Preservation Hall in New Orleans
This post is about attending a jazz performance at Preservation Hall in New Orleans. Jazz and the Big Easy go hand in hand, and in 1961, Preservation Hall opened to share and protect this cultural institution. Each night of the week, you can attend an intimate gathering to watch and listen to the traditions being passed down from one musician to the next generation. New Orleans and Jazz. They go hand in hand. And in 1961, Preservation Hall opened to share and protect this cultural institution. Any night of the week, you can attend an intimate gathering to hear the traditions being passed down from one generation of musicians to the next. And be sure to check our our free Music, Arts and More Tour of New Orleans, every Friday and Saturday @2:30 pm.
Preservation Hall is small. This keeps the scene intimate, just like it was in the beginning of New Orleans jazz. There are only 100 admissions for each set, but that doesn’t reserve you a seat. Over half is standing room only and the rest is benches and floor cushions. Each set is 45 minutes long, but you can only stay for one. Between each there is a complete turnaround of guests and you must purchase another ticket if you’d like to get back in.
The Quarter is lively any night of the week, and Preservation Hall keeps the same schedule, with several shows per night, every night.
- Monday through Wednesday, shows are at 8:15, 9:15, and 10:15 pm, with doors opening 15 minutes beforehand;
- Thursday through Sunday, they add a 6:15 pm show.
All ages are admitted. While they’re closed on some holidays, on others they offer a limited schedule. The show is brief – only around 35-40 minutes from when the performers enter until it’s time to admit the next crowd. Hopeful patrons line up as much as an hour in advance; those who wait in line pay $15, or $20 on Friday or Saturday. If you’re a student and have your ID, you can get in for $10. Children under 11 years old get in free.
Big Shot tickets, starting at $35, are available 24 hours in advance to guarantee admission on arrival and a seat at the front. Like many New Orleans businesses, Preservation Hall only takes cash at the door. Doors open 15 minutes prior to the set. Get tickets here.
In many ways, Preservation Hall feels like a step back in time. This can be both charming and limiting. At its start, the Hall employed out-of-work and underappreciated musicians from the early days of jazz – contemporaries of Louis Armstrong – and today they still focus on that traditional sound. The venue is humble, more living room than concert hall. The 100 patrons admitted to each show are enough to make the place crowded. The first to enter, including those with Big Shot tickets, will have access to simple wooden benches and floor pillows, with the first couple of rows within arm’s length of the performers. Mostly, though, it’s standing room only, with a limited view of the performers. Counting time spent in line, this can mean nearly two hours of standing without much movement. Also importantly, the venue is not air conditioned and has no restroom. All of this certainly creates historical ambiance, and for a fan of the music, it can be absolutely worth it. But it does mean Preservation Hall can be a poorer fit for the elderly, restless kids, and those who aren’t used to as much walking as a visit to the French Quarter involves. In that case, nearby venues like the Jazz Playhouse, the Carousel Bar, Palm Court Jazz Café, or the Bombay Club can offer a similar genre of music with seating more likely or guaranteed.
Located at 76 St. Peter in the French Quarter, Preservation Hall is only a block and half from Jackson Square and just half a block from Bourbon Street. It’s an area full of foot traffic, safe for walking in the evening. Use this Google map for directions to Preservation Hall from anywhere in New Orleans. Learn more about things to do in the French Quarter.
Preservation Hall is BYOB (Bring Your Own Beverages) and does not serve or operate a kitchen or bar. Food, however, is not allowed. Don’t try to bring in something in a glass container, though – plastic only!
And be sure to check our our free Music, Arts and More Tour of New Orleans, every Friday and Saturday @2:30 pm.