How Festival International Changed South Louisiana

May 22, 2019

Festival International de Louisiane has become an integral piece of South Louisiana’s cultural landscape. While most know it as a week-long celebration of the most exciting music, food and art from around the globe, the festival also provides a substantial economic boost to the local economy – bringing in an estimated $49 million in revenue each year. In comparison to the festival’s average operating budget of around a million dollars, it’s a win-win. But, the festival’s impact is measured in more than just revenue: It provides the region with a chance to put our culture front and center for people from all over the world—and gives visitors one more great excuse to make the journey to South Louisiana every April.

Cajun Culture Takes Center Stage

Originally started in 1986 during an oil industry downturn, Festival International’s founders wanted to create a free music festival that tied Acadiana to its francophone roots while helping to stimulate the economy and revive the community. Today, Festival International is one the largest international music and arts festivals in the United States–and it is free to the public. It attracts performers from around the world—from street performers and large-format marching bands to Grammy-winning musicians—to downtown Lafayette and the festival’s five main stages. And, as if that wasn’t enough of a reason to enjoy, it’s also an amazing opportunity for shopping, sipping, and dining. With multiple streetside vendors and food courts, you’ll find handmade goods and delicious dishes from Cajun country and beyond everywhere you look. The variety of things to eat, see, and hear has made Festival International a hot spot for locals as temperatures begin to rise and the area’s rainy season makes way for warmer temperatures and spring sunshine. And, the numbers prove it; in a 2015 study conducted on its sales demographics, 42 states were represented, including Alaska and Hawaii, as well as 10 countries outside of the United States.

That external attraction is part of the true impact Festival International de Louisiane makes on the region. It brings the community together and helps introduce the culture it holds dear to more than 300,000 people every year. Festival is a time when Lafayette and its culture take center stage for tourists from all over, and our area gets to showcase its history and hospitality to the world. That spotlight creates a lasting effect on South Louisiana that’s worth its weight in gold (or, in this case, spinach and crawfish bread bowls).

Festival International de Louisiane takes place every year on the last weekend of April. If you haven’t been to South Louisiana before, it’s the perfect time to come down and experience everything we have to offer.

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