10 Things to Do in New Orleans in May

The cultural heritage of New Orleans is incredible: in the same month you can join the Mexican celebrations of May 5th, celebrate the Asian heritage month and taste typical Mediterranean food with the New Orleans Greek Festival.

Ana C.R.

Ana C.R.

10 min read

10 Things to Do in New Orleans in May

New Orleans Buildings | angela n.

May is one of the months when most people choose to visit New Orleans and this is due to two factors: the large number of events and festivities to enjoy and the great weather.

While New Orleans has many things to see and do all year round, May is a perfect month to enjoy the outdoors, as during the day the heat is not so oppressive and the evenings are perfect for dining out.

1. Wednesday Jam Out on the Square

Spring in Lafayette Square| ©Edward Wood
Spring in Lafayette Square| ©Edward Wood

While Jam Out Wednesdays are held throughout the spring, the month of May is the best time to enjoy this event.

Also, these types of shows are a perfect opportunity to get a taste of the musical heritage that New Orleans has to offer. New Orleans was not only the birthplace of jazz and rhythm and blues, it is also world renowned for musical diversity.

Wednesday Jam Out's can be the ideal opportunity to get to know this rich cultural sound while enjoying a refreshing ice cone. These events usually attract large crowds due to their great musical variety: Soul, Funk, Rock, Latin rhythms, jazz and rock.

The opening acts are usually starred by the "Marching Bands" of the city, so with the first chime you will find yourself dancing to the rhythm of the drums.

I recommend you bring a blanket or folding chair and find the perfect spot in this beautiful wooded park. If you're up for it, the front of the stage is reserved for dancing only.

This event is sponsored by the Young Leadership Council of New Orleans and is free of charge. If you get hungry, keep in mind that the plaza will be surrounded by food trucks so you can sample local food between songs.

Every Wednesday you can find a different artist, in case you like the experience and want to repeat.

Useful information

  • Where Lafayette Square, New Orleans
  • When Every Wednesday
  • Hours 5pm to 7pm

Book a jazz tour in New Orleans

2. Participate in the Food Fight New Orleans Edition

Food Fight| ©Will C
Food Fight| ©Will C

If you plan to take a food tour of New Orleans or are interested in participating in the search for the best restaurant in the city, this option is ideal.

The Food Fight is organized every year in May to vote for the best dishes and cocktails in the city.

During the event you will be able to rate who is the best chef or best bartender through 5 different categories: the best traditional, vegetarian and creative dishes are awarded. Cocktails will be divided into 2 classes: Classic and Creative.

Attending this event will save you a lot of time when going out to eat. In the same night you will be able to taste the best gastronomic options that New Orleans has to offer.

In addition, the competitive atmosphere will be the best way to bring out your palate, so I recommend that you attend with a big appetite.

In addition, by attending you will not only be helping to choose the best restaurants and chefs in the city: All proceeds from this event will be donated to the PLEASE educational foundation, to break income inequality in NOLA.

Book a food tour of New Orleans

3. Attend the Bayou Boogaloo Festival

Bayou Boogaloo Festival| ©Mid-City Bayou Boogaloo Fest
Bayou Boogaloo Festival| ©Mid-City Bayou Boogaloo Fest

The Bayou Boogaloo is a music, art and food festival held in the last weeks of May since 2010. The festival is held on the shores of St John's Bayou, a bayou that is located within the City of New Orleans.

In fact, the location of St John's Bayou is what makes this festival so special. People usually come to the festival to enjoy the music and dancing from the water. For this it is very common to rent small boats, kayaks, canoes and inflatable boats.

The festival has different stages where you can enjoy rock, pop and country music bands from the local scene. You can also find tents to buy crafts, souvenirs, traditional food and refreshing beverages.

The festival also features fun activities and tournaments such as paddle boat races and bike rides. Bayou Boogaloo has a philosophy of organizing the event with as little environmental impact as possible. An example of this is that the organization offers cash for recyclables collected during the festival.

I recommend that you attend the festival by bicycle, as in addition to the minimal environmental impact you will enjoy a beautiful ride.

