L ouisiana is a state full of traditions, from our cuisine to our celebrations and these traditions are in abundant supply during the holidays. We’ll start with a subject close to our hearts: food! Get energized for your merrymaking with a warm bowl of gumbo, Louisiana’s unofficial holiday meal. Whether it’s a traditional chicken and sausage or a special-occasion seafood, gumbo brings sweet sentiments and warm memories to Louisianans and visitors, reminding them of happy celebrations and time with loved ones.  

The turducken—a turkey stuffed with both duck and chicken—is another Louisiana culinary creation that is sure to please and impress your holiday guests! And for dessert, local pecans and sweet potatoes often star in delectable treats such as pralines, pies and pound cakes.

Every year, bonfires are lit along the levees of the Mississippi River between New Orleans and Baton Rouge to light the way for dear Papa Noël. It’s a beautiful community event and one of the most iconic Louisiana holiday traditions. Families, friends and neighbors who build them spend the evening visiting and cooking in their lovely glow. The best viewing is by car in St. James Parish, in and around Gramercy, Lutcher and Paulina along the River Roads on both sides of the Mississippi River (La. Hwys. 44 and 13, respectively).

Busy on Christmas Eve? The Bonfire Festival takes place in Lutcher the second weekend of December and includes a gumbo cook-off, live music and a 5K run, as well as a few of the famous burning structures.

After warming up by the bonfires, take the festivities up north. Santa couldn’t ask for a better road trip than north Louisiana’s Holiday Trail of Lights. Eight towns celebrate the festivities of the season from November to January, including the Natchitoches’ Annual Christmas Festival that appeared in “Steel Magnolias.”

The Christmas spirit is alive and well at events including Alexandria’s Nutcracker Ballet, the German-inspired Fasching Festival in Minden and West Monroe’s festive shopping at the Christmas in Costume on Antique Alley.

Visit Louisiana for the holidays this year and create some special memories of your own. Look to LouisianaTravel.com for more information on these events and other vacation ideas and Happy Holidays!

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