The festival, spanning two weekends in April and May, will feature hundreds of the city’s most beloved musicians and a host of national headliners at the New Orleans Fair Grounds, a horse racing track that flooded and was seriously damaged by Hurricane Katrina in 2005.

Headliners for the first weekend, April 27-29, include Stewart, Van Morrison, Jones, Paisley, Ludacris and Bonnie Raitt. Steely Dan, ZZ Top, John Legend, Counting Crows and New Edition will perform the second weekend, May 4-6.

Harry Connick Jr., a New Orleans native, will close the festival. He is expected to perform selections from his Oh, My Nola album, due out Tuesday on Sony BMG’s Sony label. The CD covers New Orleans standards linked with the likes of Toussaint, Dr. John and Louis Armstrong and includes original material.

“We have a lot of people who have never played the festival before and a lot of women headliners,” said Quint Davis, the festival’s producer.

Still, like last year, more than 80 percent of the performers are from Louisiana. “If you look at the lineup you see that the New Orleans music scene, which is really what this festival is all about, is as strong as ever,” he said.

Among New Orleans’ own who are scheduled to perform: Kermit Ruffins, Troy “Trombone Shorty” Andrews, Irvin Mayfield, Henry Butler, Clarence “Frogman” Henry, Ellis Marsalis, Rolan Guerin and Donald Harrison.

Pete Fountain, who performed at the first Jazz Fest in 1969, said he’s excited to perform again: “It means I’m still alive,” the 76-year-old jazz clarinetist said, laughing.

“It’s one of the highlights of my life, because, you know I played the first one, so it’s something special and something I look forward to every year,” Fountain said.