Satchmo SummerFest began as a tribute to one of New Orleans’ most famous native sons, the late Louis “Satchmo” Armstrong, to celebrate his 100th birthday. Thousands of people turned out for the first Satchmo SummerFest in 2001 to dance to traditional New Orleans blues and jazz, and to sample the delicious food.
It was so successful that it has become an annual three-day event held on the first weekend of August every year since.
Sponsored by French Quarter Festivals, Inc., the organization that also sponsors the French Quarter Festival and Christmas New Orleans Style, Satchmo SummerFest has evolved into one of the top celebrations in a city internationally renowned for its large-scale festivities. For those who regularly attend the festival, it is the highlight of summer. Satchmo SummerFest is in Jackson Square, right in the heart of the French Quarter. There is a small daily admission fee for adults, but children 12 and under get in free. The admission fee includes a wristband that allows festivalgoers to come and go throughout the day. Outdoor events at SatchmoFest feature live bands on two stages, starring some of New Orleans’ top traditional musicians. Many of them will pay their tributes to Armstrong and his music. Performers have included the Preservation Hall Brass Band,
Kermit Ruffins & the Barbecue Swingers, Big Sam’s Funky Nation and the Tornado Brass Band.
There are also smaller indoor concerts and performances in the “Back o’ Town” stage within the Louisiana State Museum’s Arsenal nearby. Samplings of New Orleans’ world-famous culinary delicacies are for sale in and around the festival site, while a variety of refreshing beverages keep you cool and hydrated.
In addition to all the lively outdoor music and food, the festival includes “Satchmo Seminars,” indoor seminars and lectures by Armstrong biographers and historians as well as discussions with musicians who have been inspired by him.