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AARP National Event & Expo Heads to New Orleans Sept. 20-22

Celebrate city's unique culture and volunteer to help

AARP Life @50+ event will be in New Orleans in 2012

Join AARP members for a stroll along Bourbon Street in New Orleans. — Photo by Steve Allen/Getty Images

En español | Some 20,000 AARP members are expected in New Orleans on Sept. 20 for the annual Life@50+ National Event & Expo, seven years after AARP was forced to cancel a national event in the city in the wake of Hurricane Katrina.

Learn more about this year's event and register now

This year's event will be a celebration of the Big Easy — the schedule is jam-packed with music, tours, speakers and more —  as well as an opportunity for convention-goers to volunteer in parts of the city still recovering from that terrible storm.


Organizers are hoping that 2,000 people will sign up for New Orleans Reimagined, a day of service when, depending on your interest and ability, you can, for example, pitch in to help build community gardens, put together literacy packs for local schoolchildren or paint a front porch. And you just may find yourself swinging a hammer next to former NFL quarterback Dan Marino, tennis great Martina Navratilova (who will also offer a morning fitness class on Friday) or motivational speaker James Brown.

Learn and Enjoy

On Saturday night, you won't want to miss rocking performances by Stevie Nicks, Gladys Knight and Melissa Etheridge.

During the day you can catch Hoda Kotb and chef Emeril Lagasse talking about how the city has influenced Lagasse's life and cooking; James Carville and Mary Matalin, famous New Orleans residents and political junkies, debating the upcoming election; and a reunion of cast members from the epic miniseries Roots to discuss its legacy.

And check out current and upcoming feature films at the Movies for Grownups Film Festival.

On both Friday and Saturday 60 "university and lifestyle" sessions will be offered at the New Orleans Morial Convention Center. Besides gathering useful information here on everything from caregiving to Social Security, the exhibition hall will have booths related to health and wellness, financial planning, travel (with special deals for attendees) and technology, where experts will be on hand to teach visitors how to use Skype, Facetime or an iPad. There will be music classes, with guitars and ukuleles to try, local chefs offering cooking demonstrations and the best local bands providing the soundtrack.


AARP has organized a number of tours to get a sense of the real New Orleans. Sign up for a bunch of them (each is $25 for members, $35 for nonmembers, though that fee includes an annual membership), including a "Sips, Sights, & Sounds," in which you'll be told the city's classic ghost stories while stopping in various bars for New Orleans-style cocktails. Other memorable picks would be the "Cemetery & Voodoo tour," the "Swamp & Bayou Tour" or a walking tour of the French Quarter.

You may also like: Tours of New Orleans during Life@50+.

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