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, which this year is Feb. 17.

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 runs 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, Feb. 17. Parades in Lafayette begin on Feb. 7 with the Krewe of Carnivale en Rio and the popular, fund-raising Krewe des Chiens Parade for Dogs.

The bulk of Lafayette parades begin on Friday, Feb. 13, and continue daily until Tuesday, Feb. 17, 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.

For a complete list of Carnival parades, balls, courirs and other activities in Lafayette and surrounding cities, see below.

Mardi Gras 2015 Schedule
February 13-17

February 6
Krewe of Andalusia Mardi Gras Parade
Historic Downtown, 102 W Main St, New Iberia

February 7
Carencro Mardi Gras Parade
Starts at Carencro High. Ends by Carencro Community Center

February 7
Krewe des Chiens Parade for Dogs
Downtown, Lafayette

February 7
Krewe of Carnivale en Rio Mardi Gras Parade
Downtown to Cajun Field, Lafayette

February 7
Rotary Club Mardi Gras Ball
Cade Community Center, St. Martinville

February 7
Lake Arthur Mardi Gras Parade
Lake Arthur

February 8
Scott Mardi Gras Parade
City of Scott Louisiana

February 13
Friday Night Parade
Downtown to Cajun Field, Lafayette

February 13-15
54th Courir de Mardi Gras
Saddle Tramp Club House, 1036 E. Ebey St., Downtown for parades, Church Point

February 13-17
Le Festival de Mardi Gras a Lafayette
Cajun Field, Lafayette

Febraury 13-17
Cajun Country Mardi Gras
Downtown Eunice - 2nd Street area

February 14
Annual Cornucopia Ball
121 S. New Market, St. Martinville

February 14
Lake Fausse Pointe Mardi Gras Parade
Lake Fausse Pointe State Park, 5400 Levee Rd, St. Martinville

February 14
La Grande Boucherie
Magnolia City Park, St. Martinville

February 14
Krewe of Bonaparte Mardi Gras Parade
Downtown to Cajun Field, Lafayette

February 14
Children's Parade
Downtown to Cajun Field, Lafayette

February 14
Youngsville Mardi Gras Parade
Public Works building to Fountain View, Youngsville

February 14
Jennings Mardi Gras Festival & Parade
Founder's Park, Main St., Jennings

February 15
Newcomers Mardi Gras Parade
Main Street, St. Martinville


February 15
Eunice “Little Mardi Gras” (ages 0-16)
Northwest Community Center, Eunice

February 15
Old Time Boucherie
Eunice City Hall

February 15-17
Carnival D'Acadie (Mardi Gras)
Downtown, Crowley

February 16
Queen's Parade
Downtown to Cajun Field, Lafayette

February 16
Lundi Gras Celebration
Opelousas Civic Center, Opelousas
800-424-5442, www.cityofopelousas

February 17
Half Fast Krewe of Frank’s Mardi Gras Parade

February 17
Mardi Gras Show at Clark Field
Clark Field Stadium, Lafayette

February 17
King's Parade
Downtown to Cajun Field, Lafayette

February 17
Lafayette Mardi Gras Festival Parade
Downtown to Cajun Field, Lafayette

February 17
Fox 15 Independent Parade
Downtown to Cajun Field, Lafayette

February 17
Southwest Mardi Gras Association Pageant & Ball
Heymann Performing Arts Center and Frem F. Boustany Convention Center, 1373 S. College Rd., Lafayette

February 17
Grand Marais Mardi Gras Parade
Hwy 90 E. at College Road, Jeanerette

February 17
Krewe of Coteau Mardi Gras Parade
Francis Romero Memorial Park & LA 88, Coteau

February 17
Family Affair Mardi Gras Parade
Main St, Loreauville

February 17
28th Tee Mamou-Iota Mardi Gras Folklife Festival
Downtown, Iota

February 17
Krewe Chic-A-La-Pie Mardi Gras Parade
Downtown, Kaplan

February 17
Eunice Courir de Mardi Gras
National Guard Armory & Downtown, Eunice

February 17
Opelousas Downtown Mardi Gras Celebration
Downtown, Opelousas

February 17
Mamou Mardi Gras
Downtown, Mamou

Frequently Asked Questions

Mardi Gras Dates
February 17, 2015

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.