Your Guide to

Jazz Fest

Jazz Fest

The largest music festival in the New Orleans calendar.


New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Foundation

In 1970, the Foundation was set up to be the nonprofit owner of the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival (Jazz Fest) with a mission to sow the seeds of our unique culture for generations to come.

In the early days, the festival wasn't the world-famous event that it is today... one that attracts hundreds of thousands of visitors to New Orleans and pumps $300 million a year into the local economy. In fact, it is often said that at the first Jazz Fest there were more performers onstage than people in the audience.

But the founders believed that Jazz Fest would one day grow into a major success. Everyone involved wanted to make sure that the festival proceeds would be redistributed into the local community.

So the Foundation, a nonprofit organization, was established with a distinguished board of directors and a full-time staff. Its mission:

"To promote, preserve, perpetuate and encourage the music, arts, culture and heritage of communities in Louisiana through festivals, programs and other cultural, educational, civic and economic activities."

New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival - History

Mahalia Jackson, often called the greatest gospel singer, returned to her hometown to appear at the first New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival in April of 1970. While attending the Louisiana Heritage Fair in Congo Square (then known as Beauregard Square), she and Duke Ellington, who also appeared at the event, came upon the Eureka Brass Band leading a crowd of second-line revelers through the Festival grounds. George Wein, producer of the Festival, handed Ms. Jackson a microphone, she sang along with the band and joined the parade... and the spirit of Jazz Fest was born.

Our Local Publisher Partners

The Arts Council of New Orleans
The Historic New Orleans Collection
Southern Food
Louisiana Endowment for the Humanities


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