Each year, Festival International de Louisiane brings artists, musicians and visitors from all over the world to take part in a celebration of culture and fun.
From the traditional Cajun and zydeco music that is so ubiquitous throughout south Louisiana to more eclectic genres like Canadian folk rock, Czech glamtronic and West African griot kora, the musical stylings imported from across the globe are a major draw for Festival International.
At the same time, the festival features numerous local bands that dabble and embrace new sounds, genres and ideas, and make them their own.
Tonomono (9 p.m. Friday at the LUS LA Craft Biergarten stage) may be a Lafayette-based band, but its sound and members bring along an international flair.
Andrés Proaño, Michelle Colón, Bryan Webre and Cam Smith play a plethora of genres from hip-hop and Afro-Cuban to dance, electronic and soul. Added on top of that is the Spanish, English, Latin and American flavor that makes their music a real treat.
“We’re not entirely sure the genre we play. It’s kind of jazz; it’s kind of hip-hop, but it’s our own thing,” Webre said. “It’s the chemistry between us.”
During its show, Tomomono will celebrate the release of its second album.
Another local favorite at this year's Festival International is Givers, whose new single and music video, "Collide," drops Friday. The band hosts a performance with a slew of guests under the moniker the Dockside Hall of Fame (5:30 p.m. Sunday at the LUS Scène Internationale stage).
Those guests include smooth singer-songwriter Marc Broussard, recent Grammy winners Lost Bayou Ramblers, zydeco performer Terrance Simien, pianist Marcia Ball and many others.
The show is a tribute to Maurice's Dockside Studios and its owners, the Nails Family, who have provided artists and musicians a sacred place to record.
Before heading to the big finale on Sunday, don't miss Grand Nathaniel & the Ghosts (4:45 p.m. at the LUS LA Craft Biergarten stage). This latest band from singer/multi-instrumentalist J Burton mixes dark dance vibes with post-punk attitude. And when you have a group that's filled out by musicians like Brycen Gaddis, Ian Guidroz and Jim Kolacek, no matter what genre these guys are playing, you know the music is going to groove.
New Orleans funk also will make an appearance at Festival International, thanks to the Mike Dillon Band (9 p.m. Saturday at The Wurst Biergarten, 537 Jefferson St., and 1:30 p.m. Sunday at the Scène Laborde Earles Law Firm Fais Do Do stage).
Not only is Dillon a prolific recording artist, collaborating with everyone from Dean Ween to Les Claypool to Ani Difranco, but his music also spans genres, mixing punk, jazz and loads of percussion. His latest album, "Life Is Not A Football," garnered comparisons to Frank Zappa and Butthole Surfers.
Looking for some international vibes? Ten Strings and A Goat Skin (8:45 p.m. Saturday at the LUS LA Craft Biergarten stage, 12:30 p.m. Sunday at the Scène Des Jeunes stage, and 3:30 p.m. at the LUS Scène Internationale stage) offers a mix of Irish, Acadian and French rhythms in its tunes. The self-described folk-fusion trio released "Auprès Du Poêle" in 2016 and picked up award nominations while playing festivals from France to Philadelphia.
Another global talent to watch is Jupiter & Okwess (6:45 p.m. Saturday at the LUS Scène Internationale stage, and 5 p.m. Sunday at the Scène Laborde Earles Law Firm Fais Do Do stage). Hailing from the Democratic Republic of the Congo, this band mixes soul, rock, funk and Congolese rumba.
In 2017, Jupiter & Okwess released its sophomore album, "Kin Sonic," which features guest appearances from Damon Albarn, of Blur and Gorillaz, and violinist Warren Ellis.
Called an evolutionary force in contemporary Middle Eastern music, NIYAZ and Azam Ali (8:45 p.m. at the LUS Scène Internationale stage, and 7:15 p.m. Saturday at the Scène TV5 Monde Lafayette stage) mix 21st-century trance, medieval poetry and acoustic instrumentation.
If you're in the mood to check out some Alternative Latino rock, don't miss Making Movies (8:45 p.m. Saturday at the Scène TV5 Monde Lafayette stage). The band's politically charged 2017 release "I Am Another You" was called one of the best albums of the year by NPR. To date, Making Movies has shared the stage with acts such as Los Lobos, Galactic, Thievery Corporation, Rodrigo y Gabriela and Arcade Fire.
This is just a fraction of the bands performing this year, and trust us, there are so many more performers you should see and hear. In addition, downtown bars and venues will host special performances throughout the weekend in coordination with the festival.
In short, if you're a fan of music — whether it's local or global — you won't want to miss this annual, free festival.
To check out a full schedule and get more details on this year's Festival International, visit festivalinternational.org.
Matthew Sigur contributed to this report.
Info you need to know before you festival
No more drink tickets: Festival International will now have a radio-frequency identification wristband system, which will be the only form of payment accepted at all beverage and merchandise locations. Wristbands will be available at the top-up stations, formerly the ticket booths. Patrons can set up a digital wallet and get more information at festivalinternational.org/rfid.
Shuttle/parking: Patrons will find ample parking at Cajun Field, at the corner of Congress Street and Cajundome Boulevard. At the lot, shuttles will run to and from the festival, with the drop-off point at Barry and Lee streets. Shuttles run 4 p.m. to 10:30 p.m. Friday, 10:30 a.m. to 10:30 p.m. Saturday, and 10:30 a.m. to 8 p.m. Sunday.
In addition to the music: Festival International features vendors displaying their wares at the Marché des Arts and Marché du Monde; art exhibits; street animation; dance and theater performances; the French Mass at 11 a.m. Sunday at St. John's Cathedral, 515 Cathedral St.; and the Courir du Festival 5K starting at 8 a.m. Saturday near Main Street.
Mais, tell me about the food: Stop being hangry and try Scratch Farm Kitchen for delicious, organic plates; Dean-O's for pizza; C'est Bon Manger for that crawfish, shrimp and spinach bread bowl; and Pamplona for paella and sangria. You can also count on pretty much every food vendor having boudin.
WHEN: Performances start at 5:30 p.m. Friday, 11:30 a.m. Saturday and noon Sunday.
WHERE: Downtown Lafayette
COST: Free. Festival passes are also available for $65-$200.