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What to Do in New Orleans in September

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This post covers things to do in New Orleans in September, updated for 2021, and including a top 10 list as well as things you can enjoy at night, for free, or with the family.

And don't miss our free walking tours throughout New Orleans.

 


TOP 10 EVENTS AND THINGS TO DO

This section will focus on the most fun and interesting things to do in New Orleans this September.

Whenever possible, we will make note of activities and attractions that are either family-friendly, free, or fun after dark. 

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


1) See a Live Concert

This city has a rich musical history, so it shouldn’t come as a surprise that there are usually a lot of concerts in New Orleans throughout the year. 

September is no slouch of a month with a handful of notable performers taking the stage. 

Here are a few different shows you may want to attend:

If you’re looking for more options, make sure to check our live music in New Orleans post. 


2) Enjoy One Last Splash at Cool Zoo

Labor Day Weekend represents your last chance to enjoy the Cool Zoo water park at Audubon Zoo. 

This attraction includes a lazy river water slide, spitting water snakes, and other fun activities that will keep you and your children cool no matter how hot it is.

Although we can’t predict the weather, it’s safe to say that the heat usually doesn’t die down in New Orleans until well after the summer is over. 

With that in mind, we recommend taking advantage of this opportunity to have some fun in the water before this park closes down for the season.

Make sure to read our post about Audubon Zoo for more details. 

NOTE: Don't forget that tickets for Audubon Zoo are included with some New Orleans tourist passes!


3) Get a Drink at Martini Madness

The Friends of City Park will be holding this special event to celebrate one of the most popular drinks in New Orleans. 

Those in attendance will have the opportunity to taste more than 25 special martinis along with cuisine from more than 35 local restaurants. 

City Park Virtual Tour

In addition to the food and drink, Martini Madness will also include a live DJ playing music, photo opportunities, and a fun raffle.

All proceeds will go toward improvements to City Park, one of the most family-friendly and affordable attractions in New Orleans. This event will take place on September 10th from 7 pm – 11 pm. 

If you can’t make Martini Madness, consider taking our cocktail tour.

General Admission

  • $75 per person | $65/Friends of City Park

Reserved Tables & Early Admission

  • $500 for 4 people
  • $250 for 2 people

Purchase tickets or learn more.

For even more fun you can enjoy after dark, please check our nighttime activities section.


4) 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 18th, and it is a one-day event where participating locations offer free entry.

The only catch is that you will have to download your tickets ahead of time from the Smithsonian website. Guests are allowed only one ticket per email address.

The following New Orleans museums will participate in this event:

Tickets will be made available for download on August 15th, and you should get yours as quickly as possible to avoid missing out.


5) Take a French Quarter Walking Tour

If you’re planning on seeing the historic sites in New Orleans, you may want to consider taking a walking tour.

The French Quarter is filled with landmarks such as Jackson Square, the Cabildo, St. Louis Cathedral, and more.

We make a stop at these locations and many others on our pay-what-you-wish French Quarter walking tour as well as our audio tour of the area.

What to Do in the French Quarter

Visitors who are looking for a fun activity after dark may also want to consider our French Quarter ghost tour. We also offer a food tour of the French Quarter.

In addition to all of these tours, we also offer pay-what-you-want walking tours in neighborhoods such as the Garden District and even cemetery walking tours

For more information on each of these options, make sure to read our post on New Orleans walking tours.


6) Hear the Songs of Johnny Cash

BB’s Stage Door Canteen at the National WW2 Museum will be hosting a special event honoring Johnny Cash.

This show features some of the most popular music from throughout the artist's career.

This tribute performance includes classics like “A Boy Named Sue,” “I Walk the Line,” “Ring of Fire,” and many more.


This photo of The National WWII Museum is courtesy of TripAdvisor

This show will be available on the last two weekends of September. Each show includes a lunch buffet for free!

Ticket Details

NOTE: If you’re interested in learning more about WW2, a full trip to this museum is definitely in order. Please read our post about the National WW2 Museum for more details.


7) Go to the Alligator Festival

Although this festival doesn’t technically take place in New Orleans, it isn’t too far out of town. 

