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New Orleans in the autumn

Why go?

Finding reasons to visit The Big Easy are, well… actually pretty easy. This is a city that has perfected two of life’s greatest pleasures – music and food. No matter the time of year, these two New Orleans staples jostle for your attention on each and every street. The scent of simmering spices and the heady wail of jazz trumpets mingle in the air, making it as rich and alluring as the city’s famous seafood gumbo. This is a city with a seriously distinctive atmosphere, and the autumn is one of the best times to appreciate it.

What about the weather?

September marks the transition between the hot, steamy summer and more bearable autumn temperatures, but it’s also the height of hurricane season. That means the weather can be hot but also damp, and it’s a good idea to check whether any storms have been forecast before you travel. Things get cooler and drier through October and November, with visitors and locals alike relishing the chance to get back outdoors and enjoy the city.

What should I pack?

Light cotton clothes are a must in the early autumn – anything heavy or tight will prove deeply uncomfortable when the humidity is high. Speaking of humidity, there’s about a 30% chance of rain in September, so an umbrella and waterproof clothing will ensure you stay dry. Whenever you visit, a good mix of clothes that you can layer is recommended. You might find yourself going from a warm street to a shop with over-enthusiastic air conditioning, which can be a bit of a shock if you’re sensitive to cold! If you’re looking to sample some of the city’s high-end cuisine, make sure you bring some smart evening wear. Many restaurants won’t let you in if you’re wearing shorts or jeans, and if you really want to blend in, wear a bow tie.

What should I eat?

In short – everything. The Big Easy’s reputation for being a top foodie destination is both well-earned and a justified source of local pride. Some traditional dishes might be a little heavy for the hotter weather, but the variety and verve of the New Orleans cuisine is a wonder to behold. Jambalaya offers a hearty yet subtly-spiced mix of rice, meats and seafood, while the classic po’ boy is the kind of sandwich you won’t soon forget. The seafood is spectacular, but vegetarians are well served by dishes such as Eggs Sardou (eggs cooked with artichoke, spinach and Hollandaise sauce) and red beans and rice, which is far tastier than its name implies.

What should I do?

There’s always a party going on in New Orleans, and mid-to-late autumn is one of the best times to catch a local festival thanks to the cooler and drier days. Unique cultural events are happening throughout the season – so much so that if you follow the sound of live music, you’re likely to find one. Highlights include a celebration of the city’s German heritage at Oktoberfest, the annual New Orleans Film Festival and a tempting mix of music and meats at the Blues and BBQ Festival. And just because it’s autumn doesn’t mean you’ll miss out on the Mardi Gras spirit – the Krewe of Boo Halloween Parade puts a spooky spin on the city’s biggest party.

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