Discover New Orleans: Your Guide to the Perfect Time to Visit
Are you ready to immerse yourself in the vibrant culture and irresistible charm of New Orleans? If so, you're in luck because we have the inside scoop on the best time to travel to this dynamic city. Whether you're seeking wild Mardi Gras festivities or tranquil fall evenings, we have you covered. Join us month by month as we explore the captivating weather patterns and thrilling events that make each visit to New Orleans an unforgettable experience. Get ready to be swept away by the mesmerizing magic of the Big Easy.
Best Time to Visit New Orleans | Month by Month
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New Orleans Weather in January
January is a great month to visit New Orleans for those looking for a break from cold winter weather. Even though it’s the coldest month in New Orleans, you can walk around the city all day with seven hours of sunshine and comfortable temperatures around 10-15 °C (50-60s °F). You don’t need to pack a heavy winter coat, just a light jacket will do.
January is also a quite wet month in New Orleans. Rain is possible for 10 days, so you might want to pack an umbrella. Most days will be a mixture of sun and cloudy skies. This weather is perfect for sightseeing in the French Quarter, St. Charles Avenue, or the Arts/Warehouse District.
New Orleans Weather in February
February can be rather dreadful in many parts of the world, but not in New Orleans where it’s quite warm and sunny. Seven hours of sunshine and moderate temperatures that rise up to 18 °C (65 °F) during sunny afternoons provide many opportunities for sightseeing, boating, and hiking. You won’t feel cold when you’ll party outdoors during Mardi Gras or if you decide to escape the city and explore picturesque Mississippi river banks. February is a bit dryer than January. Even though it might rain for 12 days, the rains are short and not too heavy. Anyway, you might want to pack a light waterproof jacket for colder weather and some t-shirts for warmer days.
New Orleans Weather in March
Spring is a beautiful time in New Orleans. March brings warmer temperatures, more sunshine, and lots of blooms to the city. With eight hours of sunshine, you can plan lots of outdoor activities: from sightseeing to kayaking. On some days, the temperature can reach the 20s Celsius (seventies Fahrenheit). These first balmy sunny afternoons are especially enjoyable. While skies are mostly sunny in March, rain is also possible, but not as frequently as in February or January. There are 9 rainy days in March. You’ll probably need a light waterproof jacket for the rain and late evening, but also make sure to pack t-shirts and shorts for sunny afternoons.
New Orleans Weather in April
April weather is gorgeous in New Orleans, which makes this month one of the best times to visit the city. Temperatures rise to the mid-20s Celsius or mid-70s Fahrenheit. It really feels like summer. April is a great time to sit in outdoor cafes and go sightseeing in The French Quarter or boating in Louisiana’s famous bayous. With 10 hours of sunshine, you can plan lots of outdoor activities in your day. April is also one of the driest months in New Orleans. Rain is possible for seven days. Water temperature is reaching 21°C (70°F) which makes kayaking especially enjoyable.
New Orleans Weather in May
May is one of the most popular times to visit New Orleans. The weather during this month is perfectly summer-like. With temperatures reaching high 20s or mid-80s, it’s very comfortable to be outside sightseeing, sitting in numerous cafes, and exploring parks and bayous. Since it gets rather hot during the day, bring some shorts and light breathable clothes. And don’t forget your sunscreen. There are 10 hours of sunshine per day.
New Orleans is not too rainy in May with just 8 rainy days per month. The water temperature gets as warm as air by mid-May. You might want to drive a few hours to get to the beach on the Gulf Coast. In the evenings, the air may cool down a bit, which feels quite good after hot sunny days.
New Orleans Weather in June
June is still a good time to visit New Orleans if you don’t mind the heat. Take into consideration that the temperatures during afternoons rise up to 28-30 Celsius or high 80s Fahrenheit, which can be rather exhausting. Don’t forget to bring a sunhat, stay hydrated, and apply sunscreen. Light breathable clothing would be very handy for June in New Orleans.
