By Charli Stanley

A little over an hour’s drive north of Fort Polk lies one of the most renowned holiday celebrations in northern Louisiana. “The City of Lights” is home of the Natchitoches Christmas Festival and has certainly earned its name. Every year thousands upon thousands of Christmas lights are strung throughout the town, illuminating the banks of historic Cane River. Shops fill their windows with festive decorations in anticipation of the busiest season of the year. Downtown is transformed into a dazzling Christmas wonderland that is sure to fill you with holiday spirit.

Photo by Charli Stanley
Fireworks illuminate the sky over the Cane River at the Natchitoches Christmas Festival of Lights.

From November to January, the festival comes alive every weekend, featuring your favorite festival snacks such as funnel cakes, warm hot chocolate, and Natchitoches’ famous meat pies. Take a stroll through the Beau Jardin and marvel at the lights bouncing off of their rolling water feature. Enjoy live music played by local bands set at the stage. Activities such as bounce houses and face painting are available to keep the kids entertained. For the adults, shop the strip downtown while taking in the warm glow of Christmas all around. Once you have had your fill of shopping, take a break and settle in to watch a grand parade featuring bands, dancers, floats, and, of course, Santa Claus. 

All this, and more, culminates with a beautiful fireworks show set over the river. Hundreds of boxes of fireworks line the opposite side of the river, promising a show worth the wait. Family-sized tarps are available for rent to ensure you have your very own spot to enjoy the view. Bring a blanket and cuddle up on the riverbank as you watch fireworks and lasers dance through the sky to the tune of classic Christmas songs you know and love. And when you get the chance, take a peek at the smiling faces around you as they are lit up in the glow of the season.

Don’t want to take my word for it? That’s okay, check out these illuminating reviews for yourself! Families all throughout Louisiana have fond memories and tales of the Natchitoches Christmas Festival, whether they’ve only gone once or twice, or if it is a yearly family tradition. You’re sure to leave with memories that last a lifetime, and you may even gain a little taste of Louisiana culture while you’re there. If you don’t mind taking a small road trip, this is the perfect template for a fun-packed family weekend during your holiday season here at Fort Polk.