French Film Fest 2012

The best way to escape from summer heat–or summer storms–is by hiding inside, and what better way to enjoy relief than in a movie theater? The French Film Fest is taking place this weekend at the historic Prytania Theater, the oldest operating theater in New Orleans which opened in 1915. Through Thursday the single-screen Prytania Theater will be showing films in French with English subtitles. Classics like Funny Face and Children of Paradise are among the features this year along with newcomers Delicacy and Farewell, My Queen. Find the full line up, along with English language films that aren't part of the festival but are playing this weekend, here.

Satchmo Fest 2012

One of our most beloved icons here in New Orleans is, of course, Louis Armstrong, who was given a rather unusual nickname as a child–Satchmo, short for satchel mouth, a rather derogatory sounding compliment for Armstrong's large mouth. There are a wide range of stories as to who originally gave Satchmo his nickname, but regardless of the origin it has become the namesake for one of the highlights of the summer festival season, Satchmo Fest. Satchmo Fest 2012 is kicking off at the old US Mint with lectures today and music starting tomorrow at noon. Find the full line up of bands, speakers, and seminars for jazz afficianados here.

Bastille Day in New Orleans

It's Independence Day in France, and in New Orleans, the most French of U.S. cities, we celebrate along with them! Bastille Day commemorates the day in 1789 that more than 8,000 French men and women stormed a prison fortress in Paris, the Bastille, and demanded the release of the political prisoners held inside. This event sparked the French Revolution which gave rise to Napoleon Bonaparte and, in 1803, the sale of New Orleans to the United States.

As with any holiday, Bastille Day is a great excuse to throw a party and laissez les bons temps roulez, and this year is no exception! Events kicked off early last Sunday with a French mass held at St Louis Cathedral but the real party starts tomorrow with Alliance Francaise's gala dinner. Contact afno@af-neworleans.org or call 504-568-0770 for details and reservations. If you're not in the mood for a big dinner party, or you want a bit more spectacle, all you need to do is wander through the French Quarter on Saturday, July 14, where free public events will be taking place all day long, culminating in a block party from 4:00pm to 9:00pm to be held in the 3100 block of Ponce de Leon (just off Esplanade). Bonne fête!

More details and a full list of Bastille Day events in New Orleans can be found here.

Mardi Gras Primer

Coming to New Orleans for the greatest free show on earth? Here are a few things you might want to know before your Mardi Gras visit:

  • Mardi Gras, or Fat Tuesday, is the culmination of Carnival, the season that runs from the Epiphany on January 6 and was licensed by the Catholic Church as a period of feasting leading up to Lent, which begins the day after Mardi Gras on Ash Wednesday.  The church is responsible for the fluctuating date of Mardi Gras as well, as it is tied to Easter (and the Lenten season).

  • Mardi Gras celebrations in New Orleans date all the way back to 1857 when the first ever New Orleans krewe (the societies, sometimes secret, who present themed parades and balls during Mardi Gras), the Mistick Krese of Comus. Since 1857 only 13 Mardi Gras celebrations have been cancelled, primarily because of wars including the Civil and Korean wars, as well as World Wars I and II. Despite New Orleans' fame for Mardi Gras, the city actually has no involvement in the activities leading up to the big day other than to issue parade permits to the various krewes and their parades. Each organization is completely autonomous and organizes their parade independent of any other institution–even sponsors! It is actually against the law in New Orleans for Mardi Gras parades to be corporately sponsored; all krewes and other carnival clubs are not-for-profit organizations.

  • Be sure to keep an eye out for throws at the parades; the items tossed from floats during the parade include beads, cups, doubloons, and other special goodies. Many of these are collectable items, so be sure to grab some! Even though the floats are throwing things at the crowd, be sure not to throw anything back–it is dangerous, stupid, and against the law.

Mardi Gras may be a lot of fun, but it can also be a little overwhelming. If you need a day out of the city, be sure to call us for one of our relaxing plantation or swamp tours; we'll be operating while the city is partying so give us a call at 1-888-223-2093.

Voodoo Music Weekend Approaches

The Voodoo Music Experience is almost here for Halloween weekend 2011! It's a great time to party it up in City Park; this year's line-up includes Blink-182, Soundgarden, and Snoop Dog among others (you can check out the full schedule here). If you don't want to hang out on Bourbon Street you can of course join the Halloween revelers on Bourbon Street as it's sure to be an eventful weekend. Need a break during the day? Consider taking a break by visiting some peaceful, beautiful antebellum plantations. Check out the tours here or just give us a call! (504) 398-0365, 8am to 9pm 7 days a week.

Ponderosa Stomp, 9/15-9/17

If you're in town this coming weekend, you might want to check out Ponderosa Stomp. Founded at the turn of the century (the 21st century, that is) by New Orleans anesthesiologist and avid record collector Ira Dr. Ike Padnos, the Ponderosa Stomp is an American roots music festival dedicated to recognizing the architects of rock & roll, blues, jazz, country, swamp pop, reggae, soul and other indigenous Louisiana and Southern music.

This year's Ponderosa Stomp is celebrating its 10th anniversary by paying tribute to The Memphis Sound that came out of The Blues Capital of America from the mid 1950s to the mid 1960s on the Stax/Volt and Excello record labels. The Memphis Sound produced such prominent musical artists as Otis Redding, Sam & Dave, Rufus and Carla Thomas, Booker T & the MGs, The Bar-Kays, William Bell, Eddie Floyd and many others on Stax. The Nashville-based Excello label featured Slim Harpo, Lazy Lester, Lightnin' Slim, Lonesome Sundown and even an album of sermons by Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr.

Some of the artists in the 2011 musical lineup are as follows (songs they sang are in parentheses):

  • Eddie Floyd (Knock on Wood Stax recording artist)

  • William Bell (You Don't Miss Your Water Stax recording artist)

  • Dave Bartholomew (Rock & Roll Hall of Fame trumpeter and music producer)

  • Allen Toussaint (Rock & Roll Hall of Fame pianist, songwriter and music producer)

  • Al Johnson (Carnival Time)

  • Jean Knight (Mr. Big Stuff and Don't Mess With My Toot Toot)

  • Lazy Lester (Ponderosa Stomp)

  • Clarence Frogman Henry (Ain't Got No Home and But I Do)

  • Frankie Ford (Sea Cruise)

  • Robert Parker (Bare Footin')

  • Gerri Hall (female vocalist of Huey Piano Smith and the Clowns)

  • Big Jay McNeely (There is Something on Your Mind)

  • Bobby Rush (legendary blues singer/songwriter)

  • Warren Storm (legendary swamp pop vocalist)

  • Lil Buck Sinegal and the Top Cats (Monkey in a Sack)

For a complete list of this year's performers click here.

Need something to do Saturday morning? We have a few seats left on three of our Saturday morning tours to suit every taste–an Airboat Tour for swamp-fiends, a Westbank Plantation Tour for amateur historians and architechtural junkies, and our classic City Combo Tour for anyone who wants to delve deeper into the Big Easy. Call us today, (504) 398-0365 or click here to reserve your seats!