About Us

Bon Temps Social Club - Gator by the Bay Festival

Gator By The Bay is the annual festival of The Bon Temps Social Club of San Diego, a California 501-C3 public benefit corporation. As dancers we appreciate some elements that others may overlook.  We love big dance floors.  We appreciate a shaded space to dance. We love dance-able music. And we love to introduce others to the music we love.

The Bon Temps Social Club of San Diego was established with its first dance on Valentine’s Day in 1991 to spread the love of Louisiana Cajun dancing to the San Diego community. Since that time the music has changed to include Creole zydeco in its various forms, and San Diego has embraced the Louisiana music and culture wholeheartedly. The Bon Temps Social Club of San Diego was incorporated as a California Public Benefit Corporation in April 2001. It is recognized by the IRS as a 501c(3) not for profit organization. It is a member organization of the International Dance Association (IDA) of San Diego County.

Gator By The Bay, the largest, most-authentic Louisiana-themed music and food festival this side of the bayou is held each year around Mothers’ Day weekend, the 2nd weekend in May. Presented by San Diego’s Bon Temps Social Club, it features four days of live music with over 100 musical acts and special performances on seven stages, southern cuisine including 10,000 pounds of crawfish trucked from Louisiana, non-stop live music, dancing and family fun at Spanish Landing Park on beautiful San Diego Bay across from the airport. For a glimpse of what to expect at Gator By The Bay, watch this video.

Thursday:    6:00 p.m. –  10:30 p.m.
Friday:      12:30 p.m. –  10:30 p.m.
Saturday:      10:30 a.m. –  8:00 p.m.
Sunday:     10:30 a.m. –  7:00 p.m.

Location: Spanish Landing Park, North Harbor Drive. Directly across from the San Diego International Airport.

“Gator By The Bay is an all-in-one event that brings Louisiana’s rich and diverse culture right to San Diego Bay by showcasing Louisiana’s eclectic melting pot of history, food, music, dance and more,” said Peter Oliver, a Gator By The Bay Producer. “We truly pride ourselves in offering San Diegans and visitors alike the chance to experience authentic Louisiana culture. I can guarantee you will discover something new and leave wanting more.”

Since its inception in 2001, the festival has grown to showcase an array of music choices from blues, salsa, zydeco, Cajun and a taste of country, including Grammy winning artists directly from Louisiana, legendary Chicago and California blues artists, rockabilly and roots performers and award-winning salsa and Latin bands. The festival has become an annual must-do for enthusiasts of all ages who have travelled from throughout California and 39 other U.S. states, Canada, Mexico, Europe, Asia, New Zealand and Australia.

“Dancers, twirling to Cajun waltzes, two-stepping to a lively Creole zydeco beat, swinging and jitterbugging to blues and boogie-woogie, or moving to spicy Latin sounds will fill the dance floors all weekend,” said Oliver. “At Gator By The Bay, we start movin’ and groovin’ the second the music starts and guarantee you will too. You’ll feel like you’re at a Mardi Gras party in May.”

The festival boasts five wooden dance floors, including two 3,000 square foot shaded dance floors at each of the two main stages. For those who want to shake shimmy or stomp your feet in other than free style there will be free lessons by some of the finest dance instructors in the country.

The French Quarter Food Court features the authentic tastes of Louisiana, with many vendors making the cross-country trip just for the festival. Revelers will fill up on fresh Louisiana-raised crawfish, boudin sausage, catfish, alligator, barbecue and oysters. A mouth-watering selection of Louisiana favorites will be available, including gumbo, jambalaya, po’ boys and etouffée. For dessert there will be a Southern selection of beignets, sweet potato pie, homemade ice cream, pralines and bread pudding.

All areas of the festival are open to children to enjoy the music, color, spirit and activities of the event.  Special activities include the costumed Mardi Gras parades and making outrageous hats with the Rad Hatter.

The market area offers retail therapy from carefully selected craft vendors also featuring Mardi Gras-inspired goods and clothing, art, hand-made jewelry, dancing shoes and accessories.

On the intimate Bayou Grove Stage, visiting musicians tell the stories behind the heritage of their crafts.

In the Taste of Louisiana Food Pavilion, Louisiana and local chefs host cooking demos and tastings.

Tickets are available for single day and multiple day admission. Children 17 and under are admitted free with a paid adult.

Patron passes include access to the Patron Reception Area including a complimentary meal, personal meet and greet with festival headliners, complimentary craft beer, select wines, soft drinks and water, private shaded seating and upgraded restrooms and additional reserved shaded seating near both main stages.

Find all festival, ticket, lodging, parking and free shuttle info at www.gatorbythebay.com.

Financial support for Gator By The Bay is provided in part by the City of San Diego Commission for Arts and Culture and the County of San Diego Community Enhancement program. Additional support is provided by the Port of San Diego, Anheuser-Busch – Kona Brewery and the Louisiana Seafood Promotion and Marketing Board. The festival is supported in part by the State of Louisiana Office of Tourism, Lafayette Convention & Visitors Bureau and other regional tourism bureaus.


About Gator By The Bay:

Gator By The Bay at Spanish Landing Park across from the San Diego airport, features four days of live music with over 100 musical acts and performances on seven stages. The festival also features a wide array of Southern culinary delights including gumbo, jambalaya, beignets and 10,000 pounds of crawfish brought directly from Louisiana. Since its inception in 2001 the festival has grown to showcase not only Grammy winning Cajun and zydeco artists from Louisiana, but also legendary Chicago and California blues artists, rockabilly and roots performers and award-winning salsa and Latin bands. For more information, visit: www.gatorbythebay.com.

# # #

Established in 2001, Gator By the Bay has grown in popularity and has evolved to include blues, country and many other musical genres. It attracts more than 15,000 people each year in the second week of May.  Music lovers come from the far reaches of the United States and across the world. The volunteer efforts of over two hundred Bon Temps regulars are key to putting on this multi-faceted event.

The calendar pages of Bon Temps Social Club website lists events including Gator By The Bay Cajun-Zydeco, Blues and Crawfish Festival, local public concerts featuring local Cajun-zydeco bands, as well as regional and national Cajun-zydeco dance events. Check it out to further explore many organizations, bands, and venues which sustain the Louisiana-style music scene and culture.