French Quarter Hotel in New Orleans
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Jazz Fest: New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival is Almost Here

New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival, more commonly known as Jazz Fest, is arguably the biggest and best festival of the year in New Orleans. Seven full days of performances from world-renown performers like Elton John, Lady Gaga, Wilco, and The Who (to name just a few) treats Jazz Fest patrons to a lifetime’s worth of concerts in one single festival.

trombone shorty

Trombone Shorty & Orleans Avenue will play on the last day of Jazz Fest. (Photo courtesy New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival on Facebook)

Although the festival isn’t as close to our hotel as, say, French Quarter Festival, it’s definitely one worth attending. You can take a scenic streetcar trip up Canal Street and over to City Park or have our concierge arrange a taxi. Plan to spend the full day at Jazz Fest and check out ample food vendors, crafts presentations, and, of course, music.

Every night after Jazz Fest, our sister property Hotel Monteleone is hosting their annual Jazzy Jam concert series. The music will go all night long in an elegant (and air-conditioned) atmosphere – the perfect way to relax after a full day at Jazz Fest!

Take a look at a few of the Jazz Fest headliners each day below. 

Friday, April 24

Keith Urban

Wilco

Saturday, April 25

The Who

Ryan Adams

John Legend

Treme Brass Band

Sunday, April 26

Jimmy Buffett and the Coral Reefer Band

Tony Bennett and Lady Gaga

Pitbull

Irma Thomas

Allen Toussaint

Rebirth Brass Band

Thursday, April 30

Widespread Panic

Alison Krauss & Union Station

Friday, May 1

No Doubt

Paloma Faith

Chicago

Saturday, May 2

Elton John

Ed Sheeran

T.I.

Aaron Neville

Sunday, May 3

Lenny Kravitz

Steve Winwood

Dr. John

Trombone Shorty & Orleans Avenue

Good Eats for French Quarter Festival: Come Hungry!

New Orleans festivals are often as much about the food as they are the music. Fortunately for your appetite, French Quarter Fest is no exception! We’ve had the pleasure of trying many of the foods available at French Quarter Fest (after all, our central location puts us just steps away from the best of the festival), and we’re more than happy to share our favorites with you.

Read on for the tastiest festival treats at this four-day festival! Craving a sit-down experience? Our on-site restaurant, Latitude 29, has creative menu and drink items in a fun and festive setting – the perfect way to cool off after a day at the festival.

snoball

The Plum Street Snoballs stand at French Quarter Fest gives guests the option to add tequila, whiskey, and other liquors to their snoballs. (Photo courtesy Flickr user Tim Gonzalez)

Savory

Some of the city’s most iconic restaurants have a presence during French Quarter Fest. Head to Antoine’s for Oysters Bonne Femme and Shrimp Regua or try the Crawfish Louise from Court of Two Sisters. If a po-boy is more your speed, there are plenty of options available. Dickie Brennan’s Steakhouse is offering a prime rib po-boy, and Bourbon House is serving up a barbecue shrimp version. Galatoire’s, another iconic New Orleans restaurant, is serving gluten-free Shrimp Remoulade in addition to a fried shrimp BLT po-boy. Check out the complete list of vendors here!

Sweet

Whether you’re craving Pontchatoula strawberry shortcake (from GW Fins), white chocolate king cake bread pudding (from Haydel’s Bakery), or a cool, café au lait ice cream (from Quintin’s Ice Cream), practically any dessert you can think of is available at French Quarter Fest. You can also get snowballs – a New Orleans classic – from Plum St. Snoballs with your choice of boozy extras like tequila, whiskey, or several liqueurs.

Beverages

Speaking of liqueurs, French Quarter Fest has beverage stands that serve a variety of drinks from daiquiris to refreshing, cold draft beef. Wine and cocktails are available, too – just remember to put a dollar or two in the tip jar! Proceeds from beverage stands go directly to French Quarter Festival musicians.

With our location in the heart of the French Quarter, any day of the year feels like a festival. Come join us and see for yourself!

