Holiday Trail of Lights: Celebrate Around the State
It won’t be hard to get into the Christmas spirit in northwest Louisiana this holiday season. Dozens of events – including festivals, parades, home tours, fireworks extravaganzas and Santa sightings – dot both the calendar and the landscape. Even the greenest, grumpiest Grinch will walk away with a bigger heart and some lasting memories.
Be sure to call ahead or check online to find out all the details about everything listed here.
The area’s first taste of Christmas happens one week before Thanksgiving when Les Boutiques de Noel (Bossier Civic Center, 620 Benton Road in Bossier City, $45 admission, 318.675.9142) begins Nov. 16. The long-running annual four-day event, which features over 100 area vendors, is a shopper’s paradise and this year’s theme is The Best Wholiday Ever.
Always a family favorite, the Louisiana Boardwalk Outlets Tree Lighting Ceremony (Louisiana Boardwalk Outlets, 540 Boardwalk Blvd. in Bossier City, free, 318.752.1455) will also help kickoff Christmas at 6 p.m. Nov. 25. Folks can watch one of the area’s largest outdoor trees jolt to life with a single flip of the switch, visit with Santa and Mrs. Claus and play in the falling “snow.”
For the past 34 years, multiple generations of families have flocked to Christmas in Roseland (American Rose Center, 8877 Jefferson-Paige Road in Greenwood, $20 per carload or $5 per person, free for children ages 2 and under, 318.938.5402) to admire the thousands of lustrous lights, displays and giant painted Christmas cards that turn the 26-acre American Rose Center into a winter wonderland. This year, the fun begins Nov. 24. Kids enjoy taking photos with Santa and riding on the always-magical miniature train, which makes a small loop through the park.
Get in touch with your wild side in north Shreveport during Christmas at Jubilee Zoo (Jubilee Zoo, 6402 Hwy. 1 North in Shreveport, 318.929.7387), where the holiday spirit can be found around every corner at this family-friendly petting zoo beginning Nov. 24. Don’t miss the “sno” pit, hot chocolate, hayrides and more. If you wish, you can even have Breakfast With Santa.
During Holidaze @ artspace (artspace, 708 Texas St. in Shreveport, free, 318.673.6535) the three-story art mecca will be transformed into a winter wonderland filled with displays from Shreveport artist extraordinaire Williams Joyce, a “Bizarre Bazaar” indoor holiday market and a fine arts exhibition – all beginning Nov. 14 and running until Dec. 23.
Everybody loves a good fireworks display, and Rockets Over the Red (Riverview Park, 601 Clyde Fant Memorial Pkwy. in Shreveport and 540 Boardwalk Blvd. in Bossier City, free, 318.752.1455) never disappoints. Activities on both sides of the Red River begin at 4 p.m. and the big boom booms happen at 6:45 p.m.
If stage productions are more your thing, then don’t miss Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer: The Musical (Municipal Auditorium, 705 Elvis Presley Ave. in Shreveport, $29-$59 admission, 318.841.4196). The original television classic will be brought to life Nov. 27 as the cast brings high energy to familiar songs and dialogue.
The Greening of the Louisiana State Exhibit Museum (Louisiana State Exhibit Museum, 3015 Greenwood Road in Shreveport, free, 318.632.2020) is a tradition that has been going on for the past 30 years. In December, area third graders decorate Christmas trees with ornaments they construct in class, enjoy a play and create their own ornaments to take home.
During Tinsel (Line Avenue Shopping District in Shreveport, $25, 318.272.3139) on Dec. 1, participants will be treated to sights and sounds of the season during an after-hours chauffeured shop-til-you-drop experience along the Line Avenue corridor in Shreveport. An official after-party will follow.
The second annual Butterflies in Motion Holiday Pop-Up Shop (Sissy’s Playhouse, 2328 Barksdale Blvd. in Bossier City, free, 318.518.1863) is happening Dec. 2, and it’s a great chance to support local businesses. Get ready for shopping, product sampling, tasting and networking.
For something a little different, head up to north Caddo Parish on Dec. 2 for the Country Christmas Festival (Vivian Town Square, 100 Front St. in Vivian, free, 318.375.3856) in the morning for food, entertainment, crafts and more and the Christmas on Caddo Fireworks Festival (Earl G. Williamson Park, 11425 Hwy. 1 in Oil City, free, 318.489.8358) that afternoon and evening. Festivities begin at 3:30 p.m. and culminate in a fireworks display at 6:30 p.m. Santa will also be present to pose for photos.
