Looking for top-notch, inexpensive family entertainment, great food, a beautiful outdoor experience and some of the best music in the world? Two words: Louisiana festivals.
More than 400 Louisiana festivals occur each year – which makes it easy to see why Louisiana is often called the Festival Capital of America. We celebrate just about every crop harvested, every indigenous dish, every type of music that's played here – ranging from Cajun and zydeco to Delta blues, New Orleans jazz, Louisiana's own swamp pop, country, salsa and more. Excellent Louisiana food is a given at any festival. And as always, Louisiana festivals offer abundant opportunities for meeting new friends.
Themed festivals range from a Strawberry Festival in Ponchatoula and Tomato Festival in Chalmette to the great Festival International in Lafayette; from the big Contraband Days Pirate Festival in Lake Charles to the Holiday Festival of Lights in Natchitoches. From the Red River Revel in Shreveport to the Catfish Festival in Washington. Of course, you'll want to visit the annual New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival, or the big family-fun French Quarter Festival.
And for the biggest of them all? That's right, Louisiana is home to Mardi Gras! But that's another story – and a very large one across the state!
Founded by Spaniards in 1779 on the banks of Bayou Teche, New Iberia eventually became home to French settlers known as Acadians, who had been driven from Nova Scotia by British troops. The Acadians, who in their new home came to be known as Cajuns, imbued the region with their unique cultural traditions and cuisine. Today the area — which is home to world-famous Tabasco® brand Pepper Sauce and Jungle Gardens on Avery Island — is renowned for its food, music and festivals, which draw from the melting pot of Spanish, French, African-American, Lao and Creole heritage.
New Iberia’s dedication to preserving its history has helped the community win accolades for its restored Main Street and historic downtown area. A walking tour of the National Register Historic District reveals the stomping grounds of famed Detective Dave Robicheaux, the main character in novels by New Iberia native and Pulitzer Prize-winning author James Lee Burke.
History is on display in the Bayou Teche Museum and at Shadows-on-the-Teche, an antebellum home once occupied by Union soldiers during the Civil War. New Iberia also is home to America’s oldest operating rice mill, Conrad Rice Mill/Konriko® Company Store. Also explore the Jefferson Island Rip Van Winkle Gardens boasting 15 acres of semi-tropical gardens nestled among 350-year-old oak trees and lake. You can explore the historic Joseph Jefferson Mansion which is open for tours.
In anticipation of the Lenten season each year, New Iberia throws a festive Mardi Gras celebration, with parades, balls and much revelry. Spring welcomes bibliophiles at the Books Along the Teche Literary Festival with a different Great Southern Writer featured annually. September brings the Louisiana Sugar Cane Festival, and in October, get ready for the World Championship Gumbo Cookoff. Whether dancing to a fiddle and accordion at a fais-do-do, or perfecting their culinary talents at year-round festivals, people in this area are dedicated to their signature slogan: Laissez les bons temps rouler! Let the good times roll!