Posted by: Mae Mayeux
Thanksgiving ushers in the official start of the holiday season in Louisiana. All corners of the state offer their own unique yuletide celebrations guaranteed to get you in the holiday spirit. From colorful light parades to authentic Cajun and Creole traditions, Louisiana is an incredible place to celebrate Christmas. With so many amazing festivals and events to choose from, it can be tough to know which ones are worth your time. That is why we decided to dedicate our latest blog post to our favorite holiday festivals coming your way this November and December. Add them to your calendar for a holiday season you’ll never forget.
Festival of the Bonfires
The St. James Festival of the Bonfires in Lutcher is a beloved tradition dating all the way back to the 1800s. The festival has its roots in French and German celebrations, where it was once a custom to light extravagant bonfires during the holidays. During the festival weekend, elaborate bonfires are constructed using four-sided wooden plank structures that create a large and awe-inspiring blaze when ignited. In addition to the bonfires, there will also be live entertainment, food vendors, carnival rides, beauty pageants, gingerbread house displays, an arts & craft fair, and so much more. Foodies can either compete in the gumbo cook-off or simply try the contestants’ delicious creations for themselves. The festival also holds a potato salad showdown and bread pudding bake-off. Our favorite part of the festival is Santa’s Very Merry Forest, where visitors can stroll through dozens of beautiful Christmas trees decorated by local schools and community organizations.
Festival of Lights
Lafayette turns into a true winter wonderland during the months of November and December. This is the best place to visit to get a taste of the true Cajun Christmas experience. Now in its 25th year, the Festival of Lights is a wonderful local tradition held in Lafayette’s historic Oil Center. The festival centers around the moment when the switch is pulled to light the huge Santa, sleigh, and reindeer flying over Coolidge Boulevard, but that is hardly all this festival has to offer. There will also be romantic horse-drawn carriage rides, live ice sculpting, carnival games, food vendors, and a visit from Santa. Kids will love the face painting, letter writing, and tasty homemade hot chocolate with marshmallows.
Old-Time Christmas Family Day at Vermilionville
If you tend to get nostalgic around the holidays, then the Old-Time Christmas at Vermilionville is the perfect festival for you. Hosted appropriately at the Vermilionville Living History Museum and Folklife Park, this festival is all about celebrating the rich traditions of Christmas past. Instead of Santa Claus, you’ll meet Papa Noel. Kids can even write letters to him and seal them with wax. Instead of Christmas lights and plastic ornaments, you can learn to make your own candles, Victorian paper ornaments, citrus pomanders, and popcorn strings. And like any good holiday festival, there will also be Christmas carols, apple cider, and a public reading of The Night Before Christmas.
Noel Acadien Au Village
November 30th-December 23rd
Also in Lafayette, the Noel Acadien Au Village is an incredible 30 day festival featuring half-a-million lights, live entertainment, carnival rides, local cuisine, photos with Santa, holiday arts & craft vendors, and more. Keeping with the true spirit of Christmas, this festival also supports a good cause. The proceeds from the festival benefit LARC, a local non-profit organization that helps individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities.
12 Days of Christmas
Throughout November and December
The 12 Days of Christmas Festival in Sulphur is actually several different festivals in one. Over the course of the celebration, you can enjoy concert and theater performances, carnival rides, balloon parades, holiday markets, the Spectacle of Lights, and more. At the Christmas Under the Oaks Festival, held November 30 and December 1st in Heritage Square, there will be a visit from Santa, tree lighting, food booths, a holiday carnival, and live performances by Bag of Donuts and Louisiana Express. They also guarantee a 100% chance of snow, thanks to their snow machine.
Light Up the Lake Christmas Celebration
There are countless holiday light parades all throughout Louisiana, but the Light up the Lake Christmas Celebration in Lake Charles is one of the best. The festival begins at 6:30 pm with a spectacular parade through Downtown Lake Charles and continues with a magnificent tree lighting on the Civic Center’s front lawn. For the grand finale of the festival, watch as dozens of festively decorated boats make their way past the seawall as part of the Light Boat Parade, culminating with fireworks over the lake at 8:45 pm. The festival will also include concerts, crafts, food stalls, and the obligatory visit from Santa.
Natchitoches Christmas Festival
November 17th-January 3rd
The Natchitoches Christmas Festival in Northern Louisiana is one of the most popular holiday festivals in the state. During the festival, you can enjoy magnificent light parades, live music, Santa visits, and a variety of other holiday activities. The festival is most famous for its incredible fireworks show, held every Saturday throughout the season. In 2013, Yahoo even named it the 3rd best Holiday Light Show in the nation behind Rockefeller Center and Disney World.
Planning a holiday getaway to Louisiana? Book a stay at one of the Louisiana Bed & Breakfast Association’s many warm and welcoming properties located all across the state.