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November 2015

November 2015

Holly's Trail of Lights

Hey it’s me, Holly the Holiday Trail of Lights Elf! That’s right—straight from the North Pole and all the way to North Louisiana to celebrate the HOLLYdays the right way (that is, in the eight cities along the Louisiana Holiday Trail of Lights, he-he). I’m so excited to spend the Christmas season in such a cozy, hospitable place, and I’m even more excited to share my adventures with you! Last weekend, I went on the best trip in the whole world, and I traveled to each and every one of the cities along the Trail—it was AMAZING, to say the least! My friends and I had a blast, so let me tell you about it! We started out in Alexandria-Pineville with a tour of the Hotel Bentley, Forts Randolph and Buhlow (where I rode on a ship just my size!), and the Loyd Hall Bed and Breakfast; and we finished the day with dinner at Diamond Grill (I had the duck—it was ah-may-zing!).

I'm on a boat! I'm on a boat!

 

Then, we moseyed on over to the Northeast Louisiana Children’s Museum in Monroe-West Monroe to tour the Biedenharn Museum & Gardens and preview Santa’s Christmas Village (and, of course, test out the new Toboggan slide) before shopping along Antique Alley and stopping to grab lunch at Trapp’s.

10 out of 10 Elfs say the new Toboggan slide at Santa's Christmas Village at the Northeast Louisiana Children's Museum in Monroe is a must-try! Holly tested, Holly approved. 10 out of 10 Elfs say the new Toboggan slide at Santa's Christmas Village at the Northeast Louisiana Children's Museum in Monroe is a must-try! Holly tested, Holly approved.

 

With a full belly, we traveled to Minden where we were greeted by over 100 life-sized nutcrackers (of course, these nutcrackers were giants to me, but they seemed harmless) and the mayor! After I met each and every one of the handsome nutcrackers, we toured the Germantown Colony Museum (where I chilled on a really old, comfy bed) and experienced the lights fantastic as we drove through downtown Minden and departed for the next city.

Not too hard, not to soft. Just right. The beds at the Germantown Colony Museum in Minden were not too hard and not too soft. They were just right (and old).

 

Once we arrived in Shreveport-Bossier, we visited the American Rose Center and previewed the whimsical winter wonderland of Christmas in Roseland, filled with lighted displays and enormous Christmas cards! We stayed at the lovely Fairfield Bed and Breakfast, where I quickly made friends with the incredible collection of Staffordshire Spaniels displayed throughout the house. The next morning, after breakfast, we went shopping at Agora Borealis, the most magnificent and magical art gallery/marketplace in the whole world. It might’ve been cooler than Santa’s workshop, but don’t tell him I said that!

I met a friend from back home while touring Christmas at Roseland in Shreveport! #NorthPoleBFFs I met a friend from back home while touring Christmas at Roseland in Shreveport! #NorthPoleBFFs

 

To finish the trip, we made the quick drive over to Natchitoches, where we toured the Clementine Hunter exhibit at the Louisiana Sports Hall of Fame and Northwest Louisiana History Museum, did some shopping along Front Street, and went to the huge kickoff event, Turn On the Holidays. Turn On the Holidays was amazing! I got to see the Christmas Belles pull the switch to turn on the Christmas lights and the amazing fireworks light up the sky.

The Clementine Hunter exhibit was so neat! Painting is my favorite, but when I asked if I could paint myself into a few scenes, they said no. Maybe next time! The Clementine Hunter exhibit was so neat! Painting is my favorite, but when I asked if I could paint myself into a few scenes, they said no. Maybe next time!

 

So, as you can see, there are SO MANY ACTIVITIES in the Louisiana Holiday Trail of Lights cities! These cities are way better than the North Pole—again, don’t tell Santa. In fact, I don’t know if I ever want to go back. But, anyway, please please please join me as I fly back and forth along the Trail and re-visit the cities and explore everything they have to offer! It’s going to be the best Christmas ever, I can feel it. Stay in touch with my whereabouts by following the Louisiana Holiday Trail of Lights on Facebook and Twitter. But, if you want a little something extra, subscribe to our e-newsletter and receive an update on what I’ve been doing.


Holly HeadshotAvid lover of all things Christmas, Holly the Louisiana Holiday Trail of Lights Elf enjoys traveling from city to city across North Louisiana and sharing her adventures with friends.

