Now that Thanksgiving is out of the way (how were those awkward family conversations, everyone?), we can all focus on the winter holiday season.
In Baton Rouge and Lafayette, this month is filled with parades, light displays, special screenings, plays and even some music. Here are the holiday events you can't miss this year.
In Baton Rouge
FESTIVAL OF LIGHTS: 4 p.m. Friday. North Boulevard Town Square, 222 North Blvd. The Capital City's oldest holiday tradition features the lighting of the 35-foot Christmas tree, fireworks, free ice skating, 10 tons of "real snow" at the snow village, and other children's activities. Free parking inside the Raising Cane's River Center garages. downtownbatonrouge.org.
REINDEER RIDE: 5:30 p.m. Friday. Farr Park, 6402 River Road. A nighttime family bike ride up the levee to downtown Baton Rouge. For ages 8 and up. brec.org.
SANTA IN THE SENATE: 6:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. Friday. Old State Capitol, 100 North Blvd. Take pictures with Santa, enjoy holiday movies and Christmas crafts. Free.
"HOME FOR THE HOLIDAYS": 7:30 p.m. Friday and 3 p.m. Sunday. Raising Cane's River Center Theatre, 220 St. Louis St. Celebrating the spirit of the season, led by Maestro Timothy Muffitt and featuring the Baton Rouge Symphony Chorus. brso.org.
CHRISTMAS IN THE COUNTRY: Friday-Sunday. Downtown St. Francisville. Featuring a lighting of the town Christmas tree at 6 p.m. Friday. Fun run and live music on Saturday. Music, food and a parade Sunday. stfrancisvillefestivals.com.
"THE POLAR EXPRESS": 3 p.m. Saturday, also Dec. 9 and 16. Louisiana Art & Science Museum, 100 River Road South. Enjoy a screening of the beloved holiday movie in the planetarium theater. Features complimentary hot cocoa before each show, starting at 2:15 p.m. lasm.org.
BATON ROUGE ARTS MARKET: 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday. Also Dec. 9 and 16. Lottery Lot, Fifth and Mainstreets, downtown. An open-air market featuring local and regional artists selling their wares. artsbr.org.
A RURAL LIFE CHRISTMAS: 12:30 p.m. to 6 p.m. Sunday. LSU Rural Life Museum, 4560 Essen Lane. This 19th-century Louisiana celebration features music, artisans, storytellers and even a visit from Papa Noel. $10, free for ages 10 and younger. lsu.edu/rurallife.
"MOOSELTOE THE MOOSICAL": 2 p.m. and 6 p.m. Sunday. Manship Theatre, 100 Lafayette St. A holiday-themed musical about a moose with a dream, narrated by Al Roker. $20 plus fees. manshiptheatre.org.
COOL WINTER NIGHTS, HOT JAZZ!: 7:30 p.m. Tuesday and Wednesday. Manship Theatre, 100 Lafayette St. Featuring a jazz program from local musicians Brian Shaw, Willis Delony and Bill Grimes. $30-$40. manshiptheatre.org.
REFLECTIONS OF THE SEASON: Thursdays-Sundays Dec. 7-23. West Baton Rouge Conference Center, 2750 N. Westport Drive. Take a ride through the grounds of the center to view lights or visit the talking reindeer inside the center. Also featuring visits from Santa on Friday and Saturday nights. $5 horse-and-buggy rides available on certain dates. $5 per car and passenger vans. Buses are $1 per person. westbatonrouge.net.
CAROLING IN THE PARK: 5:30 p.m. Friday, Dec. 8. City-Brooks Community Park, 1515 Dalrymple Drive. Enjoy candlelight caroling, marshmallow roasting and other family activities. For all ages. Also features food vendors. brec.org/holiday.
LAMAR HOLIDAY BRASS: 7:30 p.m. Friday, Dec. 8. St. Joseph Cathedral, 401 Main St. Hear holiday classics from the symphony's brass, led by conductor David Torns. brso.org.
CUMULUS KIDS AND FAMILY CHRISTMAS EXPO: 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 9. Lamar-Dixon Expo Center, 9039 S. St. Landry Ave., Gonzales. Featuring shopping and holiday entertainment, including free pictures with Santa, carnival rides and live music. Free. lamardixonexpocenter.com.
ZACHARY CHRISTMAS PARADE: 10 a.m. Saturday, Dec. 9. Main Street, Zachary. Celebrate the season with this festive parade. This year's theme is "Songs of Christmas." (225) 654-6777.
DENHAM SPRINGS CHRISTMAS PARADE: 2 p.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 9. Begins at Denham Springs High School and travels down Range Avenue through the Antique District. This year's theme is "A Hometown Christmas (Past, Present, Future)." cm.livingstonparishchamber.org.
