Christmas is undoubtedly one of the most magical seasons of the year. It is a time of togetherness, celebration, and indulgence. And while most people envision a white Christmas and mulled cider, in Louisiana, Christmas magic takes on a new meaning.
Christmas isn’t just a day, it’s a frame of mind and while there won’t be a snowflake in sight and Santa might arrive by boat versus sleigh, there is so much to love about a Cajun Christmas. From crackling Christmas bonfires – to lights and fireworks that light up the night sky in December, we’ve compiled a list of the best holiday events in Louisiana this year.
Our Favorite Holiday Events in Louisiana
Opelousas Christmas Festival
First on our list, we have to start with the annual Opelousas Children’s Chirstmas Parade because it is right in our backyard! The parade is set to enchant downtown on Thursday, December 14, at 6 p.m. Starting at Landry and Academy Streets near Le Vieux Village, the parade will wind its way west through downtown, concluding at the intersection of Landry and Bullard Streets. Look forward to a dazzling display with brightly adorned floats, lively marching bands, community organizations, dance groups, and the star of the show, Santa Claus! And, if you’re in the area, stop in and see our showroom at our dealership in Opelousas.
Festival of the Bonfires
Next on our list of must attend holiday events in Louisiana is the Festival of the Bonfires. Enjoy a Cajun style Christmas on the river with food, live entertainment, crafts, Santa’s Very Merry Forest and carnival rides throughout the weekend. The festival takes place December 8, 9, and 10, 2023 and each night will be highlighted with a single bonfire lighting!
Bonfires on the Levee
Similarly, the Festival of Bonfires is only a prelude to this famous Christmas Eve bonfire celebration. Perhaps one of the most famous Louisiana traditions, the river is lit up, not by lights but by fire! While this may not be traditional, bonfires up to 30ft tall can be found along the Mississippi River from New Orleans to Baton Rouge. Notably, the highest concentration of bonfires is found in St. James Parish and this unique tradition is known worldwide. This is one of the most famous winter events in Louisiana and truly an experience not to miss!
If you’re looking for festive indoor events in Louisiana, spend Christmas in New Orleans. NOLA Christmasfest, presented by Coca-Cola, is a dazzling, family-friendly holiday attraction. With almost 300,000 square feet of rides, giant ice slides, a real ice-skating rink and holiday décor, you will feel the holiday magic here! Plus, you are close to a ton of RV parks and campgrounds, making this an ideal destination for an RV trip.
The Celebration in the Oaks
Also in New Orleans, the Celebration in the Oaks is another one of the events in Louisiana that you should not miss. With the’ City Park’s ancient oak trees aglow in twinkling lights and other colorful light displays, it’s beautiful. You can choose between a walking tour or a driving tour of the park. You can meander through the Botanical Garden, Storyland, and Carousel Gardens Amusement Park. Additionally, this is City Park’s largest fundraiser and has enchanted park visitors since the 1980s. The proceeds go towards the Park’s maintenance, care, and beautification year-round. So, support the park and make memories with your loved ones in City Park this holiday season.
Natchitoches Christmas Festival
Natchitoches (pronounced Nack-a-tish ) is the oldest permanent settlement in the Louisiana Purchase Territory and Natchitoches Christmas Festival is one of the longest running Christmas events in Louisiana. In fact, the festival was started in 1927 and is one of the oldest community-based holiday celebrations in the country. This year’s event begins the Saturday before Thanksgiving and concludes on January the 6th, 2024. Downtown Natchitoches transforms into a holiday wonderland and is decorated with hundreds of thousands of colored lights and set pieces. The festival is known for its holiday lights display and we think it’s an absolute must-see event!
Darkwoods Adventure Park
And if you’re in Natchitoches, another one of our favorite holiday events in Louisianna is a visit to Dark Woods® Christmas. From strolling the twinkling light displays in the woods to sitting firepit side and making s’mores, this is the perfect place to make family memories. And you can even get your pictures with Santa. Focusing on family activities, this event is filled with love and promotes the true meaning of Christmas. This event opens on November 25th and 26th for its official “turn on the lights” weekend, then resumes December 2nd and runs through December 25th. The park is open Wednesday – Sunday from 6:00pm – 9:00pm weekdays and 6:00pm – 10:00pm on weekends.
Candy Cane Lane
Again, if you are looking for a scenic drive to take in Christmas lights, this one’s for you! Located in Calhoun, LA, Candy Cane Lane is a mile-long wooded drive that’s decorated with over one million Christmas lights. It is open daily November 10th -December 30th from 6:00 p.m.-10:00 p.m. However, it is important to note that trailers are not allowed. Additionally, vehicles longer than 30 Ft must have prior approval. However, if you are roaming the country in a small Class C, this is a perfect pit stop to make!
Holiday Trail of Lights
Similarly, if you enjoyed Candy Cane Lane and wanted to enjoy another road trip, check out the Holiday trail of lights. The Louisiana Holiday Trail of Lights is a great way to enjoy the holidays for locals and visitors alike. The trail runs along I-20 and I-49 in north Louisiana and includes the areas of Shreveport and Bossier, Minden, Monroe-West Monroe, Natchitoches, and Alexandria/Pineville. Because each city is within driving distance of one another, this makes for a convenient hour-long trip from city to city.
You can enjoy the downtown lights, local restaurants, shops, and festivals. You can visit the Louisiana Boardwalk Outlets in Shreveport-Bossier and enjoy shopping and dining in Antique Alley in Monroe-West Monroe. Additionally, you can experience the Fasching Fifth Season Celebration and Old-World Christmas Lights Spectacular in Minden and the Christmas parades and safari zoo tour in Alexandria/Pineville. There is so much to see and do from one end of the Louisiana Holiday Trail of Lights to the other!
Which Holiday Events in Louisiana Will You Attend?
Whether you attend one event or attend them all, we hope our lists helps you plan your next Louisiana adventure. And if you’re planning an RV Christmas, here is our Complete guide to celebrating the holidays in an RV. Christmas is as they say, the most wonderful time of the year! We wish you all the best for the holiday and all year!