Music and food are an integral part of the Cajun way of life. This is evidenced by the many festivals held in the region with entertainment provided by Cajun music and irresistible food.
Although there’s a festival somewhere every weekend in Acadiana, Lafayette’s two main festivals represent both the Cajun culture and its international influences. And, of course, each festival has a food component, so you won’t go hungry while dancing the day and night away.
Started in 1972 as an effort to keep Cajun culture alive, Festivals Acadiens et Créoles has grown into a free three-day festival in October attracting people of many different nationalities from all over the world. Festivals Acadiens et Créoles features some of the finest Cajun, Creole and Zydeco musicians around.
The festival is held in Girard Park and also offers authentic Cajun and Creole cooking, rich cultural heritage and art components, with the Bayou Food Festival, Louisiana Craft Fair and Louisiana Fold Roots held in conjunction with the music. Visit www.festivalsacadiens.com for more information.
Festival International de Louisiane is a community-based, nonprofit arts organization that produces an annual, free five-day visual and performing arts festival in downtown Lafayette. Festival International celebrates the French cultural heritage of southern Louisiana, which consists of a combination of French, African, Caribbean and Hispanic influences.
The festival places special emphasis on highlighting the connections between Acadiana and the Francophone world. Each year, performing visual and culinary artists from Europe, Africa, Canada, the Caribbean and the Americas are invited to share their talents with Louisiana artists, residents and visitors.
Since its inception, Festival International de Louisiane has become internationally recognized as a premier presenter of some of the most unique world musicians and performances in the U.S. Popular Louisiana artists such as Aaron Neville, Dr. John, Irma Thomas, Allan Toussaint, Zachary Richard, Sonny Landreth, Beausoleil, Buckwheat Zydeco, Boozoo Chavis, Amedee "Bois Sec" Ardoin, D.L. Menard, Terrance Simien, C.J. Chenier, Geno Delafose, Marc Broussard, Marcia Ball, Clarence "Gatemouth" Brown, Canray Fontenot and Buddy Guy have all performed on the Festival stages. For more information, call the festival office at 337.232.8086 or go online to www.festivalinternational.com.”
A Louisiana tradition, Lafayette has its own style of Mardi Gras, which is the second-largest in the state. The Mardi Gras season features parades, balls, masking and more, most in a family friendly atmosphere. Krewes begin gearing up for the season months in advance, as do the Lafayette and independent Mardi Gras associations. The festivities kick off each year with the Friday night parade and Le Festival de Mardi Gras a Lafayette at Cajun Field and continue through Fat Tuesday. Surrounding towns all have their own version of Mardi Gras as well, from the courirs (runs) in the countryside to Eunice’s La Grande Boucherie. For more information on Lafayette Mardi Gras, go to www.lafayettetravel.comOther Area Festivals Combining Music and Food:
• Rice Capital Championship Gumbo Cook-Off January, Crowley
• Washington Catfish Festival March, Washington
• Cajun Hot Sauce Festival April, New Iberia
• Breaux Bridge Crawfish Festival May, Breaux Bridge
• Opelousas Spice and Music Festival June, Opelousas
• Erath 4th of July Celebration July, Erath
• Gueydan Duck Festival August, Gueydan
• Delcambre Shrimp Festival August, Delcambre
• Louisiana Shrimp and Petroleum Festival September, Morgan City
• Rayne Frog Festival September, Rayne
• Louisiana Cajun Food Festival October, Kaplan
• Louisiana Cotton Festival October, Ville Platte
• Abbeville’s Cattle Festival October, Abbeville
• Louisiana Yambilee Festival October, Opelousas
• Crowley Rice Festival October, Crowley
• Abbeville’s Giant Omelet Celebration November, Abbeville