A change of scenery may be just the thing to jump-start your Christmas spirit as this challenging year comes to a close.

Hop in the car and head north to take in the Louisiana Holiday Trail of Lights.

"We are still lighting up Christmas this year," assured Serena Gray, public relations committee chairman for the 27th annual eight-city Trail of Lights.

Organizers of the myriad events in Minden, Monroe, West Monroe, Alexandria, Pineville, Shreveport, Bossier City and Natchitoches all emphasize that COVID-19 safety measures are in place at all events, with some activities being modified from past years.

Take Minden's celebrations, for example. After soaking up some history at the Germantown Colony Museum, stick around for the hayride from 6 p.m. to 10 p.m. Dec. 11. The just over 2-mile-long hayride returns for a second year for this fun trek to see historic properties decorated for the season.

"We have re-imagined this event to be social distance-friendly, so we are incorporating additional tractors and trailers so people can be spread out on the ride and not packed on like we did last year," Gray said.

With Christmas festivals, lighted displays, traditional Cajun and Creole culinary experiences, firework displays, walking tours, holiday home tours and other festivities, there's a lot of trail to cover. A plus is that each city along the trail is about an hourlong drive from the next nearest city via interstates I-20 and I-49.

Here are three of these family-friendly events that everyone is sure to love. For more information on all the others, visit holidaytrailoflights.com.

Natchitoches Christmas Festival

It's the 94th year for central Louisiana's most well-known holiday happening that began with a simple 8-foot star decorated with white lights.

Over the years, new and more elaborate displays were added, along with fireworks each Saturday night. 

"The themes for the displays are indicative of the season, and are also determined by world events," a news release states. "During World War II, a large 'V' for victory was included. The giant American Flag, which anchors the northern end of the displays, was built as a tribute to the men and women of Desert Storm and all other veterans. In addition to the set pieces, the city is covered with more than 300,000 colored lights."

For the 94th year, there will be 110 lighted displays along Cane River Lake.

The lights will remain on through Jan. 6. For more information, go to natchitocheschristmas.com.

Christmas in Roseland

The American Rose Center, 8877 Jefferson Paige Road in Shreveport, features giant Christmas cards to the community, the toasting of marshmallows, live entertainment and "more lights than you can count" throughout its 118-acre outdoor park.

Be sure to save time for a train ride on the Roseland Express. 

“We have once again paired with Red River Lights and Sound Minds to offer even more synced lights to music,” said Beth Smiley, publications director for the American Rose Society. “Our new first circle of roses will be set to music, and the entire core circle of gardens will be lit to give our visitors plenty of room to space out and enjoy a wonderful walk in our winter wonderland of lights!"

Christmas in Roseland will be open from 5:30 p.m. to 10 p.m. each weekend through Dec. 13 and nightly Dec. 17-23.

For more information, visit rose.org/visit-public-gardens.

Candy Cane Lane

Its name just exudes Christmas, doesn't it?

Candy Cane Lane is a milelong wooded drive decorated with over 1 million lights, interactive displays and a lighted tunnel. It's all located at 170 La. 151 North in Calhoun, west of West Monroe.

“Sip a hot cocoa and enjoy the show in one of the most unique Christmas attractions in Monroe-West Monroe,” said Sheila Snow, Discover Monroe-West Monroe vice president of communications.

The cost is $20 per vehicle and $40 per commercial vehicle, cash only. No trailers are allowed through the drive-thru lights and no vehicles over 30 feet in length should drive through without prior approval.

The attraction is open 6 p.m. to 10 p.m. nightly through Jan. 2.

For more info, go to candycanelane.net/#top.


Email Judy Bergeron at jbergeron@theadvocate.com.