Celebrate French Quarter Festival in the Heart of it All

French Quarter Festival comes to the neighborhood starting Thursday, April 9 through Sunday, April 12, highlighting the culture, food, history, and people of New Orleans’ historic epicenter. This free festival features more than 1,700 local Louisiana musicians across 23 different stages peppered through the French Quarter and Woldenberg Park at the Mississippi riverfront.

musician french quarter fest

More than 1,700 musicians will perform at this year’s French Quarter Fest. (Photo courtesy Flickr user Aris Vrakas)

As is so common with New Orleans, music is a huge component of the festival – but wherever there’s music, there’s food. French Quarter Fest has an impressive list of food vendors, offering up traditional New Orleans fare like barbecue shrimp, cochon de lait po-boys, and plenty of crawfish. The sounds and smells of this festival are simply intoxicating, and our location on Decatur Street puts us in the center of the action.

Here are a few ways to enjoy French Quarter Fest during your stay at Bienville House:

Think Beyond the Big Stages

The festival’s main stages, such as the Abita stage at Woldenberg Park and the Jackson Square stage in (of course) Jackson Square host legendary acts like Allen Toussaint, Ellis Marsalis, and Rebirth Brass Band. However, some of the best entertainment takes place in other places. For example, the French Market hosts swing-dancing lessons and live hot jazz music, and the Old U.S. Mint features two stages full of diverse programming. Another highlight is the Cajun/Zydeco Showcase stage, giving spectators a chance to observe traditional Louisiana heritage.

Buy a Drink, Leave a Tip

In addition to food, French Quarter Fest offers beverages like wine, cocktails, and daiquiris. You’ll also find a tip jar at every beverage stand. Proceeds from the tip jars are split amongst the festival’s musicians, so leave a little lagniappe to thank them for the music. 

A Festival Outside Your Front Door

We’re located in the middle of the French Quarter, so there’s no need to make additional travel plans to get to French Quarter Fest. Simply walk out the door! We’re located on Decatur Street, which offers a direct route to Jackson Square. If you need directions to a particular stage, our concierge will be more than happy to help!

Spring festival season is a great time to enjoy the French Quarter, but every day is a celebration when you’re staying in the middle of New Orleans’ oldest neighborhood. Book now for an unforgettable trip any time of the year.

 

Easter in New Orleans: Celebrate in the French Quarter

New Orleans is a city full of rich Catholic history, which means that Easter is an especially popular holiday. Take a look at ways to enjoy Easter in New Orleans, with a special emphasis on the French Quarter (it’s the neighborhood where our hotel, Bienville House, resides!).

st louis cathedral

St. Louis Cathedral offers three Mass ceremonies on Easter Sunday. (Photo courtesy Flickr user Lara Farhadi)

Experience Mass at St. Louis Cathedral

Located in Jackson Square, just a short walk from our hotel, St. Louis Cathedral is one of the most iconic buildings in the city. The historic cathedral still offers daily mass, including an Easter Mass of the Risen Christ that takes place at 9:00 a.m., 11:00 a.m., and 12:30 p.m. (review the complete mass schedule here). Afterward, head to Café Du Monde for fresh beignets and café au lait – be sure to have cash with you as this famous beignet shop does not accept credit cards.

Hunt for Eggs in City Park

Although it’s not in the French Quarter, City Park is a great destination for Easter. In addition to springtime flora and fauna, the park also hosts an annual Easter egg hunt for children ages 8 and younger. Park employees hide more than 15,000 eggs within City Park, giving kids a chance for an epic Easter egg hunt. Tickets are required ($4 each) and include a special carton that carries 12 eggs. The Easter egg hunt takes place this Saturday, March 28, at 10 a.m. (get there early – gates open at 9 a.m.).

Taste Rabbit at Kingfish

Don’t let the name fool you – Kingfish isn’t just a seafood restaurant. Located at the corner of Charles and Conti Streets, this eatery serves up smoked rabbit gumbo that encapsulates traditional Creole flavors. Served with brown basmati “dirty rice,” the dish is comforting and luxurious.

Eat Brunch at Criollo

In addition to a daily eggs benedict menu and morning cocktails, our sister hotel’s restaurant, Criollo, also offers a special Easter brunch. Guests can choose from several gourmet appetizers, mains, and dessert to create an unforgettable Easter memory.

Our Favorite Spring Menu Items at Latitude 29

Spring is officially here, and with it a chance to fill up on the light, refreshing flavors that reflect the season. Our sister hotel recently shared their favorite spring cocktails to make at home, but if you’re questioning your bartender skills, Latitude 29 has you covered.

