Disclaimer: Due to COVID-19 concerns, many events might be canceled, postponed, or changed into limited versions, sometimes at very short notice. Please check with event organizers directly for the latest updates (view the "External Resources" section below).
From party-loving New Orleans to historical Natchitoches and colonial Lafayette, there are a lot of unique places to celebrate Christmas in Louisiana. Enjoy some jazz, the Cajun cuisine, and millions of lights.
Celebration in the Oaks in City Park, New Orleans (November 26, 2020–January 3, 2021)
Celebration in the Oaks is one of the largest Christmas events in Louisiana, taking place in the state's party capital—New Orleans. One of the country's most spectacular holiday lights festivals features over 1 million lights. Every winter it attracts more than 165,000 visitors to view the City Park’s famous oak trees wrapped in thousands of beautiful, twinkling lights. Breathtaking animated and still light displays are scattered throughout the Botanical Garden, Storyland, and Carousel Gardens Amusement Park. One of the highlights is the "Dripping Snow Tree" with 40,000 lights. There are 32,800 feet of rope lights within the 25 acres (10 ha). The 2020 edition is different as City Park is planning a special event with a driving tour!
Natchitoches Christmas Season (November 21, 2020–January 6, 2021)
Christmas Festival of Lights in Natchitoches, now known as Natchitoches Christmas Season, dates back to 1927, making it the oldest in the United States. The festival starts on the Saturday before Thanksgiving and concludes on Epiphany. The festival takes place in Downtown Natchitoches, in the Historic District, and along the banks of Cane River Lake. The holiday display features over 300,000 lights, and over one hundred set pieces are on every night at dusk. Festivities include the Christmas Parade, a beauty contest, and fireworks on Saturdays. The Santa Claus House is located on the downtown riverbank. The kids will have an opportunity to tell Santa their wishes, enjoy hot chocolate, and have their photo taken. The 2020 edition requires a purchase of pre-sold armbands ($10) to enter the Riverbank area on Saturdays. Lots of food vendors will welcome guests on the Riverbank all seven days of the week. The shops and restaurants on Front Street can be accessed without an armband even on Saturdays. Guests will be encouraged to wear masks and practice social distancing throughout the season.
Christmas in Roseland at American Rose Center, Shreveport (November 27–December 23, 2020)
The American Rose Center in Shreveport, Louisiana, fully transforms into a winter wonderland for the holidays. Christmas in Roseland starts the day after Thanksgiving and lasts until the weekend before Christmas. It features thousands of dazzling lights and dozens of illuminated displays. There are giant Christmas Cards to the Community, nightly entertainment, the Roseland Express Train, and various fun activities. Warm-up with hot chocolate, corn dogs, and funnel cake and take a photo with Santa, who is available at American Rose Center on certain nights.
Noel Acadien Au Village in Lafayette (December 4–23, 2020)
Christmas at Acadian Village in Lafayette is one of the most special holiday events in the state. Every winter, Noel Acadien au Village puts on half-a-million lights. Its main highlight is the fully-lit Chapel. There are dozens of animated holiday displays, live entertainment, carnival rides, Cajun cuisine, photos with Santa, and holiday shopping. LARC’s Acadian Village is an open-air museum of 19th century Acadian life in southwest Louisiana. It's a perfect backdrop for your Christmas cards and a chance to get an educational experience. Tickets have to be purchased in advance online or at area Shop Rites locations, as there will be no tickets available at the gate.
Alexandria Zoo Holiday Light Safari (canceled in 2020)
Every winter, Alexandria Zoo spreads holiday magic with Holiday Light Safari. It's a great way to create wonderful holiday memories for the whole family. Stroll through the Zoo’s colorful trails illuminated with thousands of lights and featuring amazing animal displays. Kids can also enjoy holiday train rides, a visit with Santa, and other activities. Holiday Light Safari is not taking place in 2020 as they continue the clean-up and recovery from the severe damage by Hurricane Laura.
Light Up the Lake Christmas Celebration at Lake Charles Civic Center (December, dates TBA)
Lake Charles Civic Center Grounds in Lake Charles, Louisiana, hosts a family-friendly Christmas festival every December. It includes parades, fireworks, live music, gifts and crafts, Santa appearances, and other fun activities. The tree-lighting ceremony at The Light Up the Lake is a favorite way to kick off the holiday season for local families. The main highlight of the festival is the Lighted Boat Parade that is usually preceded by a street parade on Ryan Street, heading from Mill Street to Dr Michael DeBakey Drive. The Boat Parade always ends with a spectacular firework display over the lake.