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Day 1 – Arrive in Lafayette, LA. Check into your hotel for a two night stay. Dinner is on own this evening.
Day 2 – This morning meet your local guide for a full day of Lafayette Sightseeing. First stop is the St John Cathedral, the first church in the Lafayette Parish to see The Hanley-Gueno Nativity Exhibit with 300 year old figures (on loan to the Church) and the magnificent 500 Year Old Oak. Then tour the Cemetery and visit the Cathedral Museum which commemorates the persons and events that contributed to the history of St. John Cathedral Parish which spans 185 years.
Next, tour the Alexandre Mouton House, built by Jean Mouton, founder of Vermilionville (present day Lafayette). The home was later occupied by his son, Alexandre Mouton, who became Louisiana’s first Democratic Governor. The home is a repository of period furnishings, historical and cultural memorabilia, Mardi Gras costumes and other art and special collections and decorated for the holidays.
Then you will visit the Acadian Cultural Center in Lafayette which tells stories of the origins, migration, settlement, and contemporary culture of the Acadians (Cajuns) and other area groups. Ranger programs, films, exhibits, and events share a variety of local traditions including music, story-telling, dance, and food, and explore the mysteries of the Atchafalaya Basin, Louisiana’s wildest place.
Tonight, enjoy a Fais Do-Do at a local restaurant featuring Cajun food, live Cajun music and dancing. Locals will be on hand to teach the group Cajun dance steps. Depart for the Acadian Village and the “Noel Acadien au Village”. It is the largest Christmas festival in Louisiana and features half-a-million lights, including the fully lit 19th century Acadian Chapel, themed Acadian home porches, and lighted holiday displays, live entertainment, carnival rides, local cuisine, photos with Santa, holiday shopping, and more. (Available Nov 29-Dec 23)
Day 3 – This morning, visit Martin’s Accordions, the shop of World famous Cajun accordion maker Jr. Martin. See the finest handmade diatonic accordions in many colors and wood finishes. Learn about the history of the accordion, making of the accordion & hear accordion music.
You will then visit Shadows-on-the-Teche, an antebellum home museum. Built for a wealthy sugar planter in 1834, Shadows-on-the-Teche was home to four generations before becoming a National Trust Historic Site. Live Oaks draped with Spanish Moss cast shadows on house, gardens and Bayou Teche. Family furnishings and letters present an authentic “picture of the life” for visitors to this National Historic Landmark. The home should be beautifully decorated for the Holidays.
This afternoon, you will travel to New Orleans. Check into your French Quarter hotel for a two night stay. The evening is free time explore the Quarter and find a nice dinner on your own.
Day 4 – Enjoy a morning of sightseeing with a Walking Tour of the French Quarter, one of America’s oldest and most unique neighborhoods! Follow in the footsteps of historic figures as you stroll along the Mighty Mississippi, through the French Market and Jackson Square. During the holiday season, the city is aglow with twinkling lights, decorated iron-laced balconies and streetcars decked out with garland.
Next, visit Mardi Gras World. Created for you by the people who bring Mardi Gras to life every year: the colors, the lights, the music and the joie de vivre. It’s all here in one magical place where you can peek behind the curtain and see Mardi Gras in the making.
You will have some free time this afternoon for shopping. Find one-of-a-kind treasures from the French Quarter, Canal Place, the New Orleans Arts District and Magazine Street under the tree this year.
Tonight there’s nothing like a New Orleans Reveillon, an old French Creole holiday dining tradition available in restaurants all over the city with affordable prix fixe menus. Sample dishes like Absinthe Oyster Soup and Sugarcane Smoked Muscovy Duck Breast that will make you wish Christmas was a year-long event.
Then you will enjoy the Celebration in the Oaks in New Orleans’ City Park. It is one of the most beautiful holiday light exhibitions in the country, consisting of more than two million bright and shiny lights illuminating the park. Stroll through a park filled with 100-year-old oak trees twinkling with holiday cheer. Walk through the Botanical Garden and Storyland, an amusement area aglow with holiday magic!
Day 5 – After breakfast, depart for home.