New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival has curated the culture of New Orleans since 1970. Now-a-days, hundreds of thousands of people flock to New Orleans for the week long event. With over 400 acts, Jazz Fest exemplifies the city’s rich history in jazz, blues, and other diverse genres of music. In addition to the music, attendees can also find local food, marketplaces, and parades scattered throughout the festival. Jazz Fest has been named “Festival of the Year” four times by Pollstar magazine, and truly immerses festival goers into the New Orleans culture.
New Orleans is known for their cajun and creole food. Some of the more popular dishes served at Jazz Fest include po-boys, crawfish, and oysters, while the more adventurous may try alligator.
There are three marketplaces in the festival featuring a wide array of artists that foster the culture and spirit of New Orleans. The Congo Square African Marketplace gives festival goers the true marketplace experience. The artists in this marketplace are from the African Diaspora, and have pieces like drum carvings by master drummers. The Contemporary Crafts Marketplace is near the jazz, blues, and gospel music tents. This marketplace houses handcrafted clothing, leather goods, and jewelry, with ongoing demonstrations. The Louisiana Marketplace displays Creole furniture and hones in on the state’s unique culture.
Jazz Fest has not always had a marketing budget; they have only recently acquired funds from the city of New Orleans. Since this acquisition, Jazz Fest has been mentioned in the New York Times, Rolling Stone, and USA Today. As the head of marketing put it in a 2011 interview, “you can’t help but get covered if you’re doing something in New Orleans.”
Jazz Fest uses funds from the festival to support community development year-round. Raising the Roof is a housing initiative started by Jazz Fest after Hurricane Katrina. Jazz Fest also gives back to the youth in the community through the Don Jamison Heritage School of Music, a free music program that reaches 85 students each week.