Mardi Gras

Cajun & Creole Carnival

South Louisiana is home to the greatest free party on earth, a colorful celebration known as Mardi Gras. Carnival begins on Jan. 6, the Twelfth Night of Christmas, or the Epiphany, when the Three Wise Men brought gifts to the baby Jesus. This Carnival “season” continues until Mardi Gras, the Tuesday before Ash Wednesday.
Because Ash Wednesday is a time of sacrificing and fasting, the season of Carnival is a time of feasting and fun. The word “Carnival” comes from the Latin “Carbe vale” meaning “farewell to flesh,” referring to the giving up of eating meat during Lent. Some people see the season of Carnival and Mardi Gras as “living it up before giving it up.”
In Acadiana, residents celebrated Carnival with the unique “Courir de Mardi Gras” or Mardi Gras run where masked men on horseback would travel the countryside knocking on doors, singings songs, dancing and begging for ingredients to make a gumbo. Many times homeowners would throw a chicken to the begging krewe and maskers would attempt to catch the bird for gumbo meat. Musicians sometimes followed the krewes, providing more merriment.
Most of the activities that tourists enjoy happen about two weeks prior to Mardi Gras, building up to the grand celebration on Tuesday. Parades in Lafayette begin two Saturdays before Mardi Gras with the Krewe of Carnivale en Rio and the popular, fund-raising Krewe des Chiens Parade for Dogs.
The bulk of Lafayette parades begin the Friday before Mardi Gras, and continue daily until Tuesday, rolling from downtown Lafayette to Cajun Field. The family friendly “Le Festival de Mardi Gras a Lafayette,” coordinated by the Greater Southwest Louisiana Mardi Gras Association, offers games, carnival rides, Cajun food and live music by some of Acadiana’s best talent at Cajun Field.
A historical African American event featuring a costume contest, live music, dancing and food occurs at Clark Field Stadium in the north section of the city. The Mardi Gras Show at Clark Field also features many local and national musicians, plus the annual Judging Contest that features extravagant displays of costumes. In addition, there’s food and crafts. Anyone can enter the costume contest.
Mardi Gras 2016 Lafayette Parish Schedule
JAN 30 – Carencro Mardi Gras Parade. Starts at Carencro High. Ends by Carencro Community Center. 11 a.m. 337-896-4147,
JAN 30 – Krewe des Chiens Parade for Dogs. Downtown, Lafayette. 2 p.m.
JAN 30 – Krewe of Carnivale en Rio Mardi Gras Parade. Downtown to Cajun Field, Lafayette. 6:30 p.m. 337-984-6522,
JAN 31 – Scott Mardi Gras Parade. City of Scott. 1 p.m. 337-269-5155.
JAN 31 – Courir de Mardi Gras - Old-Fashion Mardi Gras Run. Vermilionville, 300 Fisher Rd., Lafayette. 337-233-4077,
FEB 5 – “Kick Off” Parade. Downtown to Cajun Field, Lafayette. 6 p.m. 800-346-1958,
FEB 5-9 – Le Festival de Mardi Gras a Lafayette. Cajun Field, Lafayette. Carnival rides & games, live music, food vendors, parades roll through festival grounds. 800-346-1958,
FEB 6 – Krewe of Bonaparte Mardi Gras Parade. Downtown to Cajun Field, Lafayette. 6:30 p.m. 800-346-1958,
FEB 6 – Children's Parade. Downtown to Cajun Field, Lafayette. 12:30 p.m. 800-346-1958,
FEB 6 – Youngsville Mardi Gras Parade. Public Works building to Fountain View, Youngsville. 337-856-4181.
FEB 8 – Queen Evangeline’s Parade. Downtown to Cajun Field, Lafayette. 6 p.m. 800-346-1958,
FEB 9 – Mardi Gras Show at Clark Field. Clark Field Stadium, Lafayette.
FEB 9 – King Gabriel’s Parade. Downtown to Cajun Field, Lafayette. 10 a.m. 800-346-1958,
FEB 9 – Lafayette Mardi Gras Festival Parade. Downtown to Cajun Field, Lafayette. 1 p.m. 800-346-1958,
FEB 9 – KADN Fox 15 Independent Parade. Downtown to Cajun Field, Lafayette. 2:30 p.m. 337-237-1500,
FEB 9 – Southwest Mardi Gras Association Pageant & Ball. Heymann Performing Arts Center and Frem F. Boustany Convention Center, 1373 S. College Rd., Lafayette. 337-291-5540.
Mardi Gras 2016 Events in Surrounding Cities
JAN 24 – Krewe of Ezana Jeanerette Mardi Gras Parade. Canal, MLK & Main St, Jeanerette. 1 p.m. 337-255-9539,
JAN 29 – Krewe of Andalusia Mardi Gras Parade. Historic Downtown, 102 W Main St., New Iberia. 6:30 p.m. 337-367-6466,
JAN 30 – Rotary Club Mardi Gras Ball. Cade Community Center, St. Martinville. 337-394-2233,
JAN 30 – Lake Arthur Mardi Gras Parade. Lake Arthur. 337-774-3675.
FEB 5-9 – Cajun Country Mardi Gras. Downtown Eunice - 2nd Street area. 337-948-8004,
FEB 6-7 – 55tth Annual Cajun Courir de Mardi Gras Run. Saddle Tramp Club House, 1036 E. Ebey St., Downtown for parades, Church Point. 877-783-2109,
FEB 6 – Annual Cornucopia Ball. 121 S. New Market, St. Martinville. 337-789-3592.
FEB 6 – Lake Fausse Pointe Mardi Gras Parade. Lake Fausse Pointe State Park, 5400 Levee Rd, St. Martinville. 2 p.m. 888-677-7200,
FEB 6 – Mardi Gras Street Dance. Downtown, Eunice. 337-457-7389,
FEB 6 – Jennings Mardi Gras Festival & Parade. Founder's Park, Main St., Jennings. 337-821-5532,
FEB 7 – Newcomers Mardi Gras Parade. Main Street, St. Martinville. 337-380-6031.
FEB 7 – Eunice “Little Mardi Gras” (ages 0-16). Northwest Community Center, Eunice. 337-457-7389,
FEB 7 – Old Time Boucherie. Eunice City Hall. 337-457-7389,
FEB 7-9 – Carnival D'Acadie (Mardi Gras). Downtown, Crowley. Fair, live music and street dance, costume contests, parade. 337-783-0824,
FEB 8 – Lundi Gras Celebration. Opelousas Civic Center, Opelousas. 800-424-5442, CityOfOpelousas.
FEB 9 – Sunset Mardi Gras Parade. Sunset. 2 p.m. Parade, food, trinkets and music. Starts on Duffy Street.
FEB 9 – Grand Marais Mardi Gras Parade. Hwy 90 E. at College Rd., Jeanerette. 11 a.m.-4 p.m. 337-365-8185,
FEB 9 – Krewe of Coteau Mardi Gras Parade. Francis Romero Memorial Park & LA 88, Coteau. 1 p.m. 337-577-5099.,
FEB 9 – Family Affair Mardi Gras Parade. Main St., Loreauville. 2 p.m. 337-229-6001,
FEB 9 – 29th Tee Mamou-Iota Mardi Gras Folklife Festival. Downtown, Iota. 8 a.m.-5 p.m. 877-783-2109,
FEB 9 – Krewe Chic-A-La-Pie Mardi Gras Parade. Downtown, Kaplan. 337-898-6600.
FEB 9 – Half Fast Krewe of Frank’s Mardi Gras Parade. Opelousas. 337-407-2288,
FEB 9 – Eunice Courir de Mardi Gras. National Guard Armory & Downtown, Eunice. 337-457-7389,
FEB 9 – Opelousas Downtown Mardi Gras Celebration. Downtown, Opelousas. 337-948-6263,
FEB 9 – Mamou Mardi Gras. Downtown, Mamou. 337-468-3175,


