UPDATED FOR 2012 FQF
French Quarter Fest has exploded in popularity in recent years. The crowds are getting out of control, which in turns means that getting to FQF has become a chore. Without a plan your fun fest day could start off with a series of logistical problems that can set you way behind on the fun meter.
GETTING TO FRENCH QUARTER FEST
1. Driving and Parking
If at all possible, avoid driving to FQF. Ride your bike, walk, get a ride, whatever. Just try to avoid driving. Unless you’re showing up first thing, all the nearby parking garages/lots will be full. Even if you do show up first thing, getting out will be a huge headache.
If you must drive, takee advantage of the Free Shuttle. You park for a mere $10 and ride in on a shuttle. This year’s shuttle has moved closer to the Fest (from near the end of the Convention Center to O’Keefe, between Poydras and Canal). More information is available here.
If you don’t want to be tied to the shuttle and still need to drive, I suggest parking somewhere on Poydras Street and walking in. You’re most likely going to find easier access to parking on Poydras and have an easier time getting home. Canal Street is king of the no left turn in New Orleans and in times of significant traffic, the NOPD loves to close the Canal Street u-turns. Poydras, on the other hand, allows lots of left turns and is less trafficed than Canal 99% of the time. One warning, Poydras has a number of speed/red light cameras so obey the speed limit and the traffic lights.
2. Taking the Red Street Car
Last year hundreds of people decided that driving to Mid-City, parking on Canal and taking the street car in was a fabulous idea. Well it was for those that parked at the start of the line by the cemetaries (here). By the time the streetcars were arriving at Canal and Carrolton (maybe 4-5 stops from the end of the line), they were full and not stopping. The good news is the city has run buses along Canal to help move more people down the past few years.
Getting home has proven more difficult. The streetcars all filled up at the first stop by Harrahs and blew by every other stop until about Jeff Davis, when people started to get off. We didn’t see the buses running out to the cemetaries to pick up the slack and ended up having to walk home. Not the greatest of experiences, but also not the worst.
3. Riding the Green Streetcar
I’ve not tried this tactic, but have spoken to many folks who have. These people have had success with parking on St. Charles or one of the side streets in the Lower Garden District (in this area) and riding in from there. They claim to not have had difficulties with capacity like we experienced on the red line.
4. Taking the Ferry
The Algiers Ferry is a pretty awesome way to get to and from FQF with minimal congestion. The details for parking and directions can be found here. It’ll likely cost you somewhere between $10-$15, but you’ll be dropped off right at the foot of Canal Street near the start of Woldenberg Park, where the big FQF stages are. Because the ferries are sometimes down due to mechanical problems, you’ll want to double check the Algiers ferry is up and running before heading over to the West Bank.
5. Walking/Biking/Getting a ride/Cabbing
If at all possible, do this. However, if you do please remember to plan ahead. Figure out a route before hand and stick to it. You really don’t want to be 10 beers in, exhausted from dancing in the sun all day and find yourself lost as the sun goes down. Plan your route to go through the big streets that are well lit and frequently traveled. Ending your day lost or, worse yet, a vicitim of crime, sucks more than starting your day with a logisitical problem.
MOVING AROUND FRENCH QUARTER FEST
You’ve gotten to French Quarter Fest, so how do you avoid being caught up in the
herd of cattle wave of humanity and swept past the stage you want to see or food booth you want to try? Click over to He Said/She Said NOLA for a kick ass tutorial complete with maps.