The Big Easy, and all that Jazz

300 Years Worth of Stories, Celebrations and One-of-a-Kind Culture

Back in 1860 New Orleans was the 5th biggest city in the U.S.A. With the Big Apple as number one, the theory goes that the city got its nickname 'The Big Easy' by comparison to NYC... but it wasn't until 1970 when both these nicknames were popularised.

It has also been said that the name 'The Big Easy' could have originated during the Nationwide Prohibition, as a reference to the city being "one big speakeasy", with many places in New Orleans selling alcohol in violation of the 18th Amendment that was the law between 1920 and 1933. Rumour has it there was a Jazz Club by the same name in the early 20th century too, but perhaps because it was a speakeasy, an illegal bar, there is no record of it.

Yet another story goes, the name 'The Big Easy' was used by musicians who found an easy life in New Orleans, with cheap living costs and plenty of work. Recorded or not, no matter where the name came from, it is a sure thing that New Orleans is still known and loved for its music culture. 

Sisters and brothers, grab your self a post-prohibition beverage, it's time to learn all about the music of the Big Easy!

You should know that Jazz was born here! Dixieland, also known as hot jazz or traditional jazz, is a musical genre that developed in New Orleans at the start of the 20th century. The local 'Original Dixieland Jass Band', made their first recordings in New Orleans in 1917. They were the first band to record Jazz commercially and the first to have a Jazz hit! 

At this time Louis Armstrong was 16 years old, but it didn't take him long to become a hit himself, recognised as an "inventive" trumpet and cornet player in the 1920s. Long story short, the airport in New Orleans is named after him... the Louis Armstrong New Orleans International Airport, ladies and gentlemen!

The three big events in the Big Easy you need to know about are:

1. Mardi Gras is a major celebration that dates back to 1699. Visitors will see fantastical parades two weeks preceding and including Shrove Tuesday. 
2. The French Quarter Festival started in 1984 and is now the largest free music festival in the South. More than 10 musical genres are performed on over 20 stages throughout the neighborhood.
3. Jazz Fest - officially the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival - is a highlight of the year, taking place annually on the last weekend of April and first weekend of May.

There are plenty more events and festivals all year round, start a conversation with your clients about this vibrant city and start planning exciting itineraries today!

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