Celebrate the Holidays with the Natchitoches Christmas Festival of Lights

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45 Nights of Lights, Festivities and Fun as this Louisiana Holiday Trail of Lights city celebrates the 89th year of its Christmas Festival

Fireworks show over the Cane River Lake at the 2015 Turn On the Holidays event

The Natchitoches Christmas Festival of Lights is a 45 night celebration of lights, fun and festivities set along the backdrop of downtown Historic Natchitoches and Cane River Lake.

The City of Natchitoches, one of eight cities making up the Louisiana Holiday Trail of Lights, invites you to celebrate the holidays at the Natchitoches Christmas Festival of Lights. Ranked as one of the top three holiday light displays by Yahoo! Travel.com, the Natchitoches Christmas Festival of Lights is a 45 night celebration of lights, fun and festivities set along the backdrop of downtown Historic Natchitoches and Cane River Lake illuminated by more than 300,000 twinkling lights and 100 lighted set pieces. Highlights of the Natchitoches Christmas season include the 89th Annual Natchitoches Christmas Festival, Holiday Tour of Homes, Natchitoches-NSU Christmas Gala, and spectacular fireworks displays over the Cane River Lake.

Named the “Best Southern Small Town” by readers of USA Today and 10Best.com, Natchitoches has a long tradition of Christmas spirit. Since 1926 Natchitoches has been home to one of the oldest community-based holiday celebrations in the country. The Annual Natchitoches Christmas Festival began as a one-day event and has now evolved into a six-week long festival season beginning the Saturday before Thanksgiving and ending on January 6 (Epiphany). Beginning with Turn on the Holidays, visitors can enjoy live musical entertainment, food vendors and activities along the riverbank, and a spectacular fireworks show over Cane River Lake each Saturday through the end of the season.

The season kicked off on November 21, 2015 with “Turn on the Holidays,” a Louisiana Main-to-Main event, and featured live music entertainment, kids activities, food vendors, a Holiday Open House at downtown merchants, the official lighting celebration and the first fireworks show of the season. Admission for Turn on the Holidays is always free and open to the public.

On December 5, 2015, Santa Claus makes his first appearance in Natchitoches at the 89th Annual Natchitoches Christmas Festival. Taking place on traditionally on the first Saturday of December, the Natchitoches Christmas Festival features the Festival of Lights parade with appearances by Miss Merry Christmas and her Belles, Mrs. Claus and Santa Claus, food vendors, live music entertainment, and the largest fireworks display of the year. Admission for the Natchitoches Christmas Festival is $6 for adults, $4 for children if purchased in advance, and $8 for adults, $5 for children if purchased day of festival. Children under 5 are admitted free.

Natchitoches, the oldest permanent settlement in the Louisiana Purchase, is home to a National Historic Landmark District that includes numerous historical homes. Visitors to Natchitoches can tour these homes beginning December 9, 2015 as part of the Holiday Tour of Homes. Homes on the tour include the Steel Magnolias House, which was featured in the film Steel Magnolias; the Prudhomme Rouquier House, built circa 1790 and the only known two and one-half story bousillage structure on the North American continent; and the Steamboat House, which was reportedly constructed from materials taken from two dismantled steamboats. Tours are held on Wednesday, Friday and Saturday from December 9 to December 19. Saturday tour ticket holders will receive complimentary admission to the Louisiana Sports Hall of Fame and Northwest Louisiana History Museum.

Natchitoches is also home to Northwestern State University and for 27 years the university has produced a world-class Christmas extravaganza to highlight the talents of the students in the Creative and Performing Arts program. The Annual Christmas Gala delights audiences with an evening of song, dance and performances including the ever popular marching toy soldiers, NSU Rockettes, NSU Percussion Ensemble, and the Natchitoches-Northwestern Symphony Orchestra. Santa Claus and a few other favorite Christmas characters have also been known to make an appearance or two. The Annual Christmas Gala will be held December 2 – 5, 2015 at Northwestern State University’s A.A. Fredericks Auditorium.

Whether you are looking for a festive atmosphere, historical home tour, or theatrical performances, the Natchitoches Christmas Festival Season has it all. In addition to the activities listed, visitors can enjoy area attractions such as the Louisiana Sports Hall of Fame and Northwest Louisiana History Museum, Fort St. Jean Baptiste State Historical Park, shopping along brick-paved Front Street, and a horse-drawn carriage ride through downtown Historic Natchitoches. Plan your trip today and see why the Natchitoches Christmas Festival of Lights is the premiere holiday light festival in the state. For more information and complete schedule of events, please visit http://www.NatchitochesChristmas.com. For more information on events happening along the Louisiana Holiday Trail of Lights, please visit http://www.holidaytrailoflights.com.

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Samantha Bonnette
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