NEW ORLEANS -- Visitors to southern Louisiana this spring will find
the joint jumpin' as the annual fests for which the region is
famous get under way.
Here's a hint of what's available:
• April 21 to 25: Downtown Lafayette expects to
host 250,000 visitors during the Festival International de
Louisiane, which bills itself as the largest free Franchophone
festival in the U.S.
This year, artists from Italy, Haiti, Belgium and Ireland will
share six stages with Louisiana's Chubby Carrier & the Bayou
Swamp Band; Dr. John; D.L. Menard; and Steve Riley & the Mamou
Also part of the festival are the works of artisans ranging from
such typical fare as baskets and wood carvings to African arts,
Turkish tapestries and belly-dance clothing.
For families with young children, the 243-room Holiday Inn
Holidome in Lafayette may be the best bet. (Some area
bed-and-breakfasts do not accept kids.) Room rates range from $74
to $94, double; suites are $159. For reservations, call (800)
942-4868 or visit www.holiday-inn.com/lafayettela.
For festival details, call (337) 232-8086 or visit www.festivalinternational.com.
• April 23 to May 2: Rooms are still available
for the first weekend of the 35th annual New Orleans Jazz &
Heritage Festival, held at the New Orleans Fairgrounds, a
The event is known for drawing up to 500,000 people, lured by
big-name artists. The names of this year's performers will be
announced later this month, said the spokeswoman.
There are two components to the festival: the Louisiana Heritage
Fair and the Evening Concert series. The fair is the signature
feature, showcasing music and Louisiana cuisine and crafts. It's
held at the Fair Grounds Race Course from April 23 to 25 and from
April 29 to May 2. Concerts are held at various locations during
This year, the festival will showcase the 10th anniversary of
democracy in South Africa with the appearance of South African
musicians and artisans.
A three-night Jazz Fest package, priced from $388.50 per room,
double, includes hotel accommodations; two days' admission to the
Jazz and Heritage Festival; a buy-one-get-one-free Mississippi
River cruise; beignets at Cafe Du Monde; $250 in Riverwalk Shopping
coupons; and discounts on local attractions.
For package information, call (888) 432-9870 or visit www.nojazzfest.com.
For festival information, call (800) 535-2732.
• April 30 to May 2: The Breaux Bridge Crawfish
Festival, at Parc Hardy on Rees Street in Breaux Bridge, celebrates
the region's attachment to the spiny lobster and the event's
reputation as one of the largest gatherings of famous Cajun
Visitors can count on hearing authentic Cajun, zydeco and swamp
pop music performed by more than 35 bands. In addition, there are
games and rides; dance contests; music workshops; and Cajun cooking
Admission is $5 for adults; free for children 12 and younger. A
three-day pass for $10 can be purchased at the gate.
A word to the wise: Arrive early on May 1. Traffic becomes heavy
on Saturday afternoon, and visitors have been known to miss the
crawfish races and crawfish-eating contests held Saturday
All hotels in Breaux Bridge are booked for the festival, but
rooms still can be found in Lafayette, which is located about three
miles away. For festival information, call (337) 332-6655 or visit
To contact Destinations editor Margaret Myre, send e-mail to