Shreveport-Bossier gears up for a busy summer festival season with some big events kicking off in the area starting Memorial Day weekend.
Festivals dedicated to crawfish, hot-air balloons, art and even sunflowers are among the popular upcoming festivals showcasing the community’s fun side. With several events returning after last year’s hiatus, families and couples can plan an affordable summer getaway while checking out these exciting events.
Shreveport-Bossier tourism officials say their destination is eager to welcome visitors for the ideal “nearcation” — or short-distance destinations. In addition to these exciting events, affordable accommodations, outdoor experiences, culinary offerings, gaming and other fun things to do make Shreveport-Bossier a great getaway.
With just an easy drive, friends or family looking for a change in scenery can opt for a quick vacation getaway closer to home and within driving distance.
The Shreveport-Bossier Fun Guide lists these upcoming festivals to mark on your calendar and plan your next “nearcation” to the Shreveport-Bossier area.
Mudbug Madness Festival – May 28 to May 30
After last year’s hiatus due to COVID-19, Mudbug Madness Festival returns to Shreveport Plaza this Memorial Day weekend, May 28 to May 30.
Now in its 37th year, Mudbug Madness has grown into one of Louisiana’s largest and most popular Cajun festivals, drawing thousands of locals and visitors to downtown Shreveport each year.
More than two dozen artists will perform across two stages. The festival features Cajun, Zydeco, Blues and Jazz artists, Cajun cuisine, crawfish-eating contests and family-friendly entertainment.
Sister Hazel, Wayne Toups, Seratones, Parish County Line, Bag of Donuts and Lost Bayou Ramblers headline this year’s festival.
Along with dozens of performances, special events will take place including the popular Celebrity Crawfish Eating Contest, the Men’s Crawfish Eating Contest, the Women’s Crawfish Eating Contest and the Crawfish Calling Contest.
Special events include the popular Celebrity Crawfish Eating Contest, the Men’s Crawfish Eating Contest, the Women’s Crawfish Eating Contest and the Crawfish Calling Contest.
Other special features of this year’s festival include $5 lunch specials from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Friday and a $3 happy hour from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. on Friday.
Festival hours are 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. each day. Festival organizers say admission is free on Friday, May 28 until after 5 p.m. After 5 p.m. on Friday, admission is $6 through the remainder of the festival. Children under age 7 enter free.
Mudbug Madness debuted in downtown Shreveport in 1984 as a two-day street festival. Now a three-day festival held each Memorial Day weekend, Mudbug Madness is nationally recognized as one of the Southeast Tourism Society’s Top 20 Events and the American Bus Association’s Top 100 Event in the nation.
CenterPoint Entergy River Balloon Rally – June 11 to June 12
Giant and colorful hot-air balloons will soar when the sixth annual CenterPoint Energy Red River Balloon Rally returns to Louisiana State University Shreveport on June 11 and June 12.
North Louisiana’s largest hot-air balloon festival offers families and couples a chance for an affordable summer getaway to enjoy this vibrant two-day experience. Each night of the festival features live entertainment, food, vendors, fireworks and a magical balloon glow at dusk.
You can also get a glimpse of what it’s like to ride in a hot air balloon at the event with tethered balloon rides.
The family-friendly event also features live Christian, country and rock bands, a kid’s fun zone and a professional kite flying exhibition.
Organizers are calling Friday “Faith and Family Friday Night” marked by Christian entertainment and performances by Danny Gokey, First Bossier Worship Band, and YALA. Saturday is considered “Louisiana Saturday Night” with an 80s-inspired music experience with performances from the Molly Ringwalds, After Midtown, and Johnny Earthquake and the Moondogs.
Leading up to the festival, the site also hosts the U.S. Team Nationals Hot Air Balloon Championship, an annual week-long competition that brings together the top 30 balloon pilots from across the U.S. People in the area from June 7 to June 14 can see the competitive balloons flying throughout Caddo and Bossier parishes each morning from 6 a.m. to 8:30 a.m., weather pending.
Tickets for each festival day are $12 for adults, $10 for children ages 6 to 17 and $10 for service members with a military ID. VIP parking tickets are available as an add-on for easy accessibility to the festival. Tickets must be purchased online in advance and will not be sold at the gate. Organizers say no refunds, replacements or rainchecks for any festival admission fees.
In the Shreveport area, discounted tickets can be purchased at local Brookshires Grocery Stores and Super 1 Foods from May 13-June 12.
Organizers say the annual event usually draws more than 20,000 attendees.
ARTini 2021: Pop Art Edition – June 12
Shake in a little imagination, stir in a lot of creativity and mix in some friendly competition. ARTini is a Shreveport event celebrating various forms of creative expression at Sci-Port Discovery Center on June 12.
This fundraiser to support the Bossier Arts Council features live music, visual art, signature martinis and socializing served with a twist. ARTini also gets competitive with local mixologists creating signature martinis and for the coveted title of “Judges Choice,” “People’s Choice,” and “Most M’artisanal.”
This year’s event will feature the art of Shreveport pop artist and businesswoman Lauren Ross Simmons. Simmons is the 2018 winner of “SB Magazine’s Best Artist” and a three-time award-winning Revel artist.
Shreveport-based cover band What the Funk? (WTF?!) will perform at the event.
Tickets, which cost $75 via Eventbrite, include entrance to the event, a hand-painted martini glass, live music, delicious food, and over 20 different martinis.
Sunflower Trail and Festival – June 19
Bright fields of sunflowers will bloom at the 22nd annual Sunflower Trail and Festival taking place in Gillam, Louisiana on June 19.
The festival is a family-friendly annual event of arts, crafts, music, food and activities. Festival activities take place behind the Red River Crossroads Historical Association Museum and in the Park on the Bayou.
In addition to those beautiful sunflowers in bloom, there will also be a sunflower photography contest.
Tourism officials say interesting places to visit on the sunflower trail are the Veterans Memorial in Belcher, the Lynn Plantation Commissary between Belcher and Gilliam and the Red River Crossroads Museum in Gilliam.
Gilliam is just off of Highway 3049 (also known as Dixie/Shreveport Road) and can be reached from Shreveport by heading north on Grimmet Drive and turning right onto Highway 3049.
The event will feature art and handmade items for sale by heritage crafters and artists, hands-on arts and crafts activities for children, art exhibit at Lynn Farms commissary, music, and a sunflower photography contest.
Admission to the event is free and open to the public. The event runs from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. The physical address of the Crossroads Museum is 12797 Main Street (LA-3049) in Gilliam and can be reached easily from Highway 71 North.
Even outside of the festival date, visitors can drive and explore the Sunflower Trail on Highway 3049 north from Shreveport to Gilliam during the month of June.
Make it a weekend ‘nearcation’
In addition to these upcoming events, Shreveport-Bossier is home to six casino resorts for visitors who want to turn their trip into a weekend stay.
In addition to chances to hit the jackpot, visitors can enjoy performances, luxury spas, indoor shopping and a wide variety of dining options. Each casino also offers hotels with well-appointed guest rooms when you’re finally ready for a rest.
One location, Horseshoe Bossier City Hotel & Casino, boasts the “home of the best odds” and the famous World Series of Poker Room. Sam’s Town Hotel and Casino offers three floors of gaming, while Eldorado Resort Casino offers more than 1,500 of the newest slots and video poker machines.
Other locations for gaming include Margaritaville Resort Casino, Boomtown Casino & Hotel and Harrah’s Louisiana Downs.
Created partnership with the Shreveport-Bossier Convention and Tourist Bureau