300,000 music fans can’t be wrong, right? That’s the sort of numbers that Festival International de Louisiane attracts every year, to celebrate the best of the best from French-speaking countries and from around French Louisiana.
It turns out anyone who has been coming regularly to this 33 year old event – the largest international music and arts festival in America – has been “on to a good thing”. This is five days of top-class music and other performance arts, provided in the most joyous of celebrations.
With so many local folk and loyal fans making up those impressive numbers, the event still manages to have an incredible community feel to it. Making new friends at Festival International de Louisiane comes easy, in such an upbeat and inclusive atmosphere.
It is also a slick operation, with such great touches as wristbands that you pre-load with cash. You can then move around the sites in downtown Lafayette and flash your wrist to buy food, drink and merchandise, making festival life extra easy.
The amazing and diverse feel of this festival is partly helped by the fact that the music and entertainment is well spread across this area of Lafayette, not just concentrated on the stages. As you wander and soak up the ambience and sun, you could catch street entertainers galore – showing off everything from playing bagpipes to puppetry. Or, you could browse abundant booths selling everything from art canvases to henna body art. As you would expect, it’s also a great place to pick up musical instruments from around the world, and other culturally diverse gifts and mementos.
Festival International De Louisiane, 2019?
This year, on stage, there were some highly attractive and entertaining performers, from across French, English and Creole music and covering every genre you can think of, including punk, soul and folk.
Particular highlights were Steve Riley & Mamou Playboy, and Moonlight Benjamin (who hails from Haiti). Other excellent performances came from the Ivory Coast’s Dobet Gnahoré and the USA’s own Robert Randolph & the Family Band.
Family friendly festival
Talking of family, it was great to see people of all ages mingling and enjoying the music in safety and harmony.
This included a good number of kids, who could throw themselves into a range of free activities, games, face painting and arts & crafts at Scène des Jeunes (within the grounds of Cathedral Carmel School). This children’s festival area also provided some great performances especially geared to a younger audience, including a chance to join in music making and dance.
2019 also saw the introduction of “Petit Marché”, an area where kids up to age 16 could sell their own homemade products. What a great way to teach entrepreneurial skills and to engage future generations of vendors and festival goers!
After hours festival fun
The way so much is packed into Festival International de Louisiane was perfectly illustrated by some great “after hours” festival options, including a silent disco! Yes, you read that right. This energetic and fun party featured dance guests wearing wireless headphones, to hear a great selection from the DJs. While they danced their hearts out, everyone else nearby could chat and mingle and no neighbours were “harmed” in the making of this merriment!
General experience of Festival International de Louisiane
Let’s be honest, though the calibre of performers at any music festival is the biggest draw, how well the event is organised plays a major role in keeping the vibe going. You can lose big chunks of time in long queues, or be so grossed out by the facilities, taking the shine off the whole thing.
Having a good standard of facilities and vendors is probably the biggest factor in whether you return to a festival in future years.!
The Festival International de Louisiane’s prestigious history is reassuring, but the reason for its smooth running was plain to see in 2019. The festival was well planned, intuitively laid out and delivered to provide maximum enjoyment.
Food is an important part of a multi-day festival and this one did not disappoint. There were around 30 food vendors, offering a delicious choice, and the wristband system kept the queues manageable.
There were plenty of welfare units scattered across the site too, which were well maintained to everyone’s “relief”.
The Festival also offered two tiers of tickets that provided extra value and access to even better facilities. If you bought a Lagniappe Pass, you were entitled to use an express beverage line and private restrooms. With the Bon Temps Pass you received all that, as well as improved seating (out of the sun which can be a relief).
Essential guide to Festival International de Louisiane 2020
This is an easy one to offer pre-booking advice on; get your 2020 ticket and start planning your trip to Festival International de Louisiane as soon as possible!