Travel Guide: Best Time to Visit New Orleans LA

New Orleans — also known as The Big Easy, Crescent City, NOLA — has always been one of the top cities to visit in the US, and it’s easy to see why. There’s always something cool happening here, whether it’s the famed multi-month Mardi Gras celebrations, music festivals, food, or the rollicking live music scene. We’ve visited NOLA every season and always stumbled upon something new to see, do, or eat. So, figuring out the best time to visit New Orleans, LA, can certainly feel daunting. Since the city is hailed as a four-season destination and has something for everyone, the best time to visit comes down to what one is interested in.

Again, there are a lot of things to consider depending on whether you’re going for a major event or the season. For instance, heading to the Jazz and Heritage Festival or Mardi Gras takes a lot of planning for hotel bookings, tickets, etc. On the other hand, if you plan for the weather, like us, we prefer the shoulder season just before the high season of February to May. Clearly, NOLA has much to offer throughout the year, so here’s a detailed guide to visiting New Orleans for any weather and occasion.

Best things to do in New Orleans by month


January weather for New Orleans is considered wintertime; it sometimes gets cold, even freezing! That said, the average temperature is around 55 degrees Fahrenheit, and the first few days of the year are all about parties. Besides New Year’s Eve, there are the college playoffs of the Sugar Bowl on New Year’s Day at the Super Dome.

That said, the most important day is January 6th, one of the reasons for which is Joan of Arc’s birthday. We attended the Krewe de Jeanne d’Arc parades in Downtown, which is a medieval-themed procession through the French Quarter. It ends with the first king cake of the Mardi Gras season because January 6th also happens to be Twelfth Night, or the Feast of the Epiphany. That happens to be the official beginning of the Mardi Gras season! We also caught the Phunny Phorty Phellows, a satirical Mardi Gras Krewe that parade on the St. Charles Streetcar.


February is doubly special as the weather for February in New Orleans is the end of winter. While there’s the possibility of a bit of rain or a cold snap here and there, the month sees the nicest weather in the entire year.

The other reason that February is special is because it’s finally Mardi Gras Day! It’s not just one of the world’s best carnivals but also one of those annual world festivals that are worth making the trip for. Since it’s based on the lunar calendar, Mardi Gras Day could fall anytime between the 3rd of February and the 9th of March. “Fat Tuesday,” as Mardi Gras Day is called, is always 47 days before Easter and the day before Ash Wednesday. So, do check what day Mardi Gras falls on before booking your trip. In fact, New Orleans is one of the USA’s most visited cities for this reason alone.

Did you know that NOLA is one of the country’s biggest hubs for Vietnamese diaspora culture? Yes! In Vietnamese tradition, February is also the Lunar New Year, Tet, which results in a huge three-day celebration at the Queen Mary of Vietnam Church. It includes everything from fireworks and dragon dances to games, live music, and delicious Vietnamese food.

This is why New Orleans is also one of the best US winter vacation spots.

Mardi Gras, New Orleans - by Sergiy Galyonkin, Flickr
Mardi Gras, New Orleans – by Sergiy Galyonkin, Flickr


March is one of the best times to visit NOLA as it really begins to warm up, and it’s evident because the snowball shops open up their stands and storefronts. As we mentioned earlier, Mardi Gras Day could fall anytime in February or early March, so ensure that you plan ahead to figure out the dates. That being said, there’s a lot to do besides Mardi Gras, like the New Orleans Bourbon Festival. It refers to Bourbon Street, not the drink, and celebrates its history with workshops, food tastings, and even burlesque. We also attended the BUKU Music+Art Project, an EDM (electronic dance music) festival where indie rock and hip-hop musicians played together.

Some might argue that March is the liveliest month in New Orleans. It’s also when the weather is at its most temperate, making it the perfect time to plan a honeymoon trip or a romantic holiday. Check out the best hotels with a spa in New Orleans.

BUKU NOLA - by Wikimedia Commons
BUKU NOLA – by Wikimedia Commons


April is NOLA’s festival season and one of the best weather months of the year, with temperatures around 70-80 degrees Fahrenheit. First up is the Feret Street Festival, which celebrates the local businesses and shops lining Feret Street in uptown New Orleans. Our favorite was the three-day music celebrations of the French Quarter Fest, which took place in the historic and iconic French Quarter. Did you know that the French Quarter is one of the top tourist attractions in the USA? Yep.

