Gator by the Bay Festival – also known as Mardi Gras in May – is coming up May 11-14, 2023, the largest Cajun Festival in Southern California. It is one of my favorite things to do in San Diego in the Spring. If you love Jazz, spicy gumbo, boiled Crawfish and are ready to let the good times roll, this is the festival to be. So go get your tickets now! Don’t forget to read our Top Tips to Know before you Go to Gator by the Bay!
1. Eat Amazing Cajun Food
Cajun food is amazing. Simple as that. I fell in love with Cajun cooking when I went to high school in Louisiana and am craving it ever since. It mixes French and African influences, uses cheap and local ingredients to make magic.
Thick and spicy gumbo, fatty andouille sausage, jambalaya, crawfish etouffée, crawfish boils, fried catfish, red beans and rice, dirty rice, oyster po’boys or sticky beignets are just to name a few of my all-time favorite foods. If you like spicy, approachable yet refined food, Cajun food is for you.
At Gator by the Bay festival, you can indulge and try many of these dishes and get a feel for why food is such an important part of Cajun culture. The food court lineup makes me drool, just reading it and I highly recommend putting on some stretchy pants 😉
2. Amazing Entertainment Lineup
Gator by the Bay means 4 days of live entertainment ranging from Jazz to Blues, Cajun and Zydeco, a little Rock and Country, and some Swing. Here are some of the 70+ performing artists:
- Horace Trahan & the Ossun Express
- Geno Delafose & French Rockin’ Boogie
- Vanessa Collier
- Dennis Jones Band
- Nick Schnebelen
- Steve Riley & The Mamou Playboys
- Mr. Sipp
- Sugaray Rayford
- Mitch Polzak & The Royal Deuces
- Side Pony
- Tom Rigney & Flambeau
- Michael Doucet
- Alastair Greene
- Debbie Davies
- The Farmers
- John Primer
- Rob Stone
- Whitney Shay
- RJ Mischo
- Billy Watson
- The Fremonts
- Bill Magee Blues Band
- Cash’d Out – A Johnny Cash Show
- Los Fabulocos
- & many more (click here for the full list of artists and performance schedule)
3. Learn How to Cook Cajun Food
If you want to dive deeper into what Cajun and Creole cuisine has to offer, you can check out one of the cooking classes at the Gator by the Bay festival offered on May 7th & 8th (Saturday and Sunday). The Taste of Louisiana Cooking Demos are presented by Chef Michael Fitzgerald from San Diego Mesa College Culinary Arts Department and other award-winning chefs from Louisiana, so you know you’ll get an authentic recipe and top tips for making delicious Cajun and Creole food at home. Oh, and did I mention there were samples?
4. Fun for the Whole Family
Gator by the Bay is a family-friendly festival and offers fun for the whole family. Children 17 and under can go in free of charge as long as they are accompanied by 1 paying adult. Facepainting, dancing, and having fun in the sun with the whole family make for an enjoyable family outing, fun photo ops, and lots of great memories.
5. Get a Real Cajun Experience at Gator by the Bay
Gator by the Bay lets you dive into a real Cajun experience and you can immerse yourself in the food, music, and culture of all things Cajun for a weekend. It is a great way to get to know the culture and traditions of Louisiana without the expense of travel and yet all the enjoyment. So go get your tickets now and laissez les bon temps rouler.
Last Updated on April 21, 2023 by Maria Haase