The Best Time to Visit New Orleans and Why You Should

Cindy Richards Avatar
The best time to visit New Orleans.
The French quarter in New Orleans. Photo credit: llambrano from Pixabay

If you’re thinking about heading to the Big Easy, chances are it’s because you want to experience New Orleans’ iconic Mardis Gras celebration for yourself. While Mardi Gras is the busiest time of year in New Orleans, it isn’t the only reason to visit NOLA. Far from it.

Here are the best times to visit New Orleans and reasons to go year round.

When is the Best Weather in New Orleans?

Springtime and fall are the best times to visit New Orleans if pleasant weather is at the top of your wish list. April and May in the springtime and September, October and November in the fall are the best months of the year for mild temperatures and lower humidity levels. Expect average temperatures in the low 70s Fahrenheit (22 Celcius).

Read More: What to Wear in New Orleans to be Cute, Comfy and Cool

When is the Best Time to go to New Orleans without Crowds?

Definitely not Mardi Gras! According to the New Orleans Convention and Visitors Bureau, that is by far the most popular time to visit. An estimated 1.4 million people visit New Orleans for Mardi Gras each year, the largest annual influx of visitors to the city. Crowds are shoulder to shoulder on Bourbon Street and wall to wall in Jackson Square soaking up the carnival fun.

The crowds thin out quickly after Mardi Gras. Crowds also are smaller in January, but the weather can be cold and rainy.

When is the Cheapest Time to Visit New Orleans?

That would be in the sultry heat of a Louisiana summer. The months of July and August can see average high temperatures in the 90s and humidity levels to match.

The upside: there are fewer tourists during the summer heat, so you can enjoy the city without the crowds. That also means the summer months can have some of the best deals on airfare and hotel rates.

But you’ll want to head to a nearby beach or plan some indoor air conditioning time to balance out those overheated outdoor activities.

Read More: Exploring New Orleans Beyond Bourbon Street

When is Hurricane Season for New Orleans?

Hurricane season lasts from June 1 to November 30 each year, but storms can arrive before or after the official hurricane season. Consider buying travel insurance if you plan to visit NOLA during hurricane season and know where you’ll go if the city issues an evacuation order.

Hurricane Katrina, which devastated the city in 2005 is the best-known storm to hit NOLA. While the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) says New Orleans experiences a hurricane landfall once every seven to 11 years, the city got hit two years in a row recently — Hurricane Laura in 2020 and Ida in 2021.

Don’t-Miss Festivals in New Orleans

  • Mardi Gras: Mardi Gras is the biggest and most famous festival in New Orleans. It is a 12-day celebration filled with parades, food, music, drinking and revelry that culminates on Fat Tuesday, the day before Ash Wednesday, the first day of the Christian celebration of Lent.
  • Jazz Fest: The New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival is a two-weekend music festival that takes place in the spring. It features a wide variety of jazz artists, as well as other genres of music, such as blues, soul and funk.
  • French Quarter Festival: a free four-day festival featuring live music, food, and art in the French Quarter.
  • NOLA Crawfish Festival: a three-day festival of foodie fun celebrating crawfish, music and beer
  • Bayou Boogaloo: three days of music, food, art and community
  • New Orleans Film Festival: one of the largest film festivals in the American Southeast
  • Voodoo Music & Arts Experience: This popular festival in City Park was canceled in 2022. As of the publication date, there was no word on whether it would return in 2023.
  • Bonfires on the Levee: This Christmas Eve tradition, brought to southern Louisiana by the early Cajun settlers, involves lighting bonfires along the levees of the Mississippi River north and west of New Orleans.

Reasons to Visit New Orleans:

  • The food is amazing. New Orleans is known for its delicious food, including Cajun and Creole dishes. You can find everything from beignets to gumbo to jambalaya in New Orleans.
  • Music is everywhere. New Orleans is the birthplace of jazz, and there are many talented musicians in the city. You can find live music all over New Orleans, from bars and clubs to street corners.
  • The culture is unique. New Orleans is a city with a rich history and culture. The best ways to celebrate the culture are by taking a walking tour, swamp tour or a ghost or voodoo tour. The best time of year for a ghost tour is Halloween!
Cindy Richards is a Pulitzer Prize nominated journalist who serves as the Editor-in-Chief of She also is the mom of two now grown kids who have traveled with her since that first, fateful plane ride when one preschooler discovered a barf bag in his seat pocket and his sister, finding none in hers, demanded, “I want a barf bag too!” She has been a reporter, editor and columnist at the Chicago Sun-Times and Chicago Tribune, an editor at Chicago Parent and Catalyst Chicago and an instructor in the graduate school at Northwestern’s prestigious Medill School of Journalism.
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