NEW ORLEANS — One of the largest free festivals in the country is back! French Quarter Fest kicks off Thursday and will go through Sunday. The festival hasn't been held since 2019 due to the pandemic causing cancellations. Now, nearly 300 bands are getting ready to perform across 20 stages.
One of the musicians getting ready to take the stage is Jon Cleary. He's played French Quarter Fest about a dozen times before.
"People here love it because it's all Louisiana music. That's pretty special and it's a free festival. Everyone loves that," Cleary said.
City leaders are asking people to prepare for heavy pedestrian and vehicular traffic. They are encouraging rideshare and RTA transportation options.
"If you have to use your vehicle, park somewhere well lit and do not leave any valuables in plain sight," said NOPD Superintendent Shaun Ferguson.
NOPD officers are also preparing for big crowds caused by Pelicans games too. The Pels will play in the Smoothie King Center Friday and Sunday.
"We have a lot of work ahead of us this upcoming weekend and we are ready and prepared for each and every incident right now," Superintendent Ferguson said.
He's asking people to leave weapons at home.
"There is no reason for anyone to have a weapon during a large crowd event, period," he said.
French Quarter Fest hasn't been held since 2019 due to COVID, but the city's Health Director Dr. Jennifer Avegno feels encouraged by current COVID numbers.
"Hospitalizations both locally and statewide are at their lowest level since the beginning which is incredibly promising," she said.