Guide to Christmas in New Orleans: Events, Parties, and Shows

New Orleans Trolley
Mario Tama / Getty Images

You might think of New Orleans as the place to be during Mardi Gras or a Super Bowl game, but it's plenty of fun over the winter holidays, too. Featuring great shopping in the French Quarter and on Magazine Street, holiday home and garden tours, and thrilling college football games during the winter season, NOLA is filled with festivals, tree lightings, caroling, concerts, and Christmas spirit.

Even if you're not in the holiday mood during your trip to New Orleans, there's plenty to keep you entertained during the Christmas season—be sure to get yourself to Frenchman Street if you're looking for music that isn't Christmas themed. If you are in the spirit though, New Orleans is a good place to be.

01 of 08

Deck the Halls at Celebration in the Oaks

Celebration in the Oaks
Infrogmation of New Orleans / Flickr / CC BY 2.0

Celebration in the Oaks is New Orleans' most beloved holiday event. From November 22, 2019, to January 1, 2020, City Park transforms into a beautiful wonderland that's become a must-see for locals and visitors of all ages.

A tradition since 1986, Celebration in the Oaks is one of the Parks Department's biggest annual fundraisers and accounts for 13 percent of the total annual budget for the department, so your trip to see the lights, sounds, and magic of Celebration in the Oaks could help keep it a tradition for years to come.

02 of 08

Listen to Concerts in St. Augustine Church

St. Augustine Church
Ted Drake / Flickr / CC BY-ND 2.0

The St. Augustine Church hosts a variety of Christmas concerts that are scheduled in the early evenings on many days in December. Produced by the French Quarter Festivals, Inc., these concerts are free and open to the public, but donations go a long way to helping maintain this tradition from year to year.

If you're staying in the Treme neighborhood, stop in for some holiday inspiration with performances of jazz, gospel, and funky soul.

03 of 08

Have Breakfasts with Santa Reveillon Dinners

Breakfast with Santa Brennan's


A wonderful 19th-century Creole tradition, Reveillon Dinners are still celebrated in restaurants all over New Orleans, but these events, which trace their roots to Creole French families, only happen over the holidays.

Top-line restaurants offer these dinners with special menus, during which large families are often seated around large tables. Some participating restauraunts include Tujague's, Vacherie, and the Bombay Club.

04 of 08

Sip on Christmas Teas at Local Shops

Teddy Bear Christmas Tea

Sharon Keating

There's just nothing more elegant than a Christmas tea that includes holiday decorations, music, and festive munchies in an elegant New Orleans setting, and fortunately, NOLA has plenty of places to get some delicious afternoon tea and snack sandwiches.

Places like Teddy Bear Teas, specially designed for moms and grandmothers to enjoy with the kids, and there are even a few specialty Christmas teas with Santa and Mrs. Claus.

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05 of 08

Get Your Holiday Shopping Done

Bourbon Street Between Orleans and St.
Ken Lund / Flickr / CC BY-SA 2.0

Shop New Orleans style on Magazine Street and the French Quarter for antiques, decor, accessories, and only-in-New Orleans stocking stuffers.

The French Quarter also features the annual French Christmas Market, a tradition in the city since 1791, and the Outlet Collection at Riverwalk and the Shops at Canal Place, which both are within walking distance of one another, are great places to buy those last-minute holiday gifts.

06 of 08

Stay Warm at Levee Christmas Bonfires

Levee Bonfires
Mario Tama/Getty Images

Another Creole tradition that's stuck around through the years is the annual Levee Bonfires of St. James Parish, which is about an hour's drive from New Orleans.

The bonfire lighting is traditionally done n Christmas Eve, but if you have other plans you can go earlier! From December 13 to 15, 2019, you can attend Festival of the Bonfires where you'll get to see at least one of the bonfires be lit as a prelude to the big day. There will also be food, live music, crafts for kids, and carnival rides.

07 of 08

Go Home for the Holidays on Canal Street

New Orleans Christmas Parade
Tory / Flickr / CC BY 2.0

Canal Street the great divide between the old Creole section of the city and the so-called American sector, is one of the widest main streets in America and the center of New Orleans' holiday lights and celebrations. The lighting of Canal Street will take place on November 26, 2019.

08 of 08

Attend or Watch the Sugar Bowl

New Orleans Sugar Bowl
Chris Graythen/Getty Images

Marking the end of the holiday season, this ritual game takes place annually on January 1. The Sugar Bowl is a great time for college football fans, and it's played every year in the Mercedes-Benz Superdome in New Orleans. Even if you can't get a ticket to the big game, football fans can find the game playing in sports bars across the city all day long. Win or lose, make sure you head to the afterparty on Bourbon Street to top off your NOLA New Year's Eve experience.

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