NEW ORLEANS, LA (WVUE) - Easter weekend kicks off days of major tourism events in the New Orleans area.
On Saturday thousands of runners and walkers hit the streets of downtown for the the annual Crescent City Classic. Next weekend French Quarter Festival kicks off, as well as a professional car race new to the area.
Tourists filled the French Quarter early on Good Friday. Some made a point of being in the city for Easter weekend.
"This city just gets in your soul, so any weekend that you can come here is great, but Easter weekend is especially great," said Catlynn Wright.
Peter Lesage and his companions walked the Quarter. They came from Belgium to be here this time of year. They'll be on the streets for Saturday's foot race.
"We're not going to race along, but we're going to see what's happening," said Lesage.
Sunday Chris Owen's parade which features people donning unique Easter bonnets rolls through the French Quarter.
But it is not the only parade.
"Spring has sprung. We're expecting thousands of people for Crescent City Classic this weekend, and then the gay Easter Parade in the French Quarter is expecting about 30,000 people and if we have weather like this I'm sure they'll get it," said Kristian Sonnier, V.P. of Communications for the New Orleans Convention and Visitors Bureau.
On Thursday French Quarter Festival kicks off and is usually a magnet for tens of thousands of locals and tourists alike.
"Four days, 23 stages, more than 1,600 local musicians. Last year they had 732,000 attendees," Sonnier said.
Just outside of New Orleans in Avondale on the west bank of Jefferson Parish NOLA Motor Sports will welcome a huge event next week.
"Indy Car - they're debuting the Indy Grand Prix of Louisiana. They're expecting 30,000 race enthusiasts from around the world, and then I don't know how many locals are expected to attend," Sonnier said.
Tim Ramsberger is General Manager of the Indy Grand Prix of Louisiana.
"It's truly one of those, 'if you build it they will come,' and here we have, you know, the top open-wheel racing series in North America coming here," Ramsberger said.
Expectations are high.
"Tens of thousands, if we get 100,000 people we'll be very pleased over the three days," he said.
And Ramsberger said it will be a festival atmosphere at the motor park, offering fun for activities for all ages.
"It is a great opportunity to showcase not only the park, but also the region of what a great place it is to come and have a festival around racing, and enjoy all that New Orleans has to offer with all its hospitality," he said.
The Indy Grand Prix of Louisiana is April 10-12.
For more information on race go to www.gpofnola.com.