The Baton Rouge area is wasting no time in embracing the holiday season. Thanksgiving is barely in the rearview mirror, but the holiday events and festivities are kicking off this weekend.
It's a busy time of year: Hanukkah begins Sunday and continues through Dec. 10; the solstice takes place Friday, Dec. 21; Christmas is the following Tuesday; Kwanzaa runs Dec. 26 though Jan. 1; and of course, there's New Year's. That's a lot to take in.
To help make organizing your December a little easier, we've compiled a guide to the holiday season's major events — parades, festivals, community tree lightings, concerts and theater performances — happening in the Baton Rouge area. This list will be published in two parts: Events happening Nov. 30 through Dec. 13 are below, and look for the second half of the guide Dec. 14. We'll also publish a New Year's Eve guide Dec. 28.
With so much going on in the area, a few events are bound to slip by. Know of an event that Red missed or one that should be included in the Dec. 14 guide? Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Friday, Nov. 30
FESTIVAL OF LIGHTS: 4 p.m. to 9 p.m., downtown Baton Rouge. Family-friendly holiday celebration featuring the lighting of downtown's 35-foot Christmas tree, fireworks, music by Soul Jukeboxx and Ned Fasullo, ice skating, sledding on 10 tons of real snow, artist village, street performers, a free movie and, of course, an appearance by Santa Claus. The festival is centered at North Boulevard Town Square, but look for events happening at the Old Governor's Mansion, Old State Capitol, Louisiana Art & Science Museum and Brunner Gallery. Free. (225) 389-5520; downtownbatonrouge.org.
REINDEER BIKE RIDE: 5 p.m. to 8 p.m., BREC's Farr Park Equestrian Center, 6402 River Road. A colorful family bike ride parade to downtown's Festival of Lights. Equipment and bike lights are not provided. Ages 8 and up. Free.
"POLAR EXPRESS": 7 p.m., St. Thomas More, 11441 Goodwood Blvd. Screening "The Polar Express" on the football field. Admission is free, but donations of blankets, toiletries and monetary gifts will be accepted to benefit the SVDP Women and Children's Shelter. Free hot dogs, popcorn and hot chocolate will be served.
REINDEER RUN & JINGLE BELL JOG: 7 p.m. to 10 p.m., downtown Baton Rouge. 5K and 1-mile race through downtown. Hosted by Forum 35 in conjunction with the Festival of Lights. Meeting place is at North Boulevard Town Square. Jingle Bell Jog, a 1-mile run, begins at 7 p.m.; Reindeer Run 5K begins about 7:20 p.m. Toys for Tots will be accepting new, unwrapped toys. Day-of registration is $30 (ages 6-17) and $35 (ages 18 and up). email@example.com, facebook.com/forum35.
Saturday, Dec. 1
PANCAKES WITH SANTA: 8 a.m. to 11 a.m., Paula G. Manship YMCA, 8100 YMCA Plaza Drive. Pre-registration $5 for members, $10 per person day of event.
A SWAMP POP NIGHT BEFORE CHRISTMAS: 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., Lamar-Dixon Expo Center, 9039 S. St. Landry Ave., Gonzales. Music by Mike Broussard & Night Train, Na Na Sha and Don Rich. Also includes arts vendors, food and pictures with Santa Claus. $15. (225) 450-1009; lamardixonexpocenter.com, 1007thetiger.com.
HOLIDAY FESTIVAL: Noon to 5 p.m., Central Middle School, 12656 Sullivan Road, Central. Featuring games, prizes, food, crafts and face painting.
SCOTLANDVILLE COMMUNITY TREE LIGHTING: 5 p.m. to 8 p.m., Scotlandville Plaza at Scenic Highway and Scotland Avenue. Tree lighting with gospel music, Christmas carols, liturgical dance, puppets and countdown with East Baton Rouge Parish Mayor-President Sharon Weston Broome. Free.
CHRISTMAS IN CENTRAL SQUARE: 5 p.m. to 8 p.m., Central Square at Sullivan and Wax roads. Featuring Toboggan Tunnel, train rides, a live Nativity, photos with Santa and more. Free. (225) 261-0811; discovercentral.net.
CHRISTMAS ON THE BOULEVARD: 6 p.m. to 8 p.m., Mall of Louisiana, 6401 Bluebonnet Blvd. Featuring the Salvation Army of Greater Baton Rouge's Angel Tree, live music, the arrival of Santa and the lighting of the tree. Non-perishable food donations will be accepted for the Greater Baton Rouge Food Bank during the event.
LSU CANDLELIGHT CONCERT "CAROLS OLD & NEW": 7:30 p.m. to 9:30 p.m., LSU Union Theatre. $11-$18. red.vendini.com.
TEDDY'S ANNUAL CHRISTMAS PARTY: 8 p.m., Teddy's Juke Joint, 17001 Old Scenic Highway, Zachary. Featuring Sam Joyner and friends. (225) 892-0064; teddysjukejoint.com.
Saturday, Dec. 1, and Sunday, Dec. 2
PICTURES WITH "CHOCOLATE SANTA": 11 a.m. to 4 p.m., Jewel J. Newman Community Center, 2013 Central Road. Doors open at 10 a.m. Picture packages range from $25 to $35. Proceeds benefit Newman Community Center. For more information, contact Ziera Hayes at (225) 775-3935 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Sunday, Dec. 2
A RURAL LIFE CHRISTMAS: 12:30 p.m. to 6 p.m., LSU Rural Life Museum, 4560 Essen Lane. A 19th-century Louisiana celebration, featuring music, artisan demonstrations, open-hearth cooking, storytellers, a bonfire and Papa Noel. $10 general; free for ages 10 and under. (225) 765-2437; lsu.edu/rurallife.
LOUISIANA ART AND SCIENCE MUSEUM FIRST SUNDAY WITH SANTA: 1 p.m. to 4 p.m., Louisiana Art & Science Museum, 100 S. River Road. Free museum admission and a visit from Santa Claus. (225) 344-5272; lasm.org.
HOLIDAY OPEN HOUSE: 2 p.m. to 5 p.m., West Baton Rouge Museum, 845 N. Jefferson Ave., Port Allen. Featuring ornament making, hot cider, holiday music and a "Find the Elves" scavenger hunt. Free. westbatonrougemuseum.com.
CHRISTMAS WITH THE CHEFS: 5 p.m. to 8 p.m., Tony Dugas Recreation Center, Eden Church Road, Denham Springs. Seven chefs and seven courses with all proceeds benefiting the Earth Angels Foundation. $96 at bontempstix.com.
HOLIDAY DE-TOUR: 6:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m., Main Library at Goodwood, 7711 Goodwood Blvd. A cappella harmonies by the Baton Rouge Chorus, the Red Stick Sound Chorus and the Choristers from Baton Rouge Center for the Visual & Performing Arts. $15 at batonrougechorus.org, or (225) 341-1608.
BATON ROUGE SYMPHONY'S "HOME FOR THE HOLIDAYS": 7 p.m., LSU Union Theater, 310 LSU Student Union. Part of the BASF Orchestral Series. Conducted by Timothy Muffitt. $35-$65. (225) 383-0500; uniontheater.lsu.edu, brso.org.
Thursday, Dec. 6
"CHRISTMAS WONDERLAND HOLIDAY SPECTACULAR": 7:30 p.m., Raising Cane's River Center, 275 S. River Road. Variety show featuring holiday music, glittering costumes and "the highest kicking chorus girls this side of the North Pole." $23-$63. (225) 389-3030; raisingcanesrivercenter.com.
Friday, Dec. 7
IBERVILLE CHRISTMAS BONFIRE FESTIVAL: 5 p.m. to 9 p.m., Nottoway Plantation, 31025 La. 1, White Castle. Featuring bonfires on the levee, arts and crafts vendors, music, fireworks and Christmas tree lighting. $5 per car. (225) 545-2730; nottoway.com.
TOY DRIVE AND HOLIDAY CONCERT: 6 p.m., BRCC's Magnolia Theatre, 201 Community College Drive. Performance by the Marine Forces Reserve Band. Admission is a new, unwrapped toy. mybrcc.edu.
SPOOF NIGHT! CHRISTMAS SPECIAL: 7:30 p.m., Manship Theatre, 100 Lafayette St. Family Dinner Comedy Troupe will spoof classic holiday shorts and TV specials. Rated R-ish. $11. (225) 344-0334; manshiptheatre.org; facebook.com/familydinnerimprov.
SPLASH CHRISTMAS CELEBRATION: 8:30 p.m. to 2 a.m., Splash Nightclub, 2183 Highland Road. Open bar with drinks and domestic beer 8:30 p.m. to 10 p.m. and performances by Le Femme Rouge. Free cover with an unwrapped toy for a child at Our Lady of the Lake Children's Hospital. facebook.com/splashbr.
Friday, Dec. 7, and Saturday, Dec. 8
OPÉRA LOUISIANE'S "AMAHL AND THE NIGHT VISITORS": 7:30 p.m. Friday, 3 p.m. Saturday, The Church International, 2037 Quail Drive. A poor mother and her son are visited by three men following a shining star. Featuring mezzo-soprano Gwendolyn Jones. $22 general, $11.25 students; $27 VIP. (225) 377-2029; operalouisiane.com.
Friday, Dec. 7, through Sunday, Dec. 9
NEW VENTURE'S "BLACK NATIVITY": 7:30 p.m. Friday; 2 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. Saturday; 3 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. Sunday; LSU Shaver Theatre, 105 Music & Dramatic Arts Building. A retelling of the Nativity story from an African-American perspective with dance, spirituals and gospel. Based on the Langston Hughes poem. Directed by Greg Williams Jr. $25 general, $20 students. (225) 588-7576; newventuretheatre.org.
Friday, Dec. 7, through Sunday, Dec. 16
PLAYMAKERS' "ELF THE MUSICAL JR.": 7 p.m. Friday, Dec. 7; 2 p.m. and 5 p.m. Saturdays; 2 p.m. Sundays, LSU Reilly Theatre, 10 Tower Drive. Buddy, a human raised among elves, goes looking for his birth father in New York City. $21 adults, $15.75 ages 2-11. (225) 578-6996; playmakersbr.org.
THEATRE BATON ROUGE'S "A CHRISTMAS CAROL": 7:30 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays, 2 p.m. Sundays, Theatre Baton Rouge, 7155 Florida Blvd. Charles Dickens' classic about the miserly Scrooge and the three ghosts who teach him a love for Christmas. Adapted by Romulus Linney. Additional 2 p.m. matinee Saturday, Dec. 15. A gingerbread workshop ($15) for ages 15 and under will be held after the Sunday, Dec. 9, performance. $25 general, $19 students. (225) 924-6496; theatrebr.org.
Saturday, Dec. 8
*CANCELLED DUE TO RAIN* BATON ROUGE CHRISTMAS PARADE: 5:30 p.m., downtown Baton Rouge. Parade starts at 5:30 p.m. on River Road and rolls through downtown, ending near the State Capitol. A Battle of the Bands competition also will take place at 4 p.m. in front of the River Center. Organized by the Cortana Kiwanis Club of Baton Rouge. (225) 424-7085; christmasinbr.com. Editor's note: This event has been cancelled due to projected rain.
Sunday, Dec. 9
CREOLE CHRISTMAS & HOLIDAY FAIR: 1 p.m. to 6 p.m., Magnolia Mound, 2161 Nicholson Drive. Historic Christmas traditions with storytellers, music, children's games and an arts market. Free. (225) 343-4955; facebook.com/brecmagnoliamound.
Tuesday, Dec. 11, and Wednesday, Dec. 12
"COOL WINTER NIGHTS, HOT JAZZ": 7:30 p.m., Manship Theatre, 100 Lafayette St. Featuring Brian Shaw, Willis Delony and Bill Grimes performing new arrangements and holiday favorites, including Duke Ellington's version of the "Nutcracker" suite. $20-$40. (225) 344-0334; manshiptheatre.org.
Thursday, Dec. 13
OPELOUSAS CHILDREN'S CHRISTMAS PARADE: 6 p.m., downtown Opelousas. Parade begins at 6 p.m. at St. Landry Catholic Church and rolls through downtown, ending on Creswell Lane. (337) 948-6263; cityofopelousas.com.
Thursday, Dec. 13, through Sunday, Dec. 23
ACT'S "IT'S A WONDERFUL LIFE": 7 p.m. Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays; 2 p.m. Sundays; Ascension Community Theatre, 823 Felicity St., Gonzales. A man sees that life isn't so bad when a guardian angel shows him what his town would be like if he had never been born. Directed by Michael Mason. $15-$25. (225) 647-1230; actgonzales.org.
"THE GIFT OF THE MAGI": 7:30 p.m. through Dec. 1, Theatre Baton Rouge, 7155 Florida Blvd. On Christmas Eve, a young couple secretly sell their prized possessions to buy each other a gift. Presented by the Young Actors Program of Theatre Baton Rouge. $19. (225) 924-6496; theatrebr.org.
ZOOLIGHTS: 5:30 p.m. to 9 p.m. through Dec. 30, Baton Rouge Zoo, 3601 Thomas Road. A milelong trail through the zoo with more than 50 illuminated displays of animals and holiday traditions. $3-$5. (225) 775-3877; brzoo.org.
HOLIDAY LIGHTS AT BATON ROUGE GENERAL: Sundown to sunrise through Dec. 31, Baton Rouge General, 8585 Picardy Ave. Light display at the corner of Bluebonnet Boulevard and Picardy Avenue. Walking path always open. Public family nights held 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. Dec. 6 and Dec. 13. Free. (225) 763-4280; facebook.com/brglights.
SHADRACK'S CHRISTMAS WONDERLAND: 6 p.m. to 10 p.m. through Jan. 6, Lamar-Dixon Expo Center, 9039 S. St. Landry Ave. Two miles of light displays synced to music. $25 per car. (704) 455-3200; shadrackchristmas.com.
Compiled by Kristie Bihm and Jake Clapp