Winter 2003 CSANews Issue 49  |  Posted date : May 02, 2007.Back to list

We've Got a Great Deal to Celebrate!
Louisiana has long been a favourite travel destination for visitors from Canada because of its mild climate, unique mix of cultures, variety of outdoor activities (including the incredible new Audubon Golf Trail) and, of course, music and food. This year there are even more reasons to come to Louisiana as we celebrate one of the greatest real estate deals in history - the Louisiana Purchase.

In 1803 Thomas Jefferson and Napoleon Bonaparte negotiated the United States' purchase of Louisiana from France and, with two strokes of a pen, doubled the size of the United States overnight. Two hundred years later Louisiana is celebrating the 2003 Bicentennial of the Louisiana Purchase as only Louisiana can, with historical re-enactments and exhibits, international art exhibitions, musical productions and festivals in almost every corner of the satate.

Included in the special calendar of events for the 2003 Louisiana Purchase Bicentennial are the following events:

"Rodin: A Magnificent Obsession" will feature 72 works representing the full range of Rodin's life work at The University Art Museum at the University of Louisiana in Lafayette from Sept. 20, 2003, to Jan. 4, 2004.

"Josephine: Empress of the Americas" is an exhibit never shown before in the U.S. that features items from Empress Josephine Bonaparte, including memoirs, objets d'art and rare paintings, at The Louisiana Arts and Science Museum in Baton Rouge from Oct. 10, 2003, to Feb. 1, 2004.

"Painting in France, 1802­2003" is a unique exhibition of 200 years of French artistic genius, including works from Cezanne, Monet, Manet, Delacroix, Renoir, Degas, Matisse, Pissaro, Ernst and more. This will be the inaugural exhibition of a new University Art Museum facility at the University of Louisiana at Lafayette from Dec. 20, 2003, to April 1, 2004.

A Re-enactment of the Louisiana Purchase and closing ceremonies of the 2003 Louisiana Purchase Bicentennial Celebration on Dec. 20, 2003, will be held at The Cabildo in New Orleans, where the actual Louisiana Purchase Transfer occurred.

The Audubon Golf Trail
Louisiana's new Audubon Golf Trail gives you seven more reasons to come to Louisiana, with 135 holes to play 365 days a year. The Audubon Golf Trail was named for naturalist/artist John James Audubon, who, enchanted by the natural beauty of Louisiana, painted many of his famous Birds of America series here. All seven courses on the trail are members of the Audubon Cooperative Sanctuary for Golf Courses, a program dedicated to protecting the environment and preserving the natural heritage of the game of golf.

The seven courses that make up the Audubon Golf Trail can be found in each region of the state, from Shreveport in the upper northwestern corner to Baton Rouge in the south-central region. The courses include Olde Oakes Golf Course in Shreveport, Cypress Bend Resort in Many, Tamahka Trails in Marksville, Gray Plantation in Lake Charles, The Bluffs in St. Francisville, The Island in Plaquemine and Calvert Crossing near Monroe.

One of the advantages of playing golf along the Audubon Golf Trail is Louisiana's comfortable year-round climate. While much of the world is shovelling snow, the warm temperatures in Louisiana make the traditional winter months ideal for playing a round of golf along the Audubon Golf Trail. Golf is a true year-round sport in Louisiana, where the greens are always green. Average high temperatures from September through January range from the low to mid 60s throughout the state.

Christmas in Louisiana
Christmas in Louisiana is like no other Christmas you'll experience in the United States. Because of the melting pot of cultures that makes up Louisiana, the traditions are varied and interesting. One French Louisiana twist on the holiday festivities that isn't found anywhere else is the Festival of the Bonfires, which dates back to the 1800s. Hundreds of Christmas bonfires light the banks of the Mississippi River to guide Papa Nöel (the Cajun version of Santa Claus) in his pirogue (a shallow wooden canoe) as he delivers gifts to all the good little Cajun children. Visitors can see the bonfires on a Christmas Eve paddlewheel cruise or walk the levees in the cities of Gramercy, Lutcher and Paulina and see the night ablaze from the light of up to 100 bonfires.

Other unusual twists on the holidays include legends of alligators pulling Santa's floating sleigh up and down the Louisiana bayous. Plantations celebrate the holidays as they were celebrated in a bygone era. And more than 300,000 coloured lights in the "City of Lights," Natchitoches, draw visitors from across the world to the more than 75-year-old Christmas festival.

Mardi Gras
Then, of course, there's the biggest of all the Louisiana celebrations ­ Mardi Gras ­ with parades winding their way not just down Canal Street but also out to the heart of French Louisiana: all along the crawfish ponds and sugar-cane fields of Mamou, Eunice and Church Pointe; and up and down the boulevards of Alexandria, Shreveport, Monroe and points in between. It's carnival time in the state that loves to party, and everybody in the state gets in on the celebration, north Louisiana to south, east Louisiana to west.

Mardi Gras is French for "Fat Tuesday," or Shrove Tuesday, and is an ancient tradition that originated in southern Europe. It celebrates food and fun just before the 40 days of Lent, a Catholic time of prayer and sacrifice, which begins on Ash Wednesday. Mardi Gras evolved from a simple celebration into parades, balls and statewide revelry that some say is the biggest party of the year.

New Orleans is the home of Mardi Gras, where the season begins on Twelfth Night (12 days after Christmas) and finishes on Fat Tuesday. Lafayette is a good place to let the good times roll outside New Orleans. It proudly boasts the second largest Mardi Gras celebration in Louisiana, and its parades closely rival those in Big Easy. For an even-more-rural celebration, and one that dates back to the earliest days of settlement in Louisiana, the Courir du Mardi Gras in Church Point, Eunice, Mamou and other rural towns is a Cajun country experience. The day's festivities usually include a fais-do-do, or dance, and lots of gumbo for Mardi Gras revellers.

Louisiana has more than 600 fairs and festivals throughout the year dedicated to just about everything. We celebrate the state's crops with a rice festival in Crowley, a peach festival in Ruston, a giant omelette festival in Abbeville and a frog festival in Rayne. We celebrate the arts at the Red River Revel Arts Festival in Shreveport, the Louisiana Art and Folk Festival in Columbia and the Three River Arts Festival in Covington. Most celebrations in Louisiana include our unique music, but a few festivals stand out as being just that - music festivals. Two of those drawing visitors to Louisiana form all over the world in late April and early May are the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival and Festival Internationale de Louisiane in Lafayette.

For an up-close-and-personal view of Louisiana's unique environment, the newly designed All-American Road, Louisiana's Creole Nature Trail, loops through 180 miles of southwest Louisiana's picturesque marshes bayous and coastal beaches. It begins in either Lake Charles or Sulphur and winds through both Calcasieu and Cameron parishes. It's an exciting opportunity for visitors to look into our heart and soul, and to connect with some of the things that make Louisiana unique.

Louisiana is a state like no other, with plenty to see and do throughout the year. For more information, log on to www.louisianatravel.com or call 1-800-99-GUMBO.