Natchitoches, Louisiana Events



Founded in 1714 by Louis Juchereau de St. Denis, Natchitoches (pronounced Nack-a-tish) is the original French Colony and oldest city in Louisiana. Home to the Cane River National Heritage Area, Natchitoches celebrates a vibrant blend of French, Spanish, African, Native American and Creole cultures.

The Cane River National Heritage Area encompasses the charming downtown Natchitoches National Historic Landmark District, Cane River Creole National Historical Park, as well as the Cane River National Heritage Trail, which is a Louisiana Scenic Byway that runs along Cane River Lake, and links to the Isle Brevelle Trail and El Camino Real de los Tejas National Historic Trail, with Longleaf Trail and Kisatchie National Forest on the outskirts.

Natchitoches retains its European flavor through its architecture, heritage and lifestyle and a full calendar of events. No matter what time of year you visit Natchitoches, you are bound to find a festival to celebrate! This historic city is just 275 miles from New Orleans, 255 miles from Dallas, and 290 miles from Little Rock.

For up-to-date event and travel information, call the Natchitoches Convention and Visitors Bureau at (800) 259-1714 or visit



April 6-7: 45th Annual Melrose Arts & Crafts Festival – More than 100 vendors feature hand-made items, many of which are one-of-a-kind, at historic Melrose Plantation. Among the items available to visitors will be original art works, stained glass, gourmet pickles and jellies, hand-made jewelry, clothing, photographs, plants, toys, woodworking products, wrought iron artwork, pottery and many other arts and crafts. Tours of the plantation home, the “Big House,” will be available, with guides. Many renowned writers and artists visited and lived at the plantations. Probably the best known resident of Melrose was Clementine Hunter, who came to the plantation as a field hand and taught herself to paint using paints and brushes discarded by an artist at Melrose. The restored Clementine Hunter murals have been returned to their original home on the second floor of the African House. Hunter’s paintings have gained national and international notoriety, and some of her works hang in the Louvre in Paris. She is one of the most recognized primitive artists in Louisiana history. This year will include a children’s art workshop and a juried art contest for high school students. NSU students will provide a student exhibition of art. Ceramic demonstrations by NSU graduate students, James Stringer, Millard Mangrum, and NSU professors Patrick Ramke and Art DeFord will again feature the art of ceramics.  Tickets and info:

April 12-13: NSU’s 3rd Annual LitCon – This is a two-day celebration of the humanities featuring presenters, readers, workshops, and local artists and authors selling their books and art. Free and open to the public. From 9 to 5 both days in the Orville Hanchey Gallery on the NSU campus.

April 13: 4th Annual Natchitoches Dragon Boat Races – The Northwestern State University Office of First Year Experience is proud to present the 4th annual Natchitoches Dragon Boat Races on Saturday, April 13th at the newly renovated downtown Natchitoches riverbank. This year, the races will be planned and executed by the Demon VIP organization on campus, so students can get real world event planning experience while still in school. All proceeds will go to fund future leadership initiatives at NSU. Races will begin at 8 a.m. and will continue throughout the day with vendors, music and activities for families and spectators. Spectator admission is free. Info: 337-519-7771.

April 27: 3rd Annual Cane River Find Your Park Festival – Held at the Oakland Plantation Unit of Cane Rover Creole National Historical Park, the festival will showcase the cultural and natural resources located in the Cane River and Red River regions. Events include hands on activities for children, agricultural demonstrations, and games. Our goal was to create an event that brings the park to life and encourage families to explore Cane River and discover the National Park and Heritage Area in their backyard,” commented Rebecca Blankenbaker, CRNHA Executive Director. The third year of the festival will continue to feature other federal and state partners like the US Army Corps of Engineers, Kisatchie National Forest, and Fort St. Jean Baptiste State Historic Site. The Festival is free and open to the public.

