Have you ever considered spending Christmas in New Orleans?
Our family traveled there a few years ago so we could experience Christmas New Orleans-style, and it was a blast! So bundle up, we’re checking out holiday lights on St. Charles Avenue and Canal Street (how glorious with the Mississippi River as a backdrop) and taking in an early Reveillon Dinner for modern times.
Locals, we are not, but we secured the inside scoop from experts who are native to the area, so we know that locals and visitors alike can benefit from these awesome ideas. Here’s everything you need to know about Christmas in New Orleans, Louisiana!
NOLA la la la la la….
CELEBRATION IN THE OAKS
DATES: Nov. 23 – Dec. 30, 2023
Spend an evening enjoying this sparkling holiday light display that engulfs dozens of 100-year-old oak trees at New Orleans’ City Park for Celebration in the Oaks each holiday season. It’s a winter wonderland!
Buy your tickets online…the walk up ticket line will be long. And bring your appetite, as food and drink are available in City Park during the festivities.
There are two sections for the holiday celebration:
Driving Tour Experience
City Park’s famous oaks will be swathed in over a million twinkling lights and breathtaking light displays will be scattered throughout the 2.25-mile driving tour of the Park. The driving tour experience is approximately 30 to 47 minutes.
Carousel Gardens Experience
Experience an all access pass to the Carousel Gardens Amusement Park, which features 18 rides guaranteed to put a smile on your face, and the festive outdoor bar in the Botanical Garden, where you can share a holiday delight under the twinkling lights with your loved ones.
There is nightly live entertainment, and Santa drops by the train gazebo every night for photos.
JACKSON SQUARE CAROLING
DATE: Dec. 17, 2023
Caroling in the city’s famous Jackson Square is FREE and open to the public. Residents and visitors gather by candlelight to lift their voices together.
Caroling in Jackson Square attracts hundreds of people who gather after dark, with the beautiful St. Louis Cathedral looming in the background. This event is sure to become a favorite holiday tradition for anyone attending for the first time.
Don’t be shy; song sheets (and candles) will be passed out to everyone. It’s a family-friendly event, so you can bring your little ones. Bundle up – this is an outdoor event.
Stopping by the 5-star Roosevelt Hotel for holiday lights has been a New Orleans tradition for decades.
The iconic hotel, once known as the Fairmont, is a Waldorf-Astoria property that fastidiously decorates the famed lobby each year for Christmas. Christmas in New Orleans is not complete without a visit to view the decorations.
I love this post from GoNOLA about a few other can’t-miss light displays like St. Charles Avenue and Canal Street (which I am SUPER excited about).
In all honesty, réveillon is new to me. I had no knowledge of this until I was prepping for our New Orleans trip. Do you know it?
In many countries and French-speaking provinces, a réveillon is a long dinner held on the evenings preceding Christmas Day and New Year’s Day. According to Wiki, “The name of this dinner is based on the word réveil (meaning “waking”), because participation involves staying awake until midnight and beyond. The food consumed at réveillons is generally exceptional or luxurious. For example, appetizers may include lobster, oysters, escargots or foie gras, etc.” YUM!
Now, in modern NOLA, the celebration happens at many restaurants for the entire month of December.
Brennan’s is a kid-friendly restaurant with an elaborate spread, which is where we ended up! Commander’s Palace is probably the most famous of réveillons, boasting seven courses! Finally, Seaworthy, a trendy oyster bar in the Central Business District, is the newest New Orleans restaurant since they opened a couple years ago.
“Quality wine is usually consumed at such dinners, often with champagne or similar sparkling wines as a conclusion,” says Wikipedia, as well. All the more reason to take part in this Creole tradition, right?
HOLIDAY HOME TOURS
Every year, historic French Quarter and Garden District mansions open their doors for holiday home tours and let the spirit of Christmas come in. This is your chance to get a behind-the-wrought-iron-fence view.
Two local organizations, the Preservation Resource Center and the Patio Planters, conduct New Orleans holiday home tours during select weekends in December. The PRC tours focus on homes in the city’s Garden District and the Patio Planters tours include residences in the French Quarter.
The tours include homes in many styles across the French Quarter, Bywater, Uptown and Faubourg St. John.
EVEN MORE WAYS TO ENJOY CHRISTMAS IN NEW ORLEANS
Still not enough to get you in the holiday spirit? Try these other events:
- Bonfires on the Levee
- NOLA ChristmasFest at the Convention Center (They have ice sliding!)
- Holiday Shopping in the French Quarter, the Arts Warehouse District and Magazine Street
- Experience holiday gospel in St. Louis Cathedral
- Luna Fête (Dec. 7-10, 2023)
WHERE TO STAY IN NEW ORLEANS
As I mention above, we are not locals…so we stayed at the luxurious Ritz-Carlton, New Orleans. First, Ritz-Carlton is unmatched in service, and I adore how they welcome families. It’s a name I always respect.
Second, this hotel sits in the heart of the action, in the French Quarter, right on Canal Street and only blocks away from the ever-important Cafe Du Monde.
What to expect for the holidays:
The Papa Noel Package includes deluxe accommodations, two welcome cocktails (yay!) and complimentary valet.
While you are there, pick from several great family activities…
- Holiday Tea includes a visit from Mr Kringle, plus cookie decorating, viewing The Ritz-Carlton’s one of a kind gingerbread display, and other holiday surprises for kiddos.
- Papa Noel Tea is fun for kids right before the Big Day, and includes cookie decorating, festive crafts and plenty of holiday cheer. Bring the entire family because Papa Noel will be visiting with each guest.
- Build Your Own Gingerbread House on select dates is great for families. Each table of four includes one gingerbread house with all of the decorating essentials and holiday refreshments.
For details on these and many other holiday events, see their website.
Book It: Ritz Carlton New Orleans
MORE INFORMATION FOR YOUR TRIP TO LOUISIANA
- YOUR LOUISIANA VACATION
- NATCHITOCHES: 10 Festive Ways To Celebrate The Natchitoches Christmas Lights
- NOLA HALLOWEEN: New Orleans Halloween: Ghost Tours And Spooky Events
- BATON ROUGE: 15 Awesome Things To Do In Baton Rouge, Louisiana
- LAKE CHARLES: 12 Outstanding Things To Do In Lake Charles, LA
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