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Bringing Baby to Jazz Fest

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  • Bringing Baby to Jazz Fest

    We would appreciate any advice on visiting Jazz Fest with a baby. Our son will be about 10 months old when we visit. We have been to the Fest many times, but this will add a new dimension.

    Would it be helpful at all to spring for the Big Chief package so that we will have a place to retreat if needed? Also, does anyone know whether we can bring a baby on a bus as we are hoping not to drive back-and-forth to the fest and deal with a car seat. Any other tips greatly appreciated.


  • #2
    I am sure Amy P. or Jordan will be along shortly with really good advice.

    You can take the children on city buses for free up to age 2.
    For getting away from the crowds, there are often quiet spots in the Grandstand, which is air-conditioned as well.


    • #3
      Here are some old threads, the advice should still be valid.
      Visit my Jazzfest advice site:


      • #4
        Thanks for the advice and the links to the older threads! (I had tried some searches, but came up short.) Tips from others certainly appreciated as well!


        • #5
          We brought our son both at 10 weeks and at a little over a year. As long as you know that your Fest will be a little different and at the whim of your little one, it is not only's wonderful! Especially when you can show them pictures of their first Fest years from now!

          The first year when he was tiny, we picked a spot under the big tree in between Fais Do Do and Gentilly and set up camp. It was perfect because you could hear music from either stage, and had some shade and a blanket for him to lay around on. Hubby and I took turns going to catch a set. We went into the Grandstand a few times to cool off...but honestly, didn't need it much as the shade was perfectly comfortable that year. A stroller that's good for off-roading was key for us as we like to travel the track vs. the inner paths..and I can't imagine pushing a city stroller around on the sand. We have a "Bob" so it worked great.

          Last year we brought our little guy at 14 months. Very different but still a great time. The kids tent is a great excuse to cool off and they do have some fun music sets...although I'd skip the puppet shows. Not quite engaging enough for the very young. We were disappointed. But we could set up a picnic and let him stroll around. They have some kid friendly food by the kids tent too....although we packed his favorite snacks and were better off giving him what we knew he liked vs. trying a new dish that we would wind up eating ourselves! The tents in the way back is definitely the way to go with a little one if you decide to bring him along on your music agenda. My personal opinion is that it's way too hot and noisy to stand in a field with kids...risk of overheating, sunburn.... but that's just me. We were just excited to be there and have him along, that we weren't totally disappopinted that we'd miss our favorite sets - it was all about our little guy and his comfort zone. Happy babies make happy parents! And the music in the tents is great of we just picked our schedule based on tents. Later in the day when it cooled down, we'd go in the way back of Gentilly or Acura or in between stages where it wasn't too loud so that he could roam on the grass and we could still hear music at one of the stages.

          Speaking of noise....and I'm sure you've read all about it already...get the Peltor headphones to block noise. A must have. As you know, it can be REALLY noisy and harmful to little ears. I recommend making a game out of it weeks before and get him used to them before you get to Fest. Don't want to have that battle when he absolutely needs them. Even travelling past some stages can be pretty loud.

          We never got the fancy Big Chief passes....and frankly, I don't think we would have needed them. We did split a Brass Pass with our guy at 10 weeks though, which was nice. Gave us another tent to retreat to in the heat and a place to sit with him in the stroller. For a ten month old, it might be nice because they have yummy fruit and cold water I a cool, healthy snack is a nice treat. Plus you can leave and come back if need be and you're staying close enough that you can.

          Oh, and we brought him on the bus last year at 14 months - no problem at all. Nice people helped us with the stroller getting on and off. Easy breezy.

          Good for you for exposing the little guy to the best Fest out there! Hope you have a fabulous time and am happy to answer any other questions or lend advice if you need it! And there a few other Threadheads on here with words of wisdom sure they're on their way.


          • #6
            We brought our little man last year for our usual second weekend visit. He was only seven weeks old! Thinking back on it now seems a little crazy! Ha. Anyway, we did the fairgrounds on Thursday and Friday, thinking that those tend to be the quieter days. But this year he'll be back again at 14 months, and we are planning to stretch it back to our usual four days at fest. Though I am expecting a VERY different situation than what we had last year, since he'll be walking by then.

