Natchitoches Christmas Festival

Natchitoches Christmas Festival
The city of Natchitoches, Louisiana is famous for its annual Natchitoches Christmas Festival, also referred to as the Festival of Lights. The festival takes place on the first weekend in December, attracting thousands of tourists from all over Louisiana and even out-of-state. It is a major tourist attraction for the area.

The Natchitoches Christmas Festival was founded in 1927 by Max Burgdof, Superintendent of Utilities for the City of Natchitoches. Burdgof decided that the local community needed a special event to celebrate the beginning of the Christmas season. He purchased a bunch of 10-watt Christmas tree bulbs and strung them along Front Street. Burgdof also installed a Christmas set piece on the riverbank. No one is certain why he wanted to do this, but some say that it was Burgdof’s way of saying “Thank you” to the city he loved.

The locals liked the idea of decorating the downtown area with Christmas lights, and the festival became an annual tradition. Over the years, it has grown to feature a display of over 300,000 Christmas lights along the bank of Cane River and more than 100 riverbank set pieces.

In 1936, Sam West and Allen Cox came up with the idea of adding a fireworks display to the festival. Today’s fireworks shows are held every Saturday until New Years Eve. The annual Christmas Festival Parade was added to the festival in the 1940s. It features themed floats, high school marching bands, dance groups, costumed characters, the winners of local beauty pageants and, of course, Santa Claus and Mrs. Claus. The parade is led by a Grand Marshall.

The Christmas season in Nachitoches typically begins on the Saturday before Thanksgiving and runs through January 6. It is filled with a variety of celebrations, entertainment, music, food, tours, and shopping. But the most anticipated day of the holiday season is the first Saturday of December when the official premiere of the Natchitoches Christmas Festival occurs.

The daylong festival is Louisiana’s premiere holiday event. It is filled with live music entertainment, arts and crafts vendors, food booths selling local cuisine, including the famous Natchitoches meat pie, an early afternoon parade, and a spectacular fireworks show choreographed to holiday music over the riverbank of Cane River Lake accompanied by a laser show. The festivals draws an estimated 100,000 visitors every year (and the entire population of Natchitoches is a little over 18,000 people).

Natchitoches Christmas Festival

Photo by Amanda T




Related Articles