So when Doucet learned organizers of the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival planned to take local musicians to Britain for a mini-Jazz Fest, Doucet jumped at the opportunity.

“Our music touches people there,” said Doucet, lead singer of the band BeauSoleil. “We come from a very small ethnic culture, and they know that nobody else does what we do. They know Louisiana is a cradle of music, from jazz, to blues to Cajun, and they love when we bring it to them.”

Doucet said he’ll leave the Cajun-country capital of Lafayette on Wednesday to join Dr. John, Allen Toussaint, Kermit Ruffins, the Rebirth Brass Band and others for the free festival in London.

The event, billed as Festival New Orleans, is set for Friday and Saturday and coincides with Sunday’s NFL game between the New Orleans Saints and San Diego Chargers, which will be held at Wembley Stadium.

For Louisiana, it’s a showcase before an important audience: the European traveler.

Mary Beth Romig, spokeswoman for the New Orleans Metropolitan Convention and Visitors Bureau, said she has roamed New Orleans every weekend for the past month with British television crews and print journalists filing reports from the city in advance of the game and festival.

“The British traveler was our biggest international market before Hurricane Katrina,” Romig said.

Before Katrina struck in 2005, she said, about 100,000 British tourists came to New Orleans. Overseas travelers accounted for about 1 million visits, or about 10 percent of annual travel to New Orleans.

Since the storm, Romig said visitor numbers are down, though she said the bureau did not have an accurate measure in part because of disruptions in visitor tracking after the hurricane.

The London event presents an opportunity to reinforce the message that the Big Easy is ready for global tourism.

Promotional posters featuring Dr. John and others have been strewn for weeks throughout the London subway system and elsewhere.

“It’s going to be wild, performing over there with all these great New Orleans musicians. It’s going to be like Tip’s on a Saturday night,” Doucet said, referring to the popular New Orleans music club, Tipitina’s.

New Orleans Jazz Fest producer Quint Davis, who is co-producing the London festival, said the gathering will be one of the largest ever of south Louisiana musicians outside the United States.

And he hopes it becomes an annual event.

Among other performing artists are Buckwheat Zydeco, Marcia Ball, Big Chief Monk Boudreaux and John Mooney & Bluesiana. About 100 performers will spread across three stages.

The festival is being held at The O2, an enormous entertainment complex along the Thames River.

The O2 is owned by AEG Live, the company that co-produces the jazz fest in New Orleans and is co-producing Festival New Orleans. The pavilion includes restaurants, bars, clubs, movie theaters and a 20,000-seat arena.

“It’s like a city under this big top,” Davis said.

Davis said Mardi Gras Indians troupes and brass bands will parade down The O2’s main promenade and atrium. A corridor that runs along clubs and restaurants will be renamed Bourbon Street, he said, and balconies will be decked out with New Orleans-themed flags and beads.

“It’s going to be very fun, very dramatic,” Davis said.

Davis said the Louisiana Department of Culture, Recreation and Tourism put up $75,000 to sponsor the festival’s main music stage. There also are other corporate sponsorships.