The Brass-a-Holics play at the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival. CONTRIBUTED BY ZACK SMITH
Photo: Zack Smith
Photo: Zack Smith

Must-see festivals in New Orleans (besides Mardi Gras)

If you're like most people, the first thing that comes to your mind when you hear someone talk about New Orleans is Mardi Gras; the festival of all festivals. Known to locals simply as "Carnival," it's a festival that lasts for a full month, and it's so much more than just beads and Bourbon Street. From the parades to the food, with a bit of debauchery thrown in the mix, it's something that everyone really should experience at least once in their life.

But if you've already been there, done that, or if you're planning an escape to New Orleans that doesn't fall during Carnival, you can still have an epic getaway. The Crescent City is full of culture, music and fun all year long; did you really expect anything less from a city that allows you to order to-go drinks at the bar? Here are five more don't miss festivals in New Orleans throughout the year.

Getting there

Most people opt to fly or drive to New Orleans from Atlanta, but if you're feeling extra adventurous you can also take a Greyhound bus or Amtrak train. Prices start at around $108 for the trip, depending on availability and time of year.

Driving from Atlanta to New Orleans will take you between six and seven hours. You'll take I-85 South to I-65 South and finish out your trip on I-10 West.

If flying is more your style, a flight from Atlanta to New Orleans is a short one and a half hours, and once you land in New Orleans it's a brief 28 minute drive from the airport to the French Quarter, where you'll likely end up.

Jazz & Heritage Festival

You can still catch the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival; from April 22 to 24 and again from April 28 to May 1. It's another festival full of what New Orleans does best: food, culture and good music. Jazz fest is a lineup of live entertainment that will excite even the most discerning musical tastes.

Ticket prices start at $65 for single-day admission to the festival. You can also opt for the VIP experience with admission all weekend, priority seating and a souvenir laminated ticket starting at $1,200 for the weekend.

Food & Wine Experience

If you're a wine lover or a foodie, this is the festival for you. This year, the New Orleans Food and Wine Experience goes from May 26 to 29 and is a culinary experience you won't soon forget.

New Orleans has long been known as one of the top foodie destinations, and for good reason. The event showcases some of the best culinary highlights the city has to offer, with hundreds of area wineries and restaurants participating in the festival.

The four-day experience is also home to seminars for both new and experienced wine drinkers, as well as food and wine pairings at some of The Big Easy's finest restaurants.

Individual tickets to the Food and Wine Experience start at $75 per person, and food and wine tasting packages start at $225 per person.

Po-Boy Festival

You might know po-boys as a sub sandwich or a hoagie depending on where you're from, but when you're in New Orleans, be sure to get the name right. The Oak Street Po-Boy Festival usually takes place in November, but the date for this year has yet to be determined.

The festival is held in the Carrolton neighborhood of New Orleans, and as you can probably guess from the name, it's on Oak Street. It's a one-day foodie celebration to honor the famous sandwich, including food booths, live music and arts. Better yet, the event is free to the public, and it will only cost you a $1 to $2 ride on the trolley car from the French Quarter or The Garden District.

Voodoo Music Experience

This three-day festival has been rocking New Orleans since 1999, and attendees can expect a full lineup of food, music, culture and crafts. It takes place in City Park, with two main stages and several smaller stages set up throughout the venue.

Last year's event took place at the end of October, but dates for 2016's Voodoo Music Experience have not been revealed. Past musical guests include: Ozzy Osbourne, Slash and other big name headliners. Many of the area bars and clubs throw late night parties and concerts, so the fun keeps going after the festival ends.

Single-day admission tickets and weekend passes are available for the event. City Park is a 15-minute drive from downtown and the French Quarter, so it's convenient to seeing other popular attractions in New Orleans.

Life is never boring in The Big Easy

Whether you're taking your first trip to New Orleans, or you're a regular, it's a city that never disappoints. Be sure to grab a cup of gumbo before you head home, and don't forget to take a stroll along Bourbon Street, if for no other reason than to say you did.

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