BY BRANDY EVANS | COURTESY PHOTOS | Nov/Dec 2016
Holiday magic sums up the Louisiana Holiday Trail of Lights. Eight of Louisiana’s most festive cities display millions of twinkling lights and host fun events for the entire family.
“During the holidays something special happens – we slow down and make time for the people that matter the most to us,” said Madeline Deblieux, marketing and public relations manager for the Natchitoches Convention and Visitors Bureau. “The Louisiana Holiday Trail of Lights gives families a chance to gather, have fun and create unforgettable memories.”
Enjoying the Christmas lights is easy. Shreveport-Bossier, Monroe-West Monroe and Minden all dot Interstate 20 when traveling west to east and Natchitoches and Alexandria/Pineville are on Interstate 49, which runs north and south.
The real magic of the Louisiana Holiday Trail of Lights is the diversity of events and attractions in the cities. Alexandria’s Tour of Homes, Monroe-West Monroe’s Santa’s Christmas Village, Shreveport-Bossier’s Christmas in Roseland, Minden’s Christmas at Germantown and Natchitoches’s NSU Christmas Gala are just some of the popular events.
One of the most enchanting and celebrated festivals along the Louisiana Holiday Trail of Lights is the Natchitoches Christmas Festival that takes place from Nov. 19 to Jan. 6.
This year Natchitoches, which was named a Best Southern Town by USA Today, is putting on its 90th festival.
The city usually strings 300,000 lights throughout downtown. This year in honor of the 90th festival, city leaders are piling on even more lights and bringing in the 610 Stompers from New Orleans, a 100-man dance group, to lead the annual holiday parade on Dec. 3.
In Shreveport-Bossier, which is known for its six Vegas-style casinos, the popular Rockets Over the Red Fireworks Show is returning bigger and better than ever on Nov. 26.
This event will span both cities with activities for families at the Louisiana Boardwalk Outlets in Bossier City and across the river at Riverview Park in downtown Shreveport. There will be food and craft vendors, as well as a performance by a national recording artist. Fireworks will light up the neon-lit skyline at 9:15 p.m.
Known as the “Friendliest City in the South,” Minden loves to pay tribute to its German roots.
Make plans to be a part of the Fasching Fifth Season Celebration on Nov. 19. Fasching is Germany’s carnival season and Minden recreates that fun with German food, a midway of carnival rides for kids, live music and more.
Throughout the holiday season, see the Christmas lights and many life-size nutcrackers strewn among the quaint antique shops, bed and breakfasts and restaurants.
Among the attractions here is Alexandria Zoo’s Holiday Light Safari which offers patrons a real adventure. The holiday celebration at the zoo will take place on Dec. 2-3, 9-10 and 16-23.
The Festival Weekend in Monroe-West Monroe on Dec. 2-4 is a real shopper’s paradise. The 100 to 300 block of Trenton Street in West Monroe gets all decked out for the holidays. Nestled in between the shops are great restaurants.
For more things to do on the Louisiana Holiday Trail of Lights, go to its website, holidaytrailoflights.com.
Brandy Evans is the vice president of communications of the Shreveport-Bossier Convention and Tourist Bureau.