Start with joyful parades and a fireworks show, add one million radiant lights and a visit to Santa’s Christmas Village, and you’ve got the makings of an unforgettable holiday season. This is just a taste of what awaits during Monroe-West Monroe’s Christmas on the River, a month-long celebration of the most wonderful time of the year. Family-friendly events and attractions, more than 30 antique shops and trendy boutiques and plenty of chances to visit with Santa Claus mean these sister cities have something to offer just about anyone. If you’re looking for a magical holiday getaway that your whole family will love, visit Monroe-West Monroe.
To help you get the most out of your stay here, we’ve put together seven of the top ways to enjoy the season. Of course, there’s far more going on than what we have here, so check out our calendar of events so you don’t miss out.
Christmas on the River Festival Weekend
Watch as festive holiday parades march by, enjoy a spectacular fireworks display from the banks of the Ouachita River and take in all the other yuletide cheer of Christmas on the River's Festival Weekend (Nov. 30 – Dec. 2). Full of one event after another over three days, Monroe-West Monroe is the best place to be to kick off your holiday season. The party starts with Festival Weekend! Head to Bawcomville for the annual Redneck Parade (Dec. 1), a procession of redneck-themed floats that throw beads, toys and other surprises. If that isn’t enough for you, The Kiwanis Club of West Monroe Christmas Parade (Dec. 1) brings festive cheer to downtown Monroe and West Monroe.
These parades will keep you busy, yet they are just a small part of all the holiday revelry you'll find here. The Monroe Renaissance Fireworks Extravaganza (Dec. 1) brightens the night sky with an epic light show, while Christmas in DoMo (Dec. 1) takes over Monroe's downtown Riverwalk with live music, vendors from across the area and an appearance by Santa Claus himself. Christmas in DoMo also includes the Miss Christmas in DoMo Pageant and the Christmas in DoMo Pet Pageant, so don't miss out on all the action. Finish your festival weekend at the Pecanland Mall for Journey to Bethlehem, a recreation of the very first Christmas starring more than 100 characters in costumes, live animals and first-century shops. And don't miss the Children's Lighted Parade (Dec. 7),when costumed kids on bikes and decorated floats and wagons brighten the night.
With a full stocking's worth of things to see and do during Christmas on the River's Festival Weekend, it's the ideal time to visit Monroe-West Monroe this holiday season.
Santa’s Christmas Village
While it's always great to meet Santa Claus, how often do you get the chance to visit his Christmas village? Step into this winter wonderland and you'll be making ornaments, decorating cookies and riding down Mount Sneaux in no time. Take your time as you admire the outdoor light show and the Coca-Cola Christmas Village train exhibit, and let your kids share what they want for Christmas with Santa. Held from Nov. 17 to Dec. 23 at the Northeast Louisiana Children's Museum, Santa's Christmas Village is a must visit during your holiday retreat in Monroe-West Monroe.
Candy Cane Lane
It's not the holiday season without Christmas lights, and Candy Cane Lane is where you'll want to be. Cruise the one-mile-long route and you'll see more than one million shining lights arranged in a variety of jaw-dropping displays, including a lighted tunnel you can drive through. Sip a hot cocoa and enjoy the show in one of the most unique Christmas attractions around. Want to see it all for yourself? Head to Calhoun from Nov. 16 – Dec. 31 from 6 – 10 p.m. for a fun night out.
Open Air Wagon Rides Through the Lights
As majestic as Candy Cane Lane is, it’s not the only place where you can marvel at Christmas Lights. Climb aboard Landry Vineyards’ open-air wagon and embark on a 30-minute tour of Monroe and West Monroe’s shining lights. These jaunts through downtown West Monroe start at 5 p.m. on every Friday and Saturday night from Nov. 23 to Dec. 29. Although the lights will bring you to the downtown area, you’ll want to stick around to experience the rest the area has to offer. Take in the sights, do some Christmas shopping, savor a craft beer at Ouachita Brewing Company and get your fill at one of the many nearby restaurants.
Christmas at the Biedenharn
When the holiday season hits its stride, guide your sleigh to Christmas at the Biedenharn (Dec. 1 – 29) at the historic Biedenharn Home and Elsong Gardens. Built in 1914 as the home of Joseph A. Biedenharn, the first bottler of Coca-Cola, the house’s halls are decked with decorations that provide the perfect backdrop for family Christmas photos. See the displays and tour the home on a guided tour during which you’ll visit rooms that look as they were still lived in. Then view all the vintage Coca-Cola memorabilia and historical items in the Coke Museum and get a drink at the replica soda fountain before admiring the collection of historic bibles (including an original 1611 King James Bible) at the Bible Museum. Already a must-see attraction, the Biedenharn Home and Elsong Gardens provide a winter wonderland of its own during the holiday season.
Tap your toes to the tunes of the holidays at a Cottonland Christmas (Dec. 6 – 9) show. Area soloists, ensembles and dance groups gather to perform popular Christmas songs while showcasing the many cultures of Louisiana. Celebrate like many people do throughout the Bayou State and you’ll be in a festive spirit in no time. Cottonland Christmas is held at the Strauss Theatre Center, a performing arts venue in Monroe that hosts musicals, plays, and other shows throughout the year. Get your tickets for Cottonland Christmas here.
Coca-Cola Truck Night
With its bright Christmas lights and image of Santa Claus on the side, Coca-Cola’s Christmas truck is an iconic part of the holiday season. Although many will only get the chance to see it on their TVs, you can get an up-close look at it with a visit to the Coke Museum on Dec. 19. Get your photos with the Lighted Coke Truck, enjoy all the live entertainment and explore the museum. Santa and Mrs. Claus will also be there to listen to your kids’ last-minute gift requests. In the days before Christmas, Coca-Cola Truck Night serves up a fun night out for the whole family and a chance to catch your breath from all that shopping.
Whether you’re traveling with your family or you simply want to experience the magic of the holiday season, visit Monroe-West Monroe for Christmas on the River. Plan your stay here.