10 Must-Visit Louisiana Festivals
Are you ready to party Louisiana style? Then punch your ticket for these 10 fabulous fests and experience what we do best: food, music and rollicking good times!
When Louisiana hosts more than 400 hundred festivals each year, it’s no easy task to whittle that list down to 10 must-visit Louisiana festivals. It’s like picking your favorite child. For a little help, we asked our Facebook friends. We polled the office. We questioned the waitress delivering our tray of boiled crawfish. And finally, in some cases, we just had to flip a coin.
Here are ten must-visit Louisiana Festivals:
1. Ponchatoula Strawberry Festival
The self-proclaimed “Strawberry Capital of the World” celebrates the sweet berry with the Ponchatoula Strawberry Festival. The family-friendly event offers old-fashioned fun, from strawberry eating contests to sack races. Be sure to sample the many strawberry-flavored treats, including the shortcake. Try the festival's strawberry pie recipe.
2. Festival International de Louisiane
For the Festival International de Louisiane, downtown Lafayette is turned into an international music hub, complete with seven music stages, street musicians, arts and crafts boutiques and more. Multiple countries are represented at this fest, making Festival International one of Louisiana's premier multicultural events. All of the events, including cultural workshops, are free.
3. French Quarter Festival
Hands down, NOLA knows how to throw a music festival, and we admit it was hard to decide between Jazz Fest and French Quarter Festival. What tipped the scales was the price tag. French Quarter Fest boasts more than 20 stages and 400-plus hours of live entertainment without charging you a dime. It's the largest free music event in the U.S.! But do bring some bucks for purchasing tasty festival foods from dozens of local vendors.
4. Louisiana Catfish Festival
Get a taste of hot, crispy catfish at the Louisiana Catfish Festival, founded in 1975. As legend has it, former Gov. Edwin Edwards once signed a proclamation declaring Des Allemands the Catfish Capital of the World — later named the Catfish Capital of the Universe. If that isn't convincing enough, there's live music, games and more fun to be had.
5. Breaux Bridge Crawfish Festival
At the Breaux Bridge Crawfrish Festival, eat your weight in mudbugs, shimmy your way to victory in the zydeco dance contest and set your lawn chair in front of the Crawfish or Festival stage to hear incredible local music. You'll love cheering on the critters during the crawfish races. Back at home, make your own crawfish étouffée using the recipe from three-time Breaux Bridge Crawfish Festival étouffée cook-off champion Mike Huval.
6. Red River Revel
The Red River Revel is recognized as the largest outdoor arts festival in North Louisiana. Shop beautiful works from dozens of visual artists and hear live entertainment on four stages. There’s a great children’s area, with art projects, a Ferris wheel and a geological dig site, too.
7. International Rice Festival
It seems Crowley is best known for two things: producing one of the country’s largest rice crops and throwing one of southwest Louisiana’s oldest parties! The International Rice Festival has been celebrating since 1937 and a rice-eating contest, carnival, queen’s pageant, parade and live music are among its many features.
8. Bogalusa Blues & Heritage Festival
The Bogalusa Blues and Heritage Festival was created in 2011 to celebrate and promote music heritage. The first festival generated a lot of buzz and was named New Event of the Year by the Louisiana Association of Fairs and Festivals. Held each September, the festival pays tribute to Bogalusa’s amazingly rich music history. The music lineup is packed and in between acts, check out the abundant food vendors and crafts booths.
9. French Food Festival
This French Food Festival celebrates the Cajun way of life, from dancing to boat-building, and pays particular attention to foods from Cajun kitchens. Sample traditional Bayou Lafourche dishes, like shrimp boulettes, crawfish fettuccine and tarte à la bouille, a custard pie.
10. Natchitoches Christmas Festival
How jolly is Natchitoches during the holidays? Santa comes here when he needs to catch the Christmas spirit. From around Thanksgiving through New Year's, the historic, lakefront city decorates with more than 300,000 Christmas lights for the Natchitoches Christmas Festival. Take a romantic carriage ride and enjoy fireworks over Cane River Lake.
So, what do you think of our list? What's that? We left out Mardi Gras? No, we didn't forget about our most famous festival. We just know that it stands out among the rest! Our weekslong Carnival celebration takes place throughout the state and should definitely be on everyone's Louisiana bucket list.