As the holiday season comes to a close and the calendar turns over into a new year, Louisiana shifts into overdrive with world-class Carnival festivities across the state highlighting the music, food and culture of the region.
“Life may slow down following the holidays for many, but for Louisiana, we’re just getting started,” says Louisiana Lt. Gov. Billy Nungesser, the state’s top tourism official. “Our year begins in earnest every year following January 6. Louisiana is home to hundreds of Carnival parades and celebrations, as well other unique events.”
The Carnival celebration kicked off on Jan. 6, the Twelfth Night, and will keep building until its Fat Tuesday crescendo, which this year falls on Feb. 13. From the legendary and nonstop revelry of New Orleans to the colorful traditions of Cajun Country, communities across the state offer numerous opportunities to experience a memorable Mardi Gras season.
To mark these special celebrations, Community Coffee Company has launched the “king” of all flavored coffees, Community® Mardi Gras King Cake coffee, available online and in select stores across the American South. This limited-time-offer King Cake flavor features the same high-quality coffee beans that Community® coffee lovers expect, but with a perfectly balanced combination of cinnamon and vanilla. This blend provides a subtly sweet flavor that exemplifies the fun and spirit of the Carnival season fused with the company’s rich history.
And after the last king cake is sliced and the final beads are tossed, Louisiana doesn’t power down for long before the spring festival season kicks into full gear. From the legendary New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival to the rapidly growing Baton Rouge Blues Festival to the eclectic and infectious musical energy of Lafayette’s Festival International in the heart of Cajun country, there’s something for everyone looking to experience a piece of Louisiana culture.
Here are a few festivals to check out before the summer heat slows the party down.
BUKU Art + Music Project — March 9-10, New Orleans
BUKU Art + Music Project is a quirky boutique event that combines a major festival with an underground house party vibe, with a heavy focus on electronic dance music, hip-hop and indie rock. In addition to a huge lineup of national acts, the March festival in New Orleans’ Lower Garden District features dozens of pop-up street performances and art exhibits highlighting the youthful, creative energy driving the Crescent City. This event is for ages 18 and up.
New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival — April 27-May 6
Heading into its 49th year, the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival, also known as Jazz Fest, is one of the premiere music festivals in the world. With an outstanding lineup of internationally renowned artists plus an eclectic selection of regional standouts across a wide range of genres, the festival attracts visitors from across the globe each year. The 2017 event drew more than 420,000 music fans to the Fair Grounds Race Course.
French Quarter Festival — April 12-15
For festival enthusiasts who can’t decide whether to prioritize food or music, French Quarter Fest offers an easy solution: nearly unlimited options for both. Enjoy all the entertainment you can take in with more than 400 musical performances on 23 stages throughout the French Quarter over four days, and sample amazing food from dozens of the city’s best culinary vendors.
Baton Rouge Blues Festival — April 14–15
Originating in 1981, the Baton Rouge Blues Festival is one of the oldest blues festivals in America. Over the past 30 years, it has blossomed into a major event that attracts tens of thousands of blues enthusiasts to downtown Baton Rouge annually. The festival honors homegrown blues legends and internationally recognized artists on its three stages.
Festival International — April 25-29
The worldly, musical vibe of Lafayette’s five-day Festival International has helped it grow into the largest international music and arts festival in the United States, with a special emphasis on the connection between Acadiana and the French-speaking world. More than 300,000 festival goers converge on the city every year for musical performances by artists from more than 20 countries, along with workshops, exhibits, visual art, theater and other forms of performing arts. There’s a little bit for everybody at this event, including a growing list of international food vendors and a craft beer garden.
Contraband Days Louisiana Pirate Festival — May 3-13
If all-day music festivals aren’t your thing, head over to southwest Louisiana for the long-running Contraband Days Louisiana Pirate Festival. See Jean Lafitte force the mayor to walk the plank into Lake Charles or catch a parade of cannon-firing pirates at this family-friendly May festival.
Crawfish Festivals — March-May
Located in historic St. Bernard Parish, the annual Louisiana Crawfish Festival celebrates the state’s favorite springtime Cajun delicacy. Set for March 22-25, the event features a wide range of activities and musical acts, as well as a midway with carnival games and rides. Six weeks later and 120 miles down the road to the west, the long-running Breaux Bridge Crawfish Festival has become one of the largest gatherings of Cajun musicians in the world. From May 4-6, the festival offers an opportunity to hear authentic Cajun, Zydeco and Swamp Pop music from more than 30 bands.
Bayou Country Superfest — May 25-27
One of the final major events before the dog days of summer set in, Bayou Country Superfest features some of the most popular country music acts in the world on Memorial Day Weekend in the Mercedes Benz Superdome. This year’s event will also include a “A Salute to America,” a huge fireworks display over the Mississippi River on Friday night, May 25, and a free concert May 26 at Champions Square in New Orleans.