Christmas Eve Bonfires on the Levee: A Louisiana Tradition

Christmas Eve Bonfires on the Levee: A Louisiana Tradition


December 24, 2024    
12:00 am


along the levee, Algiers, Westbank
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Experience a Louisiana tradition like no other: Light the way for Papa Noel!

The Great River Road region from New Orleans to Baton Rouge can lay claim to one of the more unusual public December holiday lighting displays you’ll find in Louisiana: Christmas Bonfires on the Levee.

On the earthen levees bordering the Mississippi River, you’ll find that local Christmas lights aren’t colored bulbs, but instead dozens of 20-to-30-foot-high flaming pyramids of burning logs — like at the Festival of the Bonfires in Lutcher or the Algiers Bonfire & Concert. While the bonfires are, of course, the star of the show, both festivals offer additional activities like amusement rides, craft markets and great food.

The Christmas bonfires are mostly pyramid-shaped, but some can be more fanciful assemblages paying tribute to each area’s culture and heritage, like shapes ranging from replica paddlewheel steamships to local critters like alligators or pelicans. Bonfires are built by families, friends and co-workers who visit, cook and mingle between the fires. It’s a local celebration with an environment akin to football tailgating, and the practice has continued for generations.

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