This is because it is located very close to the center of the French Quarter, one of the most important tourist spots in New Orleans. Staying nearby can be a great opportunity to enjoy the best tours of the French Quarter.

Book a tour of the French Quarter of New Orleans

4. Enjoy a historic walking tour during Memorial Day Weekend

Museum Exterior| ©Chanse Arrington
Museum Exterior| ©Chanse Arrington

Memorial Day is a very important date in the culture of the United States, as it honors the memory of the men and women who lost their lives fighting for their country. In New Orleans you can find different activities to honor the memory of these brave soldiers.

On this occasion, you can pay tribute to the troops by visiting the National World War II Museum.

The Museum has many modern, interactive and educational exhibits for the whole family, so don't be surprised if you spend the whole day on this tour. It is located 5 minutes from the French Quarter and the city center.

Useful information

Museum Address: 945 Magazine Street, New OrleansMuseum Hours: 9 am to 5 pmPrice: Children under 12, students, military spouses pay approximately $20, while adults pay approximately $32:

Reserve tickets for the World War II Museum

5. Audubon Zoo Party

Audubon Zoo| ©Toni Sterling
Audubon Zoo| ©Toni Sterling

Going to the zoo is always an attractive plan to meet native animals or see species that may be in danger of extinction while they receive the care of professionals. But in addition, in the month of May the New Orleans Audubon Zoo offers you a different event.

The "Zoo-To-Do" Party is organized by the Audubon Natural Institute during the first Friday of May. This event allows the institute to raise funds that will help the zoo's animal and insect conservation.

The event includes a music festival, silent auction, signature cocktails, food from 70 different restaurants in the city and a car raffle.

The New Orleans Zoo is located on Magazine Avenue and on the Mississippi River waterfront. I recommend you go in your best dress or favorite suit, as it is usually a black tie event.

While a trip to the zoo is one of the best plans if you've been to New Orleans with kids, this event is for adults only.

Useful facts

  • Where 6500 Magazine St., New Orleans
  • When First weekend in May
  • Hours From 8:00 p.m. (adults only)

6. Celebrate May 5th

Latino Pride Celebration| ©Marcelo B
Latino Pride Celebration| ©Marcelo B

May 5th celebrations are very important for Latino communities throughout the United States and New Orleans is no exception. This holiday, although it has its origins in the victory of the Battle of Puebla, is today considered Latino Pride Day.

And what better way to celebrate Cinco de Mayo than tasting Mexican food? The advantage of visiting New Orleans on this date is that you can join the festivities of the Latino community by going out to eat some delicious tacos accompanied by margaritas.

You can see the complete list of places to eat outdoors by clicking here. If you are in the outskirts of the city you can visit Laketown, where the Hispanic Celebration takes place. It's a free event that features live Mexican-style bands, dancers and arts and crafts. At night you can buy drinks and typical food.

The event is designed for families and at the end of the event the kids can hit some piñatas to make the night end with fun.

If you prefer something for adults, I recommend the Velvet Cactus Fiesta, organized by the Velvet Cactus Mexican Restaurant. It usually starts at 5 pm and features live bands, DJs as well as traditional Mexican food and a variety of drinks.

Finally, you can stop by the Fiesta de la Cuadra at Los Jefes Grill, a classic Mexican steakhouse. Here you can eat tacos al pastor while drinking and dancing to the rhythm of mariachis.

If you're up for it, save room in your stomach, as you can compete in their classic taco eating contest. The biggest eater wins!

7. Celebrate Asian Pacific Heritage Month

Celebrating Asian Pacific Heritage Month| ©Mark Gstohl
Celebrating Asian Pacific Heritage Month| ©Mark Gstohl

May is also the month to celebrate and commemorate the heritage of Asian Pacific cultures on North American soil. Here are some recommendations for celebrating the richness of Asian culture in New Orleans.

During this month you can find great promotions, parties and special evenings at the wide variety of Vietnamese, Chinese, Japanese and Thai restaurants.

Due to its proximity to the Mississippi River and the Gulf of Mexico, New Orleans is known worldwide for having a wide variety of ingredients that come from the river and the sea.

