Baton Rogue is the capital city of Louisiana. It sits on the Mississippi River and it is full of antebellum landmarks like the Old Capital building and the Magnolia Mound Plantation. There are plenty of museums to explore and the city is full of culture.
The quaint charm of the Baton Rouge makes it a great holiday vacation destination. Here are some celebratory things you can do when you’re in town.
Festival of Lights
The Festival of Lights is a great way to kick off the holiday season. It takes place in early December and features the lighting of the 35-foot Christmas Tree at North Boulevard Town Square.
The entire city will be dressed up in Christmas décor and activities will include a snow village and a magical train ride at Old Governor’s Mansion. Santa visits and a Reindeer Run will be taking place at the Old State Capitol and there is also a firework display.
Ice Skate at Baton Rouge River Center
Every year, the River Center transforms into a winter wonderland offering 90-minute skate sessions to visitors. The rink is open from late November to early January and it makes for a festive way to spend the day. You can also book group or birthday packages.
The Downtown Christmas Parade
The Christmas parade has been a Baton Rogue tradition since 1949. It’s the longest running and largest parade and it features live performances, marching bands and dance teams. It kicks off with a battle of the bands at 4:00 and then the floats roll out at 5:30.
The parade begins on River Rd. then turns right on Convention St. and left on Fourth St. It makes a right on Laurel St. and a left on Sixth St. and another left on North St. Then it ends with a right turn on Lafayette.
Bring family, friends, pets and food to make a day out of it.
Zoo Lights at the Baton Rouge Zoo
Zoo Lights takes place at the Baton Rouge Zoo from late November to the end of December. The zoo partners with The Greater Baton Rouge Food Bank and anyone who brings a non-perishable food donation gets 50% off admission.
Once on the property, guests can walk through a mile-long trail of lights and check out the 50 illuminated animal sculptures. There are giant spectaculars such as Holiday Trains, Santa in a Sleigh, Elephants, Giraffes, Rhinos and more. There are also animated displays that use high wattage, computer controlled features to add to the excitement.
Capture memories in the Safari Photo Booth, enjoy seasonal specials at the Flamingo Café and pick up souvenirs at the Safari Post Gift Shop.
A Rural Life Christmas
Every year LSU’s Rural Life Museum creates a Christmas event that takes us back over 150 years.
The grounds of the museum are candlelit and decorated with greenery as costumed re-enactors recreate 19th century era festivities. Reenactments spotlight traditional Louisiana activities such as blacksmithing, dollmaking, candle dipping and rosary making.
Handmade items will be available for sale making for great holiday shopping. The event concludes with a walk to a traditional Louisiana bonfire to await a meeting with Santa.
Creole Christmas at Magnolia Mound Plantation
Magnolia Mound Plantation House is a French Creole House constructed in 1791. It sits near the Mississippi River and currently serves as a museum and a venue for special events.
Every year, the Mound is decked out in Christmas finery as children gather to sing Christmas carols in French and Spanish. There are also period demonstrations, folk crafts and a bonfire is set up to welcome Papa Noel. Some years, a market is featured including local artisans and craftspeople selling unique handmade items.
LSU Holiday Spectacular
The Louisiana State University (LSU) celebrates Christmas in a big way by decorating its campus and hosting festive activities. The event is geared towards the children of the LSU staff, faculty and students but it is a free event that is open to the public. However, guests are encouraged to bring a non-perishable food donation for the LSU Food Pantry or a new toy for the United States Marine Corps Toys for Tots program.
The event includes arts and crafts, games, food, photos with Santa and Mrs. Claus, a tree lighting and more.
Nutcracker: A Tale from the Bayou
For some people, it just wouldn’t be Christmas without a performance of The Nutcracker. When visiting Baton Rouge, you can see a unique take on the performance with this Tale from the Bayou version. It features world class professional guests and artists and live music from the Baton Rouge Symphony Orchestra.
This 25-year-old tradition is led by a cast of over 300 community children and local dancers. Follow Cajun Clara through a world of dancing azaleas and snow-covered oak trees while enjoying the high level of art provided by the well-trained dancers and musicians.
Red Stick Revelry
If you are still in Baton Rouge for New Year’s Eve, Red Stick Revelry is the celebration to be at. Hundreds gather by the Mississippi River to enjoy musical performances, family fun, a laser light show and a firework spectacular.
The event runs from 9 PM to 12 AM. It kicks off with a 9:30 show that features eight high powered laser beams choreographed to music. The show repeats at 11 PM. Then the red stick (symbolic of the name Baton Rouge) drops at midnight accompanied by a firework spectacular.
The holiday season is a great time to take a vacation and Baton Rouge is an ideal destination. With so much to see and do, there is no end to the excitement. Which of these activities will you be fitting in when you visit?