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 2023.
- Top 10
- Free Things to Do
- Nighttime Activities
- Other Things to Do in NOLA
- Halloween in NOLA
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 a few notable bands and musicians performing.
- Death Grips | October 2nd
- Depeche Mode | October 7th
- Alabama | October 20th
- Michelle Branch | October 27th
For more concerts, check out our post about finding live music in New Orleans.
Find more great things to do in the evening in our nighttime activities section below.
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 each month.
Check out all of the events and sports taking place 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. Attend a Theatre or Comedy Show
If you're a fan of musicals, theatre, or comedy, it can be found in New Orleans in October.
- Peppa Pig's Sing-Along Party | October 6th
You can find other events and comedy shows in New Orleans in October here.
We also have additional family-friendly options below.
5. Have Fun at Tremé Fall Festival
Hosted by the St. Augustine Catholic Church, this Tremé Fall Festival celebrates the thriving culture of the Tremé neighborhood.
Activities take place at the church from 11 a.m. to 7 pm on October 21st.
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.
TIP: Want to learn more about this wonderful neighborhood? Check out our post with many additional activities and attractions in the Tremé.
6. 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!
This trip includes a visit to the Lafayette Cemetery, the 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.
7. 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.
The great food and music could make this a fantastic family-friendly outing. Speaking of which, the prices for kids aren’t bad, either!
Activities take place October 13th-13th and 27th-28th.
Find tickets and learn more about Oktoberfest on the website.
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.
8. 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 16th Annual Crescent City Blues & BBQ Festival takes place in Lafayette Square Park from October 13th to 15th.
As the name of this festival implies, you can also expect a lot of fantastic barbecue and blues and jazz music.
There's also an art market, food vendors with options for folks who don't eat meat, and music merchandise for sale
This is a family-friendly event. 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.
9. 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 each year 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.
10. 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:
- Audubon Zoo
- Audubon Aquarium
- Audubon Insectarium
- National WW2 Museum
- Hop-on-Hop-off Bus Tour
- Paddlewheeler River Cruise
- Mardi Gras World
- Houmas House
- Swamp Tour
- And More!
If you want to learn more about these services, make sure to read our full post covering New Orleans tourist attraction passes
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.
Go on a Free Swamp Tour
Many visitors to New Orleans will take advantage of at least one well-reviewed airboat and swamp boat tour 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.
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.
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.
This event will include floats created by artists at Kern Studios (that’s Mardi Gras World), and the creative minds behind a lot of the parade floats that you 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 - Saturday for a free performance from Jeremy Davenport.
TIP: If you’re looking for more free concerts, check out our post about finding live music in New Orleans.
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 and one 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 kid's stage, a fire truck, face painting, a 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.
Events take place October 6th-8th at Pontchartrain Park Playground.
NOTE: Even though this event is free to attend, you may want to bring some money for food and other items.
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 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.
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 with the Voodoo Music +Arts Experience.
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.
The dates for the 2023 festival haven't been announced as of the time of this post, so keep checking the website for updates.
NOTE: If you’re interested in this culture, you may want to consider taking our pay-what-you-wish voodoo tour.
Celebrate Halloween and Fundraise for a Great Cause
Halloween New Orleans, now in its 40th year, celebrates the LGBTQ community with three different shows.
Last year's theme is "Wonderland" and the 2023 is sure to be just as much fun.
Proceeds benefit Project Lazarus, an assisted-living home for those with HIV/AIDS in New Orleans.
The event runs from October 27th-29th. Visit the Halloween New Orleans website for more information.
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.
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 Restaurant and Inn 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 Top Taco Festival
A festival like none other, Top Taco Festival includes a taco competition between over 40 of the city’s best restaurants, handcrafted cocktails, and live music.
Participants can choose from three different entry options, including a VIP option that features a private party and entertainment.
Taking place after dark, this festival is aimed at adults and in fact is only open to people 21 or older. As such, this wouldn’t be family-friendly.
Activities take place on October 26th at Lafreniere Park. Visit the Top Taco website for more information.
TIP: If you’re interested in learning more about all the great foods in this city, consider taking our New Orleans food tour.
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.
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 a Fried Chicken Festival
The National Fried Chicken Festival returns to New Orleans from September 30th - October 1st.
Dozens of New Orleans restaurants will be supplying fried chicken and other foods.
In addition to delicious food, you'll find live entertainment, activities, a Chicken Wing Eating Contest, and a Best Fried Chicken Contest.
Events take place from September 30th to October 1st on New Orleans Lakefront.
For tickets and additional information visit the Fried Chicken Festival website.
Watch the Zombie Run
If you’re planning to attend the Krewe of Boo on October 21st, 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. Click here for more details
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 New Orleans 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.
To sweeten the (flower) pot, kids under 5 actually get into this festival for free!
The event takes place on October 7th. Visit the Fall Garden Festival website for more information.
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.