Visiting New Orleans in September

What You Need to Know

Commander's Palace Restaurant in New Orleans' Garden District
••• Commander's Palace is one of over 80 restaurants participating in We Live to Eat Restaurant Week, one of the very best things about September in New Orleans. © Megan Romer, 2014

September in New Orleans sees the beginning of the slow descent out of the intense heat and humidity of summer and into the warm loveliness of fall. Students are all back at the colleges and universities, and the Who Dat Nation reawakens as the Saints begin their regular season. Most free concert series start back up after Labor Day, as do the local social aid and pleasure clubs with their iconic second lines.

Hotel prices are still quite low, though not quite as low as they are in July and August, and We Live To Eat Restaurant Week brings meal deals to dozens of the city’s best restaurants. If you don’t mind spending some of the more sweltering parts of the days indoors—or at least sippin’ on something frosty—September is a relaxed but entertaining month to visit.

Average High: 87 F / 31 C
Average Low: 70 F / 21 C

Packing Tips

It’s pretty likely that the vast majority of a September visit will be quite hot, so comfortable summery clothes should be the bulk of your wardrobe. However, a cool breeze is possible at night, and the legendary air conditioning of the Gulf Coast is always on full blast, so a wrap or light layer of some sort is always a good idea. If one of the higher-end old-line New Orleans restaurants is in your plans, check first and see if they have a dress code; fellas, you might need to remember to bring a jacket and tie.

September 2015 Event Highlights

Southern Decadence (Sept. 2-7) - Sometimes referred to as “gay Mardi Gras” (though Mardi Gras itself is perfectly gay-friendly), this enormous gay pride celebration turns the French Quarter into a giant, festive street party. Parades, live music, drag shows, and plenty more adults-only fun take place over the course of Labor Day weekend each year.

Louisiana Seafood Festival (Sept. 4-6) - Held on the grounds of beautiful City Park, this free festival celebrates one of Louisiana’s best-known and most delicious natural resources. Attractions include live music, chef demos, a beer garden, a kids’ area, and lots and lots of food.

We Live to Eat Restaurant Week (Sept. 14-20) - High-end restaurants all over the city offer prix-fixe gourmet lunch and/or dinner menus at deep discounts, allowing locals and tourists alike to try fancy restaurants without breaking the bank. 2015’s participants include Antoine’s, Domenica, Galatoire’s, Le Foret, and Tujague’s, among dozens of others.

New Orleans Burlesque Festival (Sept. 17-20) - Burlesque is (and has long been) a wildly popular form of entertainment in New Orleans, combining the sexiness of classic strip tease with bawdy humor, elegant music, and trained dance. The local burlesque scene invites troupes and individual performers from around the world to take part in this annual event, which includes a number of shows and pageants throughout the weekend.

NOLA On Tap Beerfest (Sept. 26) - Taste over 300 beers at this one-day event which brings together Louisiana’s burgeoning brewing scene with national microbrew and specialty beer producers in City Park.

Live music and other entertainment is also on the roster. The whole shebang is a fundraiser for the local SPCA.

Outside of Town

September picks up quite a bit outside the city, as well, as Southwest Louisiana’s famous food and music festivals begin to start up again after a summer of steamy quietude. Among the highlights:

The Original Southwest Louisiana Zydeco Festival (Sept. 5 / Plaisance, LA) - It might not be totally apparent from their website (though that aspect adds to the charm a bit), but this is the festival for zydeco music in South Louisiana (Plaisance is about 45 minutes North of Lafayette, near Opelousas and Ville Platte). They always book the very best bands, who in turn pull the very best dancers, who fuel up with the very best food, and the whole thing is just grand. It tends to be dusty and hot (bandanas used as dust masks are de rigueur), but it’s a unique, Louisiana-bucket-list experience.

Natchitoches Meat Pie Festival (Sept. 18-19 / Natchitoches, LA) - Say it with me now: “NACK-uh-dish.” Don’t ask. This small city in Central Louisiana was actually the first French settlement in the Louisiana territory (yes, it’s older than New Orleans) and is known for a lot of things, but the most delicious among these are their tasty, spicy meat pies. This festival celebrates the delicacy with music, drink, and other entertainment on the picturesque banks of the Cane River Lake.

Bogalusa Blues and Heritage Festival (Sept. 25-26 / Bogalusa, LA) - Bogalusa is a small town that sits on the Louisiana/Mississippi border about 90 minutes North of New Orleans. It’s home to this impressive blues festival, which brings national touring artists like Keb’ Mo’ together with Louisiana artists like Little Freddie King and Dwayne Dopsie & the Zydeco Hellraisers.