Frequently Asked Questions

Mardi Gras Dates
February 9, 2016
February 28, 2017
February 13, 2018
March 5, 2019
February 25, 2020
February 16, 2021
March 1, 2022
February 21, 2023
February 13, 2024

The Colors of Mardi Gras
Purple - justice | Green - faith | Gold - power

King Cake
The history of the King Cake began in 12th century France where the cake would be baked on the eve of Jan. 6 to celebrate the visit to the Christ Child by the three Kings. A small token was hidden in the cake as a surprise for the finder.

Throws, Doubloons, Beads, Cups, and More...
The throwing of trinkets to the crowds was started in the early 1870s by the Twelfth Night Revelers, and is a time-honored expectation for young and old alike. Special throws with the Krewe's emblem become collector's items.

Lafayette's Mardi Gras Timeline
1869 - 1st formal Mardi Gras ball and parade
1897 - King Attakapas (1st Mardi Gras king) was crowned
1934 - Southwest Louisiana Mardi Gras Association was formed. King Gabriel and Queen Evangeline have reigned over Lafayette Mardi Gras ever since.

Courir de Mardi Gras
A rural Mardi Gras celebration that dates back to the earliest days of settlement. With its roots firmly in the medieval tradition of ceremonial begging, bands of masked and costumed horseback riders roam the countryside "begging" for ingredients for their communal gumbo.

Family-friendly Mardi Gras
Lafayette's Mardi Gras offers a family-friendly atmosphere. Families take out their spots along the parade route and float riders love to throw beads and trinkets to children. Hot Tip: If you're from out-of-town, make a sign for the parade, like "Family from Detroit" or "Razorbacks love Mardi Gras". Float riders look for these and welcome non-locals with a shower of beads.

You may park along a side street free of charge, avoiding driveways and private property. Don't be surprised to see "entrepreneurs" along the way to park in a private parking lot near the parade route. If you want to watch the parades from the Mardi Gras Festival, you may park for a fee at Cajun Field and admission to the festival is free.

Safety First

  • Stay behind the barricades while the parade is in progress.
  • Have fun, but realize that lewd behavior or drunkenness can get you arrested.
  • Don't throw things at the float riders.
  • Keep an eye on children.
  • Items are prohibited along the parade route: Weapons, Fireworks, Bicycles, Glass containers, Pets.