Second only to New Orleans in the number of krewes, or traditional social clubs that build floats and participate in parades and activities, Lake Charles is a alternative Mardi Gras destination. The home of the biggest Mardi Gras celebration in southwest Louisiana, Lake Charles attracts many visitors from smaller towns as well as those from other states.
Just as in New Orleans, parades are the number one spectacle in the Mardi Gras celebration in Lake Charles. A variety of different krewe parades take over the streets of the city beginning on the Friday night before Fat Tuesday with the Merchants' Parade, followed on Saturday with parades from the Krewe of Omega and the Krewe of Barkus. The latter displays dogs in full Mardi Gras attire, competing for the title of "Mystical Dog." On Sunday, an illuminated boat parade takes place on Lake Charles. A motorcycle, classic car and hot rod parade was introduced in 2011 before the culminating event--the Krewe of Krewes' Parade on Fat Tuesday.
No Mardi Gras celebration would be complete without southern Louisiana's famous music traditions and Lake Charles is no exception. On Saturday, live bands play "swamp pop" and Cajun music from early morning to the afternoon to accompany the Gumbo Cook-Off. Later in the afternoon, the Mardi Gras Zydeco Dance has live bands playing mambo and zydeco. On Monday night, the Royal Gala is open to all members of the public. Here the kings and queens and royal courts of 43 krewes promenade in their extravagant costumes to the sound of music.
Southwest Louisiana is famous for the robust flavors of its Cajun cuisine. On Saturday morning through the afternoon, the Lake Charles Mardi Gras hosts the World Famous Cajun Extravaganza/Gumbo Cook-Off in which cooks compete to produce the best chicken and sausage or wild game gumbo. All the dishes are available for the public to taste. On Sunday, the Taste de la Louisiane offers all-you-can-eat traditional dishes for one admission price.
For the Kids
Sunday is dedicated to children's activities for Mardi Gras. A variety of musical and live entertainment events, including magic shows and arts and crafts booths, are set up in the Civic Center at noon on Sunday. At 3:00 p.m., a children's parade, in which all are invited to participate, winds its way through the streets of downtown Lake Charles.
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