If there was ever a city to love and admire for its panache and perseverance, it is certainly New Orleans. Our collective hearts ached for the destruction that came with Hurricane Katrina, and our spirits soared when the New Orleans Saints won the Super Bowl. Now just as the city was taking a full breath to celebrate its reawakening, the Gulf Oil Spill has devastated tourism again.
Still, New Orleans has a story to tell of exuberance, passion and pluck as they invite everyone to "Come Out and Play." The weather's fine, the seafood gumbo is simmering, and they won't stop the party for a bit of oil miles away. As Louisiana's fishing waters reopen (70% of the coastline is outside the spill area and not in closure zones), the city is broadcasting the promise that visitors will find great promotional rates, spirited festivals and of course, incomparable Cajun and Creole cooking in New Orleans this summer.
Here's a look at upcoming events and festivals that will have you packing a bag and heading to New Orleans for a rip roaring good time.
- We Live to Eat about says it all and that's the promise of the local restaurant association. The Louisiana Restaurant Association has designed a COOLinarydining celebration that runs for the entire months of August and September. Specially designed three course menus will be featured at hundreds of restaurants throughout the city. Lunch prix fix meals are priced at $20 per person, and dinners at $30.
- 10th Annual Satchmo SummerFest, one of American's premier Jazz Festivals, takes place August 5-8, in the French Quarter. The festival celebrates the life and music of New Orleans' favorite son, Louis "Satchmo" Armstrong in a free four day Jazz fest.
- The Great American Seafood Cook-Off takes place at the Morial Convention Center on August 7th. What could be more appropriate than America's top chefs competing to prepare the best dishes using the bounty of seafood in Louisiana? This event is sponsored by NOAA, the National Fisheries Institute, The Food Network, Fish Watch and many others.
- For love of the arts, New Orleans brings out the special linen. White Linen Night on August 7th turns a five block area in the warehouse district into a huge free block party. Everyone is encouraged to wear a cool white outfit and join the fun. Local art galleries open their doors to browsers during the party. Dirty Linen Night takes place a week later on August 14th. The 9th annual art walk in the French Quarter from the 500 - 1000 blocks of Royal Street invites you to visit dozens of artist-owned studios, galleries and boutiques.
- September brings the 4th Annual New Orleans Seafood Festival from 9/10-12 at Lafayette Square. This free event features live music and lots of culinary masterpieces from many of New Orleans' famed local restaurants.
- As temperatures cool, the music heats up with the Crescent City Blues and BBQ Festival on October 16-17 which takes place in Lafayette Square. The New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Foundation presents free concerts on multiple stages, a crafts fair and "the best barbecue in the South".
The storied hotels of New Orleans are pitching in with great promotional offers as well. Visit the Conventions and Visitors Bureau to see a full listing of Discounts and Deals to entice you to start planning your trip. For everyone who loves jazz, blues or dixieland; beignets, gumbo or jambalaya, there has never been a more important time to visit the fine folks of New Orleans. The welcome mat is out, the band is tuning up and the pot is on a simmer. New Orleans is ready to welcome you to the party!