New Orleans is a dynamic, historic, and exciting city straddling the mouth of the Mississippi River on the Louisiana coast and is a year-round hotspot for fun and frivolity. The climate of New Orleans is classified as humid subtropical and the city really heats up in the humid summers and gets little relief during the short, mild winters. It rains rather steadily throughout the year, although summer is definitely the wettest season. Due to the city’s location in the Gulf of Mexico and its’ very low elevation, it is vulnerable to disastrous effects of tropical storms which frequent the gulf during hurricane season. Snowfall during particularly cold spells in New Orleans can occur, but it happens about once every twenty years, so leave your boots at home!
Summer in New Orleans can sometimes be brutal for those not used to the weather in the southern United States. Temperatures soar and the high humidity seems to make it even stickier during the frequent heat waves. Luckily, the heat is sometimes countered by frequent precipitation; it rains approximately 14 days per month throughout the summer.
The average mean temperature during summer in New Orleans is an overnight low of 24C (75F), while the daytime high rockets up to 33.3C (92F).
If there was one word to describe New Orleans throughout the entire year, it would be fun, and summer in New Orleans is no exception. The Big Easy has tons of exciting events and sights for tourists to enjoy, but the highlight of the summer is definitely the festivals! Over the 4th of July Weekend, The Essence Music Festival, a celebration of African American music and culture, takes center stage in the city at the Superdome, as well as at alternative smaller stages throughout the city. If jazz is really your thing, then New Orleans, being the “Home of Jazz” is the spot for you, and who better to honor than Louis Armstrong at the Satchmo Summer Fest! If you travel for food over anything else, New Orleans, with its’ unique mix of Cajun and Creole flavors has something for you to taste. There are three festivals over one weekend in June which dominate the culinary attention of the city, and those are the French Market Creole Tomato, the New Orleans Seafood Fest, and the Lousiana Cajun Festival all kick off. If you want to catch some of the sightseeing spots during your trip to the “Big Easy”, then take a summer stroll down Julian Street for the White Linen Night, an adult-oriented celebration of art where you dress in white and casually party along that artistic street, cocktails in hand. A week later, wear the same outfit for Dirty White Linen Night, a similar celebration of art and cocktails on the gallery-lined Royal Street. Both of those events happen at the beginning of August. The heat can be too much for some visitors to New Orleans, so cool off at the Aquarium of the Americas, or the new “Insectarium”, both of which can fill up a hot afternoon and are sure to entertain kids of all ages!
The seemingly constant stream of summer rain slackens in autumn, as does the sweltering daytime heat, so autumn in New Orleans is always a popular time to visit the city. It only rains about 8 days per month through the fall, and temperatures only climb past the 37C (100F) mark on rare heat wave occasions.
The average mean temperature of autumn in new Orleans is an overnight low of 17.5C (63.5F) while the daytime stays at a toasty 27C (80F).
The festivals never stop in NOLA and this cultural capital of America is once again packed with events during the autumnal season. But for many locals of the city, autumn means one thing…the New Orleans Saints. This citywide obsession will sweep over visitors, especially around the time of the home opener, and catching a game at the Superdome is an experience you will certainly never forget. Other than sports, the culture is just as rich as ever during autumn in New Orleans, so check out the Art for Art’s Sake art walk at the beginning of October, and of course, Oktoberfest is celebrated in typical excessive style throughout the city. To experience some of the mystical history of the city, The Voodoo Music Experience is a spooky Halloween festival that combines the swamp witch traditions of ancient New Orleans with some of the freshest contemporary music. The French Quarter also has a number of ghostly tours throughout that historic area of the city, which is the site of more ghost stories and frightening legends than you could ever imagine! For all the foodies visiting during the autumn, never fear, the Oak Street Po-Boy Festival is an annual celebration of the city’s iconic sandwich, with hundreds of vendors vying for the top ranking! The autumn is also a wonderful time for a lazy stroll through the architectural mix of New Orleans various streets and quarters. Make sure to walk along St. Charles Avenue for its’ pristinely maintained Antebellum homes, as well as the French Quarter for its’ wild mixture of multicultural styles butting up against one another, fighting for the tourists’ attention. For some seated culture, take in one of the Broadway shows that regularly come through New Orleans at the Saenger Theatre, or soak up some homegrown talent at the New Orleans Ballet or the New Orleans Philharmonic Orchestra.