            By way of background, this will be our eighth year, and our comfort with the fest and the city were a huge factor in our deciding how to proceed. In addition, we had a pretty ideal weather situation with no rain and very bearable heat the two days we attended. Your mileage (and ours) will likely vary greatly depending on how that plays out this year.

            I generally agree with much of what was said in the post above. We took our guy on the streetcar to the Fairgrounds and on the city bus on the way back. We generally found a spot in the shade at Gentilly or Fais Do Do and set up camp. We were strategic in our locations to stay out of direct line from any speaker stands, and didn't find that we had to use the ear protection much as a result. I assume we'll have to use it more this year, as he'll be more mobile on his own and won't just lie wherever we put him down. If you don't want to be way in the back, keep in mind that being directly UNDER a speak stand or slightly behind it is generally your best bet, but then you'll absolutely need to use ear protection. We also had a huge (HUGE!) golf umbrella that worked wonders at times, and if you think your little one will be still long enough for that to help, it might be worth the investment.

            I would skip the spendy passes myself. We used the grandstand quite a lot, for diaper changing, feedings, and generally cooling off in the beautiful A/C (we used a friends Brass Pass to get into the tent one day, but actually found it WAY too steamy and uncomfortable for our taste, though the fruit is nice for the kiddos).

            I love this thread, though, and the awesome feedback from MegaJFester (I read her original thread asking about bringing her baby the first time as I was preparing for last year) and others that celebrate bringing the wee ones to NOLA. You'll find a fair amount of skepticism on the boreds about bringing the babies, but having survived it once, I can say that it's a blast. Reconfigure your expectations a little bit and have fun with it!!!!

            Now, in all seriousness, the real issue you need to consider is what you'll do for night shows. This year we have a sitter for at least a couple of nights. But we are BIG night show attendees, and that's honestly what I struggled with last year far more than anything at the fairgrounds!


            • #7
              Nola (10) and Nathaniel (12) missed their first fest last year, but had attended Fest every day of there lives that there was a Jazzfest. Nathaniel was born in June so he was 10 months old when we first brought him and Nola was born in August, so she was 8 months old at her first fest. The one generalization I'd make is that Jazzfest with kids isn't better or worse than without kids, it is just different. You have less freedom to do whatever seems fun at the moment and have to carry a bunch more stuff, but that shouldn't be a surprise to any new parent. All in all, I've been coming to Fest for 20 years (11 with kids and 9 without) and I'd say my best memories are pretty evenly split between the two.

              Here are a couple of thoughts:

              Transport -- I can't stress enough to you how much I loved the backpack over the stroller. If you are able to carry one, get one! -- I think we had a Kelty. Be sure to get the rain bonnet (used for shade). It was much easier to walk through crowds; the kids were up high so they could see more than just a forest of legs; being up high is much cooler, temperature wise; there is virtually no shade at JF so carying my own was great; I could hear them the moment they cried; the motion of walking immediately put them to sleep when they were cranky; once they fell asleep, I could stand the pack up on the frame and they slept; I could strap chew toys, sippie cups and soft rattles to the pack in easy reach; I tied a long piece of elastic to the pack with a small hand mirror on the end so I could see them and it made for a fun game of peek-a-boo. I see so many unhappy kids in strollers each year, so the good pack is worth it.

              Fest Lifestyle -- There are a bunch of compromises to be made. The trickier part for us was communication between mom and dad. We had some great times all three of us, but also did a lot of splitting up. We spent more time planning about what bands we wanted to see up front and which we were happy to stand in the back for -- something like ("I really want to see Dumpstaphunk at Congo at 4, but I'll meet you at 5 on the bleachers of Fais Do Do so you can take off and get a good spot for Dead Weather"). Additionally, you have to stand back further at the stages (maybe the headphone thingies negate this); you might not be able to see all of your "must-sees" (changing, nursing, etc); you can't do whatever you want whenever you want; if you go to night shows, you either have to find a sitter in NO that you trust (not so easy) or go out separately (much easier than it sounds) (our night show dilemma was avoided because we brought Nancy's mom).

