In south Louisiana, we sure do love a good bonfire. But there's probably no place around that does it as big as the River Parishes along the Mississippi River.

Bonfires on the Levee that happen on Christmas Eve are a long-running tradition that dates back to the 1700s.

River Parishes Tourist Commission
River Parishes Tourist Commission

This celebratory practice was brought over by the French-German settlers of Louisiana's River Parishes back in the early 18th century.

Some say the enslaved built them at the end of the harvest season to celebrate while others claim the fires were used to light the way for churchgoers to attend Midnight Mass.

However, if you ask a local kid in the area today, and they'll likely tell you the bonfires light the way for Papa Nöel (Santa Claus) to find the good boys and girls along the river.

Whatever historical explanation you want to believe, we can all agree that it's truly a south Louisiana treasure.

Teams of locals work for weeks and sometimes months in preparing their designs for their respective bonfires.

Festival of the Bonfires, Facebook
Festival of the Bonfires, Facebook

One of the most elaborate designs that everyone really looks forward to is located in Garyville, Louisiana and it's coined "Blood, Sweat and Bonfires."

If you follow their Facebook page, you probably have been enjoying the progress of this year's bullfrog design for weeks now.

Well, it's finally done, and over the weekend, the builders unveiled the spectacular construction.

If you want to enjoy Bonfires on the Levee, the lightings start at 7:00 pm on Christmas Eve. (But keep in mind that Papa Nöel flies overhead about midnight so get the kids back home in time.)

Remember that there are several bonfires up and down the levee so feel free to park and walk around and check out as many as you can.

For more information about this year's Bonfires on the Levee, visit

Light Up Acadiana 2022


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