April 27: Kiwanis Pancake Festival & 5K – Takes place at Northwestern State University’s Collins Pavilion located in the heart of the tailgating area on campus. The pancakes will be FREE to all guests and will also be a wide array of events including: a pancake eating contest, pancake flipping contest and a free Kids Zone. The Pancake Festival will once again have their 5k race which will be held on the campus of NSU beginning at 8am. All proceeds raised from this event will be used to support the many programs and projects in the local club including: Terrific Kids, K-Kids, Key Club, Circle-K, Boys & Girls Club water day and many others.

April 27: 6th Annual Cane River Plantation Ride – Three routes cover land steeped in the history of Natchitoches Parish and offer numerous views of Cane River Lake. Participants and families from any route are encouraged to tour the National Park at Oakland and Magnolia plantation at no extra fee. Melrose Plantation is offering a reduced fee for participants and families. Info and registration:

April 27: 37th Annual Chris Roper Memorial Golf Tournament – Northwestern State University will host the 37th annual Chris Roper Memorial Golf Tournament Saturday, April 27 at Northwestern Hills. This year’s festivities will kick off with a cocktail party at Antoon’s at 6 p.m. Friday, April 26. Tee time for the tournament will be at 8:30 a.m. Saturday. The four-man scramble will include prizes for first, second and third place teams, closest to the hole, long drive and door prizes.

May 3-4: Sale on the Trail
– 111 miles of the best deals in town along the El Camino Real National Historic Trail – from Natchitoches to Nacogdoches! Shoppers will find new and used items sold by local businesses and private individuals! In Natchitoches, visit participating shops along Front and St. Denis Streets: Tres Bien Antiques, Georgia’s Gifts, and Dicken’s & Co. Also take time to check out the St. Mary’s Spring Fling on the downtown riverbank featuring games, inflatables, zip line rides, food trucks, a rubber duck derby, and live music from Cane River Soul and other local performers. Then continue down the Trail to Sabine Parish in Louisiana, Sabine County, San Augustine County and Nacogdoches County in Texas.

May 10-11: 23rd Annual Natchitoches Jazz/R&B Festival – Held on the beautiful downtown Natchitoches riverbank, the festival features: 1990s and 2000s hit makers Smash Mouth; Journey tribute band Resurrection; former Bad Company lead singer Brian Howe; South Louisiana R&B artist Cupid & the Dance Party Express Show; New Orleans Funk/Jazz/R&B  legend John Papa Gros; local favorites Johnny Earthquake and The Moondogs; Zydeco/R&B legend Keith Frank and the Soileau Zydeco Band; and “the world’s greatest Hair Band tribute” LA ROXX. More at  

May 31-June 1: Cookin’ on the Cane BBQ Fest – This annual barbecue competition is organized by the Natchitoches Area Jaycees and is sanctioned by the International Barbeque Cookers Association (IBCA).

June 6-8: Louisiana Sports Hall of Fame Induction
– VIP Taste of Tailgating, Round Table Brunch & Induction Banquet.

July 26-27: 40th annual Natchitoches-NSU Folk Festival – Held in air-conditioned Prather Coliseum on the Northwestern State University campus. The 2019 Festival theme “Vive la Louisiane!” celebrates the ways in which so many outstanding artists young and old are tapping into the power and artistry of the old ways, revitalizing and reimagining tradition as they make it their own. Louisiana’s folkways are not just of the past, but also of the present, and the voices of these artists emerge as a clarion call, reminding us of the vibrancy of traditional culture. These artists are today’s tradition bearers, and their impressive mastery of old forms made anew is a showcase of a living cultural legacy.

The folk music of the region, ranging from Cajun, Zydeco, bluegrass, country, blues, and gospel will be performed. Regional material culture crafts, such as beadwork, quilts, spinning and weaving, Native American baskets, Czech Pysanky eggs, and handmade banjos will be exhibited, along with day long demonstrations by the craft persons working on site.

Featured musicians will include blues artist Tab Benoit, Cajun artists the Bruce Daigrepont Cajun Band and the Cajun Tradition Band, country artists Gal Holiday and the Honky Tonk Revue, traditional Americana musicians the Rayo Brothers, and Creole la la musicians Goldman Thibodeaux and the Lawtell Playboys.

Natchitoches Convention & Visitors Bureau






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