Hard as it is for most New Orleanians to believe, there is life outside of Jazz Fest the last weekend in April. In fact, the huge Festival International de Louisiane draws over 100,000 loyal attendees from around the country – and world – who choose to bypass New Orleans for a trip to Lafayette. Festival International’s premise has always been a celebration of some of the best, most highly acclaimed music from French-influenced cultures the world over. Historic downtown Lafayette, Louisiana, is transformed into an entertainment complex featuring six music stages, food court areas, street musicians and animators, arts and crafts boutiques, art galleries, beverage stands, cultural workshops, international cooking demonstrations and a world music store.
Phenomenal acts have included the Blind Boys of Alabama with the Preservation Hall Jazz Band Horns, Burning Spear, Babylon Circus, Habib Koité and The Duhks – not to mention such international musicians as Javier Garcia of Spain/Cuba, Etran Finatawa of Niger, Samarabalouf of France, Rafaél Teixido of Teatro Alpargata of Argentina and Menwar of Mauritius. Louisiana is well represented with performances by such regional greats as Geno Delafose, Warren Storm, Willie Tee & Cypress, Ann Savoy & Her Sleepless Knights, Hot 8 Brass Band, Ivan Neville’s Dumpstaphunk and much more.
In the Marche du Monde, more than a hundred commercial, import and fine arts vendors offer both local and internationally sourced treasures. Browse through sculptures, African art, clothing, jewelry, ceramics, paintings, photography, baskets, instruments and so much more.
The stages are placed in about a five-block area throughout the closed-off downtown of this college town. As you make your way from one venue to the next, you’ll find dozens of food booths operated by some of the best local restaurateurs and chefs. You can expect local culinary favorites like jambalaya, boudin, gumbo, crawfish étouffée and catfish plates, but you’ll also find plenty of other cuisines represented, with dishes such as spinach and feta pastry, samosas/pakoras and seared tuna salad. TABASCO® Sauce is the perfect topping for any of these delicious dishes, so be sure to bring some with you!
Immensely popular, Festival International de Louisiane takes place in Lafayette the same weekend as the first weekend of Jazz Fest. Life is so hard in this state – you actually have to choose which incredible music festival to see the last weekend in April. Both?! And by the way, the cost of admission to Festival International is free. With close to 100 musical acts, this is truly an international event.
For more information, visit www.festivalinternational.com or call 337-232-8086.