Chuc mung nam moi! The beginner’s guide to Tet Festival in New Orleans East

Tet Festival, Mary Queen of Vietnam Church’s annual three-day Lunar New Year celebration, is consistently the most fun, affordable, low-stress festival in New Orleans.

by Megan Braden-Perry
February 1, 2022

Tet Festival, Mary Queen of Vietnam Church’s annual three-day Lunar New Year celebration, is consistently the most fun, affordable, low-stress festival in New Orleans. When I think of some other festivals, with all the expensive food, tickets, traffic jams, crappy bathrooms (ha!) and huge crowds, I feel my body tense up. Ahhh but Tet Fest, Hoi Cho Tet. You can go with $20 and still have fun; there’s ample free parking nearby (please remember to not be a jerk, as it’s a neighborhood); the bathrooms are immaculate; there’s fun for everyone in the family!

Here’s why I love Tet Fest at Mary Queen of Vietnam:

  1. Kids love it!
    Not only is there a train that rides around the lot where the fest is held, but there’s also pretend fishing, tons of toys for sale, plenty places to sit, more fun games, and kids just hanging out. Last year a nice medical professional made my son Franklin a nitrile glove friend, after he saw Franklin was sad the train hadn’t started yet. Franklin named him “Squishster” and carried him around all day and the next. Try getting love like that at the 17th Annual Who Dat Jazz, Mynez and Zinc Fest.
  2. It’s affordable!
    Numbers make soup in my mind, so I can’t recall exact prices. But you can get pretty full at Hoi Cho Tet for as low as $10! Pro tip: The most affordable things, I’ve found, are at the booth in the front to the left as you walk in. So many carbs. My friend Paul Tran taught me about these beigne-like pastries and I love the banana fritters (chuoi chen) and the pandan waffles.
  3. There’s so much food to eat!
    I been loved Vietnamese food (shout out to my cousins Erin, Farin and Koi who grew up down the street at Gulfway Terrace apartments, where we’d walk to the strip mall on Alcee Fortier!), so Imma go ham. But fa real, I recommend everything. Freshly made sugarcane juice, crepes (banh xeo), boba tea, spring rolls (goi cuon), meats on sticks, oyster shooters (YES WITH THE BOOZE), and of course pho and banh mi and bun. There’s even Manchu chicken! Don’t forget to try balut, a traditional Southeast Asian street food that’s simply a yummy little boiled duck embryo; nem chua, garlicky squares of preserved pork topped with a slice of a chili pepper and even more garlic. I can’t recall if there’s banh chung, the traditional Tet dish of banana leaf-wrapped sticky rice with mung beans and pork. There must be, but I think I get all full and food drunk and forget…
  4. Entertainment galo’!
    Attending Tet Fest in the daytime is lovely, but it’s really poppin’ at night. Or are those just the fireworks? Ha! So much music and dance and fireworks! And I think it’s more fun to visit the gambling booths there at night too. If anyone would like to take me on a date there Friday night or Saturday night, here I am. We can have a tete-a-tete for Tet! Ha! Your treat, I got you next time though!

Here are a few tips!

  • Remember you’re in an actual neighborhood with real people who live there. Don’t be loud and crazy, don’t park too close to driveways.
  • Before or after, take a stroll on the Bayou Sauvage trail!
  • Bring cash. There’s an ATM and I’m sure some booths take cards, but it’s easier to bring cash.
  • You’ll find the same dishes at some of the booths, which is great if there’s a line. But definitely visit all the booths.
  • See if there’s a somewhat auxillary event to attend. In 2016, there was this great event sponsored by the VEGGI Farmer’s Cooperative and the Mary Queen of Vietnam Community Development Corporation where I got to try green tea shave ice with fresh mochi and red bean paste that was made the night before!

Chuc mung nam moi! If you want to talk Tet and/or be my date Friday or Saturday, hit me up at @megandoesnola on IG! Or Twitter too, if you insist.

Tet Festival/Hoi Cho Tet

Friday, February 6, 2020-Sunday, February 8, 2022

Mary Queen of Vietnam Church
14001 Dwyer Blvd, New Orleans, LA 70129

Friday: 6 p.m.-11 p.m.
Saturday: 10 a.m.-11 p.m.
Sunday: 10 a.m.-10 p.m.

Mary Queen of Vietnam Church
Getting there
14001 Dwyer Blvd, New Orleans, LA 70129, USA
Mon-Sun Open 24 hours
More Info

More Local Stories

Dream House Lounge is New Orleans’ first oxygen bar and wellness lounge

The downtown lounge is bringing soul to self-care.

Guide to the Barrel and Flow Pittsburgh Beer Festival

Barrel and Flow, the nation’s only beer festival in Pittsburgh to put people of color in the spotlight is back. August 13, 2022

Take a look inside the Duquesne Incline Museum

You can’t spell funicular without F-U-N. Grab two quarters – tours are just 50 cents – and step into the year 1877’s finest in transportation technology.

Reading along the River: A guide to New Orleans independent bookstores

These 12 indie bookstores can help you find your next read and connect you to the greater New Orleans community.

Eat Play Stay: Natchitoches

In this episode of Eat Play Stay, explore Natchitoches, Louisiana, the oldest settlement in the Louisiana Purchase territory.

Not Your Average Cup of Joe: Unique Coffee Houses in Orlando

Here are three unique coffee shops where the cup of joe isn’t the only thing that’ll get you moving.

Top 407: the best breakfast sandwiches in Orlando

Here is a list of locally-owned spots to get your breakfast sandwich fix.

My Amazing Cheap Date: Orlando Festivals & Stand-Up Comedy

On this episode of “My Amazing Cheap Date” two couples explore bliss on a bun and get their game on. – for $50 or less.

What’s on the Menu: Pretty Plates

This episode of What’s on the Menu Baltimore is all about digging into the aesthetics of a perfectly plated dish and exploring the power of a beautifully designed restaurant.

Eat Play Stay: Lexington, SC

Fill your glass at a local winery, bite down on a gourmet biscuit, and cuddle up in a carriage house. Find this and more things to do in Lexington, S.C. on this episode of “Eat Play Stay Greenville.”

black owned brunch spots new orleans 14 parishes

A guide to some of the best Black-owned brunch spots in NOLA

Gather the crew together, make those reservations, and celebrate all things Black at brunch. 

Brunchfaced: Jazz Fest Edition

I can’t think of any better way to help celebrate Jazz Fest’s 50 years of joy than with something else that brings me joy: BRUNCH.

At New Orleans’ Hogs for the Cause festival, the cause is front and center

The two-day barbecue and music event is a celebration of the year-round efforts made by more than 90 competing teams. Those teams raise financial aid for families whose children are being treated for pediatric brain cancer. 

A big book of king cakes? Your guide is here.

Matt Haines’ 368-page book covers 75 bakeries and king cakes.