The lively cultural heritage of Louisiana – including its music, dance and food – will take over San Diego’s waterfront this weekend in the form of a beloved, 4-day festival.
The 18th annual Gator By The Bay festival kicks off Thursday at 6 p.m. at Spanish Landing Park on Harbor Drive, along the waterfront across from the San Diego International Airport. The fest returns Friday (3:30 p.m. to 10:30 p.m.), Saturday (10:30 a.m. to midnight) and Sunday (10:30 a.m. to 4 p.m.) with a hefty lineup of 100+ musical performances across seven stages spanning genres from blues, Cajun and rockabilly to swing, Latin, zydeco and New Orleans jazz.
The full performance schedule can be seen here but organizers say several notable international artists are on this year’s lineup including Swedish jazz musician Gunshild Carling (performing Saturday starting at 12 p.m.), Aki Kumar & Bollywood Blues (performing Satursay starting at 12 p.m.) and Germany’s BB & The Blues Shacks (performing Friday at 9:10 p.m.).
In addition to the live entertainment, Gator By The Bay is all about the food.
The festival’s French Quarter Food Court will boast all sorts of Louisiana specialties, including 10,000 pounds of crawfish trucked into San Diego fresh from Opelousas, Louisiana. Also on the Southern comfort food menu: gumbo, jambalaya, red beans and rice, crab cakes, frog legs, fried okra, po’boys and beignets, to name a few bites.
Throughout the weekend, attendees will be treated to live cooking demos by Southern chefs, including Lafayette, Louisiana-based chef Ryan Trahan. For instance, on Saturday at 1:30 p.m., Trahan will host a one-hour demonstration on the art of making crab and apple remoulade. On Sunday at 12:15 p.m., Trahan will host a demo on seafood gumbo.
Meanwhile, for the first time ever at Gator By The Bay, seven San Diego restaurants will compete in the Gator Gumbo Cook-Off before a panel of judges. That action goes down at 11: 15 a.m. Saturday.
Gator By The Bay is presented each year by the San Diego nonprofit, Bon Temps Social Club. The festival aims to highlight the eclectic melting pot of history, food and music of Louisiana. The annual event draws people from all over the U.S. and the world.
Tickets to the music and food fest start at $35 for single-day attendance. You could also spring for a 4-day pass for $140. Kids under 17 years old get in free with a paid adult.