Perhaps the biggest attraction of the Mardi Gras season is its diverse array of parades with their ornate floats carrying the Mardi Gras royalty accompanied by sensational marching bands and costumed handlers throwing everything from beads and candy to cups and frisbees.
The parades of Mardi Gras add that extra little bit of magic to an atmosphere already submersed in the season’s grandeur and allure, and virtually every parade in Lafayette navigates through Le Festival de Mardi Gras á Lafayette, which is widely held as the epicenter of the city’s Mardi Gras celebrations.
For the last 22 years, the Greater Southwest Louisiana Mardi Gras Association has hosted Le Festival de Mardi Gras at Cajun Field to mark the end of the parade routes where floats and festival goers alike converge for live music, hot food and a carnival midway.
“The festival is just a one stop shop for Mardi Gras,” says Festival Chairman Randall Mann. “You’ve got rides, games, great food, the music and of course the parades go right through the festival grounds. So you’ve got one place that you can really enjoy everything that Mardi Gras has to offer. It’s also a very family friendly atmosphere. We’ve got a lot of security and it’s a place where you can bring your kids and not worry.”
One of the festival’s family-friendly attractions is the Louisiana Lottery Midway, which offers a wide variety of carnival rides with everything from an area specially designed for small children to one geared toward rides that are faster, wilder and more exciting. The festival also has a range of admission offers with ride specials on Friday, Sunday and Monday and a new “print tickets at home” option where fairgoers can save $5 off of the ride wristbands.
The Rouses Soundstage also features a diverse array of local, regional and national musicians including Wayne Toups, James Dupre, L’il Nate, Keith Frank, Glen Templeton and many more with a total of 18 to 20 bands scheduled to perform at this year’s festival.
And to help patrons keep track of all of the parades coming and going throughout the festival, the Greater Southwest Louisiana Mardi Gras Association has updated it’s free parade tracking app for iPhone and Android. The app now includes a complete schedule of Lafayette’s Mardi Gras parades, the festival’s bands and ride specials and information about the history and traditions of Mardi Gras along with Lafayette’s many Mardi Gras krewes. The parade vehicles will also have GPS tracking devices, provided by Acadian Total Security, that will provide live tracking maps available through the free app. The app is available in Apple’s App Store and the Android Market by searching for “Lafayette Mardi Gras.”
The Greater Southwest Louisiana Mardi Gras Association will host the 23rd annual "Le Festival de Mardi Gras a’ Lafayette" from Friday, Feb. 5 through Mardi Gras Day, Tuesday, Feb. 9, at UL Lafayette’s Cajun Field. As always, admission to the Louisiana Lottery Midway, the Rouse’s soundstage and Evangeline Downs entertainment area, as well as the parade viewing areas, is free to the public, however there will be a $10 charge for parking at Cajun Field. All of the proceeds generated from the festival will be used by the Greater Southwest Louisiana Mardi Gras Association to develop and promote Lafayette’s Mardi Gras parades and activities.
For more information, visit www.GoMardiGras.com, download the “Lafayette Mardi Gras” app for your phone or mobile device or visit the festival’s Facebook page by searching “Le Festival.”