The festivities include carnival rides and games, arts & crafts, and live music. You can also expect a lot of fantastic food at this event. 

This is undoubtedly one of the best family-friendly activities during the month of September, as there are a lot of things for kids and their parents to see and do.

Considering all of the fun activities you can enjoy, it may be worth the trip to Westbank Bridge Park, especially if you plan on seeing any of the swamps or plantations in the area.

If you are also interested in gators or getting out of the city, make sure to visit our post on swamp tours and plantation tours for more details on each opportunity.

The Alligator Festival will be held from September 23rd - 26th in 2021.


8) Attend a Football Game

Considering that the football season begins in September, this is an excellent time to go and see the New Orleans Saints play at the Superdome. 

There is only one game taking place in NOLA this month and it is highly advised to purchase tickets well in advance.

  • Saints vs Green Bay Packers | Sept 12th

Purchase tickets or learn more.

If you’re interested in college football, there will also be a few Tulane University games to attend.

  • Tulane vs Oklahoma Sooners | Sept 4th
  • Tulane vs Morgan State Bears | Sept 11th
  • Tulane vs UAB Blazers | Sept 25th

Purchase tickets or learn more.


9) Celebrate the French Quarter Festival

This event usually takes place in the spring, but it was pushed back to September because of the pandemic. 

The French Quarter Festival typically welcomes hundreds of local musicians to play each year, and you can usually expect plenty of great jazz.

In addition to the music, dozens of New Orleans restaurants will have food stalls in the area where you can pick up a bite to eat. 

This festival usually also includes several events and activities for kids, so it's great for families.

Best of all? It's entirely free! Well, not the food, but the festival itself won't cost a thing to enjoy. Head to the French Quarter on September 30th to enjoy the first day of festivities!


10) Save Money With a Tourist Attraction Pass

Many of the best attractions in New Orleans are included either for free or at a heavy discount with a discount tourist pass.

Depending on what you’re planning to do while you’re in the area, these services can be a fantastic way to save up to 50% off general admission prices.

While you will pay per day with all-inclusive passes, there are also options that allow you to choose a specific number of attractions. 

Here are a few of the best activities included with New Orleans tourist passes:

  • Audubon Zoo, Aquarium & Insectarium
  • Hop-on-Hop-off Bus Tour
  • Paddlewheeler Jazz Cruise
  • National WW2 Museum
  • Jean Lafitte Swamp Tour
  • New Orleans Jazz Museum
  • Mardi Gras World
  • The Presbytere
  • The Cabildo
  • And more!

In addition to all of the money you can save, these passes will sometimes include skip-the-line access at certain locations, making it easier to save time as well.

For additional details, please read our post about New Orleans tourist attraction discount passes.


RESCHEDULED: Grab a Bite During Restaurant Week

During this week, over 50 top restaurants offer fixed-price menus at about 25% off the regular price.

For more information see our detailed post on Restaurant Week in NOLA.

If you prefer to get just a sampling of classic New Orleans cuisine, join us for our daily pay-what-you-like food tour of the French Quarter.

Be sure to read our post on the top 13 foods of New Orleans.

NOTE: This event was pushed forward to June 21st - 27th of 2021.


POSTPONED: Go to the National Fried Chicken Festival

After grabbing a drink, you may want to head down to Woldenberg Riverfront Park and grab some of the most delectable fried chicken you’ll ever eat.

This festival features 35 different vendors celebrating the classic southern cuisine over the course of two days.

In addition to the food, there will also be two stages playing live music and cooking demos available throughout the event.

Although it’s free to attend the National Fried Chicken Festival, the samples and meals offered by various vendors will not be. 

Make sure to read our section on free things to do for even more activities that won’t cost you a dime.

NOTE: This event has been pushed back to October 23rd & 24th, 2021.


NO DATES ANNOUNCED: Attend the Downriver Festival

This festival is a free and fun opportunity for families to enjoy live music, food, arts & crafts, games and other activities.

Festivities begin with a second line marching from Jackson Square to the New Orleans Jazz Museum. At the museum, a music tent will be set up for live performances throughout the day. 

You’ll also be able to enter the museum and use their facilities if needed. For a small fee, you can see some of the attractions and exhibits they have on display. 

