New Orleans tourism is good at any time year—even during the hottest weather in July and August. In fact, New Orleans visitors who love music and great jazz come in August to honor one of the city’s most famous native sons, jazz trumpeter Louis Armstrong, such a beloved native son that the city’s international airport is named for him. The Satchmo Summerfest is one of the most prestigious music events in this city that is defined by it eclectic music. However, the best time to go to New Orleans to hear good music is almost anytime. Music bars and jazz clubs and free concerts in city parks are cranking out good tunes all year long.
The New Orleans seasons do play a part in when people visit, so it helps to understand the weather. This is a subtropical climate, with hot muggy summers and usually mild winters. New Orleans visitors have always paid attention to the hurricane season (that generally lasts from about June first until sometime in October or November), but this has been more on people’s minds since the 2005 Hurricane Katrina season. Nonetheless, the average mean temperature is a balmy 70 degrees Fahrenheit, with temperatures determined more by cloud cover and rain, both of which can be quite unpredictable. It can be quite cool during normally hot humid summers and unseasonably chilly during the normally pleasant spring.
Because of the hot weather, New Orleans tourism is cheapest during the summer months. This is great for family vacations and for others who are on a budget. Fortunately, virtually all the attractions and hotels are air conditioned, so you can do as the locals do when it’s really hot and simply move from air-conditioned site to air-conditioned site. Additionally (and also attractive for families), this time of year means there is almost no dress code. Shorts, sandals, and tee shirts are acceptable everywhere except the finest dining spots and more sophisticated clubs such as the House of Blues.
Another best time to go to New Orleans is during the Christmas and New Year holidays. While the city is beautifully decorated and there are many festive seasonal events during this time, many New Orleans visitors seem to stay away, perhaps saving themselves for Mardi Gras, which begins shortly after the Christmas holiday season. Even the luxury hotels recognize the lull in tourism and offer super bargains over Christmas.
The best time to go to New Orleans for nonstop partying and nightlife is during Mardi Gras in February and the Jazz and Heritage Festival in April. During these two periods, you should book your flights and hotels as far in advance as possible. This is also true of any tickets you wish to purchase for any of the concerts, parties, and other special events like Saints home games. However, New Orleans tourism—including parties and special events—is active throughout the year. The city is apt to erupt in spontaneous parades given any good reason. The 2010 Saints win in the Super Bowl after 43 years of trying is an excellent example. Fortunately, the early February timing of this long awaited football win coincided with the Mardi Gras season. But even funerals, which happen any time of year, are tourist attractions. A somber procession with appropriate funeral music will make its way through the streets to one of the city’s historic cemeteries. After the burial the same procession, usually playing joyous ragtime or jazz, will dance its way back to one of the music bars for some serious partying. If you happen to bump into one of these, it's always fun to stop what you’re doing and join in.