More fun facts about Holly:

Registered candy connoisseur

Able to quote every single Christmas movie ever made

Firm believer that North Louisiana is the best place in the whole World

Master of the #Elfie

 

2015 AlexWinterFête: The Perfect Addition to Alexandria/Pineville’s 12 Nights of Lights

Holly, the Louisiana Holiday Trail of Lights Elf, at AlexWinterFête press conference held to announce the new winter-season festival to the area.
Holly, the Louisiana Holiday Trail of Lights Elf, at AlexWinterFête press conference held to announce the new winter-season festival to the area. Holly, the Louisiana Holiday Trail of Lights Elf, at AlexWinterFête press conference held to announce the new winter-season festival to the area.

 

Alexandria/Pineville will be hosting an amazing, new winter festival in conjunction with its 12 Nights of Christmas for the very first time this year from Dec. 3-5. Described as “3 days of winter wonderland,” AlexWinterFête will take over downtown Alexandria, filling the streets with lights, an ice skating rink, a Cultural Village, a gigantic snow globe, and so much more! 12 Nights of Christmas has been going on for more than 16 years, and Kelli West, Marketing Manager for the Alexandria/Pineville Area Convention and Visitors Bureau, explained that these events are a “community holiday-season staple in Alexandria.” So, what better way to enhance the holiday experience than with a 3-day festival to accompany these ever-popular events?! “AlexWinterFête,” West added, “is bringing a lot of the things that are great in Alexandria all to downtown.” Attractions such as the gigantic snow globe photo op, Vendors’ Village retail and food, street performers, and snow will be available throughout the festival, so leave time to check out everything that AlexWinterFête has to offer! It’s going to be an amazing holiday adventure, so start planning now. Here is a preview of just a few things planned for each day of the festival:

  • 3, AlexWinterFête commences alongside Holiday Magic Downtown, the event beginning 12 Nights of Christmas, to celebrate the official lighting of Alexandria’s downtown at 5 p.m. Following the official lighting of the Griswoldian Christmas tree and downtown lights, the festival will take over the downtown area. Ice skating will be available from 6-10 p.m., with skates and ice provided free of charge, and a performance by Robin Barnes with members of the Rapides Symphony Orchestra will begin at 7 p.m.
  • 4, AlexWinterFête re-opens at 4 p.m. with streets full of vendors to help you with your holiday shopping. At 5:30 p.m., the AlexWinterFête winter wonderland expands with ice skating until 10 p.m., along with Christmas lights, snow, live performances, and plenty of activities for the kids. A fireworks show will be held at 9 p.m., so don’t miss it!
  • 5, the Ugly Sweater 5k Run and Contest begins at 8:30 a.m., and the festival continues with performances, snow, shopping, and food all day. Ice skating will be available from 10 a.m. until 9 p.m. Also, AlexWinterFête will feature a Cultural Village with booths displaying the various cultures found in the Alexandria/Pineville community.

West confessed that, out of everything AlexWinterFête has to offer, she is most looking forward to the ice skating and snow, explaining that  because “we do not see a lot of snow in this area of Louisiana … any chance for a piece of winter, like snow, is exciting.” However, I am most looking forward to exploring the Cultural Village to catch a glimpse of the amazing heritage and culture found in Central Louisiana. Not only do I recommend attending this amazing, new festival in your holiday travel plans, but I also suggest fitting in some of the 12 Nights of Christmas events so that you and your family can truly experience an Alexandria/Pineville Christmas along the Louisiana Holiday Trail of Lights. For more ideas as you plan your holiday, visit the Louisiana Holiday Trail of Lights website, Facebook, and Twitter—you never know what great events and attractions you’ll find!

Shop Small Business Saturday with The Agora Borealis in Downtown Shreveport Nov. 28

