A Six-Week Celebration in Natchitoches Parish
The Natchitoches Christmas Festival makes its 95th appearance this year with its celebrated lights, shopping, food, Kids Fest, live music, and more. What began as a one-day event in 1927 has become a six-week celebration that is the premier Christmas festival of the state. In fact, it has been ranked third “Best Holiday Light Show” behind Rockefeller Center and Disneyland by Yahoo! Travel.
Natchitoches Christmas Festival
Now through January 6
781 Front Street, Natchitoches, Louisiana 71457
(318) 357-3822 or (318) 352-8072
This event is free.
History of the Natchitoches Christmas Festival
The festival began in 1927 when the Natchitoches utilities superintendent suggested the idea of a town wide event to celebrate Christmas. He set up the first holiday light display with enough 10-watt Christmas tree bulbs to string along Front Street and light up a set decoration on the riverbank.
As the years and decades passed, the town added more set decorations and thousands of lights, followed by fireworks in 1936 and an annual parade in the ‘40s. As the event continued to grow, the selection of a Christmas Queen was established in 1956, followed by the design of an annual poster and a Christmas gala presented in collaboration with Northwestern State University’s Creative and Performing Arts department.
Today, thousands of visitors come each year to experience the most celebrated Christmas event in Louisiana. Read more about the festival’s history.
Popular Festival Attractions
Popular Natchitoches Christmas Festival traditions today include horse-drawn carriage tours through the National Historic Landmark District, live music, fireworks each Saturday, the Northwestern State University Christmas Gala, and the Christmas Tour of Homes presented by the Natchitoches Historic Foundation.
Visitors will find more than 300,000 lights illuminating downtown and 100 or more lighted set decorations perched along Cane River and the Historic Downtown Landmark District, creating a stunning backdrop for fireworks and entertainment.
The holiday spirit reigns in Natchitoches as visitors explore the shopping, entertainment, arts and crafts and great restaurants and food vendors. Popular food items to try include Louisiana favorites like gator on a stick, hot gumbo, and Natchitoches meat pies.
Visitors attending the Natchitoches Christmas Parade on Dec. 4 are in for a treat: the grand marshal of the parade will be Scott Innis, also known as “The Voice of Scooby-Doo!”
Plan your trip and book a hotel or bed and breakfast. Below, we highlight some favorite events of the festival.
Dark Woods Christmas in the Park
Visit the Dark Woods Christmas in the Park celebration to take a stroll in the woods, filled with twinkling 200,000-light displays, and gather around the fire pit to make some s’mores together. Find festive entertainment with interactive fun for kids, holiday music, nightly entertainment, and lots of delicious holiday treats.
Don’t Miss List
Dec. 3, 10, 18: Holiday Kids Fest on the Downtown Riverbank
Dec. 4: Mistletoe Market and Festival of Lights Parade
Dec. 4, 11, 18, 24, 31: Fireworks
Dec. 5-23: Santa Claus House (free visits with Santa)
Dec. 11: Cookies with Santa
Dec. 11: Lighted Boat Parade
Dec. 12: Light the Way 5K and Fun Run
Check out the entire schedule of events.
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