By Kevin Shannahan
The 2018 Christmas season began in grand style at the “Turn on the Holidays” event Saturday, November 17th at downtown Natchitoches. The downtown riverbank was packed from end to end as thousands of visitors enjoyed a free concert by several local bands. There were inflatables and games for the children and a variety of food and snacks from vendors. Visitors also enjoyed shopping and dining along the iconic bricks of Front Street. Louisiana’s ubiquitous Lt. Governor, Billy Nungesser, was the night’s guest of honor. He was joined on the riverbank stage by the Christmas Belles in turning on the over 300,000 lights in over 100 set pieces that line the Cane river and downtown area.
The turning on of the lights was followed by one of Natchitoches’ signature fireworks shows set to music. The fireworks shows have been an integral part of the Natchitoches Christmas Festival for 82 of the show’s 92 years and are a perennial crowd favorite. The evening’s fun concluded with another concert as the crowd danced the night away under the lights.
The Natchitoches Christmas Festival is in its 92nd year of delivering holiday fun and building family memories. It has grown over the years from a local event into an internationally recognized festival. The Natchitoches Christmas Festival won the 2018 Southeastern Tourism Society’s “Shining Example Award” as a top 20 festival of the year. The Natchitoches Christmas Festival is the oldest, and in the Natchitoches Parish Journal’s opinion, far and away the finest, component of the multi-city “Trail of Lights” that recently won a “Louey” award for best festival/event of the year from the Louisiana Travel Promotion Association.
With 300.000 lights, fireworks, concerts and the festival day’s events, there is nothing quite like the Christmas season in Natchitoches!