The Lafayette Hotel’s Guide to White Linen Night
White Linen Night Crowd courtsey of Contemporary Arts Center – cacno.org
There’s an art to partying during the hottest month of the year—and White Linen Night raises it to its highest level, while at the same time being a fantastic opportunity to admire art. The free block party takes over Julia Street’s 300-600 blocks. Sponsored by Whitney National Bank, it’s a time when several 20 galleries and museums open their doors to the public—and it’s completely free.
Why white linen?
Historically, New Orleanians wore white linen to deflect the sun during summer months. When the first White Linen Night organizers came up with the concept in 1994 as a way to revitalize the downtown Arts District, they latched onto the white linen tradition. (And of course, linen is used by many artists as a canvas.)
Planning your outfit
Technically, you aren’t required to wear white linen. Any lightweight, summery fabric will do–you will see cotton and seersucker galore at the event. Airy materials are essential not just for style, but also for comfort. (The average high in August is 90 degrees—so be sure and grab a free paper fan from vendors.)
If you don’t have an all-white outfit, try shopping for one at a secondhand store like Buffalo Exchange (4119 Magazine St.). Employees stockpile white merchandise all year specifically for this event (and they do they same thing for Red Dress Run, another popular August event), so you may be able to pull together a stylish look that’s also a steal. Your must-have accessory? A stain-absorbing Shout wipe.
Of course, the focus is on art, but what’s a New Orleans celebration without great food and music? White Linen Night features three stages of live music, and more than 25 local restaurants will serve food and drinks. Be forewarned: lines can be extremely long. More than 45,000 people attended White Linen Night in 2014, and attendance has grown every year. In 2017, the event will start a half hour earlier and ends a half hour later than in years past–an effort to accommodate the crowds.
How to beat the crowds
It’s wise to avoid driving and parking (there will be nary a spot nearby). Take an Uber or a streetcar, or bike to the Arts District. Located blocks from Julia Street, the Lafayette Hotel serves as an excellent home base. Even if you’re local, you might consider reserving a room for the night. Order a drink to go from Desi Vegas’ bar and enjoy a short stroll to the festivities.
Keep the party going
The Contemporary Arts Center (900 Camp St.) holds an after-party from 9 p.m. to midnight, a fundraiser for the nonprofit. It’s only $10 a person (and free for museum members), and there will be a cash bar, live music and art installations.