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World Travel Guide > Guides > North America > United States of America > Louisiana > New Orleans

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New Orleans Nightlife

New Orleans has a nightlife that is as diverse as it is abundant. It draws people from around the world, in some measure because the bars and clubs are permitted to remain open 24 hours and it is one of the few places in the USA where you can consume alcohol on the street provided it is in a plastic container.

The French Quarter (known locally as 'The Quarter') is the main hub, with Bourbon Street at its centre. Bourbon is a brash, neon-lit street full of bars, restaurants and (towards the west side) strip clubs. The locals are more likely to go to neighbourhood bars on Decatur Street.

Jazz is generally considered to be a New Orleans' creation and the city is constantly buzzing with music. There are dozens of live venues, as well as numerous jazz trumpeters and other buskers on the streets. Those in the know head to Frenchman Street, where some of the city's best musicians play informal bars and clubs, often for a small cover.

Listings are available from the daily newspaper Times-Picayune (www.nola.com/entertainment), the free monthly publication OffBeat (www.offbeat.com), as well as from free weekly Gambit and the monthly New Orleans Magazine (www.neworleansmagazine.com). Gambit's affiliated online outfit (www.bestofneworleans.com) also posts weekly cultural events and performances. In preparation for your trip, listen to the live stream of WWOZ (www.wwoz.org) to get to know the local music scene.

Tickets are available from the venues or from Ticketmaster (www.ticketmaster.com), which levies a surcharge per ticket.

Bars in New Orleans

Cure

This uptown bar attracts many accolades for its inventive cocktails and laid-back vibe. Using fresh juices and innovative techniques, the friendly, unpretentious staff serve a young, sophisticated clientele. It is housed in a converted fire station and is more New York in style than traditional New Orleans. Give the bar staff dealer's choice for a tasty surprise. 

Address: Uptown, 4905 Freret Street, New Orleans, 70115
Telephone: +1 504 302 2357.
Website: http://www.curenola.com

The Old Absinthe House

Opened in 1806, this is one of the oldest bars in town, but is youthful for a historical artefact. It's also one of the few bars on Bourbon Street that isn't completely touristy, and if you want to avoid weirdly coloured daiquiris, then it's a step up on the scale. Go on a Friday afternoon to watch New Orleans high society file in from their boozy lunches at neighbouring Galatoires.

Address: French Quarter, 240 Bourbon Street, New Orleans, 70130
Telephone: +1 504 524 0113.
Website: http://www.oldabsinthehouse.com

Tonique

A compact cocktail bar located on the edge of the Quarter, Tonique gets good foot traffic thanks to its position and inventive drinks menus. The bartenders here serve up classic local cocktails as well as their own contemporary creations, and many of the ingredients (the tonic, for example) are made in-house fresh each day.

Address: French Quarter, 820 North Rampart Street, New Orleans, 70116
Telephone: +1 504 324 6045.
Website: http://www.bartonique.com

Clubs in New Orleans

Oz

This Bourbon Street institution is regularly voted the city's best dance club and attracts a mostly gay clientele. During Mardi Gras, it is one of the most popular spots in the city, and to get on the balcony there is considered a major achievement. As well as a dance floor, there are paid (male) dancers on the bar tops.

Address: French Quarter, 800 Bourbon Street, New Orleans, 70116
Telephone: +1 504 593 9491.
Website: http://www.ozneworleans.com

Live music in New Orleans

House of Blues

The city's largest regular music venue (stadium acts play at the Superdome) covers many musical genres, from blues and funk to rock and country. It is now one in a chain of restaurant-clubs, owned in part by comedian Dan Aykroyd. Headline acts are usually nationally touring names or at least local legends.

Address: French Quarter, 225 Decatur Street, New Orleans, 70130
Telephone: +1 504 310 4999.
Website: http://www.houseofblues.com

Preservation Hall

Held as one of the most authentic venues in the city, 'Prez Hall' attracts music fans in some number. Come early and queue for entrance to the legendary hall itself, where guests sit on the floor, if they must, to catch musicians trained in the 'Louis Armstrong school'. The Preservation Hall band is a collection of the city's fine musicians.

Address: French Quarter, 726 St Peter Street, New Orleans, 70116
Telephone: +1 504 522 2841.
Website: http://www.preservationhall.com

Snug Harbor

Set in a converted storefront dating from the 1800s, this jazz venue has three rooms: a wood-and-brick bar, a restaurant serving Creole food and an intimate performance space with mezzanine seating. Book in advance to hear top-notch jazz in an enthusiastic backroom of aficionados.

Address: Marigny, 626 Frenchmen Street, New Orleans, 70119
Telephone: +1 504 949 0696.
Website: http://www.snugjazz.com

Classical music in New Orleans

Dance in New Orleans

Theatres in New Orleans

Music and Dance in New Orleans

Culture in New Orleans