The Best Time to Visit New Orleans

best time to visit new orleans

 TripSavvy / Ran Zheng

The best time of year to visit New Orleans depends entirely on what you want out of a vacation. While the Big Easy is enjoyable any time of the year, the best time to visit New Orleans is November through December. Temperatures are plenty warm for most visitors, the city is dressed up in holiday decorations, and there are no crowds—which means cheaper rates for travel and accommodations.

Read on for more about the weather, the seasons in New Orleans, key events and festivals, and more information to help you plan your perfect trip.

The Weather in New Orleans

In New Orleans, expect long, hot, and muggy summers, with short yet sometimes surprisingly cool winters. The temperature in New Orleans typically ranges anywhere from 45 degrees Fahrenheit to upwards of 90 degrees, but rarely below. Mid-July is usually the hottest, although summer heat can last well into September. Rain is also more common during summer, contributing to the oppressive temperature and humidity.

If you're hoping to escape scorching summer temperatures, October, November. February and March tend to be the best bets. The early spring months are particularly nice when you're avoiding icy winter conditions up North, and the fall months are great for cozy, homey neighborhood street fairs and a touch of holiday festiveness. Fall is also the driest time to visit.

While Mardi Gras is among the busiest times to visit, the weather tends to be nice, making it a great time to plan a trip incorporating other activities, too, such as a day trip to the Tabasco factory or even a swamp tour.

Peak Season in New Orleans

Go ahead and come to visit at Mardi Gras, remembering that the Mardi Gras season, called Carnival, runs for several weeks before the big event, which is usually in mid-February or early March. Parades, parties, balls, and general entertainment occur from January 6 until Mardi Gras. You'll need a slightly higher budget to visit during this time of the year, but if you enjoy the festive, bustling nature of the festival, this is the ideal time. If you visit for the French Quarter Festival (early April) or JazzFest (late April to early May), expect large crowds but plenty of music, food, and fun. 

If you're on a budget, consider visiting during the summer. July and August are hot, yes, but hotel deals are abundant, and August brings COOLinary New Orleans, a month of special restaurant deals designed to lure tourists on a budget. Take advantage! You'll find that the heat makes outdoor activities challenging, but there's plenty to do indoors, and if you take it slow and drink lots of fluids, you can survive just fine outside, too.

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Key Events and Festivals

Louisiana—and New Orleans residents in particular—love celebrations. With 130-plus festivals held in the state each year, there's undoubtedly something to do year-round. The most well-known festival is Mardi Gras, which spans two or three weeks in February or March. Festive "krewes" take to the street of New Orleans and surrounding cities, complete with floats, marching bands, and dance groups. Fat Tuesday, the day before Ash Wednesday, is the most popular day for celebrations.

Other popular events throughout the year include the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival, the French Quarter Festival, and the Voodoo Music & Arts Experience.


Spring is New Orleans' peak travel season, which isn't surprising given the mild weather and packed events calendar. You'll want to book your hotels early—up to a year in advance if you're planning on visiting during Mardi Gras—and expect crowds at restaurants and other popular establishments.

Events to Check Out:

  • The Mardi Gras season runs through March, although the exact time frame varies each year. Locals and tourists alike flock to the city's streets to see parades and catch the famed beads.
  • The New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival runs from the last weekend in April to the first in May. Local musicians, as well as world-renowned artists, come to perform.


Summer can be brutally hot, but if you're hoping to avoid crowds and maybe save a few bucks, a summertime visit isn't a bad idea. July and August are the hottest months, with average temperatures of 91 degrees, but June and September are quite warm too. As a perk, however, the crowds are smaller, and you'll pay less for accommodation than you will in other months.

Events to Check Out:

  • On the Fourth of July, New Orleans hosts "Go 4th on the River," a celebration with fireworks shot off from dueling barges on the Mississippi River.
  • The annual Essence Music Festival, held in July, showcases performances from some of the most popular R&B and hip-hop artists.


While the city can still be hot in September, October and November in New Orleans are squarely shoulder seasons with great weather, small crowds, and reasonable hotel rates. While you won't find as many exciting events as winter or spring, it's a great time to visit.

Events to Check Out:

  • The New Orleans Film Festival, one of the nation's premier film festivals, takes place in October.
  • The Voodoo Music and Arts Experience is held at the end of October. The event features hundreds of performers, including some of the biggest names in music entertainment. 


Winter is a sweet spot for a New Orleans visit. Temperatures are still pleasantly balmy (average highs are usually around 60 degrees) and bargain hotel rates can be found. Plus, if you visit around the holidays, you'll get to catch the city dressed up in Christmas decor.

Events to Check Out:

  • "Celebration in the Oaks" is an annual holiday attraction in New Orleans. From Thanksgiving through the New Year, the city hosts one of the best holiday light shows in the country. 
  • On Christmas Eve, don't miss "Bonfires On The Levee." This Cajun tradition consists of fires erected on the river levees, intended to light the way for "Papa Noël," the Cajun version of Santa Claus.
Frequently Asked Questions
  • What is the best time to visit New Orleans?

    If you want minimal crowds, hotel deals, and mild weather, then December and January are the best time of year to visit. If you're going for Mardi Gras, you'll want to plan for February or March—but book your reservations several months or a year in advance.

  • When is Mardi Gras in New Orleans?

    Mardi Gras lasts several weeks and the first events start on January 6. However, the biggest events and parades take place during the week leading up to Fat Tuesday, which falls sometime from mid-February to early March.

  • What is the cheapest time to visit New Orleans?

    The summer humidity is oppressive, but if you can withstand the heat then this is the best time to find deals on flights and hotels in the Big Easy. July and August are the cheapest months to visit, but look for options as early as June and as late as September.