There are plenty of high-roller dinners and gala events — both affiliated with the Super Bowl and not — happening around the big game. If you can't afford to attend a high-priced charity concert or $500-a-plate brunch, check out these free events happening around New Orleans.
Trombone Shorty and Orleans Avenue, Tab Benoit, Rebirth Brass Band, Amanda Shaw, Charmaine Neville, Bonerama and many others perform at Verizon Super Bowl Boulevard, a free four-day festival along the Mississippi River between Jackson Square and the Aquarium of the Americas. Parades and second lines also will roll through the festival, and 17 restaurants will serve food at the event. (The food is not free.) Visit www.neworleanssuperbowl.com for the full schedule.
CMT and VH1 host concerts at the Sugar Mill (1021 Convention Center Blvd., 504-586-0004; www.sugarmillevents.com) that will air live on those channels. Train performs at VH1's Best Super Bowl Concert Ever on Feb. 1. The live taping of CMT's Crossroads on Feb. 2 features Rascal Flatts and Journey. You can register for free tickets to the concerts at www.1iota.com.
Snoop Dogg, Chace Crawford, Josh Hutcherson and other celebrities compete against current and former NFL players in a flag football game at DirectTV's Celebrity Beach Bowl on Feb. 2 at Blaine Kern's Mardi Gras World (1350 Port of New Orleans Place, 504-361-7821; www.mardigrasworld.-com). "Tailgating" inside Mardi Gras World, which will be transformed into an indoor beach with games, activities and a concert by Chris Young, begins at 9 a.m. The game starts at 1 p.m.
There also are some opportunities to give back to the community. The Super Bowl-sanctioned Rebuilding Together: Kickoff to Rebuild event on Feb. 1 provides a chance for volunteers to help with home renovations in the McClendonville neighborhood of Algiers (an extra incentive to do good: current and former NFL players as well as "well-known national celebrities" are slated to attend). Visit www.rebuildingtogether.-org/ktr2013 for details. On Feb. 2, the Super Saturday Day of Service has volunteers help out at sites around town, including Pontchartrain Park and the flood-damaged community center Hunter's Field. The event concludes with parties, food and music at each site. Visit www.nolasuperbowl.com for details.
There are some free comedy events happening if you want to get out of Super Bowl world altogether. Tuesday's Comedy Beast showcase at 8:30 p.m. at the Howlin' Wolf Den (907 S. Peters St., 504-529-5844; www.thehowlin- wolf.com) features four stand-up comics, and the bar offers $2 Miller High Lifes and $2 tacos. Also on Tuesday, comedian Cassidy Henehan hosts the Comedy Catastrophe showcase at 10 p.m. at Lost Love Lounge (2529 Dauphine St. 504-944-2009; www.lostlovelounge.com), which features a $2 Tecate beer special for the night and a menu of Vietnamese food. The House of Blues (225 Decatur St., 504-310-4999; www.houseofblues.com) hosts an open-mic comedy show at 8 p.m. Tuesday and a stand-up showcase at 8 p.m. Thursday.
Use this lull in Uptown Carnival parades to plan your Mardi Gras costume. Local costuming groups present a program on costuming at the East Bank Regional Library (4747 W. Napoleon Ave., Metairie, 504-838-1190; www.jplibrary.net). The groups discuss how to put costumes together and how to costume on a budget.
DJ Soul Sister hosts a free screening of Still Bill, a documentary about soul legend Bill Withers, for her free Musically Speaking series at 7 p.m. Jan. 29 at Press Street's Antenna Gallery (3718 St. Claude Ave.; www.press-street.com). The event includes free refreshments and a cash bar.
Punk bands Joystick, Vapo-Rats, Bujie and the Highrise, Squirt Gun Warriors, I'm Fine, The Worst and The Decline play a free show at Dragon's Den (435 Esplanade Ave., 504-949-1750) at 9 p.m. Feb. 2.
The New Orleans Jazz National Historic Park hosts free concerts at its visitor center (916 N. Peters St., 504-589-4841; www.nps.gov/jazz) and performance venue in the Old U.S. Mint (400 Esplanade Ave., 504-568-6993). Joe Ashlar plays at the Mint at noon Jan. 30, Navy Band New Orleans brass band plays at the Mint at 3 p.m. Jan. 31, and children's performer Johnette Downing plays at the visitor center at 11 a.m. Feb. 1. Children are invited to bring their own instruments and play with the Storyville Stompers Brass Band at the park's Music for All Ages program, held at 11 a.m. Feb. 2 at Perseverance Hall in Armstrong Park (N. Rampart Street at St. Philip Street).