This year, Natchitoches will celebrate its 89th Annual Christmas Festival. If you’ve never been to Natchitoches, (which, first, shame on you) you should know that locals are seasoned to expect minor road closures along the streets heading toward the Downtown Riverbank around Halloween as crews work tirelessly to string Christmas lights along the roads and prepare the city for Christmastime. That’s right—the lights start going up before Halloween. If that doesn’t show you how extravagant the Festival of Lights celebration is, I don’t know what will. On Saturday, Nov. 21, the City of Natchitoches will “Turn on the Holidays.” You’re probably wondering why turning on the holidays is such a huge event here in Natchitoches, so I’ll explain. Turn on the Holidays is the official start of the Natchitoches Christmas season, and the Natchitoches Christmas season is comprised, among other things, of over 300,000 Christmas lights, 100 lighted set pieces, 89 years of tradition, and 45 nights of Christmas lights. So, Turn on the Holidays marks the beginning of the city’s famously-extravagant Christmas season. Yes, it’s a huge deal. In celebration of the official start to the Christmas season, the Turn on the Holidays event will feature live musical performances, amusements, food, lights, and an amazing fireworks show over the Cane River Lake. As if it wasn’t already great enough, admission into the event is completely free and open to the public. Here is a schedule of everything happening in Downtown Natchitoches on Nov. 21 as we “Turn on the Holidays”:
- 10:00 a.m., amusement and food vendors open. All vendors will require Natchitoches Christmas tickets for all purchases. Tickets can be purchased at automated ticket dispensers conveniently located along the downtown riverbank and in select Natchitoches businesses.
- 11:00 a.m.-1:00 p.m., entertainment schedule begins with a Local Talent Showcase. Local spirit groups and dance teams participating in the annual Festival of Lights Parade on December 5 will give spectators a preview of what they can expect at this year’s festival parade.
- 3:00-5:00 p.m., entertainment resumes with a live performance by the G.Q.P. Band. G.Q.P. exudes great quality with precision and is a versatile party band playing a mixture of Southern Soul, Zydeco, Blues, Classic Rock, R&B and Swing Out jams.
- 4:00 p.m., Holiday Open House hosted by the Natchitoches Historic Business District. Visitors will have an opportunity to preview the latest holiday merchandise and trends at shops along Front Street. Select shops will extend business hours until 8:00 p.m. to allow for additional shopping time during the Holiday Open House.
- 5:30-8:30 p.m., live music continues with a performance by Bluesiana Red. A blues band from southwest Louisiana, Bluesiana Red throws down some funky Blues, Rock and Roll, Soul and R&B.
- 6:45 p.m., Christmas lighting ceremony. The official turning-on of hundreds of thousands of Christmas lights will be the true highlight of the evening. As the lights illuminate the Natchitoches Historic Landmark District for the first time, the City of Natchitoches officially kicks off the Christmas season.
- 7:00 p.m., fireworks show. Following the lighting ceremony, a spectacular fireworks show will take place over the Cane River Lake. The view from the downtown riverbank is absolutely breathtaking as the Christmas displays provide a picaresque backdrop while the fireworks illuminate the Natchitoches sky.
I am so excited to kick off the Christmas season here in Natchitoches. As a city known for its amazing holiday celebrations, Natchitoches never falls short when it comes to hosting the most memorable, family-friendly events! For more information on attractions and events happening in both Natchitoches and along the Trail, “like” us on Facebook, follow us on Twitter, and subscribe to our e-newsletter so that you and your family stay in the loop!