              Care -- Lots of water and/or nursing. We used sunscreen and re-applied a few times a day. The grandstand is cool, quiet and sun-free. The langiappe stage is also pretty kid friendly. I think we even got a sun suit (not just a swim one, but a lightweight UVF outfit) for them. We brought in baby food.

              Attitude -- Fest with the kids was a lot more leisurely for me. While I really wanted to see Galactic's full set, if my kid and I were happily rolling a ball back and forth under the shade tree, that was fine with me. Additionally, there are some things you are just going to have to accept -- your child will get dirty (we let our kids play on the "beach" - and yes, I know what gets deposited on the dirt of a racetrack). We just scrubbed them a lot when we got back to the room.

              Have fun and take lots of pictures!

              If you have further questions please feel free to call me at 917 453-3705


              • #8
                As usual, seems like lots of great advice here. Since this question seems to come up every year, and since this sub-forum doesn't get too many threads anyway, I'm going to make this thread a sticky so new folks can easily find it.
                Visit my Jazzfest advice site:


                • #9
                  Originally posted by swag View Post
                  As usual, seems like lots of great advice here. Since this question seems to come up every year, and since this sub-forum doesn't get too many threads anyway, I'm going to make this thread a sticky so new folks can easily find it.
                  good idea Swag! all of us parents out there would benefit from a quick and easy link to this info. thanks!


                  • #10
                    I never check these other forums! We go every other year with kids/without kids, so the year when Nick was 10 months old was a without kids year. We brought Natalie the first time when she was almost 4 months old, then the next year she was 16 months and a late walker and Nick was 2 months from being born, didn't bring kids the year when Natalie was 2 y 4 mo and Nick was 10 mo, kids in 2011 when Natalie was 3 y 4 mo (potty trained but we had some not fun accidents) and Nick was almost 2, no kids last year, and we'll be back this year with two very well potty trained, self-sufficient pre-schoolers

                    So the most equivalent would probably be the year Natalie was 16 months, we did have a huge umbrella and a little wading pool that we blew up and filled up with water & ice that melted from the beer stands. For us, the all terrain stroller was key. Room for all the gear, a place to nap, an easy way to get around. Peltor ear muffs, lots of water in sippy cups, bring kid-friendly snacks like cheerios, etc.


                    • #11
                      Some good advice in this article:

                      New Orleans Jazz Fest for kids: 10 tips for whine-free fun
                      By Chris Waddington, | The Times-Picayune

                      Taking your kids to the New Orleans Jazz Fest? Expect to get an earful from friends and family.

                      Some folks will cheer you on: They always go with their kids, always have a great time. Others will tell you about the day junior sat on a nest of fire ants, the pleasures of changing diapers in a portable toilet, or the whining that prompted a near-immediate departure from the Fair Grounds.

                      On this subject, we take the middle ground. Going to Jazz Fest can be a great experience with kids, but it requires the same kind of planning that makes for a good day on the parade route, in a fishing boat, or when traveling long distances.

                      The key to success: Become your child's tour guide. That means that your kid takes priority over your favorite band, your plan to browse craft booths, your intense desire to stake out a spot at the Acura Stage, or your need to wait 30 minutes for a cochon de lait po-boy. If you don't believe us, please visit a busy supermarket and look at the crying kids and frazzled parents in the checkout line.

                      So, how to you become a tour guide at Jazz Fest? Here are 10 tips that we culled from conversations with other parents:

                      1) Visit the Kids Tent.

                      Go when your child needs some cool grass and some shade. Don't worry about the performance schedule: Just remind yourself that Jazz Fest potluck rarely disappoints. (In many cases, the Kids Tent performers are local headliners, fresh from the big stages, who are ready to reprise their acts in a more intimate venue.)

                      2) Adjust your schedule.

                      Arriving early and leaving early are recommended for kids who are accustomed to morning school schedules and naps. The crowds, the heat and the volume tend to rise in late afternoon, and that doesn't sit well with many kids.

                      3) Dance at the Economy Hall Tent.

