfortunately, get lost in the shuffle, but it’s still a fun event that’s free to attend!

This festival is all about celebrating New Orleans culture with live music, delicious food, arts & crafts and a lot of family-friendly activities.

Gentilly Fest will even have a Kids’ Village with pony rides, a kids stage, a fire truck, face painting, playground, pottery making, gardening crafts and more.

Proceeds from the festival support New Orleans police, firefighters, EMS, children’s music camps and other local organizations that need help.

  • Location: Pontchartrain Park Playground
  • Dates: October 8th - 10th
  • Fri Hours: 6 pm - 10 pm
  • Sat Hours: 11 am - 10 pm
  • Sun Hours: 12 pm - 7 pm

NOTE: Even though this event is free to attend, you may want to bring some money for food and other items.

Enjoy a Free Wine Tasting

If you’re looking for a new favorite drink, it’s worth noting that Faubourg Wines offers a free wine tasting event every week.

Each Wednesday, this local wine store provides 3-4 different drinks for visitors to try, and they don’t even charge anything!

While you don’t have to pay for anything, you might want to bring some money just in case you fall in love with one of their wines.

Needless to say, this event is 21+ and children will not be allowed.

TIP: It is recommended to arrive by at least 7:30 pm to make sure you won’t miss out on any of the wines.

Also, check out our master post of free things to do in New Orleans for more budget-friendly ideas.



Even after the sun goes down, there’s still plenty to see and do in New Orleans.

The following section will provide a few activities and events that you can attend at night in October.



For even more ideas for any time of the year, check out our master post on things to do at night in NOLA.

Take a French Quarter Ghost Tour

This is also included in our top 10 list, but it’s worth pointing out that our ghost tour takes place twice a day at 7:30 pm and 8:15 pm, and it operates on a pay-what-you-like or can afford model.

During this walking tour, we’ll cover a variety of locations such as Pirate Alley, Hotel Monteleone, and many other notable sites in the French Quarter.

We will discuss topics ranging from yellow fever to modern true crime stories, revealing some of the most haunted tales in New Orleans.

Check our ghost tours post for more information on this nightly trip as well as many other ghost tours available in the city.

Attend Brews and Boos at City Park

In honor of Halloween, City Park will be hosting an interesting fundraising event at Carousel Gardens. Although these are usually locations reserved for children, this is actually a 21+ activity!

Guests will have the opportunity to sample a variety of craft beer and there will be several treats available which are included with admission.

In addition to the brews, there will also be a costume contest with secret judges roaming around and passing out tickets for a chance to win an award.

There will be a VIP section in Storyland with music, candy, open bars, and even a signature drink. VIP ticket holders will also be given unlimited rides at the amusement park!

  • General Admission: $30/Online | $40/Day-of Event
  • VIP Admission: $50/Online | $60/Day-of Event
  • Dates: October 25th & 26th
  • Hours: 10:30 pm - 1:30 am
  • Tickets are only good for one night.
  • Purchase tickets or learn more.

NOTE: This event has yet to be scheduled for 2021, but there is a good chance they will bring it back this year. Keep an eye on the City Park Calendar for more details.

Attend Scales and Ales

Every fall, the Audubon Aquarium holds a special event with open bars and a lot of fantastic cuisine from local restaurants.

In addition to the meal, live music will also be provided throughout the night.


This photo of New Orleans is courtesy of TripAdvisor

Proceeds from Scales and Ales will go toward conservation efforts to help clean plastic out of our oceans.

This activity is a great way to support an environmental cause while having fun and enjoying some fantastic food.

Although this event has yet to be fully confirmed for October, they have indicated it will return in 2021.

TIP: Even if you miss the Scales and Ales event, you may still want to consider a trip to the Audubon Aquarium. Luckily, admission is included for free with both the New Orleans Sightseeing Pass and the New Orleans Pass

Go to the Voodoo Music + Arts Experience

New Orleans has a pretty deep connection to the world of voodoo, so it’s not too surprising that they hold a music festival in honor of this culture on the weekend closest to Halloween every year.

The musical lineup is usually very impressive, with several notable artists performing including well-known bands.

In addition to the tunes, there will also be plenty of great food to eat, interesting art to see, and plenty of entertainment during the whole weekend.

NOTE: If you’re interested in this culture, you may want to consider taking our pay-what-you-wish voodoo tour.

Celebrate Hallowdays at the Fillmore

Taking place on the weekend before Halloween, this special event will celebrate the LGBTQ community with three different shows.

This year will be the 35th anniversary of the event, and there will be plenty of spooky activities to enjoy.

Proceeds for Hallowdays will go to benefit Project Lazarus, an assisted-living home for those with HIV/AIDS in New Orleans.

Have a Sleepover at a Plantation

Oak Alley is one of the oldest locations in Louisiana, so it probably shouldn’t surprise anyone that it is also reportedly one of the most haunted sites near New Orleans. 

If you want an opportunity to potentially experience this haunting for yourself, consider booking a room at the plantation.


This photo of Oak Alley Plantation is courtesy of TripAdvisor


They offer several overnight cottages so that you can spend the night on the property. This could be a great spooky activity for anyone interested in ghosts and the supernatural.

Check the Oak Alley Plantation site for more details or to book a room.

TIP: If you’re interested in visiting this plantation, but you don’t want to stay the night, consider getting a New Orleans Pass. This discount pass includes admission to Oak Alley.

Attend the New Orleans Film Festival

Usually running in October, the 30th Annual New Orleans Film Festival is an excellent opportunity to see a variety of new and significant independent films.