ANNUAL OAKS KIWANIS SANTA FUN RUN: 5 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 9. Downtown Baton Rouge. The 1.25-mile run begins at the corner of Government Street and River Road and ends near the State Capitol grounds. $20 to register, $15 for ages 13 and under. christmasinbr.com/downtown-activities.
CORTANA KIWANIS CHRISTMAS PARADE: 5:30 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 9. Downtown Baton Rouge. The annual event (which has rolled since 1949) celebrates the community with marching bands, celebrities, nonprofit organizations and dance troupes in seasonal themes. christmasinbr.com.
ASLEEP AT THE WHEEL — MERRY TEXAS CHRISTMAS, Y'ALL: 7:30 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 9. Manship Theatre, 100 Lafayette St. The Western swing band gives holiday favorites a honky-tonk twist. $50-$65. manshiptheatre.org. Concert also takes place at 7:30 p.m. Thursday, Dec. 7, and Friday, Dec. 8 at the Acadiana Center for the Arts, 101 W. Vermilion St., Lafayette. More information for those dates is available at acadianacenterforthearts.org.
CREOLE CHRISTMAS & HOLIDAY FAIR: 1 p.m. to 6 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 10. Magnolia Mound Plantation, 2161 Nicholson Drive. This annual event features seasonal decorations on display, traditional holiday songs and folk songs. brec.org.
HOLIDAY BRASS AT HOUMAS HOUSE PLANTATION AND GARDENS: 4:30 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 10. Houmas House Plantation and Gardens, 40136 La. 942, Darrow. An outdoor, family performance to get you in the holiday mood, led by symphony conductor David Torns. Sold out. brso.org.
GEORGE BELL & FRIENDS PRESENT AN EVENING OF HOLIDAY JAZZ: 7:30 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 10, and Monday, Dec. 11. Manship Theatre, 100 Lafayette St. The local musician presents a jazzy spin on holiday favorites. Featuring special guest vocalist Quiana Lynell. $40 plus fees. manshiptheatre.org.
MICHAEL MCDOWELL'S CHRISTMAS SPECTACULAR: 8 p.m. Friday, Dec. 15. Manship Theatre, 100 Lafayette St. The concert pianist presents an evening of musical improvisation on his favorite holiday tunes. $35-$50, plus fees; $12 for students at the door with an ID. manshiptheatre.org.
SANTA ROAD SHOW: Noon to 2 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 16. Gus Young Park, 4200 Gus Young Ave. Get your list ready as Santa makes a stop at this park. Also featuring holiday games, crafts and activities. All ages. brec.org.
"THE NUTCRACKER — A TALE FROM THE BAYOU": 2 p.m. and 6 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 16, and Sunday, Dec. 17. Raising Cane's River Center Theatre, 220 St. Louis St. This Baton Rouge tradition features the production adapted to a Cajun landscape, with world-class guest artists, live accompaniment by the Baton Rouge Symphony Orchestra and more. $22-$55. batonrougeballet.org, raisingcanesrivercenter.com.
CANGELOSI DANCE PROJECT COMMUNITY LEADERS PERFORMANCE AND HOLIDAY MIX: Community Leaders performance at 7 p.m. Friday, Dec. 22. Holiday mix at 2 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 23. Manship Theatre, 100 Lafayette St. Featuring classical, jazz and tap dances in the spirit of Christmas. Friday show is $30-$60 plus fees. Saturday show is $15-$22 plus fees. manshiptheatre.org.
EIGHTH ANNUAL HOME FOR THE HOLIDAYS: 7 p.m. Wednesday, Dec. 27. Manship Theatre, 100 Lafayette St. Singer-songwriters perform in the round at this new holiday tradition for Baton Rouge. $25 plus fees. manshiptheatre.org.
ZOOLIGHTS: Admission gates open at 5:30 p.m. Through Dec. 30, closed Dec. 24 and 25. Baton Rouge Zoo, 3601 Thomas Road. This milelong trail through the zoo features more than 50 illuminated displays of animals. $5 for adults and teens; $4 for seniors; $3 for ages 2-12 and Friends of the Zoo members. brzoo.org.
HOLIDAY LIGHTS AT BATON ROUGE GENERAL: 5:30 p.m. to 11:30 p.m. Through Jan. 5. Baton Rouge General, corner of Bluebonnet Boulevard and Picardy Avenue. The hospital's lawn transforms into a twinkling, singing and musically synchronized light display for the family. Free. facebook.com/brglights.
SHADRACK'S CHRISTMAS WONDERLAND: Dusk to 10 p.m. Through Jan. 7. Lamar-Dixon Expo Center, 9039 S. St. Landry Ave., Gonzales. Featuring more than 2 miles of custom made displays that dance to music played over your car radio. $25 for cars and family vans. $40 for activity vans, limos and mini/half buses. $80 for tours and school buses. lamardixonexpocenter.com.