June also marks the beginning of the summer thunderstorm season in New Orleans. It also gets a little wetter than in May or April. Expect about 13 days with rainfall this month, so don’t forget to pack an umbrella. On average, it rains for 13 days of the month.
New Orleans Weather in July
July is the hottest month of the year in New Orleans. So if you don’t like heat, you might want to choose another time to visit the city. During afternoons, you would frequently experience temperatures in the 30s Celsius or 90s Fahrenheit. Only cool nights bring some relief from the heat. There are 10 hours of sun per day. If you decide to visit the city in July, bring some sun protection, light breathable clothes, and a sunhat. July is also the wettest month of the year in New Orleans. You can expect some thunderstorms, tropical downpours, and showers for 15 days.
New Orleans Weather in August
August is still mercilessly hot. Expect the temperature to rise to 30°C or 89°F every day. Humidity is also quite high, which makes it harder to walk around the city. With 10 hours of sunshine on average, you will need lots of sunscreen lotion, water, and a sunhat. Nights bring some cool air and relief from the heat. July is the perfect time to stay up long dining or partying in an outdoor location. August has all the attributes of a tropical summer: extreme heat, thunderstorms, and downpours. Even though this month is a bit drier than July, there are still 14 rainy days, so don’t forget to pack your umbrella.
New Orleans Weather in September
The first month of fall still feels like summer in New Orleans. The temperature drops only insignificantly in comparison with July and August. You can still walk around in shorts and t-shirts, so you won’t need any warm clothes, maybe just a waterproof jacket. Even though September is a bit drier than summer months, humidity is still high, and rains are quite frequent. There are 10 rainy days this month.
With cooler and drier weather setting in, the second half of September brings back hiking, sightseeing, and all kinds of outdoor sports in New Orleans. It’s a perfect time to take advantage of everything this city has to offer.
Fall in New Orleans | September - November
Late fall is the best time to go to New Orleans for good weather, lower crowds, and a light event calendar compared to spring (i.e. better chance for hotel deals).
While fall may have a bad wrap because fall is technically hurricane season, October and November are wonderful months to visit.
Hurricane season runs June through November with the height of hurricane season being August and September. While chances are slim you'll have weather issues in late fall, I still recommend keeping an eye on the weather before you go.
I personally love late fall in New Orleans (mid-October through November). You'll see temperatures range from the mid-50s to mid-70s in October and November.
The summer heat/humidity can linger in September. Though, foodies may be willing to deal with the heat to partake in Restaurant Week, which usually occurs in late-September.
Fall also has a light event calendar compared to spring, so you'll have a better chance of finding a hotel deal in fall than in spring.
The big events in fall include:
- Nola on Tap Beer Fest - September
- Restaurant Week - September
- Crescent City Blues and BBQ Festival - October
- Voodoo Music & Arts Experience - October (around Halloween)
Winter is the best time to visit New Orleans for cooler temps and lower crowds than fall and spring.
If you prefer cooler temperatures in the 50s and 60s, this is the best time to go to New Orleans. Hotel rates will also be lower compared to spring and fall.
Consider visiting during the Christmas season. New Orleans was actually listed as one of the 23 Best Places to Spend Christmas in 2018 by CN Traveler.
The ancient oak trees of City Park don hundreds of thousands of lights, making the park glow with festive flare. Christmas Eve is an experience to remember as giant bonfires are lit from Baton Rouge to New Orleans along the Mississippi river to light the way for Papa Noel.
Mardi Gras is the biggest event for New Orleans. Mardi Gras, or Carnival, season starts January 6th and runs through Fat Tuesday, which is the day before Ash Wednesday. The weekend before Fat Tuesday is the busiest as this is when the main parades occur.
Book your hotels months if not an entire year in advance during this season.
Also be aware of the Allstate Sugar Bowl.
As long as you avoid these events, you should be able to find a good hotel rate and enjoy a less crowded New Orleans in winter.
To put it simply, summer in New Orleans is just miserable. June through August are the rainiest months of the year, which means you'll be dealing with extreme humidity paired with the typical heat of summer.