Many of the screenings for this festival will begin from 7 pm - 8 pm, and there will be over 200 different movies to see throughout the week.

In addition to all-access passes which guarantee admission to all films, there are also much more affordable options that still provide access to several different festival screenings.

  • 6 Film Pass: $65 per person
  • Weekender Pass: $175 per person
    • Unlimited access to screenings
    • Admission to weekend parties
    • VIP Lounge Access
  • All-Access Pass: $315 per person
    • Unlimited access to all events
  • Purchase tickets or learn more.

NOTE: This event was postponed to November 5th - 14th.

Be sure to also check out our post on the 40+ things to do at night in New Orleans any time of the year.



If you’re looking for something fun to do with the family, October is a great month for a variety of kid-friendly events in New Orleans.

This section will provide a few ideas for activities that families can enjoy together. 



Be sure to also read our master post on things to do with kids in NOLA for even more family-friendly ideas or check out the highlights video.

Take the Kids to Boo at the Zoo

Whether you’re looking for a safe place to take your children trick-or-treating or you just want to have some Halloween fun with the family, Boo at the Zoo is an event you won’t want to miss.

This annual activity is designed for kids 12 and under, giving them the opportunity to dress up and get on a ghost train or go through a haunted house.

Additionally, there will also be a variety of games and entertainment for young audiences. Everything except the concessions are free with admission.

Although this activity has not been confirmed for October 2021, there are indications that they will be bringing Boo at the Zoo back this year. Unfortunately, they do not have any dates yet.

TIP: Tickets to Audubon Zoo are included with the New Orleans Sightseeing Pass. If you want to learn more about this attraction, read our post on the Audubon Zoo.

Attend the NOLA Mac n’ Cheese Fest

Macaroni and Cheese may be one of the most popular meals in America, and it’s certainly a favorite among kids. If you or anyone in your family enjoys this dish, consider heading to the Mac n’ Cheese Fest in Louis Armstrong Park.

As the name implies, this festival is a celebration of all things mac n’ cheese. A variety of vendors will be on hand to provide samples and snacks which often take a different approach to this tasty treat.

Additionally, judges will be on hand to vote on the best macaroni and cheese dish and hand out awards. You can also expect live music, games, and other festivities throughout this event.

NOTE: The dates for 2021 have yet to be confirmed.

Watch the Zombie Run

If you’re planning to attend the Krewe of Boo on October 23rd, you might want to dress up ahead of time and head to the New Orleans Zombie Run first. 

Even if you don’t take part in the race, this can be a really fun event to watch!

During this activity, the Big Easy Rollergirls chase down zombies and stop them from attacking any of the onlookers in quarantine zones.

Although you must pay to register for the race, you are free to watch along the sidelines without paying a dime.

Smell the Flowers at the Fall Garden Festival

Anyone with an interest in gardening will want to check out the Fall Garden Festival at the Botanical Garden in City Park.

While there will be a lot of plants and flowers both on display and for sale, families can also expect a children’s activities area with music, arts & crafts and educational programs. 


This photo of Botanical Gardens is courtesy of TripAdvisor


To sweeten the (flower) pot, kids under 5 actually get into this festival for free!

  • Tickets: $10/Adults | $5/Children (Ages 5-12)
  • Dates: Rescheduled
  • Friends of City Park members get in free.
  • Kids under 5 get in free.
  • Click here for more details.

NOTE: This event was rescheduled to September 11th and 12th in 2021.

TIP: There are a lot of fun things to do in this park with your family. Whether you miss this event or you just want more to do while you’re in the area, make sure to check out our post on City Park to learn more about attractions like Storyland, Carousel Gardens and City Putt.

Go to the Bat Festival

With Halloween just around the corner, there’s no better time to teach the kids a little something about bats.

Luckily, the Audubon Louisiana Nature Center will be holding a Bat Festival with plenty of family-friendly activities to enjoy.

Young visitors can take part in various arts & crafts including face painting while their parents can learn about gardening for bats and even a few bat-related recipes they may want to try

Best of all, this event is entirely free to attend!

  • Free for everyone
  • Date: Unconfirmed
  • Hours: 10 am - 4 pm
  • Location: Audubon Louisiana Nature Center

NOTE: This event has yet to be confirmed for October of 2021.

TIP: Even though there is no entrance fee for this event, you may want to bring some cash to spend at food trucks and concessions.

Celebrate Halloween at City Putt

If you’re looking for something different to do this Halloween, consider heading to City Putt to celebrate the spooky season with a round of mini-golf.

In honor of the holiday, they will be offering sweet treats, candy, a beverage, a craft table for the kids and a free raffle ticket.

This is an excellent opportunity to enjoy a few additional activities/goodies while taking part in one of the most entertaining activities at City Park.

The best part is you won’t have to pay anything extra for this event – admission prices are the same as they are throughout the year!

NOTE: The special Halloween activities they usually hold at City Putt have yet to be confirmed for 2021.

Get Creepy at Crawloween

In honor of Halloween, the Audubon Butterfly Garden & Insectarium will be holding a special event known as Crawloween.

Visitors will have the opportunity to go trick-or-treating for bug-themed trinkets, enjoy spooky cookies at Bug Appetit, see exhibits with pumpkins and jack-o-lanterns and more fun activities.


This photo of Audubon Insectarium is courtesy of TripAdvisor


Guests who arrive in their Halloween costume will receive a discount on tickets ($3 for adults, $2 for kids).

NOTE: This event has yet to be confirmed for October of 2021.


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About The Author


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. 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: September 27th, 2021
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