The Downriver Festival typically runs from 10:30 am – 8 pm or later.

If you’re looking for even more family fun, make sure to check our section on family-friendly activities.

NOTE: The 2021 dates for this event have not yet been announced.

 


THINGS TO DO AT NIGHT

The following section will provide some great ideas for activities you can enjoy in New Orleans after dark during the month of September. 

If you’re looking for even more ideas, don’t forget to check our top 10 for events such as Martini Madness, live concerts, and Restaurant Week.

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


Go on a Ghost Tour

New Orleans is one of the oldest cities in the United States, and there has been a lot of supernatural activity reported in the area. In addition to paranormal happenings, this is also the site of some disturbing crimes.

If you’re interested in learning about subjects such as hauntings, criminal activity, vampires, and more, there are several interesting ghost tours available in NOLA.

As a matter of fact, we offer our own pay-what-you-wish French Quarter Ghost Tour which covers a variety of interesting topics.

In addition to that option, there are also haunted pub crawls, ghost bus tours, and more!

Make sure to read our post about New Orleans ghost tours to find the perfect haunted experience.


Discover a New Brew at NOLA on Tap

This is perhaps the largest beer festival in the Gulf South. Much like Martini Madness, NOLA on Tap will also be held at City Park in New Orleans. 

There will be more than 400 different brands of beer on tap from both local and national companies.

In addition to all the different drinks, you’ll be able to try, there will also be live music, contests, awards, arts & crafts, games, and more.

NOLA on Tap usually takes place on a late September day from 12 pm – 8 pm. Kids are welcome, but nobody under the age of 21 will be allowed to drink.

General Admission

  • Pre-sale Price: $5/Adults
  • Day-of Event Price: $10/Adults
  • Kids 12 and under are free

VIP Pass

  • Pre-sale Price: $25 per person
  • Day-of Event Price: $30 per person
  • Includes the following:
    • Access to VIP tent
    • Free drink koozie
    • Early entry at 11 am

Purchase tickets or learn more.

NOTE: This event has been postponed for 2021.


Wednesdays on the Point

This weekly concert series is entirely free to attend and it actually starts in September. These concerts will be held at Algiers Point, a location you can easily reach using the affordable Canal Street Ferry

Needless to say, this is also an excellent opportunity to take a trip on the water across the Mississippi.

Each performance runs from 5:30 pm – 8:30 pm and there will be a total of three shows in September:

TIP: If you’re looking for additional free or affordable concerts, make sure to read our post on live music in New Orleans.

NOTE: This event has not been confirmed for September of 2021.


Experience Thursdays at Twilight

September marks the beginning of a new season for this popular concert series which is held in City Park at the Botanical Garden. Every Thursday, a new artist will perform a live show typically featuring jazz, rhythm and blues music.

 


This photo of City Park is courtesy of TripAdvisor

Tickets are very affordable at just $10 per person, and there is also a wide variety of food and drink to purchase. The show begins at 6 pm and ends at 8 pm.

Purchase tickets or learn more.

NOTE: This event has yet to be scheduled for September of 2021.


Attend the Burlesque Festival

It probably shouldn’t come as a surprise that the city which 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 perform their best dances and other shows. 

There will also be a contest to determine the “Queen of Burlesque,” as well as various comedians, singers, and other variety acts on hand to celebrate the event.

All performances and shows will take place at either the Civic Theatre or the House of Blues. Tickets range from $22 – $40 per night.

NOTE: The festival dates for September 2021 have yet to be announced.


Celebrate Southern Decadence

Although it may not be the perfect idea for all families, this parade and all concurrent events are known by some as “Gay Mardi Gras.”

Most of the activities related to this festival take place after the sun goes down.

Although there are parades during the day, this festival definitely changes when the sun goes down.

Activities include contests, outdoor concerts, parties, dancing, and more. Most of these events will take place at or near the Bourbon Pub on Bourbon Street.

Some attractions will be free, but you may need to pay a cover charge for others.

Either way, there will probably be drinking involved if you’re spending a lot of time near a bar, so plan on setting aside at least a little money during Southern Decadence!

