Holiday festivities light up southwest Louisiana
Each December, southwestern Louisiana communities produce a series of events that make up the Southwest Louisiana Christmas Lighting Festival.
Each town and city in this area has its own character, making it truly unique for visitors. In Lake Charles, the hub city of Calcasieu Parish, visitors can enjoy a Christmas parade through downtown with Santa on the featured float. A community band concert follows at the Lake Charles Civic Center and a lighting ceremony on the front steps, with children singing Cajun Christmas carols, highlighting “cinq boudin” instead of “five golden rings.” In addition, Irish dancers and other community groups perform, leading up to the mayor flipping the switch to light up the downtown area. Festival goers move to the seawall to watch a lighted Christmas boat parade, with a fireworks finale. Other activities include a gingerbread house contest at the convention and visitors bureau, Christmas carriage rides and lighting contests sponsored by the Calcasieu Preservation Society.
The Christmas Festival in the city of Sulphur, to the west of Lake Charles, has grown over the years. In fact, Sulphur is now the only place where it "snows" every year. The events in Sulphur started out modestly, without snow or major fanfare. Now,the Sulphur Balloons on Parade and a Holiday Market housed in a beautiful turn-of-the-century home that was converted into the Brimstone Museum & Henning Cultural Center highlight the events. The house is decorated to the hilt with garlands and lights. Inside, vendors set up shop for early birds who want to get a head start on Christmas shopping. Outside, bands play, carnival rides swirl and food vendors line the streets for Sulphur’s "Christmas Under the Oaks.” See details at Christmas Under the Oaks.
To the north is the city of DeQuincy, which has roots as a railroad town. The holiday train rolls into town for the celebration – see Christmas at the Railroad Museum for details of the events scheduled through December. Kids and grownups alike climb aboard the train, which is decorated like a giant candy cane. The city has a Christmas parade, a tour of historic homes, a lighting ceremony on the grounds of the DeQuincy Railroad Museum and fireworks. The communities of Westlake, Vinton and Iowa also have holiday events with street parades, gumbo, Santa Claus, holiday treats and performing choirs. Find more details at VisitLakeCharles.org.