You'll cringe each time you have to leave the comfort of your air-conditioned hotel.
New Orleans is a city to be explored by foot, so visiting during summer is almost setting yourself up for a vacation that turns into a hot mess.
Because of the high amount of rain and heat this time of year, hotel rates will be low. I will usually deal with less than perfect weather conditions to snag a low price, but New Orleans just isn’t one of those places.
Do yourself a favor and visit New Orleans the other 9 months out of the year so you can look back with fond memories of your trip rather than just the ugly memory of sluggishly making your way around the city with sweat dripping down your back and your hair slicked to your face…i.e., don’t expect any decent pictures.
You now know the best time to go to New Orleans...so start booking your tours and activities!
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New Orleans Weather in October
October is one of the best months in New Orleans in terms of weather. The heat is gone, and temperatures stay pleasantly warm in the 20s Celsius (70s Fahrenheit). Nights start to get cooler in October, so bring a sweater or a light jacket to feel comfortable. There are still nine hours of sunshine, and skies are perfectly clear. You can do absolutely anything in New Orleans at this time of the year. Walking, cycling, boating, and kayaking are recommended. October is the driest month of the year. There are just seven rainy days this month. However, thunderstorms still occur from time to time, reminding of the summer. However, there is a fair chance you will see perfectly warm and dry weather at this time of the year.
New Orleans Weather in November
November is still a great time to visit New Orleans. Days are perfectly comfortable due to mild temperatures reaching the upper 17 Celsius or upper 60s Fahrenheit. Pack a sweater and a light jacket for late evening and early morning chills, but days are mostly dry and warm. You can still walk around in a t-shirt and shorts. With eight hours of sunshine every day, you can still do a lot of sightseeing, swamp tours, and hiking. But the skies in November are not as clear as in October. Cloudy weather is more common. It’s still quite dry, compared to the summer. There are just seven rainy days in November. However, humidity stays rather high.
January to Mid-March: It’s Carnival Tiiiiiime
The above is the hook for Al Johnson’s masterpiece Carnival Time, which was recorded in 1960 and, some six decades later, remains the definitive Mardi Gras banger (OK, yes, it shares the title with Professor Longhair’s Go To the Mardi Gras). If you're from outside Louisiana, you might think Mardi Gras is a one-day party, but you'd be mistaken. While Mardi Gras French for Fat Tuesday – is just the one Tuesday, it caps off the whole Carnival season, which lasts from Twelfth Night/The Feast of the Epiphany (January 6) until the day before Ash Wednesday. That latter date is set by the Catholic liturgical calendar – you can get a list of upcoming Mardi Gras dates here, but the holiday always hits in February or early March.
Carnival begins with the streetcar procession of the Phunny Phorty Phellows and then continues to grow in fever-dream fantasy, with parades like the science fiction-themed Chewbacchus and culminates in the five days before Mardi Gras when everything in the city shuts down, everyone throws on a costume, and the greater New Orleans metro area becomes an explosion of glitter, costuming, and king cake.
Which is all to say: Carnival season is a ton of fun. If you’re coming from up north, the weather will almost certainly be warmer than what you’re used to, although the high humidity of South Louisiana makes the chill of 50°F (10°C) feel a lot more bitter than you’d expect – on the flip side, 70°F (21°C) or warmer days are certainly not unknown. Rates for everything, of course, are high – and you’ll want to make any sort of bookings, be it for accommodation or dining, well in advance.
A group of musicians playing at the Fritzel Jazz Club in the French Quarter © CHANDAN KHANNA /AFP / Getty Images
In conclusion, New Orleans offers its visitors a diverse range of experiences throughout the year. From the vibrant festivities of Mardi Gras in January to mid-March, to the pleasant temperatures and lively atmosphere in the fall, there is always a perfect time to explore this vibrant city. Whether you're seeking to indulge in the famous Creole cuisine or immerse yourself in the rich cultural heritage, New Orleans has something for everyone year-round. So, pack your bags and plan your trip accordingly, and get ready to soak in the unique charm of this enchanting city.
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