UPDATED NOV. 2009 - NACODOCHES, TEXAS - History runs deep in historic Nacogdoches, Texas. And so does Christmas tradition.

From Dr. Jere L. Jackson, Department of History, Chairman, Nacogdoches County Historical Commission:

Nacogdoches is the "Oldest Town in Texas." Yet, what really distinguishes a town is not age. It is the importance of the people who lived there, the history that was made there, and the continuation of vitality there. Nacogdoches is a distinguished town. In the words of Karle Wilson Baker, local poetess and the First Lady of Texas Letters:

"Nacogdoches has a soul, a spirit, an atmosphere. She is no raw product of today or yesterday. There are ghosts on her streets ....Gentle Franciscan fathers and curious, credulous redmen; lordly Mexican alcaldes and courtly French adventurers.... stubborn, spirited, courageous American Empressarios; ...men like Rusk, ...Crockett, ...Houston ...Travis."

A visit to Nacogdoches any time of year is great, but a visit during the Nine Flags Festival is especially heart warming and fun. According to the Festival Web site, for more than a decade, the Nine Flags Festival has paid homage to the rich and spirited history of the oldest town in Texas. That history includes three attempts to establish a Republic of Texas. Thus, nine flags have flown over Nacogdoches as opposed to the six that have represented Texas. They are French, Spanish, Magee-Gutierrez, Dr. James Long, Mexican, Fredonia Rebellion, Lone Star, Confederate Stars & Bars and United States of America.

Since its inception in 1997, the Nine Flags Festival has become one of the premier holiday celebrations in the state and has been recognized by the Texas Legislature for its community education and historic restoration efforts. The 12th annual Nine Flags Festival held in 2008 paid special tribute to the Mexican flag with special events planned to recognize the town's Mexican influence. This year the 13th annual Nine Flags Festival will pay homage to the Texas Flag, and honor the town's Texas heritage and influence with several special events dedicated to our beloved home state.

The festival offers a host of events during its four week run, from historic tours to special lighting ceremonies and a Christmas parade. Choosing the right days to visit will determine how much of the festival you can enjoy. Ideally youi can spend more than a single weekend, but consult the festival calendar of events to choose your perfect dates.

Through the course of the festival, several events and activities are planned including:

TOUR DE NAC - Nov. 14
Ride through the red brick streets downtown and see the sites of the Oldest Town in
Texas and the beautiful countryside surrounding it. A 7.8-mile, new this year; a 28.8 mile and a 53-mile route will be included, all three will begin and end in downtown
Nacogdoches. The long ride begins at 8 a.m., medium ride begins at 8:15 a.m. and short ride begins at 8:30 a.m. Entry fee is $25 for early registration (ends Nov. 6)
and $30 for regular registration.

Festival of Tree - NOV. 14
See beautifully decorated Christmas trees--one representing each of the nine flags that have flown over Nacogdoches throughout its rich history. Trees will be on display November 14-December 31 during business hours in the lobby of the Visitor Center, 200 E. Main St.

"Twelfth Night" - NOV. 17-21
November 17-21: Shakespeare's "Twelfth Night," 7:30 p.m. Tickets available online at www. finearts.sfasu.edu or call (936) 468-6407.

Holiday in the Pines - Nov. 20
Shop for unique holiday gifts at this much-anticipated annual shopping extravaganza at the Hotel Fredonia & Convention Center, 200 N. Fredonia St. One HIP Night: 11/19, 6:30-9:00 p.m., $20 (includes a 2-day pass); VIP shopping: 11/20, 9:00 a.m.-11:00 a.m., $10 (includes a 2-day pass); Market shopping: 11/20, 11:00 a.m.-8:00 p.m., $4 presale and $6 at th door. Market shopping: 11/21, 9:00 a.m.-5:00 p.m., $4 presale and $6 at the door. Tickets available at: Regions Bank, Bancorp South, House of Traditions, Commercial Bank, M & S Pharmacy, and The Butterfly. Children 6 and younger admitted free.

Lighting Ceremony - Nov. 21
The local holiday season will get a high-voltage jump-start when more than 3 million lights are set aglow with the flip of a switch, instantly transforming historic downtown into a twinkling winter wonderland. Live entertainment, children's activities, vendor booths, carriage rides and pictures with Santa will round out the evening's festivities. Carriage rides sponsored by Clardy, Dqavis & Knowles, LLP . 6 to 9 p.m. Free admission.

Wassail Fest - Nov. 28
Downtown Nacogdoches merchants will once again be competing for bragging rights for the best holiday brew during Wassail Fest, one of the highlights of the 13th annual Nine Flags Festival. Shoppers and other downtown visitors are invited to warm their bodies and spirits by sampling the various recipes, which will be judged on both taste and presentation. The competition is fierce, but the wassail is a warm and welcome respite for holiday shoppers. 11 a.m. to 4 p.m., downtown. Free admission.

"An Old-Fashioned Christmas" - Dec. 4
Revisit Christmas at the annual, "An Old-Fashioned Christmas," at Millard's Crossing Historic Village. This charming Christmas candlelit event offers a nostalgic setting for a variety of Christmas activities in a historic village. Catch a performance of Charles Dicken's "A Christmas Carol" or try your hand at the player piano. Enjoy demonstrations of how things were done in the "old days" from lace makers to old-fasioned games, and don't forget your favorite yuletide treats! The event will be held from 5 to 9 p.m. at Millard's Crossing Historic Village, 6020 North Street. $5 adults, $4 children.

Lighted Christmas Parade and Fireworks - Dec. 5
Special Guests: The Budweiser Clydesdales sponsored byR&K Distributors
The largest lighted Christmas parade in East Texas will be winding its way through the historic streets of downtown Nacogdoches, which itself will be glowing with more than 3 million festive holiday lights. Following the parade is the annual fireworkds show that has become an anticipated highlight of the Nine Flags Festival. The 30-minute explosive display lights up the sky above the oldest town in Texas. Parade starts at 6:30 p.m. Arts, crafts, and food vendors will be set up in the square from 4-9 p.m. Free Admission.

Texas Old-Time Fiddler's State Championship Contest - Dec. 5-6
Junior and senior divisions followed by an out-of-state division which will feature some the best fiddlers in the country from outside the state of Texas. The contest is open to the public so come on out for some of the best family entertainment you'll ever hear. This year's competition will be held at Banita Creek Hall. Festivities will begin Saturday around 9:30 a.m. and will finish around 4-5 p.m. The music will begin again Sunday around 12:30 p.m.
The Moscow Ballet's "Great Russian Nutcracker  - Dec. 17-18
Whimsical storytelling blends with exquisite dancing, spectacular sets and costumes to make this a memorable holiday treat. 7:30 p.m. SFA's Turner Auditorium. $35 for A seating, $29 for B seating and $17.50 for C seating. Tickets available at the online at www.finearts.sfasu.edu or call (936) 468-6407.

This holiday season, put Nacogdoches on your list of must visit destinations and enjoy Chirstmas Texas Style!