Sandwiched in the middle of New Orleans’ most infamous free festival, Mardi Gras, is this year’s Super Bowl. While not exactly a festival per say, when hosted in the Crescent City in true Southern style the atmosphere is more than festive, it is almost electrifying.
The preparations began long before this week, with a massive undertaking of repaving streets in many neighborhoods, the addition of the sleek Loyola streetcar line, and planning by local businesses expecting super-sized crowds. Starting Wednesday January 30th the Super Bowl festivities began in earnest with the opening of the NFL Experience in the Convention Center.
Located along the Mississippi River, the Ernest Morial Convention Center will play host to the interactive NFL Experience through Sunday February 3rd. Billed as a theme park, it certainly offers something for everyone. Children have their own areas where they get hands on with professional football players, challenge themselves with basic skill tests, receive superhero themed football coloring sheets, and collect autographs from their favorite players. True football enthusiasts will get lost in the amazing displays, collections of memorabilia, NFL shop, and filming of live segments during the coming days. Tickets are $25 for adults and $20 for kids, but come with lots of handouts, samples, and impressive Super Bowl books and stickers.
Along with the NFL Experience there are free options this weekend as well. Starting Thursday evening is the opening of the free Verizon Super Bowl Boulevard. Heading further down the Mississippi River football fans will find Super Bowl Boulevard’s Woldenberg Park location an easy walk from the Convention Center. Featuring four outdoor stages, the musical lineup hosts a range of local talents including Rebirth Brass Band, Washboard Chaz Blues Trio, and Gal Holiday & the Honky Tonk Revue. There will be many national musical artists featured throughout the Super Bowl festivities, but on Super Bowl Boulevard it will be a true New Orleans style festival with all local acts performing outdoors free for anyone who wants to attend. And naturally there will be a delicious mix of culinary treats served up at the requisite food booths.
It goes without saying that these are only some of the offerings surrounding the buildup to Sunday’s game, which proves why New Orleans is hosting the Super Bowl for the tenth time. Slated to host it again in 2018, no one can question that New Orleans knows how to party, has musical and culinary talents sure to please any palate, and can handle crowds unlike any other city.