The award-winning holiday festival AlexWinterFête returns to the City of Alexandria December 9th through 12th, offering a free, fun, family-friendly festival filled with the activities that have made the event a major attraction, including ice skating, Santa’s village, and a spectacular fireworks display!
“Through the years, AlexWinterFête has become recognized throughout the state as a signature holiday event,” said Alexandria Mayor Jeffrey W. Hall. “Unique activities you can’t get any place else, like the giant outdoor ice skating rink, have made AlexWinterFête a must-attend event not just for Central Louisiana residents, but for folks from throughout the state and even neighboring states.”
AlexWinterFête began in 2015, making 2021 the seventh year for the festival. Due to COVID-19 pandemic limitations, the City held a scaled down AlexWinterFête Wonder Lane in 2020 that featured a drive-thru experience. As guests made their way down the lane, they enjoyed Christmas music, elves and other merry makers, and got a chance to deliver a letter and wave to Santa. Each participant received a treat bag and the chance to enjoy the sights and sounds of Christmas displays with lights along the Alexander Fulton Mini Park site. Last year’s event kept the spirit of AlexWinterFête alive; this year, the full festivities return!
“AlexWinterFête has been tremendously popular in the past, and we are doing everything we can to ensure this year’s event is every bit as entertaining as previous festivals,” explained Marvinette Holly, interim director of Community Services. “We’ll have the ice skating and the fireworks, Jolly Junction, the multicultural village and the stilt walkers and fire breathers and live bands, arts and crafts vendors and great food that people have enjoyed in the past. We have also increased the spacing between vendors to facilitate social distancing.”
The award-winning AlexWinterFête was recognized as the Festival of the Year in 2017 by the Louisiana Travel Promotion Association and in 2019 AlexWinterFête was voted Best Local Event in the Cenla’s Choice Awards competition.
This year, AlexWinterFête will officially open at 5:00pm the evening of Thursday, December 9th, with the traditional lighting of the city Christmas tree and Santa’s arrival in the Rapides Women’s & Children’s Hospital Santa’s Village at the Alexander Fulton Mini Park downtown on Third Street. Ho, Ho, Ho! Santa wants to know what your special wishes are this year! Visit alexwinterfete.com/letter-to-santa/ to print your official AlexWinterFête Letter to Santa stationery! Have your little ones write their very own letter to Jolly Old St. Nick and then drop it in the Santa Letters mailbox located on 3rd Street in Downtown Alexandria! Santa’s elves will make sure that your letter gets to the North Pole! Evening activities will wrap up at 10:00pm.
Activities resume at 4:00pm on Friday, December 10th, with retail, food and a variety of vendors ready to assist guests with their holiday shopping. Activities will include ice skating on the crowd favorite CHRISTUS Cabrini Ice Rink, visiting the Rapides Women & Children’s Hospital Santa’s Village, children’s activities, street performers and live music on stage! The festivities will continue Friday evening until 11:00pm.
Kick things off on Saturday morning, December 11th, as the Fête will host the annual Rapides Urgent Care Ugly Sweater 5K run. Don your gaudiest holiday attire, lace up your running shoes, and head for the starting line! Vendors and other AlexWinterFête activities will get started at 10:00am. After a full day of Fête fun, Saturday night’s activities will culminate with a spectacular fireworks show over the Red River at 10:00pm, with vendor booths closing at 11:00pm.
Activities wrap up on Sunday, December 12th, with the Alexandria Mardi Gras Association Christmas Parade rolling at 2:00pm. This annual favorite event features Christmas themed floats, throws, and entertainment. The parade will once again roll through the heart of Downtown Alexandria and all the AlexWinterFête action! Throw me something, Santa! As the Fête winds down, folks can take a last spin around the rink as ice skating will be available throughout the day Sunday until 8:00pm.
For even more AlexWinterFête information, visit the Fête online at www.alexwinterfete.com.
In addition to the return of AlexWinterFête, Cenla boasts a host of other holiday experiences to help ring in the holiday season this year! Other local Christmas holiday events include the 12 Nights of Christmas as well as the Holiday Light Safari at the Alexandria Zoo.
Holiday Light Safari offers a unique opportunity to see the Zoo in a different light. Attendees can create wonderful holiday memories with a casual stroll through the Zoo’s colorful environment sparkling with thousands of lights and whimsical lighted animal figures. Gates open at 5:30pm on selected dates in November and December, with last admission at 8:00pm. General admission is $8.00 per person ages 4 and up. Friends of the Alexandria Zoo (FOTAZ) members get in for $6.00. Children age 3 and under are free.
The Alexandria Zoo is located at 3016 Masonic Drive. For more information, visit www.thealexandriazoo.com or call (318) 441-6810.
The City of Alexandria is also part of the Louisiana Holiday Trail of Lights. The Louisiana Holiday Trail of Lights formed in 1992 to enhance the holiday experiences for locals, visitors and group tours. The trail runs along I-20 and I-49 in north Louisiana and incorporates Shreveport and Bossier, Minden, Monroe-West Monroe, Natchitoches, and Alexandria/Pineville. Festivities generally start in mid-November and run through the New Year.
The Louisiana Holiday Trail of Lights can be experienced in one day or a week with each day totally unique and special. The cities are all within driving distance of one another, making the tour a convenient hour-long trip from any one city to its neighboring city. Visitors are encouraged to see the brilliant downtown and neighborhood lights, dine at local restaurants, dance at the festivals, and shop in all of the eight festive cities.
Visit holidaytrailoflights.com for a complete listing of cities and events, including themed itineraries to make your travel planning experience even easier to enjoy! Themes include “Eating Your Way Through the Holiday Trail of Lights” and “Shopping Your Way Through the Holiday Trail of Lights”!
And that’s not all! Santa Claus makes his grand arrival at the Alexandria Mall on Saturday, November 20th at 11:00am. Meet Santa, Rudolph, and their character friends during Santa’s Arrival Party. The first 200 guests 12 and under will enjoy goody bags and a free holiday train ride each! Santa and character visits are always free with portrait opportunities available for regular photo prices.
Red River Dance Company presents Tchaikovsky’s beloved masterpiece, “The Nutcracker”, November 27th and 28th. Saturday’s performance begins at 7:00pm and Sunday’s at 2:00pm. Tickets are available at redriverdance.org.
Calvary Baptist Church in Alexandria returns its beloved annual Christmas spectacular, “A Calvary Christmas” December 2nd through 5th. This two-act production will feature live orchestra, choirs of all ages, stunning visual effects, and the Living Nativity! At the heart of this production, will be the true story of Christmas-the manger, shepherds, Joseph and Mary, the Christ child. Select performances will also feature the opportunity to enjoy a delicious Christmas buffet prior to the show. For tickets and additional information, visit calvarynet.net/christmas.
All of that and we’ve just scratched the surface! T.R.E.E. House Children’s Museum will host Christmas in Candyland on Friday, December 3rd. Great live musical and theatrical performances abound this season with events like GTTP Ballet Academy’s performance of “Rudolph!” at Coughlin Saunders Performing Arts Center December 3rd and 4th; Lagniappe Theater Company’s “The Best Christmas Pageant Ever” December 10th through 12th; and the Rapides Symphony Orchestra’s “‘Tis the Season” holiday concert on Sunday, December 5th. For a complete listing of events, check out our Calendar of Events.
This year promises to welcome the holiday spirit to Cenla in a big way! Make plans to get out to enjoy the return of AlexWinterFête and connect with your community through the host of holiday happenings across Central Louisiana this year!