See 350,000+ lights at Natchitoches Christmas Festival

For over 90 years, families from across the country have enjoyed the City of Lights during the Natchitoches Christmas Festival.

It’s been named the 3rd “Best Holiday Light Show” behind the Rockefeller Center and Disney World according to Yahoo. For 92 years, the Natchitoches Christmas Festival is one of the most famous Christmas events in Louisiana. Tens of thousands of visitors witness the spectacular light show along historic Front Street and along the banks of the Cane River Lake. Jill Leo, Director of Festivals & Events says the festival is a sight to see, “Just the a-ha moment of coming down Second Street when you can first see the lights adorning the streets. And when you finally got to the bridge and Front Street. All the magic starts to happen at that point.”

Natchtoches lights 1

Lights dazzle above the cars on Front Street. You’ll hear Christmas music as you shop the many stores including Louisiana’s oldest general store. While you’re walking around, satisfy your hunger at one of many restaurants and food vendors along the banks of the river, Front Street, and downtown. You’ll find everything from Italian to sushi to the famous Natchitoches Meat Pies to feast on as well as many tasty snacks and desserts. Along the lake stands many of the set pieces that reflect beautifully off the water. The bridges are decorated with flags and lights as well.

Natchitoches lights 2

Saturday nights are the premier nights for the Natchitoches Christmas Festival. First, listen to some great bands on the new Riverbank Stage. Second, children can enjoy the Holiday Kids Fest. Most important will be the fireworks that happen at 7:00pm. Admission may be charged to the Saturday events. Download the calendar of events here.

The first Saturday of December is the grand Christmas Festival. Enjoy the daylong party filled with music, entertainment, arts and crafts, food vendors, the parade, and the fireworks.

Jill offers these tips if you plan to visit Louisiana’s oldest permanent settlement for the Christmas lights.

  1. If you’re visiting on Saturday, get there early to get parking. Jill suggests arriving between noon and 2:00pm. Police begin closing off Front Street to car traffic in the afternoon.
  2. The Natchitoches Christmas Festival lights shine every night. So try to come out during the week to avoid the crowds.

Even though the festival runs from the weekend before Thanksgiving until January 6, it’s a year round undertaking. According to the Natchitoches Historic District Business Association, city workers begin the long process of hanging the 350,000+ lights and the 100+ set pieces in September. Once they take down the lights, it’s time to inspect and replace the bulbs, construct or fix up the displays, and get ready for the next festival.

Natchitoches Lights 3

Related Topic: See the traditional ways the Historic Washington State Park does Christmas.