Get ready to feast on crawfish, swing and shimmy your way around Spanish Landing Park and let the good times roll at Gator By The Bay, the largest Louisiana-themed music and food festival this side of the bayou. From May 10-13, enjoy over 100 musical acts, special performances and delicious southern cuisine, including 10,000 pounds of fresh crawfish directly from Louisiana.
Presented by the Bon Temps Social Club of San Diego, “Gator By The Bay is a can’t-miss event that brings Louisiana’s rich culture to the West Coast by showcasing the region’s eclectic melting pot of history, food, music, dance and more,” said Peter Oliver, one of the producers of Gator By The Bay. The festival has been going on since 2001, and over the years it has attracted enthusiastic participants who travel from all over California and the rest of the U.S., as well as Canada, Mexico, Europe, Asia, New Zealand and Australia.
Blues vocalist Shana Morrison, Van Morrison’s daughter—who got her start singing with her father’s band—will co-headline the kickoff concert with “King of Slydeco” Sonny Landreth, who fuses Zydeco music with slide guitar for a unique, vibrant sound. That concert starts at 6 p.m. on Thursday, May 10. After that, performers will bring the sounds of blues, salsa, Zydeco, Cajun, rockabilly, country and more to seven stages throughout the weekend. Notable performers this year include:
- World-renowned six-piece Cajun and Zydeco band Horace Trahan & The Ossun Express
- The Pine Leaf Boys with their exuberant blends of Cajun, Zydeco, Swamp-Pop, country and soul music
- Grammy-nominated The Revelers
- “Zydeco Boss” Keith Frank with Dexter Ardoin, whose family is known as Zydeco royalty
- Dyed-in-the-wool blues veterans Rod Piazza & The Mighty Flyers
- Brazilian Igor Prado with local vocalist Whitney Shay
- Carolyn Wonderland, who’s known to reach deep into the heart of Texas’s blues tradition
- “The Mississippi Blues Child” Sipp, winner of 2014 International Blues Challenge (Band), the Albert King Gibson Guitar Award and 2016 BMA Best New Artist Album
- Tennessee native Earl Thomas, who started as a street performer and has appeared at the Montreux Jazz Festival and written for Etta James, Tom Jones and others
To keep your energy up for dancing (there will be five dance floors), you’ll need to eat. At Gator By The Bay, no one will be going hungry. Featuring authentic tastes of Louisiana, with vendors making the cross-country trip for the festival, attendees can indulge in crawfish, boudin sausage, catfish, alligator, barbecue, oysters and classic bayou dishes like gumbo, jambalaya, po’ boys and etouffée. Sweet treats will include beignets, sweet potato pie, homemade ice cream, pralines and bread pudding.
Gator By The Bay is a great time for all ages, from kids to grandparents and everyone in between. The festival’s kid-friendly activities include costumed Mardi Gras parades, outrageous hat-making and face-painting. Shoppers can also peruse Mardi Gras-inspired goods and clothing, art, jewelry, dancing shoes and accessories.
Tickets for Thursday night’s concert range from $35-95. Daily festival tickets are $35-40 and three-day and four-day passes are available. Children 17 and under are free with a paid adult. Hosted Patron Passes, which include catered lunch, reception period with complimentary wine, beer and soft drinks, discounts on festival merchandise and personal introductions to headliners, are $120 for a single-day pass (good Saturday or Sunday) or $200 for two days. For more information about the festival and to purchase tickets, visit www.gatorbythebay.com.