If you’re looking for a family-friendly destination for Mardi Gras, Lafayette, Louisiana is a great option.
I’ve been fortunate to experience a variety of Mardi Gras celebrations across the state of Louisiana and each one has it’s own personality.
People in Louisiana definitely know how to have a good time during the Mardi Gras season. Parents will still find that there are plenty of Mardi Gras events during the Carnival season for the whole family.
I’m always drawn to their sense of community through celebration, music, and incredible Cajun cuisine and their acceptance of outsiders into the fold.
Thanks again to Lafayette Convention & Visitors Commission for hosting my visit. This article contains affiliate links.
Where is Lafayette, Louisiana?
Lafayette is located in south-central Louisiana, an hour east of Baton Rouge.
When is Mardi Gras Season?
Mardi Gras season falls exactly 47 days before Easter.
The Carnival season begins on King’s Day/Twelfth Night and goes until midnight before Ash Wednesday. The dates for Easter change yearly by the church calendar.
You can read more about the history of Mardi Gras and traditions here.
What Does Mardi Gras Mean?
Mardi Gras is French for “Fat Tuesday” which is the day before Ash Wednesday and the Lenten season.
Mardi Gras Day is also known as Fat Tuesday.
The French custom was to consume all of the fats in the home before the start of the lent season which is a time of fasting, sacrifice, and giving up indulgences.
When is Fat Tuesday?
This year Fat Tuesday will be on Tuesday, February 13, 2024. Fat Tuesday is the day before Ash Wednesday.
Attend a Daytime and a Nighttime Mardi Gras Parade
Each Mardi Gras parade in the Lafayette area is family-friendly and has it’s own personality, floats, and vibe.
I would recommend attending multiple parades during your visit, both during the day and at night. There are lots of parades by various krewes throughout the Mardi Gras season.
I love seeing the marching bands perform and elaborate dancing by the drill teams.
The unique floats for each Krewe (a social club or organization) are really creative too.
The “throws” can also be very unique and are provided by each Krewe in the parade.
You may catch bead necklaces, stuffed animals, snack foods, light up trinkets, plastic cups and more.
Parade attendees get creative in their tactics for catching throws.
The more creative the better…and sometimes easier to catch the throw.
Ladders are also popular to help see above the crowds along the parade route.
Where are the Mardi Gras Parades in Lafayette, LA?
You’ll find Mardi Gras parades in downtown Lafayette and in the surrounding area during the Mardi Gras season.
- Children’s Parade
- King Gabriele’s Parade
- Queen Evangeline’s Parade
- Krewe de Canailles Walking Parade
- Lafayette Mardi Gras Festival Parade
Cajun Field – 2351 West Congress Street, Lafayette, LA
Le Festival de Mardi Gras a Lafayette features live music, food vendors, carnival rides, and parades through the festival grounds.
Attend Lundi Gras Boucheerie at Lakeview Park & Beach
1717 Veteran Memorial Hwy, Eunice, LA
If you’re looking for an authentic Cajun experience you don’t want to miss Lundi Gras Boucheerie at Lakeview Park & Beach which takes place on the Monday before Mardi Gras/Fat Tuesday.
The Mardi Gras Festivities in the more rural communities will give you a more authentic Cajun Mardi Gras.
During Lundi Gras Boucheerie you can watch…or choose not to watch the Cajun tradition of butchering a pig.
I observed a father helping guide his young son through the honor and family tradition of the butchering process.
I couldn’t watch very long because I prefer to not see or know where my food comes from so intimately.
ALL of the pig is used by Acadiana’s best chefs and different groups who each prepare a Cajun dish from the butchered meat.
Of course, you’ll see many Cajun Country chefs prepping the ingredients for the “Cajun Trinity” a combination of onions, celery, and bell pepper.
I tried FRESH cracklin (fried pork fat with skin) and it was delicious! Again, I tried to disconnect where it came from but I did appreciate that one pig was the source for a LOT of people for the community meal that day.
There isn’t an admission fee for the Lundi Gras Boucheerie event. You can purchase drinks at the bar along with tickets for the sample dishes.
During the event, there is live music and we even watched chicken Bingo.
The Chicken Bingo is just as it sounds and was also hilarious to watch. You can place a bet that the chicken will poop on your selected number…or numbers.
Lakeview Park & Beach has an assortment of live music scheduled each night during the Mardi Gras season in a variety of styles including Zydeco, Cajun, and Swamp Pop.
This community event takes place at an RV park that is centrally located to Courir de Mardi Gras runs (Chicken Runs) in the area that are open for the public to attend.
Watch a Courir de Mardi Gras AKA Chicken Run
If you want an authentic Cajun experience attending a Courir de Mardi Gras is a must!
Courir de Mardi Gras is Louisiana French for “Fat Tuesday Run” and it’s a unique Mardi Gras tradition that I would recommend watching at least once.
The Fat Tuesday Run or Chicken Run comes from ancient Carnival traditions in the rural regions surrounding Lafayette.
Costumed men and women would travel on trucks and horseback begging residents for ingredients to a gumbo.
There is typically live music and dancing involved and communal gumbo after all of the ingredients are gathered.
The exciting part is when a chicken is released and onlookers race around trying to catch it.
We attended a chicken run at a private residence but there are a couple of chicken runs where the public can attend Courir de Mardi Gras including the towns of Tee Mamou, Eunice, Mamou, Basile, Elton, and Church Point.
Shop for Courir de Mardi Gras Attire at Sew What! Design
7381 Branch Highway, Branch, Louisiana
If you want to dress in South Louisiana attire for a chicken run, Sew What Design is the place to shop!
You can also shop online for custom Mardi Gras costumes on their Vacajun website.
There is an assortment of patterns to choose from for your one of a kind costume.
If you want to tap into your creative side book a private Courir de Mardi Gras Mask & Capuchon Workshop.
During the 90 minute class you’ll get an overview of the tradition of the Courir de Mardi Gras as well as the costumes.
You’ll also make your own Mardi Gras mask and capuchon to take home with you.
Learn About Cajun Culture at Vermilionville Living History Museum & Folklife Park
300 Fisher Rd.Lafayette, LA
The Living History Museum and Folklife Park provide a wonderful educational experience for adults and children to learn more about the history of Cajun culture and more in the area.
The historic park also gives insight, into the history and culture of the Native Americans, Acadians, Creoles, and peoples of African descent in the Attakapas region through the end of the 1800s.
Enjoy Live Music at Vermilionville Living History Museum & Folklife Park
Make sure that you check Vermilionville’s special events calendar for live music throughout the year.
The Cajun Jam is on Saturday afternoons and there is a dance with live music on many Sunday afternoons.
Book Your Hotel in Lafayette, Louisiana
During my visit, I stayed at the DoubleTree by Hilton at 1521 West Pinhook Road, Lafayette, LA. The hotel was centrally located and close to area attractions.
You can compare prices for hotels and vacation rentals in Lafayette, Lousiana here.
Wondering What to Wear to Mardi Gras?
If you look at a crowd during a Mardi Gras celebration you’ll notice that anything goes.
You’ll see a lot of purple, green and gold as the official colors of Mardi Gras. The color purple represents justice, the color green represents faith and the color gold represents power.