An inside look into the 95th Christmas Festival


China Brown

Jill Leo, the director of the Historic District Business Association, said that planning is a year-round process.

Originated in 1927 by Max Burgdof, superintendent of Utilities for the City of Natchitoches, the Natchitoches Christmas Festival started with only 10-watt Christmas tree bulbs. 95 years later, the city is preparing for the 2021 Christmas season with over 300,000 lights.

Jill Leo, the director of the Historic District Business Association, said that planning is a year-round process.

“Lights begin to go up around September of each year,” Leo said. “It takes a couple of months. The lights are hung by the City Utility Department.”

Leo said the lights are also maintained by the City Utility Department.

“They begin months in advance checking to replace any burned-out bulbs,” Leo said.

Leo said Christmas in Natchitoches is one of a kind.

“The atmosphere of our small historic town is a hard one to duplicate,” Leo said. “ Many visitors tell us they enjoyed festivities as a child and love bringing their children and grandchildren back to experience the same joy.”

The Northwestern State University Department of Creative and Performing Arts joins the city of Natchitoches with their annual Christmas Gala.

Scott Burrell, director of Creative and Performing Arts, said the Christmas Gala is the School of Creative and Performing Arts’ gift to the community.

“We always try to make sure the Gala is something that would entertain ages from two to 100,” Burrell said.

On Dec. 4, the Christmas Festival holds events throughout the day including the Mistletoe Market and the Festival of Lights Parade.

The Mistletoe Market is the kick off of the Dec. 4 events and is hosted by the Women’s Resource Center.

Jennifer Luna, executive director of the Women’s Resource Center said the event has been a part of the festival for years.
“We provide booth spaces in the downtown area on the parade route for the sales of arts and crafts, and prepackaged food,” said Luna. “We’re the only craft booth that’s on the parade route.”

Luna said craft vendors expand outside of Louisiana.

“We have craft vendors from all over,” Luna said. “From Texas, Arkansas and Mississippi.”

Luna said she is ready to see the excitement from celebrators.

“When it comes to Dec. 4, people are going to want to shop locally,” Luna said. “It’s a wide range of things, which is really exciting.”

The Natchitoches Christmas Festival will begin on Nov. 20, with the official start of the festival “Turn on the Holidays!” taking place from 4:30 p.m. to 9:30 p.m., and will end on Jan. 6.

The city of Natchitoches is ready to have another successful Christmas, continuing to live up to its name as, “The City of Lights.”