HOLIDAY HAPPENINGS

Christmas activities light up the area from now through the New Year

Advocate Staff Photo by HEATHER MCCLELLAND -- The Cerniavskas family, from left, Barbara, Christopher, 7, on dad Chris's shoulders, and Michael, 8, watch fireworks over the river during the Downtown Festival of Lights in Lafayette Park Friday, Dec. 2, 2011.
Advocate Staff Photo by HEATHER MCCLELLAND -- The Cerniavskas family, from left, Barbara, Christopher, 7, on dad Chris's shoulders, and Michael, 8, watch fireworks over the river during the Downtown Festival of Lights in Lafayette Park Friday, Dec. 2, 2011.

The local Christmas season officially starts when half a million sparkling lights are turned on along North Boulevard in downtown Baton Rouge. It's part of the Downtown Festival of Lights and it takes place Friday, Nov. 30.

Events run from 4 p.m. to 9 p.m., with the lighting of the 35-foot Christmas tree in North Boulevard Town Square at 6:15 p.m. A fireworks show will follow the lighting ceremony. But that's certainly not all.

There will be free ice skating and six tons of real snow to play in at the Snow Village. A balloon artist, stilt walkers and more will walk around entertaining the crowd.

Theatrical performances happen on the community stage in the Hartley/Vey Theatres in the Manship Theatre, John Gray and His Soul Jukeboxx will play on the mayor's stage and screenings of holiday movies are planned in the Manship Theatre.

Among other events are street dancing, Santa's gift shop, a letters to Santa drop-off, strolling carolers, kids' activities, a reindeer run and jingle bell jog at 7 p.m., food and more.

Free parking will be available at the River Center Parking Garage, and First United Methodist Church will offer additional parking at its America Street lot and in the parking area under I-110 next to the church. A shuttle service will run to and from the church to the festival

For more information, call (225) 389-5520.

Here's a list of more holiday events from now through the New Year.

FRIDAY, NOV 23

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THURSDAY, NOV. 29

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TUESDAY, JAN. 1, 2013

WEDNESDAY, JAN. 2, 2013