There’s no wrong way to do Louisiana’s Holiday Trail of Lights. Some people make a mini-vacation out of it and spend 3 or more days taking in the 8 towns that make up the trail. Others like to day-trip it, getting an early start and spending a little time in all or most of the towns, just taking in the seasonal highlights. Others still pick one or two towns each year and experience everything that location has to offer. Whichever way you choose, the Louisiana Holiday Trail of Lights is sure to lift your Christmas spirit and make your Christmas sparkle a bit brighter.
The North Louisiana Holiday Trail of Lights kicks off the season in November and continues through the New Year. The Trail consists of a string of eight cities: Shreveport-Bossier, Monroe-West Monroe and Minden all dot Interstate 20 when traveling west to east and Natchitoches and Alexandria/Pineville are on Interstate 49, which runs north and south. Travel between the cities is convenient, with each city only being about an hour drive from the next.
Each city offers its own unique ambiance and festive highlights:
The sister cities of Shreveport-Bossier are known for their Vegas-style casinos and great shopping at the Louisiana Boardwalk Outlets in Bossier City and across the river at Riverview Park in downtown Shreveport. Don’t miss Christmas in Roseland, a 26-acre park that gets dressed up for winter with more than one million twinkling lights, carolers, magical train rides, and “snow” blizzards!
Originally settled by Germans, the town of Minden is never far from its roots. Starting in November, the town kicks off the season with its Fasching Fifth Season Celebration (covered here in this blog last year). The Old World charm of historic downtown Minden is a perfect backdrop for the town’s Christmas celebration, where brick streets are lined with hundreds of life-sized nutcrackers, dressed up with thousands of twinkling lights, and downtown shops move their store specials outside for a festival-like atmosphere.
The Christmas on the River Festival celebrates the holidays with parades, fireworks and displays of lights that dress up the downtown area and the Tree Jays at the Northeast Louisiana Children’s Museum. Walk through the tunnels of lights at the Wonderland of Lights and enjoy Santa’s Christmas Village, with activities for kids like ice skating, rides down “Mount Sneaux”, and visits with Santa. Shoppers love hunting for treasures at beautiful Antique Alley, a group of antique shops and trendy boutiques. Try to budget some time to see the Biedenharn Museum and Gardens, decked in its holiday splendor. View the Gardens and Coca-Cola Museum too. (Read a past blog on the Christmas on the River festival.)
These two towns offer holiday spirit with hundreds of lights, parades, unique theater and music performances and great shopping. Enjoy the “12 Nights of Christmas” which feature parades, musical events, theatrical performances and more. Make time to see the Alexandria Zoo’s Holiday Light Safari, which transforms the zoo into a Christmas wonderland, dressed in the sights and sounds of the season. Tour nearby historic homes that are beautifully decorated in their Christmas finery.
This city is host to one of the best-known and longest running festivals in Louisiana, the Natchitoches Christmas Festival. Now in its 90th year, this event has been ranked the 3rd “Best Holiday Light Show” after Rockefeller Center and Disneyland by Yahoo! Travel. View more than 300,000 Christmas lights and 100 pieces along the riverbank. Take a carriage tour through the historic district. Tour historic homes to see the amazing Christmas decoration in a beautiful setting. Shops and restaurants stay open late and live entertainment, carolers, and food and craft vendors create a festive atmosphere for all to enjoy throughout the holiday season.
Light up your holiday in North Louisiana at the Holiday Trail of Lights! For more details and full schedules, visit their website.