Winter in New Orleans provide a cool respite from the other seasons of the year, although the rain slightly increases again, to approximately 9 days per month. Snow is extremely rare, because the temperature rarely sinks even close to freezing, but once every 25 years or so, pack your snow boots!
The average mean temperature of winter in new Orleans is an overnight low of 8.5C (47F), while the daytime peaks at around 18C (64F).
Winter in New Orleans is about as calm as the city gets, and while the temperatures cool, the pace of the locals seems to slow. Many tourists choose to go outside the city for some of the neat attractions, like swamp and plantation tours, which show a different side of New Orleans, and put visitors in touch with the origins of the city. Cajun Encounters and Historic New Orleans Tours are two of the best companies to get a full-on experience! The winter months allow visitors to spend a whole day outside without worrying about the scorching heat, so luxurious strolls through the city’s parks, especially the grounds of the Audubon Nature Institute, which contains the lush Audubon Park and the Audubon Zoo. Royal Street is a wonderful place for art fans, with its’ bevy of modern art galleries for every price range and taste, while The French Quarter and the Garden District have scattered antique bookshops where treasures can always be found for bibliophiles visiting the city. After the 12 Days of Christmas, it is time for the Carnival season to begin. The first notable event is 12th Night, or King Cake Day, which lands on January 6th. Celebrate with slices of traditional cake, festive music, and an early sneak peek of the Carnival/Mardi Gras season that has officially begun. At the end of winter, the life is suddenly injected back into the city with the beginning of Mardi Gras, the party to end all parties that has made New Orleans a destination for people from all around the world. It is almost impossible to describe Mardi Gras, except by seeing it for yourself, but depending on the day of Easter, Mardi Gras begins in either winter or spring (February or March). Mardi Gras Day, also called Fat Tuesday, is 46 days before Easter, and is rung in with massive celebrations throughout the city. Parades happen throughout the Mardi Gras season, costumes are donned, drinks are consumed at any hour of the day, and the city literally hums with anticipation of the final two weeks before Easter, which is the highest and most popular time to celebrate the yearly tradition in the city.
The weather heats back up in spring, and the rain lessens slightly from the winter season, but spring in New Orleans is truly one of the most exciting times in one of the most exciting cities in the world.
The average mean temperature of spring in New Orleans is an overnight low of 16C (61F) while the daytime climbs to a humid and hot 26.5C (80F).
Regardless of when Mardi Gras technically begins, the majority of it occurs during the spring months, and as the weather warms up and the tourists begin to flood back into the city, NOLA is ready to blossom! Spring in New Orleans is an energetic and exhilarating time in the city, and the center of activity is Bourbon Street in the French Quarter. Hang out of some upstairs balconies and participate in the daily parades and interaction with the hordes of merrymakers on the streets (bring your beads!), or listen to some of the live music events set up throughout the quarter. Food is always available from the many Cajun, Creole, American, French, Hispanic, and African style eateries spread in the area, and alcoholic drinks flow like water. Bring some fun costumes and a masquerade mask to complete the once-in-a-lifetime experience. If you want to get away from the madness of Mardi Gras, the spring is a good time to experience some of the more recent history of the city. New Orleans was devastated by Hurricane Katrina in the summer of 2005 and many areas were completely destroyed. To understand the true depth of what this city experienced, many visitors take tours to the impoverished areas outside of the city center.
Spring in New Orleans also boasts a second world-famous event, JazzFest. Hailed as the home of Jazz, New Orleans draws hundreds of thousands of visitors from around the world each spring to enjoy the sounds of local jazz traditions as well as internationally acclaimed jazz performers in the city that started it all. If the dancing, parades, and music become overwhelming, spend a quieter afternoon exploring the galleries of the New Orleans Museum of Art (NoMA) or walk to the French Market to the legendary Café du Monde, for beignets, café au lait, and a gorgeous view of the city. If you want to really soak up some of the old school Southern feel of the city, take a horse-drawn carriage ride, and let the talented guides/drivers show off their expert knowledge of the history and cultural secrets of this magnificent city.
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