Festival International de Louisiane, often simply referred to as Festival International, is an annual music and cultural event that takes place in downtown Lafayette every year. It aims to showcase the French, Creole, and Cajun heritage of the region and its links to the Francophone world.
The festival first took place in 1987, and its popularity has grown over the years. It now attracts artists, musicians, and artisans from around the globe. All the performances take place outdoors in downtown Lafayette and are free to the public. Over 400,000 people attend the event every year.
Artists who have performed at Festival International in the past include Balkan Beat Box from Israel, Cyro Baptista from Brazil, Buckwheat Zydeco from the United States, Kiyoshi Nagata Ensemble from Toronto, The Wailers Band from Jamaica, and Ladysmith Black Mambazo from South Africa. In addition to the top class music, festival-goers can also enjoy some great performance art, street animation, arts and crafts, and other activities.
Since the performances are free to watch, the event is supported by donors and volunteers. Attendees can make donations and also contribute by purchasing merchandise. The festival takes place over several days, and the music is performed on four different stages.
Festival International performances are free to the public. The festival is sponsored by several large corporations, small business, and individuals who want to donate. You can also purchase festival merchandise to contribute to the running of the event. Food, beverages, and merchandise can be bought using cash, cards, and other payment methods. You also have the option of purchasing an RFID wristband and topping it up with cash. Check the official website for more information on how you can contribute.
The City of Lafayette lies near the intersection of Interstates 49 and 10. Motorists can expect typical city driving in the downtown area with some congestion possible the week of Festival International de Louisiane. However, driving to the festival grounds is not recommended since finding a parking spot nearby on the days of the event can be very difficult.
Paid public parking options such as the Cajun Field are usually available close to the venue. These tend to fill up fast on the days of the event, so it's essential to get there early. It's a good idea to book your spot in advance to avoid trouble parking. Some nearby parking options offer a free shuttle during the event.
Lafayette has a well-connected bus system that is accessible from most parts of town. There is also a growing taxi industry and convenient bike lanes. The best way to get to the venue is by using the free shuttle service if possible. Regular shuttles ferry festival-goers to and from the area on the days of the event.
Camping in the festival area is not an option. It's a good idea to book a spot at a nearby RV resort or campsite in advance.
Campers will find a number of campgrounds and RV parks within five to 20 minutes of downtown Lafayette. From these, you can easily access the city and other nearby attractions. These come with facilities like water and electrical hookups, pool access, WiFi, and pull-through sites. Local campsites tend to fill up fast on weekends, so be sure to make a booking in advance.
Attendees mostly get around the downtown area and from one stage to stage on foot at Festival International. There are a number of bike lanes, which makes cycling to and fro another option. You may encounter parking problems, so driving is not recommended. Downtown garages have ADA accessible parking, and the stage areas are wheelchair accessible.
You're likely to be at the festival for a number of days, so it's a good idea to carry light, comfortable basics. You can't go wrong with shorts and a t-shirt or a flowy sundress. Guests often choose to support the organizers by wearing festival merchandise. Be sure to put on a comfortable pair of shoes.
Carry a small backpack or purse with festival essentials like sunscreen wet wipes, hand sanitizer, deodorant, a hat, a refillable water bottle, and a portable charger. It's also a good idea to carry a blanket or a small collapsible chair if you feel like taking a break from being on your feet. Coolers, pets, glass, tents, pole-style umbrellas are among the items best left at your campsite while attending Festival International.
It is essential that you and your crew stay hydrated at this outdoor festival, so carry a water bottle with you and refill it often. Make sure you reapply your sunscreen frequently to avoid getting burnt in the spring Louisiana sunshine. Take a light jacket and some rain gear in case it rains or gets cold.
Attendees are not allowed to cook on site, but RV parks and campgrounds in the area permit cooking. They are also centrally located with convenience stores nearby. So you don't have to worry about packing and carry everything you need to put together meals and snacks. You can easily stock up on provisions at one of these stores if that fits your travels best. If you wish to cook on an outdoor grill or by campfire, remember to check what your campsite allows for fuels and outdoor cooking.
In recent years, downtown Lafayette has undergone a culinary resurgence. So, you'll come across several enticing restaurant options and won't be disappointed with the food and beverages on offer. It is the perfect opportunity to try different cuisines like Spanish, Cajun, or Mexican and indulge in some delicious, fresh seafood.
Festival International de Louisiane organizers take pride in the quality and type of food on offer at the event. Restaurants and vendors go out of their way to create dishes that represent the spirit of the festival and the community. Whether you want to experience Louisiana cuisine at its best or want to dive into food from other cultures, you're in the right place.
There are new security measures in place at the festival, such as video surveillance, earlier closing times, and increased police presence. These are meant to help with crowd flow and ensure that patrons are safe. In case you need assistance or lose something you can head to the Information and Lost and Found center. Alternatively, you can flag down a festival volunteer for help.
Festival International is a rain or shine event, but performance times may vary depending on the weather. Any schedule changes due to inclement weather will be mentioned on the official website and social media pages. It's a good idea to carry some rain gear to be prepared. Spring temperatures often land in the 60s and 70s in Louisiana.
Several medical centers will be set up in the downtown area on the days of the festival. Trained medics will be available to assist anyone in need. Special measures are in place to cater to patrons with disabilities. There will be at least one accessible portable toilet in each bank of restrooms at the venue.