With famed bartender Jeff “Beachbum” Berry at the helm (literally – the host stand is a ship’s bow!), Latitude 29 serves wonderfully exotic tiki cocktails and pan-Asian cuisine. Learn more about a few of our favorite spring dishes from Latitude 29 below. Whether you enjoy them at happy hour or dinnertime, these menu items don’t skimp on fresh, imaginative flavors.

vegetable poke

The raw vegetable poke at Latitude 29 is a spring delight. (Photo courtesy Latitude 29 on Facebook)

To Eat

Bamboo and Micro Green Salad – Bamboo shoots lend hearty texture to delicate micro greens. A Polynesian-inspired sauce creates a sweet, umami flavor.

Vegetable Poke – Typically made with tuna, this poke salad relies on strictly vegetables for a result that is just as flavorful. Pistachio puree, fresh corn, sweet peppers, and baby greens come together beautifully in this vegetarian dish.

Shortall’s Pineapple Bread – Pineapple and coconut to create a moist, dense bread pudding loaded with tropical flavors.

To Drink

Latitude 29 – The restaurant’s namesake rum cocktail is our drink of choice for spring. Passion fruit puree, house-made Madagascar vanilla syrup, orange, pineapple and lemon all play together in this fruity, refreshing mix.

Missionary’s Downfall – Choose light rum or vodka to pair with flavors like honey, lime, and peach brandy in this vintage recipe from 1948. Mint and diced pineapple add color and texture – and flavor!

Espresso Bongo – Coffee is a must-have any time of year, but blended with citrus flavors like orange and lime plus passion fruit, pineapple, and rum, this drink is anything but a regular cup of Joe.

Latitude 29 is open daily until 11 p.m. – it’s located just through the lobby of our hotel!

Your French Quarter and Downtown To-Do List: What to do this Spring

With winter giving way to a beautiful, in-bloom spring, now is the perfect time of year to get outside and enjoy the French Quarter. Here are a few things to do while you’re there:

crescent city park

Crescent City Park isn’t far from the French Quarter, and you’ll get an unparalleled view of the city. (Photo courtesy Flickr user Don Pirolo)

Eat Seafood (Preferably with Your Hands!)

In New Orleans, crawfish season is a magical time of year. Learn to peel these delicious little “freshwater lobsters,” then head to Deanie’s Seafood on Iberville Street where you can get them fresh at market price. If you prefer slurping to peeling, try oysters. Acme Oysterhouse is as iconic as it is delicious – it’s been a French Quarter staple for more than 100 years.

Relax at the Riverfront

Woldenberg Park is a sprawling greenspace on the banks of the Mississippi. Just a few steps away from the French Quarter, this park features a riverside jogging path, peaceful oak trees, and an up-close view of the Mississippi River.

Get a Skyline View

Not across the river but simply around the bend, Crescent City Park offers an incredible view of the New Orleans skyline despite being deceptively close to the French Quarter. Featuring sculptural installations and outdoor seating, the park is a photographer’s dream. Plan to bring your camera!

Go to the Grocery Store

Central Grocery on Decatur Street serves up incredible muffulettas – take one to go and eat it in Jackson Square! For a more literal take on going to the grocery store, we suggest heading to Rouse’s Supermarket in the Central Business District on Baronne Street. You’ll find Louisiana- and New Orleans-specific goods perfect for souvenirs – bring back regional foods like Zapp’s potato chips (we’re partial to the Voodoo flavor), Creole-style chicory coffee, and spice mixes for your friends and family.

Ready to walk around? There’s no better place to stay than Bienville House, located in the heart of the French Quarter.