This event will take place between September 2nd - September 6th.


Enjoy a Sustainable Seafood Dinner

The Audubon Aquarium will be hosting a very special dinner in September. At this event, the finest chefs are welcomed to prepare meals in a unique setting. 

The tables for this dinner will be situated near the shark tanks, giving guests the opportunity to dine among fellow seafood lovers.

Visitors who purchase a table will enjoy cuisine with the theme of sustainability. Seating is limited and proceeds will go to benefit sustainable seafood efforts across the Gulf Coast.

NOTE: This event hasn't been scheduled for 2021, but they will have a Zoo-To-Do event in September.


Enjoy Live Jazz at the Ritz

Several nights a week, the Ritz-Carlton hosts their headliner Jeremy Davenport – and they don’t even charge anything for entry!

These performances take place every Wednesday and Thursday from 5:30 pm - 9:30 pm. If you’re looking for an even later show, come on Friday or Saturday for a performance from 9 pm - 1 am.


This photo of The Ritz-Carlton, New Orleans is courtesy of TripAdvisor

Although this is a free activity, we recommend bringing some cash for drinks and perhaps even leaving a tip if you really enjoy the music.

TIP: If you’re a jazz fan, consider going to the New Orleans Jazz Museum on Tuesdays for a free performance!

Be sure to also read our master post on 40+ Things to Do at Night in New Orleans.

 


FAMILY-FRIENDLY ACTIVITIES

This section will discuss family-friendly activities you can enjoy during the month of September in New Orleans.

If you’re looking for additional ideas, make sure to check our other sections for festivals such as the Fried Chicken Festival, the Alligator Festival, and the Downriver Festival. 

Alternatively, you may also want to consider attending a New Orleans Saints game or going on a pay-what-you-wish walking tour.

Be sure to read our master post on things to do with kids in New Orleans for even more family-friendly ideas.


Attend the Monarch Festival

The Audubon Louisiana Nature Center will be holding a festival in honor of the Monarch butterfly on September 14th.

In addition to learning about the annual 3,000-mile migration of this beautiful animal, families can also expect activities such as face painting, butterfly hikes, arts & crafts, and more.

The Planetarium will be hosting the premiere of the award-winning documentary Flight of the Butterflies in honor of the Monarch Festival. All festival attendees will receive a ticket for the film.

Wristbands will be required to enter this event, and they will cost $8 for members or $10 for non-members.

Purchase tickets or learn more here.

TIP: Even if you miss out on this fun activity, you may still want to consider going to the Audubon Insectarium and Butterfly Garden to see a lot of beautiful butterflies!

NOTE: This event hasn't been scheduled for 2021, however, there will be a Zoo-To-Do event in September.


Go to the Market at Dat Dog

Magazine Street is home to some of the most interesting shops in all of New Orleans, and they also host some of the best markets & events of the year.

Dat Dog is one of the more family-friendly places to eat in the area, and they are the site of a weekly market that invites local artists & craftsmen to sell their wares.

The Market at Dat Dog takes place every Friday from 4 pm - 9 pm and every weekend from 12 pm - 6 pm. 

There is no charge for admission, but you might want to bring some cash just in case you find something you can’t live without!

If you’re looking for other great places to grab a bite to eat with your kids, make sure to check our post covering the best family-friendly restaurants in New Orleans. 


Visit the Children’s Museum

Now that the kids are heading back to school, you may want to help activate their love of learning once again by making a trip to the New Orleans Children’s Museum.


This photo of  Children's Museum is courtesy of TripAdvisor

 

This location is filled with exhibits that give children the opportunity to learn through fun activities. No matter how old they are, chances are your kids will find something interesting and educational to do while they’re here.

Tickets are very affordable, but you can actually get them for free with the New Orleans Pass. If you want to know more about this option, make sure to read our post about New Orleans tourist passes


Take a Trip to the Pharmacy Museum

It might not seem like your kids would have much interest in a pharmacy museum, but the exhibits and artifacts on display could prove enticing for young visitors. 

One of the most popular attractions on hand is the soda fountain, a device that was once used to deliver bitter medicines with a sweet and fizzy drink.

