The month of December means gearing up for the holiday season for most people around the country, but in the Plantation Country of Louisiana we do a little extra.
Imagine standing under the alley of oaks at Oak Alley Plantation as you watch groundkeepers light a bonfire to signal the way for Papa Noel on Christmas Eve. Then, as live music plays in the background, tour the house to see decorations throughout that reflect the historic creole style of decorating. If you can’t make it to the bonfire lighting party, be sure to enjoy the four-course menu at Oak Alley’s Champagne Brunch on Sundays in December.
Down the river a bit is Laura Plantation, the queen of creole plantations, where you will see the traditional teepee-shaped bonfire structure being built during December. In the house, don’t be shocked when you see Christmas trees on the dining room table. It’s the creole way of displaying the trees. If you look closely, you’ll notice the trees look different from modern versions of Christmas tree. The creole Christmas tree is a kumquat tree and the citrus theme is a major part of creole Christmas decorating. You’ll see various citrus decorations at most of the grand homes in Plantation Country, from San Francisco to Destrehan Plantation.
Speaking of Destrehan Plantation, be sure to sign up with Greyline bus tours on Christmas Eve to see the lighting of the bonfires atop the levees in St. James Parish. On the way to the bonfires, you’ll stop at Destrehan for a tour of the home and a true Southern holiday meal in the Plantation’s barn.
Up the River, at Houmas House, you’ll see natural garland draped throughout the home and lights covering everything from five decorated Christmas trees to banisters. Looking for true holiday music? Don't forget to celebrate the season with some delicious cuisine from Latil’s Landing on Christmas Eve.
You can celebrate Christmas anywhere, but only along the Great RIver Road can you take a step back in time and walk under hundred-year-old oaks while a bonfire burns and a symphony plays amid a backdrop of homes decked in garland and citrus, in a style that would surely delight the original owners of the grand homes of yesterday.