Celebrate St. Patrick’s Day in New Orleans

St. Patrick’s Day in New Orleans is a celebration of the city’s rich multicultural history, which includes a strong Irish presence. Irish immigrants first came to New Orleans in the late 18th century; the city was an apt place for Irish newcomers because of its strong Catholic traditions and the shared anti-British sentiments of French and Spanish residents. The Irish immigrants integrated quickly, and by 1809 they celebrated their first St. Patrick’s Day.

st patricks parade

Unique throws like moon pies and cabbages are part of the New Orleans St. Patrick’s Day tradition. (Photo courtesy Derek Bridges on Flickr)

Since then, St. Patrick’s Day in New Orleans has evolved into a multi-day affair full of parades and music. Though many of the activities take place Uptown in the Irish Channel, there are several St. Patrick’s Day events held in the French Quarter near Bienville House. Take a look at some of the best ways to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day in the French Quarter:

Molly’s at the Market Irish Parade

Molly’s at the Market hosts its annual Irish Parade at 6:00 p.m. on Friday, March 13. You’ll see riders in carriages and floats intermingled with marching groups as they make a full circle around the French Quarter beginning and ending at Molly’s (1107 Decatur St.) Like any good parade, this one will include throws – get ready to catch edible items like cabbages, potatoes, carrots, onions, and Moon Pies plus more conventional treasures like beads and flowers.

Italian-American St. Joseph’s Parade

Though this parade celebrates St. Joseph’s Day rather than St. Patrick’s Day, it still represents the importance of Catholic traditions within the city. St. Joseph’s Day takes place on March 19, but the Italian-American Marching Group will hold a parade on Saturday, March 14 at 6:00 p.m. The parade starts at the corner of Girod and Convention Center Blvd. in the Warehouse District and will roll through the French Quarter, including a portion along Decatur St. where our hotel is located. More than a dozen floats and nine marching bands will honor this other notable Catholic holiday.

Downtown Irish Club Parade

St. Patrick’s Day itself will have another parade, this time held by the Downtown Irish Club. The parade, on Tuesday, March 17 at 6:00 p.m., starts in the Bywater and heads through the French Quarter to Bourbon Street.

These Spring Festivals are Sure to Put a Spring in Your Step

In New Orleans, you never have to wait long for the next celebration. Bienville House had an amazing Mardi Gras (we hope you did, too!), but now we’re on to spring festival season. With several festivals happening right within the French Quarter, our hotel is a great home base for guests searching for an authentic New Orleans festival experience. Learn how to enjoy three of our favorite spring festivals below.

St. Patrick's Day New Orleans

St. Patrick’s Day celebrations feature parade throws like beads and cabbages. (Photo courtesy SC Cunningham on Flickr)

St. Patrick’s Day

The city has its own Irish Channel neighborhood in Uptown and a rich Irish heritage tracing back nearly 300 years. So, of course New Orleans celebrates St. Patrick’s Day! On Friday, March 13, Molly’s at the Market hosts its annual Irish Parade. You might catch beads, but look out for other edible throws like carrots, potatoes, and cabbages – we’re guessing that’s not what you want for dinner, so remember to check out our on-site restaurant Latitude 29 for craft cocktails and Polynesian-inspired fare.

The Downtown Irish Club Parade takes place on St. Patrick’s Day Proper (Tuesday, March 17) at 6 p.m., and in another Catholic tradition, the Italian-American Marching Club will celebrate St. Joseph’s Day with a parade on Saturday, March 14 at 6 p.m. Both parades will venture through the French Quarter! On that note, another must-see festival is…

French Quarter Festival

Running from April 9 – 12, the French Quarter Festival is a free event that showcases Louisiana and New Orleans musicians like PresHall Brass, Rebirth Brass Band, Kermit Ruffins & the Barbecue Swingers, John Boutte, and several others. Spectators will also enjoy incredible food and drinks – check out a complete list of vendors – within the perennially gorgeous scenery of Jackson Square. Celebrating New Orleans’ heritage, people, food, and music, this festival is always a favorite at Bienville House.

Jazz & Heritage Festival

The annual New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival – known affectionately as Jazz Fest, for short – features an absolutely incredible lineup of musical acts. Elton John, Wilco, Hozier, John Legend, Lady Gaga, Tony Bennett, and No Doubt are just a few of the musicians you’ll get to hear live. The two-weekend festival also features plenty of other activities. You can explore City Park’s bountiful greenspace as you browse food vendors, a crafts market, and cultural experiences like the Louisiana Folklife Village.

Tennessee Williams New Orleans Literary Festival

Our sister property, Hotel Monteleone, is one of the hosts of the Tennessee Williams New Orleans Literary Festival, an annual event that pays tribute to its eponymous author through lectures, performances, a special book fair, and much more. The 2015 festival runs from March 25 – 29 (what would’ve been Williams’ 104th birthday is on March 26, so a birthday bash is part of the festivities!).

