Entertainment & Events

Celebrate Mardi Gras in May with Gator By The Bay

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Two-stepping to lively Creole zydeco beats and snacking on crawfish and gumbo probably isn’t your typical weekend in America’s Finest City, but San Diegans better lace up their kicks and get ready for the 16th annual Gator By The Bay, the largest Louisiana-themed music and food festival this side of the bayou.

From Thursday, May 11 through Sunday, May 14, San Diego will light up with rich Louisiana culture featuring more than 100 musical acts, 10,000 pounds of crawfish and endless dancing, cuisine and treats at Spanish Landing Park right on the San Diego Bay. These soulful southern staples will offer a taste of the bayou and fun for the whole family.

“Gator By The Bay is an all-in-one event that brings Louisiana’s rich and diverse culture right to San Diego Bay by showcasing Louisiana’s eclectic melting pot of history, food, music, dance and more,” said Peter Oliver, a Gator By The Bay producer.

On Thursday, May 11, Grammy nominated singer Marcia Ball will kick off the weekend with her rollicking blues and powerful sound. The Louisiana-raised singer, who has received six Living Blues Awards, nine Blues Awards and five Grammy nominations, will bring her blend of soul and blues to the stage on Thursday night, rockin’ and rollin’ the night away.

Attendees can get in on the fun throughout the weekend, with live music and activities taking place all day Friday through Sunday. The festival’s grooves will welcome all music lovers, with blues, salsa, Latin and even country performers joining the festival to add to the southern spice. Performers like Grammy-award winning Steve Riley and the Mamou Playboys and Chubby Carrier and the Bayou Swamp Band will bring the funk and traditional Louisiana folk to the festival, accompanied by Grammy nominated zydeco band Geno Delafose and French Rockin’ Boogie’s Creole sound.

“Dancers, twirling to Cajun waltzes, two-stepping to a lively Creole zydeco beat, swinging and jitterbugging to blues and boogie-woogie, or moving to spicy Latin sounds, will fill the dance floors all weekend,” said Oliver. “At Gator By The Bay, we start movin’ and groovin’ the second the music starts and guarantee you will too. You’ll feel like you’re at a Mardi Gras party in May.”

Guests are encouraged to enjoy any of the five dance floors available throughout the weekend. Dance instructors from across the country will join the fun and offer free lessons to guests wanting to learn the moves to the many styles of dance of Gator By The Bay’s eclectic and diverse lineup.

Foodies can visit the Taste of Louisiana Food demo tent to learn the secrets of Southern cooking and even taste a few samples. Chef Jack Gambrell and Chef and Professor Michael Fitzgerald of San Diego Mesa College Culinary Arts Department will be doing cooking demos and providing professional instruction in preparing favorite Southern specialties. For just a taste, guests can visit the French Quarter Food Court to experience authentic Louisiana cuisine right here on the west coast. Vendors traveling from across the country will offer Louisiana-raised crawfish, boudin sausage, catfish, alligator and oysters. The list goes on, with mouth-watering entrees like gumbo, jambalaya, po’boys and etouffee on the menu. After enjoying the savory options, attendees can satisfy a sweet tooth with beignets, sweet potato pie, homemade ice-cream, pralines and bread pudding.

Beyond the endless music and food options are more interactive activities for all to enjoy. Guests can make their own music at the Bon Temps Social Club booth, where they’ll be able to check out traditional zydeco instruments. Welcome in all areas of this family-friendly festival, children can participate in the costume Mardi Gras parade or get their faces colorfully painted to truly dive into the culture.

The photo ops don’t end there! Guests will be able to meet a Mardi Gras Indian, who will bring rich culture from New Orleans to the parade and enjoy the weekend’s festivities.

Since its debut in 2001, Gator By The Bay has grown into a unique cultural celebration, showcasing Louisiana traditions right here in San Diego. The event is presented by the Bon Temps Social Club and supported by the City of San Diego Commission for Arts and Culture, the County of San Diego Community Enhancement program, Port of San Diego, Anheuser-Busch – Kona Brewery and the Louisiana Seafood Promotion and Marketing Board.

With music, dance, food and fun for all ages and interests, Gator By The Bay attracts more than 18,000 guests traveling from near and afar every year. Learn more about the music lineup and weekend festivities at www.gatorbythebay.com.  Be sure to also download their new and improved mobile app to map out your days at the festival.

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