In Partnership with the Southern Weekend

Get to Know the 2021 Natchitoches Christmas Festival

For more than 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. The website Cheapism declares it the best light show in the state of Louisiana. For 94 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.”

Everyone along the river bank area needs to wear an armband on Saturdays only. Purchase an armband online here. You will not need an armband to visit the merchants and restaurants along Front Street. On Saturdays, Front Street will be closed to traffic during the season. Thankfully, after a year off during the COVID-19 pandemic, the “Festival of Lights Parade” will roll down Front Street again on Saturday, December 4th at 1:00pm.

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.  Download the calendar of events here.

The 2020 season starts on November 20, 2021 and concludes on January 6, 2021

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.

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.