Jazz Fest hacks: How to live your best Jazz Fest life

I love Jazz Fest, but I hate crowds. A lot. All those humans all up against each other, pushing and shoving and sneezing and coughing and stepping on your open toes.

by Angelique Dyer
April 25, 2019

Ah, Jazz Fest. The second most wonderful time of the year. The weather is nice. The air smells better. There are sounds coming from every corner. Folks yell, “Happy Jazz Fest!” from their porches. It’s my favorite time of the year because I am a child of Jazz Fest. I’ve been going since I was a little girl, eating waaaaay too much Crawfish Monica, frozen cups, Mango Freezes and always dancing. As a grown-up Jazz Fester, I really cherish every day I get to go eat, drink, dance and sing.

I live my best life at Jazz Fest, and I’m going to help you live your best one, too. A few hacks if you will:

Get there early

Like…when the gates open at 11 a.m. Trust me, you’re going to want to get a chance to walk around without the big crowds and check out all the beautiful art in the crafts area or have a quick breakfast of beignets and iced café au lait. Getting to the fairgrounds early also means you get dibs on a spot at the stage of your choice!

Sunscreen

I’m going to keep it 💯 with y’all – Jazz Fest is hot as hell. One year, I was out in the festin’ sun so long, it turned my already blonde hair even more blonde. Truly “sun kissed”. 🌞So, it goes without saying – wear sunscreen and a hat or something. But if you’re really trying to keep cool, stop by the Gospel Tent, where there are fans and water spritzers like Disney World. There are chairs and not only can you cool off, but you can get your praise on. Another cool place? The Grandstand! Fully air-conditioned, real bathrooms and word on the street is that among the exhibits in there, you can also score some raw oysters.

Water

Speaking of keeping cool… hydrate, hydrate, hydrate. There’s nothing I love more than a cold can of Miller High Life out at the fest, but baby when I tell you — water needs to be your festin’ buddy. You can bring some bottles with you into the fairgrounds (keep them in a small bag, though) and keep drinking. Don’t stop, get it, get it. Passing out at Jazz Fest isn’t cute and really ruins the fun and all the money you spent.

Wet wipes

You will need them for the bathroom and to wipe your hands after the cochon de lait and you’ll want to cool your face down.

Bleachers

Something new in the last few years of the fest are bleachers along the track near the Congo and Acura Stages. I know, I know. Bleachers sound hot and they’re risky (I have a fear of falling down bleachers, blame it on high school), but these bleachers provide a perfect view of each stage and the big screens. Think about it — you get to sit down and enjoy the beautiful sounds of Earth, Wind & Fire without the balancing act of holding your drink and your soft-shell crab po’ boy. Just be sure to bring an umbrella or a hat to shade you from the sun.

Walk This Way:

I love Jazz Fest, but I hate crowds. A lot. All those humans all up against each other, pushing and shoving and sneezing, coughing and stepping on your open toes. I could go on but you get it. One hack I learned during my many years of #AngieGoneFestin — walk on the sand tracks to avoid the crowds. Sure, your feet may get a little dusty, but a little Jazz Fest mess never hurt anybody!

FOILED AGAIN!

And last but not least — when you order your food, ask for foil. It’s a thing I’ve been doing for years, buying two Crawfish Monicas and covering one with foil for the perfect post-Jazz Fest shower dinner I’ll have at home. The foil is also perfect for keeping the sand and dirt out of your food as you journey from one side of the fairgrounds to the next. Just imagine how good that to-go plate will taste when you get home.

There are many more hacks that even I don’t know about, but whatever hack you find helpful, I hope your festin’ days are good and joyful.

Happy Jazz Fest!

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Angie Dyer, a lady who brunches from New Orleans East, is award-winning digital producer, fiction writer, and public relations and brand strategist working in higher-education. She is a board member of the BeyHive since 1998, is constantly practicing her NPR voice, and can be found taking over for the '99 and the 2000.

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