The New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival is a cultural icon that has been around for over 50 years. It was created by pianist and jazz-businessman George Wein in 1954, and since then it has become an important event of great cultural importance and popular appeal. The festival is held annually in Congo Square and draws nearly half a million attendees to the festival site. It is organized by the non-profit organization, the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Foundation, which also oversees other projects such as the Tom Dent—Congo Square conference and symposium series dedicated to Louisiana culture, and the Jazz-Foundations Archive & Heritage.
The festival is a celebration of music, culture, and heritage of Louisiana communities. It features all genres of music, from jazz/gospel to R&B and rock from the multiple stages of the fairgrounds. It also features some of the biggest names in music, such as Bob Dylan, the Allman Brothers, Joni Mitchell, Eric Clapton, Bruce Springsteen, Christina Aguilera, Santana, Robert Plant, Irma Thomas, The Who, Alabama Shakes and many more. In 2004, AEG Live joined forces with JazzFest to open the doors for even more international stars to perform at the Festival.
This partnership allowed Festival Productions to secure the festival's production for another five years (with the option to renew it for another ten). Tickets for the JazzFest are available for purchase on the JazzFest site a few months before the event or at the gates of any day of the festival. It welcomes people of all levels to come and enjoy its food, music and culture. The festival was first held in Congo Square in 1970 with Mahalia Jackson as one of its first performers.
The New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival is an important event that promotes, preserves, perpetuates and encourages the music, culture and heritage of Louisiana communities through festivals, programs and other cultural, educational, civic and economic activities. It has become inseparable from the culture it presents and is a must-attend event for legions of long-standing fans.