In many cities, Pride festivals typically take place in downtown districts or major cultural hubs, but in Southwest Louisiana, the local celebration occurs nearly 20 miles south of downtown Lake Charles. Located off the shores of Calcasieu Lake (locally known as Big Lake), the Southwest Louisiana Pride Festival is set amidst the untamed beauty of nature, where the vibrant hues of the evening sky are as bright as the colors on the rainbow flags that wave in the breeze.  


Find Yourself at Castaways

It might seem like an odd location to some, but festival organizers say it’s the perfect setting for an event that celebrates love, diversity, and the enduring power of nature’s embrace. This three-day event has been held at Castaways since 2021. An event venue owned by Lori and Dawn Wheat, Castaways sits on 17 acres of picturesque land with an outdoor stage and covered island bar downstairs, an upstairs party room, and a nearly 2,000 square foot upstairs patio that’s perfect for watching the sun set beyond the lake. Picnic tables are scattered throughout the property, along with a yard full of outdoor games including washers, horseshoes, and Jenga. 

“When we moved to Southwest Louisiana nearly 15 years ago, we used to say that we felt like castaways out here in nature’s paradise,” said Dawn Wheat. “When my spouse Lori and I decided to build something here in this community, we chose to name it Castaways. Seeing it turn into a place where so many other castaways come to feel safe and welcome has been very rewarding.” 

Pride Festival Noelie Puckett with NPuckett Photography.


Three Days of Unforgettable Experiences

This three-day event kicks off on Friday, June 7 with “The Purple Experience” in celebration of the birthday of music legend Prince. The evening’s lineup starts at 5 p.m. and includes a purple-themed talent show and a costume contest with cash prizes, as well as live music, a dunking booth, culinary treats, and unique mocktails and cocktails.  

On Saturday, June 8, the event continues with Jell-O wrestling, dazzling dance performances, and music by the Sara Russo trio band and DJ EJ. Area nonprofits like Big Brothers Big Sister and Southwest Louisiana Harm Reduction are there offering support and resources, and they’re set up tents offering services, alongside community organizations and Mardi Gras krewes recruiting new members. When the sun goes down, the “Glow Up” Neon Party takes over the dance floor. Under the neon lights, fluorescent colors mix seamlessly with electrifying music and body paint, and people from all walks of life come together in a spirit of unity and acceptance. There’s truly something for everyone in the family at this unique Pride Festival. 

Then on Sunday, June 9, you can shop ‘til you drop beginning at 1 p.m. Vendors selling everything from handmade jewelry to Pride-themed t-shirts and original artwork line the festival grounds. The delicious food vendors are back in full force, and Sunday’s music lineup is even more impressive. A 3 p.m. drag show warms up the crowd just in time for a catwalk contest featuring more than just the performers. Amateur attendees are invited on stage to strut their stuff too! A Drag Show Finale beginning at 5 p.m. caps off the weekend. 

Tickets are sold at the door for just $20 per day. A weekend pass granting admission to all three days is available for $50. VIP passes are $75 per day or $150 for the weekend. VIP perks include preferred seating for all shows, three call drink tickets per day, a swag bag, VIP access to the downstairs bar and private restrooms. 

SWLA Pride Fest at Castaways


Adventure Beyond the Festival

For outdoor enthusiasts, this Pride Festival presents unlimited opportunities. At the heart of this destination is the Creole Nature Trail, a 180-mile scenic byway that meanders through marshes and along the Gulf of Mexico. Among its treasures lie 26 miles of pristine Gulf beaches, perfect for shelling, birdwatching, or just relaxing.  

Lake Charles/Southwest Louisiana offers a diverse array of accommodations. For those seeking luxury and excitement, the area boasts world-class casino resorts where opulence meets entertainment, offering upscale dining, lazy rivers, golfing, spas, and retail therapy. Our wide variety of options is sure to meet every traveler’s preferences. Find out more about our newly renovated hotel properties, historic bed and breakfasts, RV parks, and more at  

So come join us as we celebrate love and acceptance in the heart of Cajun Country. Whether you're drawn by the allure of the natural world or the vibrant energy of the Pride Festival, Lake Charles welcomes you with open arms. 


Looking for more ways to celebrate?

  • Drag Shows and Performances: Panorama Music House, Library Riot, and Daiquiri Leaf all host regular drag shows, including themed brunches and Pride events.

  • Support LGBTQ-Owned Businesses: Show your love by visiting LGBTQ-owned businesses like Library Riot, Daiquiri Leaf, Castaways, Candice Alexander Art Studio, and Creative Roots.