Relax with some holiday classics and show tunes during the Shreveport Symphony Orchestra’s Holiday Pops concert featuring Broadway and TV star Sutton Foster (Riverview Theatre, 600 Clyde Fant Memorial Pkwy. in Shreveport, 318.222.7496). She has won two Tony Awards for her performances in Thoroughly Modern Millie and Anything Goes – find out for yourself why on Dec. 2.
Casting Crowns and For King & Country are bringing their A Glorious Christmas Tour (CenturyLink Center, 2000 CenturyLink Center Drive in Bossier City, 318.747.2501) on Dec. 7. Get together with your family, friends or church group to celebrate the most wonderful time of the year.
If your idea of a perfect holiday involves taking in a world-class theater or variety show-type performance, you won’t be disappointed this year. The Russian Grand Ballet Presents The Nutcracker (Shreveport Municipal Auditorium, 705 Elvis Presley Ave. in Shreveport, $25-$85 admission, 318.841.4196) on Dec. 7, and this classic is a must-see for children of all ages. December 8 brings the Shoji Tabuchi Christmas Show (Strand Theatre, 619 Louisiana Ave. in Shreveport, $20-$52.50, 318.226.1481), and his musical repertoire includes everything from country and show tunes to classical and even some Led Zeppelin. Songs of the Season (Shreveport Community Church, 5720 Buncombe Road in Shreveport, $5-$20, 318.683.1562) opens in mid-December and is an amazing production that combines Broadway-style elements with seasonal fun.
Other festivals happening outside the Shreveport-Bossier City limits include Christmas on the Square (Heritage Village Square, 417 Sibley St. in Benton, free), which draws hundreds of people to quaint downtown Benton for everything from live music to a well-attended Christmas parade, and A Better Blanchard’s Small Town Christmas (Blanchard Town Hall, 110 N. Main St. in Blanchard, free, 318.918.8411), where visitors can line up for free photos with Santa, drink hot chocolate, munch on donuts and take in country charm. Both events are on Dec. 9.
Thousands of twinkling Christmas lights will illuminate every day at dusk during Minden’s Old World Christmas Lights Spectacular (Downtown Minden, free, 318.377.4240), beginning on Nov. 18. Over 100 life-size nutcrackers are scattered throughout the town, a nod to the area’s rich German heritage.
The Christmas spirit will abound on Dec. 2, when Wrap It Up Downtown (Downtown Minden, free, 318.377.8630) draws shoppers to the antique, boutique and specialty shops and galleries that line Main Street. That evening, the annual Minden Christmas Parade (Downtown Minden, free, 318.377.8630) will make its way through downtown, boasting everything from marching bands to creatively-decorated floats.
The Minden Historic Residential District’s Christmas Tour of Homes (Minden, $10, 318.294.0238) is on Dec. 9, and visitors can explore four houses surrounding Academy Park — two of which have never been on the tour before.
Natchitoches, one of America’s most charming small towns even in the heat of a Louisiana summer, knows how to do Christmas. The world-famous Festival of Lights (Downtown Natchitoches, 800.259.1714), which runs from mid-November through the first week in January, is chock full of holiday cheer and splendor. There will be a fireworks show every Saturday night during the festival.
The kickoff will be on Nov. 18, when folks gather at the riverfront to Turn on the Holidays (Downtown Natchitoches, free, 800.259.1714). There will be live entertainment and children’s activities, but don’t miss the main event: Over 300,000 lights and 100 set pieces will be illuminated before your eyes.
Twice per year, the Fleur de Lis Arts & Crafts Show (Natchitoches Event Center, 750 2nd St. in Natchitoches, free, 800.259.1714) takes place, and hundreds of vendors gather under one roof — there’s nothing quite like it. Your next chance to check it out is Nov. 25.
For over 25 years, students in the Creative and Performing Arts program at Northwestern University have put on the Natchitoches/Northwestern Christmas Gala (A.A. Fredericks Auditorium, 150 Central Ave. in Natchitoches, $10, 318.357.4522) to showcase their talent. Join them in an evening of song and dance beginning this year on Nov. 29.
The 91st Annual Christmas Festival Day (Downtown Natchitoches, 800.259.1714) is on Dec. 2, and it will feature live music, food vendors, a parade, arts and crafts and a spectacular fireworks show over Cane River Lake that is choreographed to holiday music.
On Dec. 2-3, kids of all ages will enjoy stepping back in time to the 18th century during Christmas on the Cane (Fort St. Jean Baptiste State Historical Site, 155 Rue Jefferson, Natchitoches, 318.357.3101). The holiday celebration will include re-enactors and will feature historical talks about the time period.
A holiday favorite, the Christmas Tour of Homes (Natchitoches, $20, 800.259.1714), will take place over two weekends beginning Dec. 7. Visitors can take in several seasonally decorated houses — including the famous one in the Steel Magnolias movie.