Everything in this historic building is period-appropriate, as the walls are lined with both full and empty bottles of remedies that are now centuries old. 

To sweeten the deal, tickets are actually free for children under the age of six and only $5 for general admission.

For more details, check out our post about the New Orleans Pharmacy Museum


Take a Stroll Through the Sculpture Garden

If you’re looking for something fun to do on the cooler days of September, consider a trip to the Sydney and Walda Besthoff Sculpture Garden. 

Located right next to the New Orleans Museum of Art, this specific attraction is actually entirely free to visit.

Although some of the exhibits in the area may be a little challenging for younger kids, others are absolutely perfect for a family outing. 

While you’re there, you may also want to hop into the museum and check out everything they have to offer!

Read more about the Sculpture Garden

Be sure to read our master post on things to do with kids in New Orleans for even more family-friendly ideas.


FREE THINGS TO DO

In this section, we will discuss some of the free activities you can enjoy during the month of September in New Orleans. 

For additional ideas, make sure to check out some of the other sections to read about attractions such as the Sculpture Garden, Wednesdays at the Point, the Fried Chicken Festival, and the Downriver Festival.

Free Things to do in NOLA

Be sure to check out our master post on free things to do in New Orleans for many more budget-friendly ideas.


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 18th, and it is a one-day event where participating locations offer free entry.

The only catch is that you will have to download your tickets ahead of time from the Smithsonian website. Guests are allowed only one ticket per email address.

The following New Orleans museums will participate in this event:

Tickets will be made available for download on August 15th, and you should get yours as quickly as possible to avoid missing out.

New Orleans Travel Tips and Hacks


Take a Trip to Bayou Sauvage (the Free Swamp)

The summer may be over, but you can probably expect plenty of sunshine to enjoy in New Orleans during September. 

With that in mind, you may want to visit the National Wildlife Refuge of Bayou Sauvage, a location within the city and which is always free to enjoy.

 


This photo of Bayou Sauvage National Wildlife Refuge is courtesy of TripAdvisor

In addition to obvious activities such as wildlife viewing, you can also go fishing or take a self-guided tour down the Ridge Trail.

If you are looking for a more exciting swamp experience, then you might want to consider taking a swamp tour. We have compared and reviewed the best in the city. 


Enjoy a Self-Guided Tour

Even if you don’t feel like taking our pay-what-you-like walking tours, you can still enjoy our self-guided tours for free. 

We currently offer self-guided trips through several different neighborhoods in New Orleans, and you can choose when and how to take them at your leisure.


Attend a Free Wine Tasting

If you’re looking for a glass of new favorite wine, consider heading to Faubourg Wines for a wine tasting event that won’t cost a thing!

This activity takes place once per week on Wednesday nights from 6 pm - 8 pm, and it’s a great opportunity to try a variety of different drinks.

Faubourg Wines will typically provide 3-4 different wines for this event, and you don’t have to pay a dime for any of them.

Tickets are not required, all you have to do is show up at the right time and ask to take part in the wine tasting.

It is recommended to arrive by at least 7:30 pm if you want a chance to try all of the wines they will have available.


Practice Yoga at Riverwalk

With all the great food in New Orleans, you might want to consider taking a yoga class just to stay in shape.

 


This photo of Riverwalk Marketplace is courtesy of TripAdvisor

 

Riverwalk offers a weekly yoga course that you can attend for free. While you will have to bring your own supplies, the instruction itself won’t cost a thing!

This yoga class runs from 6:30 am - 7:30 am every Wednesday. 

Everyone who participates will receive a free parking pass at the end of class.

NOTE: This activity may or may not be available in 2o21.


See a Free Comedy Show

Anyone looking for a good laugh may want to consider going to a stand-up comedy special in New Orleans.

Although some of these shows require a cover charge, there are a lot of open mic nights and other performances that are entirely free to attend.

As a matter of fact, there are so many venues offering free comedy shows in NOLA that you can enjoy this activity almost every night of the week!

Even though these shows are free to watch, we recommend bringing some cash for drinks and tips.

If you’re wondering where to go and when, make sure to read our post covering free things to do in New Orleans for more details.

 


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About The Author

Sarah

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: October 12th, 2021
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