New Orleans is a gumbo of cultures from around the world, and one of those bright flavors is that of the Caribbean islands. To celebrate this Caribbean heritage, Bayou Bacchanal (November 1-2, 11 a.m. – 8 p.m.) is a free festival sponsored by Friends of Culture and held at Louis Armstrong Park on the border of the French Quarter. Founded in 2002, the festival is a collection of events and food vendors that explores the cultural link between the islands of the Caribbean and the greater New Orleans area.
To kick off Bayou Bacchanal, a parade will meander up and down city streets featuring brightly colored and often feathery costumes made especially to harken back to Caribbean culture. Masqueraders, which include both active participants and attendees, will dance to the pulsating beats of Soca music and steel pan drums, indigenous instruments of Tobago and Trinidad. Anyone can join, with or without costume, as the parade finds its way to Lafayette Square downtown, where the festival continues with live music, authentic Caribbean cuisine and tropical drinks as well as arts and crafts.