New Orleans seems to have a festival to celebrate every aspect of the city’s culture.
And since 2011, thanks to Diane Lyons, there’s a sassy new event that honors women: FestiGals.
From Thursday, June 11, through Sunday, June 14, women are invited to partake in the glitzy fun — whether sashaying in stilettos to the sounds of a brass band, sipping cocktails while perusing the latest fashions or networking with successful female entrepreneurs.
FestiGals offers a diverse collection of events and encourages bonding amongst women while showcasing the culture of New Orleans, Lyons said.
About 150 women attended the first daylong event five years ago. Now FestiGals spans four days and attracts approximately 1,500 women from across the nation, particularly the South.
“We have everyone from doctors and lawyers, to Indian chiefs and soccer moms,” Lyons said.
Women are invited to stop by one or two events, stay for an entire day of programming or sign up for the whole shebang (private parties, cooking demos and house tours tempt the VIPs).
However, most events on the FestiGals schedule are available to everyone.
Empowerment Day, for example, fosters personal and professional development. Panel discussions cover health, beauty and success.
Financial awareness and business development are among the topics.
“(Women) need to know that they’re not alone in finding their voice, finding their power and finding the way to wisdom,” said Lyons, who hopes guests are inspired by the speakers’ stories. “Most people think that those powerful women are overnight successes, and they are not. They are like everybody else. They cry and worry.”
Switching gears, the Saturday itinerary includes the Bodacious Bras for a Cause Luncheon & Auction.
This spirited event features Christine Clifford of the Cancer Club, a Stein Mart fashion show and a display of “bra art” — likely, the only one around.
Later that day, during the Stiletto Sprint, adventurous participants (men also are welcome) will dash down the street, skillfully balancing on three-inch heels.
The stylish sprint is followed by the Stiletto Stroll, the largest female second-line parade in Louisiana, which will showcase singer Irma Thomas, the Grand Diva of FestiGals.
The parade boasts costumed fest-goers, brass bands and all-ladies marching groups, like the Pussyfooters and The Organ Grinders. (Stilettos are not required for the second-line strut.)
After three days of merriment, FestiGals comes to a close on Sunday, with the Saints & Sinners Brunch at Muriel’s Restaurant, where guests can enjoy entertainment by Vatican Lokey and Tara Truby.
Lyons noted that babysitting services will be available throughout the weekend. She hopes this offer encourages young mothers to get away with other women of all ages.
“Men go on golfing and fishing trips … and women do, too. It’s not 1950 anymore,” said Lyons, with a laugh. “But FestiGals is your weekend.”