If you’re like me, you have a million people to check off of your holiday shopping list. I’ve already got my Black Friday Target route planned. My goal is to get in and out as fast as possible so that I can score as many deals as possible. Places like Target and Walmart are great for checking off those big ticket items on your list – but the best way to find the most unique and personal gift for your loved one  is at one of the many small businesses that Shreveport has to offer. Shop Local on Small Business Saturday on Nov. 28! One of my favorite places to shop downtown is The Agora Borealis. On a daily basis, the store sells local art and jewelry (So. Much. Jewelry.). On Small Business Saturday, The Agora Borealis will be hosting their 2nd Annual Shop Small Saturday Trunk Show from 10 a.m. – 6 p.m. Customers will have a chance to meet the local artists and get an opportunity to browse a larger inventory of work. There will also be drawings and giveaways all day. You can check out work from The Custom Stitch, Whootails, Custom Made Coin Rings, Soumas Heritage Creole Creations and more! “This is a time to be thankful for what we have, so why not say thank you in person and be thanked in returned?” said The Agora Borealis owner, Katy Larsen. “Customers will be able to meet the artists and find out why they do what they do. We will be offering discounts, sales, samples and drawings/giveaways. Plus this year we will be participating with other small businesses to create a bigger hub of local support.” Katy is passionate about getting people to shop local because small businesses directly affect our local economy. “The more money we keep in our own community, the more local change we create. Change starts small, here, locally. Big box companies and chains are more likely to leave the market in times of hardship unlike small businesses, rooted in community and culture.” Her favorite small businesses are The Sleepy Hollow, Hippie Baby, Great Raft, Robinson Film Center, Noble Savage, Vessel Vintage, Marilyn's Place, Healthy Chef Meals, Herby K's, Ki' Mexico, Once Upon a Diamond, Tony's Liquor, Rhino Coffee, Northsworthy and Nader's Gallery. The Agora Borealis is just one of many stores that will be a part of Downtown Shreveport’s Small Business Saturday. Many stores will be offering discounts and promotions; you can keep up with them on their Facebook pages. And it gets better! Pick up your Small Business Saturday Passport at any participating store to be entered to win one of these cool prizes:

  • $25 to Marilynn’s Place
  • $25 to the Robinson Film Center
  • 21oz. Jumbo Zombee Candle ($30 value)
  • $30 to Vessel Vintage
  • Great Raft Brewing Gift Set
  • $25 to the Lena’s Shoe Gallery
  • A basket full of goodies from Agora Borealis
  • And more!

The more stores you visit, the more likely you will win!   The Downtown Development Authority has been working hard to create a fun-filled day of shopping and good food. There will be a pancake breakfast and Pop-Up shops at Artspace, food trucks in the Red River District, Painting at Bon Temp’s, and, of course, shopping!  You can learn more here. After you’re done downtown, head over to the Louisiana Boardwalk Outlets for the Rockets Over the Red Fireworks Show starting at 6:30 p.m.

2015 Natchitoches Turns on the Holidays November

This year, Natchitoches will celebrate its 89th Annual Christmas Festival. If you’ve never been to Natchitoches, (which, first, shame on you) you should know that locals are seasoned to expect minor road closures along the streets heading toward the Downtown Riverbank around Halloween as crews work tirelessly to string Christmas lights along the roads and prepare the city for Christmastime. That’s right—the lights start going up before Halloween. If that doesn’t show you how extravagant the Festival of Lights celebration is, I don’t know what will. On Saturday, Nov. 21, the City of Natchitoches will “Turn on the Holidays.” You’re probably wondering why turning on the holidays is such a huge event here in Natchitoches, so I’ll explain. Turn on the Holidays is the official start of the Natchitoches Christmas season, and the Natchitoches Christmas season is comprised, among other things, of over 300,000 Christmas lights, 100 lighted set pieces, 89 years of tradition, and 45 nights of Christmas lights. So, Turn on the Holidays marks the beginning of the city’s famously-extravagant Christmas season. Yes, it’s a huge deal. In celebration of the official start to the Christmas season, the Turn on the Holidays event will feature live musical performances, amusements, food, lights, and an amazing fireworks show over the Cane River Lake. As if it wasn’t already great enough, admission into the event is completely free and open to the public. Here is a schedule of everything happening in Downtown Natchitoches on Nov. 21 as we “Turn on the Holidays”:

