One month out, New Orleans Jazz Fest begins preparations for 2024 event

NEW ORLEANS– The Fair Grounds Race Course, home to the 2024 New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival, begins its annual transformation in earnest on Tuesday as organizers prepare to take over the field this spring for two weekends of music, food and fun .

“Jazz Fest starts again today!” festival producer Quint Davis exclaimed during the press conference a month earlier in the Fair Grounds clubhouse.

The first weekend of the festival runs from Thursday, April 25 to Sunday, April 28; the second weekend is Thursday May 2 to Sunday May 5.

“This will be the largest Jazz Fest ever, with the most food ever, the most crafts ever and the most bands ever gathered in our 53-year history,” Davis said.

One of those bands – the Rolling Stones – gets a lot of attention, he noted with a smile. Their May 2 performance is sold out, he added, still smiling.

“If the Rolling Stones come… that’s what I’ve been trying to say for a long time. I guess the third time’s the charm,” Davis said amid laughter from the crowd.

In 2019, the band’s lead singer, Mick Jagger, had to cancel their planned performance due to heart surgery. The 2021 festival, where the Stones were due to perform, was first postponed until October before ultimately being canceled due to rising numbers due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“This time,” Davis said, “they’re coming to play!”

Davis noted that the 2024 festival schedule is filled with all kinds of gems, from country megastar Chris Stapleton to rap artist Queen Latifah, and a whole host of talent in between. The stages and performance times for participating artists – known as the “cubes” – were released Tuesday on the festival’s website,

Jazz Fest, presented by energy company Shell, celebrates the native music and culture of New Orleans and Louisiana. The music covers almost every style imaginable: blues, R&B, gospel, Cajun, Zydeco, Afro-Caribbean, folk, Latin, rock, rap, contemporary and traditional jazz, country, bluegrass and everything in between.

“Fans may like a certain type of music, and we offer it all,” Davis said. “But at Jazz Fest the sum is greater than the parts. People love the festival no matter who plays or takes the stage.”

The rhythms of Columbia, from music to dance and food, will also be spotlighted this year as part of the festival’s cultural exchange. Nearly 200 Colombian artists will participate, including New Orleans-based Los Guiros, who performed a traditional cumbia at the press conference, giving fans a taste of what’s to come. Headlining the festival are Bomba Estéreo on April 27, Choquibtown’s singer Goyo in a guest appearance with local band ÌFÉ on April 28, and salsa legends Grupo Niche closing the party on May 5.

And don’t forget the food.

One vendor highlighted Tuesday was Clesi’s Seafood Restaurant and Catering, which is making its festival debut this year.

James Clesi and his brother Carlo said getting a booth at Jazz Fest is a dream come true.

“We are so excited,” said James Clesi as he handed out the nasty Cajun crawfish rice. “This is something I always wanted to do. Being chosen is a great honor. It is as if we have been anointed and officially recognized. The dream is now a reality.”

The Clesies said their menu will include dirty rice as well as boiled crawfish, crawfish etouffee and something called a “messi clesi,” which is a combination of the dirty rice and etouffee.

Carlo Clesi said they are preparing for every possible scenario.

“We expect to be very busy, with large crowds and long lines, while absorbing all the great music,” he said.