jazz fest new orleans - Billy Metcalf Photography - 620It’s not quite Mardi Gras, but Jazz Fest is just as much a part of New Orleans’ cultural fabric. Now in its 45th year, the two-weekend celebration encompasses 12 stages that will be welcoming more than 500 acts and 5,000 performers. This year’s edition opened last weekend and will continue on May 1 through May 4, featuring beloved local musicians along big names like Bruce Springsteen, Christina Aguilera, Foster the People, Eric Clapton, and more over the seven days. As with all NOLA events, food also takes center stage – so much so that there actually is a dedicated Food Heritage stage with demonstrations all weekend long.

If this kind of cultural fiesta sounds like your kind of vacation, it’s not too late to make plans. While some hotels run upwards of $400-$500 during the festival – if they don’t sell out – there are still a few with vacancies under $300 for the festival’s second weekend:

For central four-star accommodations, the Sheraton New Orleans is offering a special rate that averages $274 per night when you book a stay from May 1 through May 4 (or $289 from May 2 thourgh May 5). The hotel is an easy five-minute walk to Bourbon Street and just over 3 miles from Jazz Fest – that’s a 10-minute drive or 25-minute bus ride. The $18 round-trip Jazz Fest Express Shuttle also stops right at the hotel. All the rooms here have emerged from makeovers as a part of a $50 million renovation last year, so it’s one of the nicest options within this price range in the area. If you’re checking in on Thursday, the hotel’s weekly Social Hour offers two glasses of wine per guest for just $5 from 5 p.m.-7 p.m.

Marriott’s Courtyard New Orleans Convention Center still has clean and comfortable rooms available starting at $229 for stays Friday-Sunday stays or $189 for Thursday-Sunday. It’s while it’s a bit further from the festival – about a 10-minute walk from the Sheraton – it’s closer to the river, where you might find a bit more peace and quiet. Booking tip: Don’t use the Jazz Fest code; rooms set aside for that promotion are already sold out.

Commit to going out just a few blocks and you’ll be rewarded with free breakfast and free wifi at Hyatt Place New Orleans Convention Center, which is just a bit closer to the water than the Courtyard. Here, rooms are also $189 for Thursday-Sunday, but only $209 for Friday-Sunday. It’s one of the higher-rated hotels in the Convention Center area, with all the comforts typical of the Hyatt Place brand and more spacious accommodations than lower-end downtown options.

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