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Christmas Festival



NATCHITOCHES – In 2016, Natchitoches will be celebrating the 90th Annual Christmas Festival of Lights. Ranked as one of the top three holiday light displays by Yahoo!, the Natchitoches Christmas Festival of Lights is a 45 night celebration of lights, fun and festivities set along the backdrop of downtown Historic Natchitoches and Cane River Lake. Cane River is illuminated by more than 300,000 twinkling lights and 100 set pieces. Highlights of the Natchitoches Christmas season include the 90th Annual Natchitoches Christmas Festival Day – always held on the first Saturday in December, The Holiday Tour of Homes, Natchitoches-NSU Christmas Gala, and spectacular fireworks displays over Cane River Lake.

Named the “Best Southern Small Town” by readers of USA Today in 2015, Natchitoches has a long tradition of Christmas spirit. Since 1926 Natchitoches has been home to one of the oldest community-based holiday celebrations in the country. The Annual Natchitoches Christmas Festival began as a one-day event and has now evolved into a six-week long festival season beginning the Saturday before Thanksgiving and ending on January 6 (Epiphany). Beginning with Turn on the Holidays on Saturday, November 19th, visitors can enjoy live musical entertainment, food vendors and activities along the riverbank, and a spectacular fireworks show over Cane River Lake. Fireworks take place each Saturday through December 31st.

The season kicks off on November 19, 2016 with “Turn on the Holidays,” a Louisiana Main-to-Main event, and features live music entertainment, childrens activities, food vendors, a Holiday Open House at downtown merchants, the official lighting celebration and the first fireworks show of the season. Admission for Turn on the Holidays is free and open to the public.

On December 3, 2016, Santa Claus makes his first appearance in Natchitoches at the 90th Annual Natchitoches Christmas Festival. Taking place on traditionally on the first Saturday of December, the Natchitoches Christmas Festival features the Festival of Lights parade with appearances by Miss Merry Christmas and her Belles, Mrs. Claus and Santa Claus, food vendors, live music entertainment, and the largest fireworks display of the year.

Natchitoches, the oldest permanent settlement in the Louisiana Purchase, is home to a National Historic Landmark District that includes numerous historical homes. Visitors to Natchitoches can tour these homes beginning December 7, 2016 as part of the Holiday Tour of Homes. Tours are held on Wednesday, Friday and Saturday from December 7 to December 17. Saturday tour ticket holders will receive complimentary admission to the Louisiana Sports Hall of Fame and Northwest Louisiana History Museum.

Natchitoches is also home to Northwestern State University and for over 25 years the University has produced a world-class Christmas extravaganza to highlight the talents of the students in the Creative and Performing Arts program. The Annual Christmas Gala delights audiences with an evening of song, dance and performances including the ever popular marching toy soldiers, NSU Dazzlers, NSU Percussion Ensemble, and the Natchitoches-Northwestern Symphony Orchestra. Santa Claus and a few other favorite Christmas characters have also been known to make an appearance or two. The Annual Christmas Gala will be held November 30 – December 2 , 2016 at Northwestern State University’s A.A. Fredericks Auditorium.

Whether you are looking for a festive atmosphere, historical home tour, or theatrical performances, the Natchitoches Christmas Festival Season has it all. In addition to the activities listed, visitors can enjoy area attractions such as the Louisiana Sports Hall of Fame and Northwest Louisiana History Museum, Fort St. Jean Baptiste State Historical Park, shopping along brick-paved Front Street, and a horse-drawn carriage ride through downtown Historic Natchitoches. Plan your trip today and see why the Natchitoches Christmas Festival of Lights is the premiere holiday light festival in the state. Don’t miss this celebration ninety years in the making. For more information and complete schedule of events, please visit or contact Christmas Festival Committee Chairs: Lee Waskom at or Sandra Dickens at For Historic Photos please use this link: