This Friday, Baton Rougeans can expect snow in the forecast ­— 10 tons to be exact.

The ice-manufactured snow will be flown in to create a sledding experience in Repentance Park, and is just one of the many features of this year’s Downtown Festival of Lights in and around North Boulevard Town Square.

The event, run by Downtown Development District (DDD), is deemed Baton Rouge’s oldest holiday tradition. Beginning more than 25 years ago, it most notably includes the lighting of the city’s 35-foot Christmas tree.

As the years have progressed, DDD found it time to pass the planning torch to other area agencies as to include more arts, said DDD Development Project Director Casey Tate.

The event is now in the hands of The Arts Council of Greater Baton Rouge. But don’t worry, nothing has been taken away from the beloved festival.

“We maintain the standards,” Tate said. “We show the same holiday movies each year and we do Christmas lights along North Boulevard. These are the traditions families look forward to year in and year out.”

Tate said the Arts Council has been helpful in securing art vendors for The Santa Gift Shop, which will be located in City Hall Plaza.

“That otherwise wouldn’t be a part of the event, but now people can do a little Christmas shopping as well,” Tate continued.

Spearheading the festival on the Arts Council’s end is Sandy Dokka Parfait, projects and technology director for the Council. She said her work has included expanding the festival’s offerings of both visual and performing arts.

“We have also been working with Kyle Kahn and the Cajun Bells who has produced a dance and singing performance especially for the Downtown Festival of Lights. His performance along with performances from John Gray and Ned Fasullo make Baton Rouge’s holiday celebration one not to be missed.”

Parfait said the Council remains excited about the festival’s staples, including Santa in the Senate at the Old State Capitol and the additional snowfall for the sledding experience.

“We have nearly doubled the amount of snow (from last year),” she said. “Kids will be able to take turns sledding down the hill in Repentance Park.”

But the biggest draw of all, she said, is to be part of Baton Rouge’s oldest tradition of families starting off the holiday season.

In addition to the snow and performances, Parfait highlighted free ice skating, food and beverages from Cortana Kiwanis, face painting, balloon twisters, live sculptures, stilt walkers and The EBRP Library bookmobile. There will also be complimentary apple cider from First United Methodist Church, a children’s craft booth from First Presbyterian Church, Strolling Carolers from Theater Baton Rouge, the Louisiana Youth Orchestra bake sale, Rudolph Ride Bike Lighting Contest and more.

Free parking is available in the River Center Garage (corner of Government and St. Louis streets). Additional paid parking is in the Third Street Garage (201 Third St.).

Full schedule details can be found at