Then there’s the biggest festival of them all, the world-famous New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival, which features the best of international stars and local groups. After all, NOLA is the birthplace of jazz and positively shines during this time. We ate good food during this festival, saw different cultural attractions, and enjoyed different musical styles. Since it takes place at the end of April, hotels’ prices skyrocket, so you will need to plan ahead for this.

Finally, April is Easter time, and New Orleans has not one but two parades, including a gay Easter Parade and a traditional Catholic one.

New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival - by Infrogmation of New Orleans, Flickr
New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival – by Infrogmation of New Orleans, Flickr


May is New Orleans’ summer, with temperatures reaching about 80 degrees Fahrenheit (26 degrees Celsius). The month begins with the three-day music festival of Bayou Boogaloo in one of our favorite neighborhoods, Bayou Saint John. It’s fun for the entire family, with craft vendors, food, and local music. Moreover, May 10th is National Shrimp Day in NOLA, so many local restaurants serve some of the best seafood dishes. We even saw local spots dishing out frozen margaritas!

May also sees Mother’s Day celebrations, like the famed and legendary Court of Two Sisters hosting Mother’s Dat brunches with live jazz performances. Also, there’s usually a Second Line parade that takes place, which are local parades that celebrate life. They’re usually a big walking party organized by pleasure and social aid clubs.

Bayou Boogaloo - by Jim Hobbs, Flickr
Bayou Boogaloo – by Jim Hobbs, Flickr


June through August (and even September) are New Orleans’ hottest months, thus quieter than the year’s first half. The humidity and temperatures can be punishing, and the Hurricane season also peaks during this time. Even though things slow down, it can be a great time to visit, explore, and end the day poolside.

We started in June with two food festivals, the New Orleans Oyster Festival, and the Creole Tomato Festival. While we weren’t surprised about the former, we had no idea about the latter and that Southern Louisiana had its own kind of tomatoes! Next, the most famous July event is the annual ESSENCE Fest, a three-day festival that celebrates black culture, beauty, food, health, and music. Finally, July ends with the city’s homage to its Spanish influence, the running of the bulls. But instead of actual bulls, they have NOLA roller Derby girls!

August, which is the peak of the Hurricane season, sees the Satchmo Summerfest (honoring Louis “Satchmo” Armstrong) and the Red Dress Run, a beloved tradition where walkers and runners wear red dresses and support the region’s charities.

If you are visiting NOLA during these hot summer months, then you better go through the top hotels with a rooftop pool in New Orleans.

Running of the bulls, New Orleans - by Wikimedia Commons
Running of the bulls, New Orleans – by Wikimedia Commons


September might be the start of fall for most places in North America, but in NOLA, it’s still summertime with the added threat of hurricanes. So, if you’re visiting in September, pack summer clothes and also consider investing in travel insurance.

The largest LGBTQ event in the city, Southern Decadence, happens on Labor Day weekend in August/September. This six-day celebration boasts flamboyant costumes, wild dance parties, etc. In fact, it has even been compared to Mardi Gras in its decadence. Bourbon Street also sees the annual international New Orleans Burlesque Festival. This three-day festival sees some of the world’s most eye-popping and glamorous burlesque dancers attend and perform in NOLA. Finally, the one exception that brings out huge crowds is the NFL season that begins in September, as NOLA Saints games have a near-religious following.


The weather in New Orleans for October finally starts to cool off and is the harbinger of the fall festival season. It all starts with Oktoberfest, which pays homage to German culture with beer, Bavarian pretzels, cabbage, and sauerbraten. However, the 2006-established Crescent City Blues + BBQ Festival is the most iconic October celebration. It celebrates NOLA’s role in making R&B and the blues among the most influential music genres in the world. Moreover, many top performers from Mississippi and southern Louisiana perform here.

The celebrations continue with the mid-October NOLA Film Festival and end with Halloween. After all, New Orleans is one of the best cities in the US for celebrating Halloween. Since many parties for all ages are taking place during this time, make sure you pack a funky costume. We also highly recommend strolling down Frenchman Street in the evening, where you can spy on some of the most amazing costumes!

