If you can’t get to New Orleans, you can at least whet your appetite for carnival by taking in the season in Lafayette, Louisiana. Although you will still catch coveted Mardi Gras beads and enjoy the fantastic floats and MardiGras decorations of Lafayette, there are some differences between the celebration in New Orleans and that in Lafayette.
The primary difference is the musical soundtrack. While New Orleans is filled with the music of Dr. John, Professor Longhair and other music about Mardi Gras with a dixieland jazz or african roots sound, the revelers in Lafayette often party to a slightly different soundtrack. Here, Cajun and Zydeco music fills the air and adds additional French flair. When revelers take to the streets in their feathered Mardi Gras masks, funny wigs, costumes and Mardi Gras hats, they might be dancing the Cajun two-step as they walk along the parade route.
In Acadiana, there are other traditions that are unique. The most notable is the Courir de Mardi Gras. This is a tradition of small towns and rural areas of Southwest Louisiana. Here, horseback riders wearing special Cajun Mardi Gras masks will take to local streets. Bands of men on horseback will ride the main streets and back roads and beg townspeople for ingredients. The goal of the ride is to gather enough ingredients to create a huge pot of gumbo, which can then be shared. The costumes for the Courir de Mardi Gras are quite different and are unique to this specific celebration.
Although most visitors will primarily want to experience Mardi Gras in New Orleans, if you have attended many times, the Cajun Mardi Gras may provide for an interesting change of pace. Although not so much a tourist event as a local family affair, there are many interesting aspects of Cajun Mardi Gras for you to appreciate.