  • 10:00 a.m., amusement and food vendors open. All vendors will require Natchitoches Christmas tickets for all purchases. Tickets can be purchased at automated ticket dispensers conveniently located along the downtown riverbank and in select Natchitoches businesses.
  • 11:00 a.m.-1:00 p.m., entertainment schedule begins with a Local Talent Showcase. Local spirit groups and dance teams participating in the annual Festival of Lights Parade on December 5 will give spectators a preview of what they can expect at this year's festival parade.
  • 3:00-5:00 p.m., entertainment resumes with a live performance by the G.Q.P. Band. G.Q.P. exudes great quality with precision and is a versatile party band playing a mixture of Southern Soul, Zydeco, Blues, Classic Rock, R&B and Swing Out jams.
  • 4:00 p.m., Holiday Open House hosted by the Natchitoches Historic Business District. Visitors will have an opportunity to preview the latest holiday merchandise and trends at shops along Front Street. Select shops will extend business hours until 8:00 p.m. to allow for additional shopping time during the Holiday Open House.
  • 5:30-8:30 p.m., live music continues with a performance by Bluesiana Red. A blues band from southwest Louisiana, Bluesiana Red throws down some funky Blues, Rock and Roll, Soul and R&B.
  • 6:45 p.m., Christmas lighting ceremony. The official turning-on of hundreds of thousands of Christmas lights will be the true highlight of the evening. As the lights illuminate the Natchitoches Historic Landmark District for the first time, the City of Natchitoches officially kicks off the Christmas season.
  • 7:00 p.m., fireworks show. Following the lighting ceremony, a spectacular fireworks show will take place over the Cane River Lake. The view from the downtown riverbank is absolutely breathtaking as the Christmas displays provide a picaresque backdrop while the fireworks illuminate the Natchitoches sky.

I am so excited to kick off the Christmas season here in Natchitoches. As a city known for its amazing holiday celebrations, Natchitoches never falls short when it comes to hosting the most memorable, family-friendly events! For more information on attractions and events happening in both Natchitoches and along the Trail, “like” us on Facebook, follow us on Twitter, and subscribe to our e-newsletter so that you and your family stay in the loop!

2015 Longtime Traditions Celebrated in Minden this November

Deemed the “Friendliest City in the South,” Minden, Louisiana will kick off the holiday season this month with long-standing traditions and events that are perfect for any family’s weekend getaway. If you want to get your Christmas shopping started early, Minden is the place to be. From dawn until dusk on Nov. 6 and 7, the Main to Main Trade Days will celebrate its 16th year with 50 miles of food, fun, and shopping. Main to Main Trade Days is located along a 50 mile route that runs through the Webster Parish towns of Cullen, Sarepta, Cotton Valley, Couchwood to Dixie Inn onto Highway 80, through Downtown Minden, and south through Sibley and down to the Webster Parish line. This event is a perfect opportunity for anyone—art lovers, bargain hunters, antique shoppers, flea market enthusiasts, or even shopping aficionados! The sidewalks along the Main Streets of both Minden and Spring Hill will be lined with vendors, and downtown shops will move outside, offering store specials and amazing sales. The unique element of the Main to Main Trade Days is in the variety of vendors that come out. One street corner might have a local church group with homemade gumbo for sale, while the next street corner might have one-of-a-kind handmade jewelry. One end of the street might have homemade pickles, while the other end of the street has original oil paintings on display. The myriad shopping opportunities paired with the convenient locations make for a shopping adventure like no other. This event is made possible through partnerships between Webster Parish communities and businesses, and practicing localism with holiday shopping makes the entire season more special!

Later in the month, on Nov. 21, the folks from Minden invite you and your family to celebrate the Christmas season with them as the city dresses up for the holidays. With thousands of Christmas lights and over one hundred life-sized nutcrackers (yes, you heard me—life-sized nutcrackers!), Minden prepares for its German-inspired holiday kick-off festival: The Fasching Fifth Season Celebration. Between the German food, live music, and an appearance by Weihnachtsmann (better known as Santa Claus), this is a celebration you won’t want to miss! But, wait. It gets better. The Fasching Fifth Season Celebration will end the day with a grand fireworks finale and the Fasching Fifth Season Lights Fantastic. The Lights Fantastic is the official lighting of the holiday lights for the season, and believe me, it’s an incredible sight! The Christmas lights provide a perfect opportunity for self-driving tours, so it’s ideal for holiday enthusiasts of every age. Minden I’m so excited to celebrate Minden’s German heritage this Christmas season. I’m especially looking forward to having my picture taken with Weihnachtsmann and maybe one of the life-sized nutcrackers! What are you and your family looking forward to seeing during this month’s holiday events in Minden? Or, tell us about your favorite German tradition in the city. Let us know in the comments below—we love to hear from all of you! These events are just a small glimpse into Minden’s unique holiday celebrations and traditions. With such a rich heritage that translates into so many facets of the city’s traditions, Minden is absolutely picturesque as it dresses up in its holiday attire! Start planning your adventures along the Trail today, because the season will be here before you know it. Visit our website for a calendar of events in each city. Also, “like” us on Facebook, follow us on Twitter, and subscribe to our e-newsletter so that you can stay up-to-date on everything happening along the Trail!