Keeping the Beat
French Quarter Festival announces lineup, continued economic impact
The lineup for the 37th Annual French Quarter Festival presented by Chevron has been announced and will draw hundreds of thousands of people to the French Quarter April 16-19. The event is the largest free festival that celebrates Louisiana music and food, with more than 1,700 local musicians performing on 25 stages and over 60 local restaurants participating.
The economic impact of a free festival this large is tremendous. In 2019, 825,700 people attended French Quarter Festival and generated a total economic impact of $190.7 million, according to a study by University of New Orleans (UNO) Hospitality Research Center. This impact includes $106.4 million in direct expenditures and $84.3 million in secondary expenditures. Additionally, visitor spending was projected to create or support nearly 2,100 full-and part-time jobs. These jobs were expected to create a total of $55.6 million in earnings for residents of the New Orleans area.
Visitor spending was expected to generate a total of $14.7 million in tax revenue for state and local governments. Of that total, roughly $8.6 million went to the State of Louisiana, and $6.1 million was claimed by local governments in the New Orleans area. Sixty percent of the attendees were from out-of-town.
“As the festival has grown, we’ve maintained our hyper-local focus and that authentic home-grown atmosphere is what attracts both locals and visitors alike,” said Emily Madero, president and CEO, French Quarter Festivals, Inc. “It’s a successful formula: by hiring local musicians and providing a platform for dozens of restaurants on our culinary lineup, we generate an economic impact that stays in our community and make a massive contribution to New Orleans’ tourism industry.”
Madero said that many of their partners in the French Quarter report that next to Mardi Gras, French Quarter Festival is their biggest weekend of the year.
The festival draws visitors from drivable states like Texas and Florida, in addition to those who fly in to New Orleans from New York and California. Those four states combined account for over 30 percent of out-of-town visitors. International visitors also attend French Quarter Festival from countries including Canada, the United Kingdom and Australia, according to the UNO study.
New Orleans & Company reported the 2019 hotel occupancy for French Quarter Festival was over 90 percent for the Friday and Saturday of the four-day festival, and nearly 29,000 hotel rooms were booked and occupied over the course of the festival weekend.
The 2020 French Quarter Festival will continue to draw more visitors to New Orleans. The lineup promises hundreds of returning favorites like Tank and Bangas, Amanda Shaw, Irma Thomas, Hot 8 Brass Band, Ellis Marsalis and Sweet Crude. Thirty acts are making their festival debut. The lineup can be viewed online.
The cultural contributions of the festival are intrinsic to the experience. New this year is the Louisiana History and Culture Stage at Le Petit Theatre, created to showcase local historians and culture-bearers on Saturday and Sunday of the festival. This stage is a collaboration of the festival with Historic New Orleans Collection, New Orleans Jazz Museum at the Mint, Backstreet Cultural Museum and the New Orleans African-American Museum.
Additionally, public radio program “American Routes” will interview festival artists at the Jazz Museum at the Mint’s third floor auditorium on Saturday and Sunday at festival. Radio host Nick Spitzer will include the audience in the tapings, which will be content for episodes of “American Routes” that will air throughout the year.