Because of this, the best Asian and Pacific Rim cuisines have found ways to fuse their centuries-old recipes and adapt them to the American palate.

This month is a perfect opportunity to sample the best dishes from Asian chefs and the city has a wide variety of places to visit.

You can see the complete list of local Asian restaurants by clicking on the following link.

8. Enjoy the University Rugby Sevens Championship

RugbySeven University Championship.| ©Juanpy290
RugbySeven University Championship.| ©Juanpy290

If you like outdoor team sports, May is the best time to visit New Orleans. May weather is ideal for cheering and partying, as cloudy or rainy days are not abundant.

Thanks to this, if you like rugby, at the end of May New Orleans hosts the RugbySeven College Championship. The event usually runs the last weekend in May, starting on Friday and ending on Sunday.

If you feel that 3 days of rugby is too much for you, I recommend you book that Sunday to be able to witness the grand final.

Rugby 7s has almost the same rules as conventional rugby, but the number of participants per team is reduced from 15 to 7. This makes the game much more intense, strategic and exciting.

This event has been running since 2010 and has more and more participants. More than 100 teams, men's and women's university rugby 7-a-side. You can witness how during 3 days, they seek the title and the honor of national university champion.

In addition to the matches, the event features live bands, food trucks and activities for the whole family. Finally, the most important games are played at the Shrine On Airline stadium, with a capacity of 10,000 spectators.

Useful information

  • When: Last weekend in May
  • Where: Shrine On Airline, 6000 Airline Dr, Metairie (New Orleans)
  • Price: Depends on whether you want to come for one day or more.

9. New Orleans Greek Festival

New Orleans Greek Festival| ©Andrea Jofre
New Orleans Greek Festival| ©Andrea Jofre

On the same weekend of Memorial Day, the New Orleans Greek Culture Festival is organized. You can dance and sing Greek music to the rhythm of the bouzouki while enjoying the excellent Mediterranean cuisine.

If you are interested in a festival full of music, drinks and dancing, you should go to the Greek Orthodox Cathedral of the Holy Trinity, located at 1200 Robert Lee Boulevard.

Here you can enjoy traditional Greek food, such as spanakopita (spinach pie), souvlaki, baklava, delicious dolmas (stuffed grape leaves) and gyro sandwiches.

In addition, you can watch traditional Hellenic dancers in colorful costumes dancing to traditional Greek music. The good atmosphere of the party makes everyone dance.

The place also has a beautiful green space next to the river, so you can bring a blanket to rest from dancing or to have a picnic. In addition, canoes are rented for a ride on the river, a beautiful activity that I recommend you try with your family.

The festival is also a unique opportunity to admire the Cathedral, which belongs to the oldest Greek Orthodox congregation in the United States. It was inaugurated in 1866 and has a unique architecture, a Byzantine dome and is surrounded by 19th century frescoes and stained glass windows.

10. Don't miss the Jazz Fest

Jazz Fest| ©Amy Harris
Jazz Fest| ©Amy Harris

Although the festival starts in the last days of April, it always takes place during the first days of May due to the great number and variety of artists it offers. The New Orleans Jazz and Heritage festival began in 1970, as its name suggests, to pay homage to the Jazz heritage.

But this quickly changed and it became a much larger festival with international renown. No longer just celebrating the cultural heritage of jazz, it came to concentrate bands and artists from all genres of music. People from all over decide to gather in New Orleans and celebrate at one of the best festivals on the planet.

The festival features more than 15 stages, activities and games for all ages and a wide variety of food and beverages. Although it is not yet summer, it tends to be a little hot in the afternoon, so I recommend that you wear comfortable and cool clothing, as well as sunglasses, sunscreen and a hat.

May weather in New Orleans

Touring New Orleans| ©sprusak
Touring New Orleans| ©sprusak

The weather in May is one of the most recommendable for visiting the city. If you like warm and hot climates, you will enjoy the temperatures during the day, as they are quite hot and humid.

In the evenings you will have the best weather to enjoy the city, so I recommend that you look for places to dine outdoors or plan outings to start at sunset. You can also read this article about the best things to do in New Orleans at night.