It's free, right? Right. Keep in mind, though, that the festival pays for itself with drinks and merch sales on the grounds, so drop a few dollars to keep things going.
How many stages are there? Twenty-three, ranging from the big stages in Jackson Square, Woldenberg Park and the lawn of the Old U.S. Mint to much smaller stages on Bourbon, Royal, Chartres and Decatur streets in the Upper Quarter (between Canal and St. Ann streets, which are great when you feel claustrophobic; the big stages get really crowded).
Does it get super-crowded? Yes. It also may be very hot. The big advantage that French Quarter Fest has over other festivals (like the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival) is that you can walk a few blocks and find a relaxing coffee shop, bar or restaurant where you can take a breather. (See Helen Freund's recommendations of what's new in the Quarter, p. 20.)
How do I avoid claustrophobia? You'll find smaller crowds on "Local Thursday" (April 7), as well as performances by Deacon John, John Boutte, Fredy Omar con su Banda, the Dixie Cups and (making its French Quarter Fest debut) Cowboy Mouth. Things wrap up on Thursday by 7 p.m. As for the rest of the weekend, the smaller the stage, the lighter the crowd. Expect Jackson Square to be mobbed.
Any don'ts? No coolers, ice chests or big containers are allowed in festival areas. Moreover, there will be bag checks at major entrances along the river. Also: No pets.
What about food? What the festival calls "The World's Largest Jazz Brunch" you'd likely call "food booths." There are dozens: in Jackson Square, in Woldenberg Park, at the Old U.S. Mint, in the parking lot of Jax Brewery and — new this year — at Spanish Plaza. Dishes are usually $4-$10.
What about parking? Why drive? N. Rampart Street is still a mess due to streetcar construction, making it hard to access the French Quarter. Parking either will be expensive or nonexistent — and you know the city will be out in force writing tickets and towing for any infraction should you find a space. Consider taking the streetcar or bus, or riding a bike (bike parking is available on the neutral ground by the Old U.S. Mint, and Bike Easy will offer "bike valet parking" at the Canal Street entrance to Woldenberg Park).
What if I have to drive in? There's a new option this year — parking in the lots at the Ernest N. Morial Convention Center. The price: $30. That gets you a parking spot and a round-trip, air-conditioned shuttle ride to the Sheraton Hotel (500 Canal St.). Shuttles will operate from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. on Friday and Saturday and 10 p.m. to 8 p.m. Sunday. Or you could park along the streetcar route and ride that downtown.
What about ride-hailing? There will be an official "Uber Pick- up Zone" at Canal and Camp streets. You also can try ride-hailing app Lyft, which now operates in New Orleans.
Anything specifically for kids to do? Check out the Chevron STEAM Zone (science, technology, engineering, arts, math) at the Natchez wharf, or find other family activities in the courtyard at Hermann-Grima House (820 St. Louis St.).