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Christmas in Louisiana

Updated on May 24, 2014

Louisiana Festivals and Traditions

Christmas in Louisiana includes some very interesting and wonderful Christmas traditions from the north to Cajun country (Acadiana) and New Orleans. Some of them even date back to the 1800s such as the tradition of setting bonfires along the Mississippi River to guide Papa Noel. The Natchitoches Christmas Festival on the Cane River made famous in Steel Magnolias is an example of a colorful and vibrant festival that attracts thousands each year.

New Orleans hosts Revellion and the Christmas festival at City Park. Each year wonderfully lighted trees transform City Park into a magical place. Across the state, the Christmas season pervades the atmosphere.

MIssissppi River Parish Bonfires and Papa Noel

A Louisiana Christmas Highlight

This unique and wonderful tradition has grown in popularity in recent years. Bonfires in abundance stretch down the Mississippi River levees in the parishes known in Louisiana as the River Parishes. In Louisiana, the Christmas Eve bonfires date back to the late 1800s based on histories from eyewitness accounts. These are outgrowths of celebratory bonfires in Europe.

They are warm family and community gatherings with lots of gumbo and good food and a time of sharing the season together. Some folks express their creativity with bonfires shaped like riverboats or plantations.

See Great Examples of Bonfires for ideas for creative and imaginative bonfire shapes.

Video of the Christmas River Parish Bonfires

This video is of the annual Christmas Eve bonfires along the Mississippi levees that go up each year to give light and guide Papa Noel--the favorite name of Santa Claus to those with French cultural influences--to the children of south Louisiana.

Video of a Reading of the Cajun Night Before Christmas

Enjoy the reading of this Cajun classic and the Zydeco music!

The Christmas Festival of Lights in Natchitoches

The Christmas Festival of Lights in Natchitoches is the oldest Christmas Festival in Louisiana for good reason. Natchitoches is the oldest settlement in Louisiana and was founded in 1714.

From November before Thanksgiving through Epiphany (January 6th) a steady stream of fun, festive activities occur, highlighted by the festival itself on the Saturday after Thanksgiving in early December. LIghted and decorated boats and houseboats fill the Cane River during the festival and the highlight of the evening is a spectacular fireworks display over the river.

For 2013, the dates of the festival are November 23, 2013 – January 6, 2014.

Other events--not necessarily on the Big Saturday are A Christmas Tour of Homes, Caroling on Front Street, the release of an annual Christmas poster. Click Schedule of Events--2013 Season for the itinerary.

The Natchitoches meat pies are not to be missed. The city is famous for them and they are served up piping hot by multiple vendors.

The festival was immortalized in the movie Steel Magnolias.

A Christmas Cajun - Louisiana Christmas YouTube Video - Enjoy the Christmas Fais do-do

A YouTube Video of Aaron Neville singing Louisiana Christmas Day

This video has great footage of Louisiana and New Orleans. The zydeco-spiced music is perfect.

Christmas Celebration in the Oaks in New Orleans City Park

The city of New Orleans really enjoys their annual Christmas celebration in the Oaks in its City Park. Many people never miss a year. It's a month long festival of lights among the century old Oak Trees that includes an ice rink that warms the locals' hearts and gets them in the Christmas spirit. Millions of lights drape the landscape. This festival includes a miniature train that winds through the park.

The festival offers strolls through the botanical garden filled with lights, Storyland, a children's amusement and theme park. Don't miss the buttered rum! It's not a trip to New Orleans without an adult beverage.

There is a nominal admission fee.

Reveillon in New Orleans - New Orleans' unique celebration of Christmas

A Reveillon in most French speaking countries is a party or long lasting dinner on Christmas Eve or New Year's Eve. The food is always first class. New Orleans take it to a whole other level with multiple wonderful restaurants in the French Quarter taking part with special Christmas menus. Many people take advantage of the prix fixe menu prices to enjoy the gourmet Creole food along with holiday cheer. Revellion is derived from the French word for awakening.

More details for the 2013 season will be posted as they become available.

See for a listing of New Orleans restaurant festivities.

Magazine Street Photo by Infrogmation
Magazine Street Photo by Infrogmation

Magazine Street Shopping in New Orleans

Merriment on Magazine

Magazine Street is an incredible 6 miles of eclectic shopping in the uptown area of New Orleans. It's special anytime as a place to buy unique and artsy gifts, but at Christmas it's just perfect.

Merriment on Magazine Street starts December 1st 2013 and continues every Saturday up to Christmas. See Magazine Street for shopping season details.

A handy Magazine Street shopping guide is available by calling toll-free at 866-679-4764 or by emailing for it at guide@magazinestreet.com.

Happy shopping. And this is so much better than the malls!

Natchitoches Christmas Fireworks over the Cane River

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    • CoolFool83 profile image

      CoolFool83 4 years ago

      Really awesome lense!

    • Scarlettohairy profile image

      Peggy Hazelwood 5 years ago from Desert Southwest, U.S.A.

      Nice peak at Christmas in Louisiana. Fun times, I'm sure!

    • Diane Cass profile image

      Diane Cass 5 years ago from New York

      OMG! I LOVE the Cajun Night Before Christmas! Especially the alligators' names. LOL! What a fabulous place Louisiana is.

    • Virginia Allain profile image

      Virginia Allain 5 years ago from Central Florida

      It's fun to see regional Christmas customs. Thanks for sharing these.

    • Nancy Hardin profile image

      Nancy Carol Brown Hardin 5 years ago from Las Vegas, NV

      Fascinating! I really enjoyed this lens and thanks for sharing.

    • Joan Haines profile image

      Joan Haines 6 years ago

      Rick, we want to know more!