I love finding festival hidden gems in places that you don't usually think about when you think of music festivals. Obviously Miami, the LA area and Las Vegas are all known for their festival scene, but taking the opportunity to travel to festivals in more obscure cities is not only a great way to find festival gems, but get some traveling done too. The BUKU Music + Art Project in New Orleans is one of my favorite festivals in the United States because it's unlike anything else. The festival takes place at Mardi Gras World, right in downtown New Orleans and along the Mississippi River.
At BUKU you'll get the chance to rave in a warehouse with all of the Mardi Gras floats, take a twerk lesson from Big Freedia, a New Orleans icon, on a traditional Mississippi river boat (also a New Orleans icon) and see some of the best acts the music industry has to offer. I've been to BUKU several times, and can say that the festival gets better as the years go on. Here is everything you need to know about getting #tooBUKU this March.
The BUKU Music + Art Project takes place at Mardi Gras World in New Orleans on Friday March 25 through Saturday March 26. Tickets cost around $250 for general admission and go up to around $450 for a two-day VIP pass. Of course you can buy single day tickets, which are around $130 for general admission and $240 for VIP.
Mardi Gras World is right on the edge of downtown New Orleans along the river. The venue offers spectacular views of the Mississippi River and has a cool urban feel with the backdrop of the smokestacks at the power plant stage and graffiti installations throughout the venue.
Staying near the festival is pretty easy, though I'm not sure I would recommend walking to the venue just because of the way the street is laid out on that part of Tchoupitoulas street. You can stay anywhere downtown, the closer to the river the better, and be able to get to the venue in a matter of minutes.
Canal Street, just a few blocks away from the venue, is the border between downtown New Orleans and the French Quarter. For ease of access to bars, nightlife and after parties hosted by the festival, I would recommend staying in the French Quarter. There are lots of hotels that fit just about any budget all over New Orleans, and all of them are within just a few minutes' drive to the festival grounds.
From what I remember in the past, the festival ends kind of early, so late night ravers can hit up after parties and bars around the Bourbon Street area for a truly unforgettable festival experience. Unfortunately Mardi Gras is several weeks before BUKU, but you'll still get to see the floats in the festival venue itself.
New Orleans is known for its culture, and that includes the food. BUKU does a great job of honoring the local culture by offering tons of great food options at the festival that are popular around the city. Assuming they're back for the 2022 event, I recommend trying Dat Dog.
The weather in New Orleans in March isn't cold, but it isn't hot. You'll probably be fine in anything during the day but at night it does get a little bit chilly. I recommend wearing a light jacket or long pants to stay warm. There are lockers onsite, so you won't have to carry your jacket around all day and night if you don't want to.
Reflective Cropped Puffer Jacket