Louisiana Holiday Trail of Lights Boosts Tourism for Nearly Three Decades

The Louisiana Holiday Trail of Lights is an eight-city partnership that offers Christmas festivals, awe-inspiring lighted displays, traditional Cajun and Creole culinary experiences, firework displays, walking tours, holiday home tours, and many other exciting festivities.

Shreveport-Bossier City and Natchitoches were founding members of the original trail that began in 1993 in partnership with two Texas cities – Marshall and Jefferson. The Texas partners have since left the trail and Louisiana partners – Minden, Monroe-West Monroe and Alexandria/Pineville – joined Shreveport-Bossier City and Natchitoches to form the Louisiana Holiday Trail of Lights in 2011.

Despite the changes, the principal goal has remained the same: to increase tourism during November and December when leisure visitation slows down. The economic impact of tourism will be even more important this year after Louisiana’s shelter-in-place orders nearly shuttered tourism for about two months in March and April, as a result of COVID-19.

“Natchitoches will be celebrating its 94th annual Christmas Festival and has been a member of the Holiday Trail of Lights since the beginning,” said Arlene Gould, executive director of the Natchitoches Convention and Visitors Bureau. “As the state’s oldest holiday celebration and one of the nation’s oldest continuing holiday festivals, the return on our investment in the Holiday Trail of Lights has been very valuable for us as a small rural community.”

In the past, the eight partner cities put on more than 100 events from November to December. This year, locals and out-of-town guests are encouraged to visit multiple cities and explore the family-friendly festivities. Many of the events are free and open to the public. All of the cities are about an hour-long drive from the next nearest city on interstates I-20 and I-49.