New Orleans Weekend Breaks

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Weekend Breaks to New Orleans

Planning a short break to New Orleans? Check out Travel Library's recommended Top 10 Things To Do in New Orleans. It's a perfect companion for weekend city breaks to New Orleans. Once you've been you can add your own tips and suggestions to help other visitors.

Mardi Gras

The Mardi Gras is a Roman Catholic celebration ushering in the 40-day Lent season before Easter and its name means, "Fat Tuesday." It starts the day before Ash Wednesday, which can be anytime between February and March, depending on Easter.

Mardi Gras is seen as the last chance to indulge, before fasting for Lent, as meat is traditionally given up for Lent. There are big masquerade balls, public parades and gatherings and loads of parties, especially at night.

The only requirement is that you have a costume, although even just a mask will do.

For more information visit - www.spanishmonastery.com

Aquarium of the Americas

Foot of Canal Street. This has been rated as one of the top marinelife museums in the United States and it is where you can go eyeball-to-eyeball with giant tropical creatures from the Amazon basin. You can see spotted moray eels and hawsback turtles in a walk-through Carribean reef tube or watch incredible species from the Gulf through 4m high windows and view a 400 year old sawfish. The Mississippi River and Delta wetlands enviroments are also on display and where you can see sea aquatic creatures from as far north as the Artic.

French quarter or "Vieux Carre"

The city's original focal point with nearly all the houses New Orleans signature icons and Bourbon Street alone, with its stormy nightlife, defines the city's bawdy character. The Quarter is noted for its Spanish architecture, as nearly all the French-designed buildings were destroyed by fires in 1788 and 1794, with the notable exception of the Old Ursuline Convent, dating back to 1745 and making it the Quarter's oldest building. A distinctly Spanish character emerged with the re-building and can be seen with the broad window openings, graceful arches, lacy ironwork and handsome fan-shaped transoms. Jackson square remains the centre and a good place to start, with its street musicians, artists, fortune tellers and mimes.

Garden District

Just 2.5kms southwest of the French Quarter. The Garden district offers not only the splendour of Spanish moss and the tranquility of Georgian manors, but other attractions include the Aubudon Zoological Gardens, which has one of the country's richest collections of exotic wildlife, Tulane University and the Lafayette Cemetery No 1, where Anne Rice's novels draw their inspiration.

Historic Voodoo Museum

on Domaine Street in the French Quarter. This museum explores the history of voodoo - the exotic form of spiritual expression first brought to New Orleans by the West African slaves who came by ship, via Haiti. It is part-museum, part-shop, but the museum is best explored when uncrowded and a guide can take you through the exhibits of potions, rituals and the people of voodoo.

Backstreet Museum

1116 St Claude Ave. www.backstreetmuseum.org. Located on New Orleans' Treme, the oldest surviving African-American neighbourhood in the United States, the museum houses an amazing assortment of memorabilia indigenous to Mardi Gras, jazz funerals and other traditions found only in New Orleans. It also has the largest collection of Mardi Gras Indian costumes, all created by local artisans and handmade. Each costume boasts thousands of beads, shells, sequins, feathers and rhinestones and takes a year to make and is only worn in the year that it was made.The museum also houses an enormous collection of photographs and videos of the Mardi Gras Indians.

Confederate Museum

929 Camp Str. www.confederatemuseum.com. It is the oldest operating museum in Louisiana and was built in 1891 as a repository for war records, artefacts and memorabilia of the Civil war. Locals donated most of the contents, with the wife of Jefferson Davis, the first and only President of the Confederate States of America, contributing most of the Davis memorabilia. Features include Civil War uniforms, weapons, everyday lfe articles of Confederate soliders, like mess kits, photographs, paintings and prints of the Civil War.

Louisiana Children

420 Julia Str. www.lcm.org. It has more than 30000 square feet of hands-on, interactive exhibits that invite and engage children as they explore art, music, science, maths and history.Some exhibits include the Turtle Training camp, Little Port of New Orleans, where you can pilot a tug down the Mississippi, Eye-to-eye, where you can step into a giant eyeball and learn how the eye works, shop for groceries in a pint-sized grocery store, anchor the news from the Kidswatch studio and much more to keep the children occupied.

St Joseph

1802 Tulane Ave. Italians in New Orleans celebrate St Josephs Day by decorating churches and altars with a bounty of food in March. This practice dates back to the Middle Ages when Sicilian Catholics decorated altars to thank St Joseph for protecting them from famine. All goods are made by hand and donated and at St Josephs Church, you can see more than 10 000 cookies, breads formed in religious shapes, candles, bottles of wine, fresh fruit and flowers. Pictures of saints are also left at the altar. After the festival, all the goods are donated to the needy in New Orleans.

Mulate

201 Julia Str. Cajun dancing is one of New Orleans' great treats and here at the original Cajun restaurant, this can be enjoyed, where there is dancing nightly and live bands.

Visitors can also learn, with dancing lessons held, or just sit back and watch the expert locals, while you enjoy some authentic Creole or Cajun food.

User Suggestions

New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival - Local Festival or Holiday

From the very beginning, the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival was envisioned as an important event that would have great cultural significance and popular appeal. The Festival was the culmination of years of discussions and efforts by city leaders who wanted to create an event worthy of the city’s legacy as the birthplace of jazz. A couple of other festivals were held in the years leading up to the first New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival, but those events, different in format, did not take hold as the Jazz & Heritage Festival would. In 1970, George Wein, jazz impresario behind the Newport Jazz Festival and the Newport Folk Festival (begun respectively in 1954 and 1959) was hired to design and produce a unique festival for New Orleans. The New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Foundation, a nonprofit organization, was established to oversee the Festival. Wein’s concept of the Louisiana Heritage Fair—a large daytime fair with multiple stages featuring a wide variety of indigenous music styles, food booths of Louisiana cuisine, and arts and crafts booths, along with an evening concert series—formed a construct that would prove vastly appealing and enduring. In addition to Mahalia Jackson and Duke Ellington, the first Festival lineup included Pete Fountain, Al Hirt, Clifton Chenier, Fats Domino, The Meters, The Preservation Hall Band, parades every day with The Olympia Brass Band and Mardi Gras Indians, and many others. Over the years Jazz Fest has received many honors, including being named the Festival of the Year four times by Pollstar magazine. The 2004 event marks the 35th anniversary of Jazz Fest, which the Wall Street Journal says “showcases a wider, deeper lineup of essential American musical styles than any festival in the nation…” and which Life magazine has called “the country’s very best music festival.’’ http://www.nojazzfest.com

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