Hotel Monteleone is an especially fitting venue for the festival. Its rich literary history includes being featured in one of Williams’ plays, The Rose Tattoo; Williams also often stayed at Hotel Monteleone while he was in town.  – after all, Williams featured our hotel in his play, The Rose Tattoo, and often stayed at the hotel when he was in town.

Which festival are you most excited about? Plan your spring stay now at Bienville House!

 

Mardi Gras at Bienville House: Until Next Year!

It was the most magical time of the year – well, one of them, anyway. New Orleans always brings unforgettable experiences, whether during the holidays or during festival season, but Mardi Gras is definitely one of our favorites. The 2015 Mardi Gras season was a great one at Bienville House! Our guests enjoyed all the festivities of the French Quarter in addition to beautiful decorations right within our hotel.

We taught everyone a few Mardi Gras traditions and terms, and if you weren’t here to get a king cake baby for yourself, don’t worry! Bienville House’s on-site restaurant, Latitude 29, has incredible drinks with just the right amount of kitsch – and their Mississippi Mermaid drink features a plastic bauble not unlike a king cake baby.

We’ve collected a few of our favorite photos from inside our hotel during the Mardi Gras season. Take a look below!

Purple mardi gras flowers

Our hotel was full of decorations in the Mardi Gras colors of purple, green, and gold.

balcony decorations bienville house

The balcony from our interior courtyard joined in on the Mardi Gras festivities.

Lobby decorations

Our lobby decorations were a nod to the lavish floats during the parades.

Bienville House also participated in a joint effort on behalf of the New Orleans Convention and Visitors Bureau and tourism leaders (including our sister hotel, Hotel Monteleone) to help fund additional state police presence during Mardi Gras and through the duration of the festival season. With added police in the city through May, visitors can enjoy a sense of security that will allow them to truly enjoy their stay.

Whether you decide to visit for festival season or want to plan your trip for Mardi Gras 2016 (Carnival season starts on Jan. 6, and Fat Tuesday is on Feb. 9), Bienville House provides a perfect venue close to all the action.

Experience a Romantic Valentine’s Day in New Orleans

With its history, music, and fine dining, New Orleans is an inherently romantic city. During Valentine’s Day, it’s easy to make room for romance – simply take a look at our list of things to do for Valentine’s Day!

st louis cathedral
Take a quiet moment at St. Louis Cathedral as part of a romantic Valentine’s Day. (Photo courtesy EMR on Flickr)

Share a Whimsical Drink at Latitude 29

With a world-famous tiki expert behind the bar, Latitude 29 guarantees an unforgettable cocktail. We love how Jeff “Beachbum” Berry has created shareable drinks like the Lapu Lapu – you can sip side-by-side with your sweetheart for a nostalgic moment. Other standout romantic drinks include the eponymous Latitude 29 (with sensuous Madagascar vanilla syrup) and the Outcast of the Islands (it’s got cinnamon in it, an aphrodisiac!).

Draw Powdered Sugar Hearts at Café du Monde

There’s really no beating fresh, warm beignets doused in powdered sugar. Café du Monde’s al fresco setting is perfect for people watching, and their petite plates are just the right size for drawing powdered sugar hearts – after you finish your dessert, of course.

Dance to Street Music in Jackson Square

Part of the magic of New Orleans is its constant flow of live music. There’s always an excuse to dance, especially when you’re with your loved one at Valentine’s Day! Jackson Square is beautiful as is, but live music creates an incredibly romantic atmosphere to dance hand in hand under the stars.

Take a Quiet Moment Together Inside St. Louis Cathedral

Reflection is an important part of any relationship. You can take time for quiet introspection at St. Louis Cathedral as you admire the architecture and artwork within this historic building. It’s open daily from 7:30 a.m. until 4:00 p.m.

Enjoy a Moonlit River Cruise

End your Valentine’s Day on the mighty Mississippi when you take a steamboat like Steamboat Natchez or the Creole Queen for a moonlight cruise. The experience provides fabulous photo-ops and the exhilarating feeling of wind in your hair and the whole world ahead of you – a lot like how love feels, we think.

Book now at Bienville House for unparalleled access to all the romance of the French Quarter. Happy Valentine’s Day!