                      Educators call this "large motor activity." We call it family fun on a wooden dance floor. Economy Hall attracts an all-ages dance crowd. Even on the busiest days, you'll find room amid the two-stepping oldsters and tattooed jitterbug set.

                      4) Prepare for a camping trip.

                      Once you're through the gates at Jazz Fest, it's too late to run home for umbrellas, hats and sunglasses. Finding shade can be a task on the Fair Grounds infield, but it's worth adjusting your plans to avoid the midday sun. Have you ever had fun with a sunburned, overheated child? Are you a better parent with sweat dripping in your eyes?

                      5) Reduce the amount of walking.

                      Rushing from stage to stage will wear out small feet in short order. Forestall the problem by paying for parking close to the Fair Grounds, using public transit, the Jazz Fest shuttle, or a taxi to get you close to the gates. For some youngsters, an MTA bus ride will be the most exotic treat of the day -- especially if you relax and treat it the same way.

                      6) Use your eyes - and help your child do the same.

                      At smaller stages, get up close and talk to your kids about the performers and their instruments. Find a shady spot away from the music and do some people-watching. Count the silly hats or watch the second-line parades roll through the grounds.

                      7) Let your child choose the music.

                      If your kid plays an instrument or you share a musical passion, do a little online browsing before you visit the Fair Grounds. Together, you can read about the acts or preview their performing styles on YouTube. The interactive Jazz Fest cubes are a great place to start: Each listing links to a wealth of information.

                      8) Eat and drink, but don't make your child wait in line.

                      The food lines tend to be shorter in the kids area -- and many vendors are selling the same dishes at booths elsewhere on the grounds. Wherever you are, don't worry if a booth lacks traffic. Jazz Fest is full of sleeper dishes. Let your kids lead you to one of them, and you'll have gourmet bragging rights, too.

                      9) Get away from the crowds.

                      Elbow-to-elbow fun can wear thin, especially if you are 4-feet-tall in a jostling, boogie-minded pack of adults. Think about taking your child to the air-conditioned grandstand, or watch a stage crew set up between acts at a quieter tent. Find a patch of grass and spend a few minutes watching the clouds instead of fighting the crowds.

                      10) Visit the Cultural Exchange Pavilion.

                      Jazz Fest 2013 focuses on Native Americans, and the program is loaded with drum groups, dance ensembles, artists and craftspeople doing demonstrations. These intimate programs often have a domestic feel, offering a chance to engage one-on-one. That's always a winner with kids.

                      Visit my Jazzfest advice site:


                      • #12
                        Very good, sound, accurate advice from my experience. I'd add a few off the top of my head:

                        Portable spray-mist fans are invaluable. One per kid is essential.

                        Do a craft in the Kids Area. They love it, you can hear Economy Hall while doing it, and you get a great, free, meaningful souvenir out of it.

                        Strawberry Lemonade!

                        Let kids who are old enough (we started around 4 or 5) go up to uncrowded food booths and buy their own items (while you are close by, of course).



                        • #13
                          Bringing Baby to Jazz Fest

                          This will be my 10th JazzFest but the FIRST with our new (then) 5-month old daughter. I've picked up tips from watching families over the years (hearing and sun protection, the baby bjorn, changing diapers on the second floor of the Grandstand) but would LOVE some more tips from those who have brought the especially little ones along before. In that vein, while we are normally taxi or bike people, we are thinking we will need to drive to the Fairgrounds each day so we can use an infant seat in the car. Any thoughts on good parking options; or other baby-safe transport to-from the Fairgrounds?


                          • #14
                            My daughter will be attending her 21st fest this year...and she'll be 25. I took her the first time when she was a year old. Went on first Thursday and sat back.of crowd and laid out large blanket for her to crawl around on..

                            Headset to cover ears is Essential. You can bring in all the kids food and a small cooler for drinks..

                            Mister fan good suggestion..


                            • #15
                              I was going to post ….but re-read mine up above and realized I'd just be repeating myself! We've never driven or parked….but have taken the bus or streetcar and that worked great for us. Happy to help answer anything else you can think of if you'd like…. Oh, and we'll be there first weekend with 3 yr. old and 21 month old in tow….wish us luck!