Celebrate Christmas in New Orleans
Unbeknownst to many, New Orleans is a premier destination for Christmas celebrations throughout the month of December. The temperature is usually rather mild through mid-January, and the celebrations across the city truly never stop. From the much-romanticized dining and drinking options throughout the city to lesser-known family-friendly events, your holiday season will be enjoyable for everyone with a trip down to New Orleans.
Whether you plan to arrive early in the month or closer to Christmas day, there are plenty of events across the city to keep you and your group occupied. Month-long events include the legendary Celebration in the Oaks, which features amusement park rides, eggnog, and other holiday-themed drinks (alcoholic and non-alcoholic), as well as an impressive light show featuring the ever endearing 12 Yats of Christmas. Celebration in the Oaks is now in its 33rd year and takes place daily from November 29 to January 1, with the exception of Christmas Eve and New Year’s Eve.
The Roosevelt New Orleans, a Waldorf Astoria Hotel is another must-see month-long attraction for its lobby holiday décor, which features over 600,000 LED lights and over 50 Christmas trees. The holiday display began in the 1930s and carries a long legacy in the community. The trees will be up from November 26 through January 4. In addition to the lobby display, the hotel also hosts its annual Teddy Bear Tea, where children and their families are transported to the North Pole for a holiday celebration unlike any other.
If you already know your travel dates, some of the below events may catch your interest and do not run throughout the entire month of December:
NOLA Christmas Fest: December 20 – 31
Enjoy fun, games, prizes, ice skating, and more at the Ernest N. Morial Convention Center.
Caroling in Jackson Square: December 22
Every year, thousands of people converge on Jackson Square to bond together and sing loud for all to hear. Candles provide a soft glow while carols fly across the air.
Christmas Eve Bonfires on the Levee: December 24
Intended to light the way for Papa Noel, the Cajun Santa Claus, this tradition dates back to the earliest Cajun settlers in Louisiana.
Time to Dine
A Christmas season in New Orleans is not complete without a few indulgences along the way. For those looking for a prix fixe option to satisfy the whole family, look for restaurants’ Reveillon menus. Reveillon is celebrated each December and originally came from the Creole tradition in the early 1800s of hosting a big family meal after midnight mass. Now, some of the best restaurants in the city provide Creole-inspired menus for all to taste priced at $49 or less for four-course and three-course dinners. In addition to Reveillon dinners, make sure to try a holiday cocktail during your travels throughout the city, whether paired with the meal or on its own.
In addition, many hotels in the Central Business District and French Quarter host a Christmas Day Brunch Buffet, with live music and seemingly every category of food that you could possibly want. The Roosevelt is one of the hotels that host a Christmas Day Brunch.
Sugar Bowl and NYE
The celebrations in New Orleans in December don’t end with Christmas. After Santa makes his departure, fans of the best college football teams in the country descend upon New Orleans for the annual Sugar Bowl, which takes place on New Year’s Day, and features a team from the SEC and the Big 12. The teams celebrate with the Sugar Bowl Parade through the French Quarter on New Year’s Eve, and the festivities include a New Year’s Eve Bash and concert at Jax Brewery at night. A New Orleans New Year’s Eve may be just what the doctor ordered to bring a fresh and unique experience to a night routinely saved for overpriced open bars. Many places you’ll come across have no cover and the usual well-priced offerings.
Christmas in New Orleans is truly one of the more magical times of the year. Fine dining is on display through the entire month, there are plenty of events available for groups of all kind, and you can still catch so much of the local culture on display with parades, light shows, appearances by Santa, and even two home games for the Saints!
Know Before You Go
- New Orleans is known as “The Big Easy.”
- The National WWII Museum is one of the top-rated museums in the country. Don’t miss checking it out!
- The famous Café Du Monde is open 24 hours a day to get your beignet fix.
- If you plan to go during Mardi Gras, pack comfortable shoes that you don’t mind getting dirty.