No one knows how to throw a party quite like South Louisiana, especially during Mardi Gras season. Whether in the city of Lafayetteor the rural fields of Evangeline and Acadia parishes, Mardi Gras offers revelry for all ages. Here in Acadiana, there's little exclusivity regarding Mardi Gras event options for visitors and locals. Have kids? Bring them to Mardi Gras. Have dogs? Bring them too, especially for the Krewe des Chiens Parade for Dogs, which will commence in downtown Lafayette. Around Lafayette Parish alone, there are more than 13 parades throughout the month leading up to the official Mardi Gras day.

For years, Lafayette has touted its Mardi Gras celebration as family-friendly, and while that is true, it doesn't mean it's a less vibrant party. Children even have a chance to participate in their own courir de mardi gras, a South Louisiana country tradition that can't be found anywhere else in the U.S.

Courir de Mardi Gras

Mardi Gras
Image courtesy of Philip Gould

You should know a few things if you choose to participate in a courir. You will not be thrown beads; you better show up in costume and must be ready to sing, beg, and run. You may even get a little muddy. During your early day revel, remember that you are participating in one of South Louisiana's oldest traditions originating from medieval Europe. If you're looking for a kid-friendly courir, check out Vermilionville's courir de Mardi Gras.

Rio, Bonaparte, King Gabriel & More

Philip Gould
Image courtesy of Philip Gould

In Lafayette's city limits, parades kick off with the Krewe de Canailles Walking Parade and the Krewe of Carnivale en Rio Mardi Gras Parade two weekends before Mardi Gras and continue the following weekend with Krewe of Bonaparte, Queen Evangeline and King Gabriel's Parade. Be sure to arrive early to park and find a good spot along the parade route. These larger evening parades draw big crowds to check out the local Krewe's extravagantly decorated floats and costumes. For families looking for an earlier parade for the kiddos, the Children's Parade kicks off at 12:30 p.m. on Saturday from Lafayette's downtown.

Community Parades

Mardi Gras Festival
Image courtesy of Philip Gould

Do you prefer smaller crowds but still want to catch a few throws and watch marching bands perform along the route? Check out the community parades in towns like Youngsville, Scott and Eunice. It's a great way to catch local flavor and tradition in the main streets of small-town America.

Have Your Cake & Eat, Too

Mardi Gras King Cake

A culinary must-taste is the beloved king cake for anyone coming to experience Mardi Gras season here in Louisiana. The often icing-topped, ring-shaped pastry pairs well with coffee or beer, depending on where you are. Sometimes, it's even stuffed with boudin. Traditionally filled with ingredients like cream cheese, chocolate, apple, and cinnamon, king cakes are easy to find. Check out local bakeries like Poupart's, Keller's, and Meche's.