While the excitement of New Orleans and other bustling Louisiana cities is prominent year-round, you can see the magic of the holiday season firsthand in the more quaint towns and communities. Take part in the Christmas parades that feature appearances from Santa and Mrs. Claus, as well as live performances and entertainment. Travel through Louisiana cities to see the Festival of Light displays and the Holiday Light Safaris. With parks and downtown areas decorated for the season, as well as an abundance of home tours and Christmas festivals, you can find family-friendly fun within minutes from many Louisiana vacation rentals. Choose one of these seven getaways in Louisiana to enjoy this year’s holiday celebrations.

1. Pineville

Pineville, Louisiana, is jam-packed with Christmas-themed events, including the annual Christmas parade in early December. The parade route winds through Main Street and features homemade floats with Santa and Mrs. Claus along for the ride. Spend your days in this popular vacation destination touring historic homes decorated to the hilt for the holidays or viewing the annual Holiday Light Safari in nearby Alexandria. The Alexandria and Pineville areas are known for decking the halls of the cities during their 12 Nights of Christmas celebration, complete with visits from Santa.

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2. Shreveport

Start off your holiday season with a bang when opting for a vacation rental in the Shreveport and Bossier areas of Louisiana. Each year on the first Saturday of December, the Earl Williamson Park lights up with the Christmas on Caddo Fireworks Festival. Spend the evening sampling southern cuisine from the local vendors, listening to live music, and browsing the gifts from the craft vendors. The festival offers entertainment for the kids, too, with clowns on-site and interactive games featuring a holiday twist. If you’re traveling in mid-November, don’t miss the Louisiana Boardwalk’s Christmas Tree Lighting Ceremony, located right on the banks of the Red River.

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3. Lafayette

See a stunning light display when venturing from your Louisiana vacation rental in Lafayette to the Noel Acadien au Village. This colorful light display in early December is a must-see, just like the winter wonderland in November and December known as the Cajun and Creole Christmas event. Enjoy live performances from musicians and carolers in the city center or sign up to tour the residential homes decked out for the holidays. The city also hosts light shows and parades to help get you in the holiday spirit before retreating back to your cozy vacation rental.

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4. Opelousas

Embrace the beauty of this historic town when vacationing in Opelousas during the Lighting of the Village. Residents decorate their homes, businesses outfit their windows with interactive, holiday-themed displays, and the city center comes alive with holiday displays. The Lighting of the Village also spotlights parish buildings in the Le Vieux Village that date back to the 1700s. If you’re vacationing with your pet, take part in the Santa Paws event at the Opelousas police department, a fundraiser that provides neglected animals with the supplies they need.

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5. Natchitoches

The annual Christmas Festival of Lights in Natchitoches brings visitors from near and far to see the 300,000 lights strung along the riverbank in November and December. The Landmark Historic District of the city hosts multiple events you can enjoy at this premier vacation destination for the holidays, such as carriage rides and visits with Santa. Time your vacation to coincide with the Natchitoches Christmas Festival Parade the first Saturday of December to see live music, creative holiday-themed floats, and a light show. The Christmas celebrations kick off in late November with a fireworks display on Cane River Lake.

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6. New Orleans

While New Orleans is a mecca for entertainment all year long, you can’t go wrong with making this lively city your holiday vacation destination. Start your trip with a visit to the Celebration in the Oaks, where City Park is transformed into a winter wonderland of lights. With a vacation rental located near the French Quarter, you’re in close proximity to the Christmas concerts at the St. Louis Cathedral and the carolers who stroll down the downtown streets nightly singing classic Christmas medleys. Sightsee some more with tours of historic homes decorated for the holiday, such as the Louisiana Museum’s 1850s house or the Old Ursuline Convent. If you want a calmer experience in this busy city, opt for a Christmas Tea experience at the Windsor Court Hotel.

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7. Baton Rouge

Christmas in Baton Rouge puts you in the heart of Louisiana’s Southern charm. Head to the city’s center to see the lighting of the Christmas tree or cheer on the bands taking part in the downtown Christmas parade each December. Light displays take over the Brec’s Baton Rouge Zoo beginning at the end of November for the annual ZooLights festival. If you haven’t got your fill of colorful lights, visit the Festival of Lights exhibit at the Louisiana Art and Science Museum, where the kids can see holiday displays firsthand while conducting hands-on experiments.

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