2019 Congo Square Rhythms Festival

Mar 30–31, 2019
Saturday, March 30, and Sunday, March 31, from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. both days.
Louis Armstrong Park
701 N. Rampart Street
New Orleans, Louisiana 70116
Admission: Free!

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March 30-31
Armstrong Park
Free Admission

Mardi Gras Indians, African dance, dance, brass bands, luscious jazz, soul-funk, Garifuna music from Honduras and West African highlife – all these are in store for music fans at the 12th annual Congo Square Rhythms Festival, presented by the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Foundation March 30-31 in Armstrong Park.

Celebrating the New Orleans traditions that spring from the African diaspora, the Congo Square Rhythms Festival brings a joyful noise to the spot that those in the know consider the birthplace of American music.

Starting in the 18th Century and lasting for well over 100 years, Congo Square (or Place Congo) was where enslaved Africans were permitted to gather on Sundays – enabling them to carry on their ancestral traditions of drumming and dance. It was also a gathering place and market, quite famous around the world, which since 1993 has been listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

It is arguably the location where African culture was implanted in the New World, influencing all of the jazz, gospel, blues and rock that put New Orleans on the map of the world’s most musically important cities.

The Congo Square Rhythms Festival combines live music, a large arts market and a Soul Food Court with special events to create a uniquely immersive experience.

Our annual Mardi Gras Indian “battle” is always a favorite – with tribes from various neighborhoods gathering in the center of the square for a show of cultural unity (and a great photo op).

This festival is also is the location of our Class Got Brass competition. Now in its eighth year, Class Got Brass challenges Louisiana middle school and high schools to form traditional New Orleans brass bands, which then perform for an all-star panel of judges. By providing the participating schools with gift certificates for instruments or other supplies – the top prize is $10,000 – Class Got Brass is one of many ways the Jazz & Heritage Foundation supports arts education in the school system while promoting New Orleans’ traditional culture.

African dance is always a highlight of the Congo Square Rhythms Festival. This year, we present our largest ever assemblage of New Orleans-based African dance troupes, all of whom will perform on Sunday, March 31.

African music will be well represented at the festival with a performance by the Kumasi Afrobeat Orchestra, super hot New Orleans group that specializes in Nigerian Afrobeat and “highlife” from Ghana – both of which funk and jazz with irresistible African rhythms.

Nayo Jones, the popular jazz singer who has performed frequently with Kermit Ruffins and the New Orleans Jazz Orchestra, will lead her own group at the festival. And jazz bass virtuoso Max Moran will showcase his newest project, Neospectric, which blends rock, funk, R&B, jazz and fusion.

For fans of authentic Caribbean folk music, don’t miss Garifuna Generation, playing the indigenous music of northern Honduras.

We’re very excited to have Big Chief Monk Boudreaux return to the festival. One of the pioneers Mardi Gras Indian funk rock, Boudreaux was named a National Heritage Fellow by the National Endowment for the Arts in 2016.

And don’t forget the brass bands. The Grammy-winning Rebirth Brass Band will perform, as will local favorites the Original Pinettes Brass Band.


Saturday, March 30
11:00 a.m. to 11:45 a.m.    Dzakpa Ewe Ensemble
11:45 a.m. to 12:45 p.m.    Bamboula 2000
1:00 p.m. to 2 p.m.            The Nayo Jones Experience
2:15 p.m. to 3:15 p.m.       Max Moran and Neospectric
3:15 p.m. to 4:15 p.m.       Mardi Gras Indian Battle
4:15 p.m. to 5:15 p.m.       Chief Monk Boudreaux
5:30 p.m. to 7:00 p.m.       Kumasi Afrobeat Orchestra

Sunday, March 31
11:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m.   Open Drum Circle
12:00 p.m. to 1:30 p.m.     Dance Performances:
                                               Dancing Grounds Elite Feet Krewe
                                               Chakra Dance Theater
                                               Tekrema Dance Theater
                                               N'Kafu  and Culu African Dance Ensembles
                                               Kumbuka African Drum and Dance Collective
                                               N'Fungola Sibo African Dance Company
                                              Garifuna Generation
1:30 p.m. to 2:45 p.m.      Original Pinettes Brass Band
3:00 p.m. to 4:45 p.m.      Class Got Brass Contest
5:00 p.m. to 6:15 p.m.      Rebirth Brass Band

New Orleans Soul Food
We’ll have five great food vendors – including recent graduates of our Catapult Fund business accelerator program - offering a mix of classic New Orleans dishes and food from the Caribbean. For the complete list of food vendors and their menus, see here.

Arts Market
If you’re looking for beautiful, hand-made artworks and crafts by local artisans, be sure to check out our arts market. We’ll have more than two dozen vendors, offering fine art, photography, jewelry, clothing and housewares. For the complete list of Arts Market vendors, see here.

Kids Activities
This year, we're ramping up our Kids Area with lots of new activities, games and entertainment for the young ones.

Parking is available for a fee ($5 for 10 hours) at Basin Street Station, 501 Basin Street. Parking is also available in the Mahalia Jackson Theatre parking lot for $15 per car per day.

Bike Valet
Our friends at Bike Easy, which promoted bicycle ridership in the city, will organize a free bike valet – so you can ride to the festival and stash your wheels easily and safely.

ADA Accessibility
For our guests who use wheelchairs, we will have a number of accommodations.

We will have wheelchair drop-off areas on Rampart Street (at the St. Ann Street Gate) and also in the parking lot near the Mahalia Jackson Theatre of the Performing Arts (enter via the Basin Street Gate).

Our wheelchair-accessible toilets will be kept locked for your comfort. To obtain the key or combination for the locks, please visit any of our information booths located at the park entrances, or check with the staff at our official T-Shirt Booth.

All of our food booths will have counter heights of no more than 32 inches. And we will have an area reserved only for wheelchairs near the sound booth in front of the stage.

Keep The Festival Safe and Free: No Outside Food, Beverages or Pets
Like all of our events, the Congo Square New World Rhythms Festival is completely free and open to the public - part of the community investment made by the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Foundation. Donations, however, are gratefully accepted. If you would like to support the Foundation and help keep this event free, please make the tax-deductible contribution of your choice here.

PLEASE: Except for those with small children or dietary restrictions, please do not bring outside food or beverages to the event - no coolers are permitted.

We realize that Armstrong Park is usually open to pets. But for the safety and comfort of our large audience, we ask that you respect your neighbors and leave your companion animals at home. Thank you.

The Congo Square Rhythms Festival is produced and presented by the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Foundation, the nonprofit that owns the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival presented by Shell. The Foundation uses the proceeds from Jazz Fest, and other raised funds, for year-round programs in education, economic development and cultural enrichment. For more on what we do, please visit www.jazzandheritage.org.

This program is supported in part by a Community Arts Grant made possible by the City of New Orleans.


Click the links below to download documents.

2019 Congo Square Rhythms Food Vendors and Menus

2019 Congo Square Rhythms Arts Market Vendors

Congo Square Rhythms Festival Archive:

2018's Line-up and Festival Details
2017's Line-up and Festival Details
2016's Line-up and Festival Details
2015's Line-up and Festival Details
2014's Line-up and Festival Details
2013's Line-up and Festival Details
2012's Line-up and Festival Details
2010's Line-up and Festival Details
2009's Line-up and Festival Details

Check out what else we do.

2019 Congo Square Rhythms Festival gratefully acknowledges the following sponsors:

The New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival and Foundation, Inc.