Louisiana Pirate Festival
The boardwalk on Lake Charles
TypeLocal, cultural
CelebrationsParties, bands, entertainment
Related toMardi Gras

The Louisiana Pirate Festival, Formally known as Contraband Days, is a 12-day festival filled with Cajun food, family fun, and festivities. Occurring annually in Lake Charles, it is among the larger celebrations in Louisiana, with an attendance of over 200,000. The Festival was first held in 1957.

Held during the first two weeks of May, Contraband Days is the city's official celebration of the legend of the pirate Jean Lafitte. History tells that Lafitte and his band of pirates frequented the area's waterways; they are said to have buried Lafitte's contraband somewhere in the city's vicinity.

The Pirate Festival festivities kick off every year with a pirate ship bombardment to "take control of the city" at the seawall of the Lake Charles Civic Center. A gang of rowdy and unruly buccaneers and "Jean Lafitte" overruns the blazing cannons of the local militia. They then raise their "Jolly Roger" flag and capture the mayor by force with swords drawn and make the mayor walk the plank into the waters of the lake.[1]

No festival was held in 2020.

Thus begins the two-weeks of pageantry and festivities, which include:


  1. ^ "Lake Charles Contraband Days Pirate Festival". Visitlakecharles.org. 2013-05-12. Retrieved 2013-09-10.