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Go Beyond Beads with These Louisiana Festivals

No matter the time of year, visitors to Louisiana can be sure of finding at least one festival taking place, and likely more than one. Whether you’re celebrating cultural heritage, musical history, or a specific time of year, every festival offers good food, lively music and a chance to enjoy that laid-back Louisiana joie de vivre.

Here are five festivals across Louisiana that your group might want to consider visiting to let the good times roll.

International Rice Festival


Every Louisiana resident knows that rice is an essential part of the regional cuisine, and so it is only fitting that there should be a festival to celebrate this humble grain and the local farmers who produce it. As Gwen Hanks, executive director of Acadia Tourism, said, “This is all to honor our farmers; without them we’d starve.”

The International Rice Festival is the state’s largest and oldest agricultural festival and has operated continually for more than 80 years, except for a break during World War II. Thousands of people gather in Crowley each October for a long weekend that features music, dance, food, two parades, a Queen’s Ball and more. Those who may have overindulged can run off some of the calories in a 5K race; others can browse the classic cars, watch a demonstration of old-time rice threshing and wander through the arts-and-crafts fair. The entertainment is in full swing from early morning to midnight each day.

Hotels in the area fill up quickly, so event organizers suggest making reservations early. If people contact Acadia Tourism, they can be put in touch with local motels and any other facilities they might need. Parking and admission are free, and armbands are available for purchase to cover the cost of carnival rides.

French Quarter Fest

New Orleans

Visitors could be forgiven for thinking that New Orleans is home to one continuous festival; there is always something happening. The French Quarter Fest, held every April, is the world’s largest showcase of Louisiana music and features four days of music, including the jazz and blues for which the region is famous. Originally a small neighborhood festival, it is now the second-largest event in the state after Mardi Gras and includes more than 1,700 local musicians. Over 60 local restaurants also participate, serving “The World’s Largest Jazz Brunch” in Jackson Square.

Event marketing manager Rebecca Sell said the French Quarter Fest is special because it provides “a very authentic New Orleans experience.” She noted that not only does it attract large numbers of out-of-town guests, it is also consistently voted a favorite event by locals.

Because the event does attract so many people, Sell advises groups to book their hotels early.

“Many people will make their reservations at the end of one festival to come back the next year, so it is never too early to book,” she said.