LAKE CHARLES, La. - The Lake Charles region has music in abundance from Cajun folk to Zydeco and Swamp Pop and food from crawfish etouffée to shrimp and crab gumbo. There are many reasons to enjoy local sounds and delicacies, since the Festival Capital of Louisiana has more than 75 festivals and special event each year, including Mardi Gras.
Southwest Louisiana boasts the second largest Mardi Gras in Louisiana. King cake, parades, glitzy flowing costumes and the sweet sound of Zydeco music all add to the mystique of Mardi Gras in Lake Charles, which is a family-friendly affair.
Following a centuries-old tradition, Twelfth Night is held January 6, part of the celebration of the Feast of the Epiphany, when the three kings visited the Christ child. During the festivities, about 60 local Carnival krewes are represented by their captains and last year's royalty makes one last promenade at the Lake Charles Civic Center. Guests are treated to king cake and 12 grand prizes are awarded.
The weekend before Mardi Gras, Southwest Louisiana really steps into Carnival mode! There's a Friday night Merchant's Parade on February 5. On Saturday, Feb. 6, taste gumbo from over 60 pots at the Gumbo Cook-off, followed by the Krewe of Barkus parade of royal dogs, and a community-wide Zydeco dance. Sunday, Feb. 7 is Children's Day with educational activities for kids followed by the Children's Parade. On Lundi Gras, Feb. 8, the public is invited to see the royalty from all of the krewes in Southwest Louisiana at the Royal Gala. Lake Charles is the only place in the state where the public can see all royal courts in full regalia.
Fat Tuesday, Feb. 9 kicks off with a traditional, rural chicken run in the town of Iowa, La. Start the day by chasing a chicken, dancing to Zydeco music and begging for ingredients for a gumbo throughout the community. Next, go to Lake Charles for the world's largest tailgate party in anticipation of the grand finale, the Krewe of Krewes Parade.
Download the free Southwest Louisiana Mardi Gras app for event information, parade routes and notifications. Visit www.swlamardigras.com for more details on Mardi Gras in Southwest Louisiana.