NOLA's famous Skeleton House - by Infrogmation of New Orleans, Flickr
NOLA’s famous Skeleton House – by Infrogmation of New Orleans, Flickr

November and December

November and December are two great months to visit New Orleans, as average temperatures stay around 71 F -51 F (10-15 C). The celebrations begin with the 2001-established Bayou Bacchanal, which sees New Orleanians celebrate Caribbean culture in the city. Aside from music and food from the Caribbean nations, we even enjoyed the parade that strutted down Canal Street in style. Secondly, Uptown’s Oak Street transforms for the annual Oak Street Po-Boy Festival and is a veritable po-boy haven with 35 different vendors. NOLA’s Thanksgiving is one of our favorite festivals; where we dressed to the T to attend the opening ceremony and dug into Creole cuisine at some of the city’s best restaurants. The 2016-created Beignet Fest, which usually happens in late September, is the latest addition to NOLA’s November roster for 2024.

Christmas in NOLA is special for many reasons: the mild climate, the delicious food, the festive atmosphere, and the country’s unique traditions and culture. The celebrations continue with New Year’s Eve, when festivities are held along the French Quarter riverwalk, complete with a fireworks show. Finally, full-blown parties are held all over town since NOLA is known for its parties.

Holiday season in New Orleans - by Infrogmation of New Orleans, Flickr
Holiday season in New Orleans – by Infrogmation of New Orleans, Flickr

When should you avoid heading to New Orleans, LA?

If you’d like to experience the Carnival atmosphere and see krewes parading through the streets but want to avoid the inflated prices and madness of Mardi Gras, we’d suggest going in January. There are thinner crowds, and the parties and masquerade balls have already begun. While February-May is the best time to visit the city, it would be better if one avoids the weekends altogether. That is unless you’ve booked months in advance and are prepared to face huge crowds. This also holds true for Halloween and New Year’s Eve/Day, when the beloved college football championship game of Allstate Sugar Bowl is typically happening.

People who cannot stand heat and humidity should avoid heading to New Orleans in the summer altogether. The heat can be particularly intense, and July and August also happen to be the rainiest and the muggiest months of the year. Plus, there’s also the possibility of encountering a hurricane. While air-conditioning can make visiting here more bearable, there are limited outdoor activities. Plus, you won’t be able to get out, so it is best that you avoid a trip during the summer.

Overall, the best times for weather, prices, and crowds tend to be in the fall and late April.

New Orleans in August - by Corey Seeman, Flickr
New Orleans in August – by Corey Seeman, Flickr

Cool Facts About New Orleans, LA

  • NOLA’s motto is ‘laissez les bon temps rouler,’ which loosely translates to ‘in English as ‘’let the good times roll.’ It’s certainly a fitting motto for this city’s carefree, vibrant, and lively nature.
  • In 1796, New Orleans was the country’s first city to document and host an opera performance. The locals were treated to a performance of Sylvain, which led to NOLA becoming North America’s ‘Opera Capital.’
  • The world of New Orleans is home to “voodoo” in the USA. The roots of this often misrepresented religion trace back to West African Vodun, an age-old religion in Nigeria, Ghana, and Benin. There are many local tours, like the French Quarter History and Voodoo Tour.
  • NOLA also happens to be one of the most haunted cities in the US. Ryan Murphy’s popular show “American Horror Story” loosely delved into the horrors surrounding Delphine LaLaurie and her tales at her Royal Street estate.
  • Contrary to popular belief, the French Quarter’s famous Bourbon Street isn’t named after bourbon. It was named by Adrien de Pauger, the engineer of NOLA’s founder, Frenchman Jean Baptiste Le Moyne. He named it after the House of Bourbon, the ruling French Royal family at the time.

Where to Stay in New Orleans, LA

When is hurricane season for New Orleans, and should I avoid visiting during this time?

Technically, Hurricane season is from 1 June to 30 November, but August and September are the most volatile months. Since hurricanes can be tracked well in advance, it’s best to postpone a trip planned around that time.

When is the best month to visit NOLA outside of Mardi Gras?

That would be October or January, depending on whether you want to indulge in or experience the pre-Mardi Gras festivities or not. The weather begins cooling in October, and the month has some great festivals, too. On the other hand, January is perfect for those who want to experience the magic of Mardi Gras approaching without paying through the nose.

How many days do you need to visit New Orleans?

Generally, we recommend giving New Orleans at least a week to completely experience the magic of this southern city. If you’re on a time crunch, then you need at least three days to make it an ideal trip.

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