Free celebration in Natchitoches on Nov. 17 to kick off the holiday season
NATCHITOCHES, La. — “Turn on the Holidays: A Bicentennial Celebration” will kick off the holidays with a FREE celebration in historic downtown Natchitoches on Saturday, November 17. It will feature an entire day of free live entertainment, including Grammy®-nominated Louisiana native Tab Benoit, as well as bands and special performances representing five participating regions of north and central Louisiana. There will be a holiday marketplace featuring handcrafted items from regional artisans, kid-friendly activities throughout the day, as well as the official turning on of thousands of Christmas lights, followed by a magnificent fireworks display over Cane River Lake.
The event schedule, which takes place on the Natchitoches riverfront, includes the following:
8:00 a.m. until 2:00 p.m. — Holiday Trail of Lights Marketplace
10:00 a.m. until 11:00 a.m. — Red River Dance-Nutcracker
11:00 a.m. until Noon — The Side Men
12:30 until 2:00 p.m. — Matthew Davidson Band
2:15 p.m. until 3:45 p.m. — Lisa Lee Trio
4:30 p.m. until 5:30 p.m. — Minden Community Choir
6:00 p.m. until 9:00 p.m. — Tab Benoit
6:30 p.m. — Festival of Lights Opening Ceremony
7:00 p.m. — Fireworks over Cane River Lake
This joyous celebration is also the premier event for the 86th annual Natchitoches Festival of Lights, the oldest Christmas lights festival in the U.S. “Natchitoches is famous for our Christmas lights,” said Iris Harper, executive director of the Natchitoches Area Convention & Visitors Bureau. “This event is just the beginning of our 45 Nights of Christmas Lights extravaganza which includes more than 300,000 lights, 125-plus scenes along the Cane River and fireworks every Saturday through December.”
The Turn on the Holidays event has been designated an official Bicentennial Celebration by the Louisiana Department of Culture, Recreation and Tourism and is sponsored by Louisiana’s Holiday Trail of Lights, the Louisiana Office of Tourism and Louisiana’s Bicentennial Commission. A special 18-foot Louisiana Bicentennial lighting set piece will be unveiled to the public and will be on display for the first time.
These cities and regions are working cooperatively on Louisiana’s 2012 Holiday Trail of Lights include: Alexandria-Pineville, Minden, Monroe-West Monroe, Natchitoches and Shreveport-Bossier City.
There are events taking place in all five regions during November and December. “Louisiana’s Holiday Trail of Lights will shine brighter than ever before,” said Brandy Evans, vice president of communications at the Shreveport-Bossier Convention & Tourist Bureau. “With lots of popular local attractions, festivals and events, including parades, unique shopping markets, live entertainment, historic tours, Christmas tree lightings, special light displays and fireworks, it is sure to be a joyful and triumphant holiday season.”
To create a customizable itinerary of Holiday Trail of Lights events, view photos from past events or sign up for e-mail alerts, visit www.holidaytrailoflights.com . Stay connected on upcoming events by following Louisiana’s Holiday Trail of Lights on Facebook at www.facebook.com/HolidayTrailOfLights  and Twitter at www.twitter.com/HTOL2.