CHRISTMAS AT BLUE BAYOU: 6 p.m. to 10:30 p.m. Sundays-Thursdays, 6 p.m. to 11:30 p.m. Fridays-Saturdays and holidays. Through Jan. 7. Blue Bayou, 18051 Perkins Road East. A new light show and computerized drive-thru. $28 per car, up to eight passengers. Tickets sold at the gate. christmasatbluebayou.com.
ICE SKATING ON THE RIVER: Dec. 22-Jan. 7. Raising Cane's River Center Arena, 275 S. River Road. Closed Christmas and New Year's Day. The downtown venue turns into a winter wonderland for this holiday tradition perfect for the entire family. Ice skating sessions run 75 minutes. $12; group rates and birthday packages available. Times and more information available at raisingcanesrivercenter.com.
In Acadiana and outlying areas of South Louisiana
FESTIVAL OF LIGHTS: 5 p.m. to 9 p.m. Friday. The Oil Center, Travis Street, Lafayette. A free festival with horse-drawn carriage rides, food, children's activities and live musical entertainment. theoilcenter.com.
NOEL ACADIEN AU VILLAGE: 5:30 p.m. to 9 p.m. Friday-Dec. 23. Acadian Village, 200 Greenleaf Drive, Lafayette. This festival fundraiser features half-a-million lights, carnival rides, photos with Santa, food and music. $10 at the gate. acadianvillage.org.
SAFARI OF LIGHTS: 5 p.m. to 9 p.m. Friday-Sunday, and Friday, Dec. 8-Saturday, Dec. 30. Closed Christmas Eve and Day. Zoosiana, 5601 U.S. 90, Broussard. Stroll through the zoo and see dozens of lighted displays. $7 per person, $6 in advance. Weather permitting, special events available. zoosiana.com/sol, (337) 837-4325.
"THE NUTCRACKER": 7 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 9, and 2 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 10. Heymann Center, 1373 S. College Road, Lafayette. The Lafayette Ballet Theatre presents the classic ballet with principal guest artists from the Pacific Northwest Ballet. $21-$53. lafayetteballettheatre.org, heymanncenter.com.
FESTIVAL OF THE BONFIRES CONCERT: 5:30 p.m. Thursday Dec. 7. Lutcher Park, 2545 Louisiana Ave., Lutcher. A musical performance from Zebra and Image to kick off the Bonfires on the Levee season. $25 at eventbrite.com.
FESTIVAL OF THE BONFIRES: 2 p.m. to midnight Friday, Dec. 8; 9 a.m. to midnight Saturday, Dec. 9; and 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 10. Lutcher Park, 2545 Louisiana Ave., Lutcher. Featuring live music, bonfire lighting on the levee, food and a car show. $5, free for children under the age of 10 and seniors ages 62 and up. festivalofthebonfires.org.
"THE BEST CHRISTMAS PAGEANT EVER": 7:30 p.m. Friday, Dec. 8, and Saturday, Dec. 9, and 2 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 10. Cité des Arts, 109 Vine St., Lafayette. Follow a group of young kids as they set to take over the Christmas pageant. From Wonderland Performing Arts. $12. citedesarts.org.
"HOME FOR CHRISTMAS": 7 p.m. Thursday, Dec. 14. Heymann Center, 1373 S. College Road, Lafayette. The Acadiana Symphony Orchestra presents a holiday-themed show with guests Roddie Romero & the Hub City All-Stars. $20 and up. heymanncenter.com.
"IT'S A WONDERFUL LIFE": 7:30 p.m. Friday, Dec. 15, and Saturday, Dec. 16. Acadiana Center for the Arts, 101 W. Vermilion St., Lafayette. A live radio broadcast of the original play by Joe Landry. $20. acadianacenterforthearts.org.
A VERY COURET CHRISTMAS: 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 16. Couret Farms, 505 W. Pont Des Mouton, Lafayette. Featuring pop-up shops, pictures with Santa, and food and drink. facebook.com/concertsatcouret.
LIGHTWIRE THEATRE PRESENTS "A VERY ELECTRIC CHRISTMAS": 10 a.m. and 6:30 p.m. Thursday, Dec. 21. Heymann Center, 1373 S. College Road, Lafayette. A magical and captivating tale of family, friendship and hope set to timeless holiday hits. $10-$30. heymanncenter.com.
SILVERBACKS' SIXTH ANNUAL IMPROVISED HOLIDAY CELEBRATION: 7:30 p.m. Wednesday, Dec. 20. Feed N Seed, 106 N. Grant St., Lafayette. The improv group presents a "traditional holiday show." $10. facebook.com/silverbacksimprovtheatre.
BONFIRES ON THE LEVEE: Sunday, Dec. 24, at various times. Gramercy, Lutcher and Paulina. Enjoy a traditional Cajun Christmas by seeing bonfires across south Louisiana.
Don't see your event? Let us know if we missed something by emailing us at email@example.com.