NEW ORLEANS – Despite one day of heavy rains that cancelled some acts and muddied up the Fair Grounds, attendance at this year’s New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival surged enough in the closing weekend to bring a total crowd of 425,000 people to this year’s event.
Organizers released attendance figures on Wednesday.
This year’s crowd of 425,000 matches 2016’s reported crowd of about the same size, a figure which also dropped significantly from previous years because of rain on the second weekend of the festival. 2016’s was nearly the smallest crowd in five years. 460,000 fans attended in 2015 – the highest attendance total since 2005.
Rain over the Fair Grounds on the first Sunday of this year's festival cancelled close to half of the acts for that day, though the event did open later that afternoon. The fest saw near-perfect weather for its closing weekend, bringing back large crowds.
The large crowds in 2015 (particularly on a day which saw huge crowds for both Elton John and Ed Sheeran, performing on opposite stages at the same time) prompted some safety changes to the 2016 and 2017 events. That included the installation of bleachers near the Acura and Congo Square stages to offer better seating options and prevent crowds from using chairs, blankets and tarps to lay claim to space.
The 2015 figure topped 2014’s estimated crowd of 435,000 people, as well as 2013's crowd of 425,000 (down because of rainy conditions) and the 2012 figure of 450,000.
Historically, the peak for Jazz Fest attendance came in 2001 when an estimated 650,000 people attended.
The 49th annual New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival is scheduled for April 27-May 6, 2018.