January finds New Orleans transitioning from Christmas to the Mardi Gras season, and the city continues its storied revelry with a full slate of fun events. The Carnival season leading up to Mardi Gras on February 13 officially begins on Twelfth Night, January 6. On this day, New Orleanians eat their first slices of the famous king cake; take down their red and green celebrations and replace them with purple, gold and green ones; and begin the festivities that make the city famous around the world.
New Orleans Weather in January
January in New Orleans feels colder than the thermometer might indicate. As the city's coldest month, the chilling humidity burrows into your bones and can be hard to shake. While temperatures during the day are quite pleasant, nights cool down significantly.
- Average high temperature: 62 degrees Fahrenheit (17 degrees Celsius)
- Average low temperature: 43 degrees Fahrenheit (6 degrees Celsius)
New Orleans experiences an average of 10 rainy days spread throughout January.
What to Pack
Bring warm clothes — New Orleans can be chilly. Pack long pants, a mid-weight coat, and sweaters or hoodies for layers. You can also make good use of a hat, scarf, and gloves. You'll definitely need good walking shoes, and if you plan to dine in the evening at Commander’s Palace or another of the more exceptional old-line restaurants in the city, bring a dressy outfit; jackets are required for men.
January Events in New Orleans
In the lead-up to Mardi Gras celebrations, New Orleans event calendar is jam-packed with sporting events, parades, live music, and cultural festivals.
- The Allstate Sugar Bowl Classic is a major college football event that takes place on January 1 each year in the Mercedes-Benz Superdome and pits two national-caliber teams against each other in an always-exciting game.
- Jason Momoa, Nichelle Nicols and Drew Fuller are just a few of the star's fans might meet at Wizard World Comic Con, held at the New Orleans Ernest N. Morial Center. The daytime and early evening hours of the show and its proximity to the party-friendly French Quarter (just zip over on the Riverfront streetcar) make for both days and nights of fun.
- Marching through the French Quarter, the Joan of Arc Parade is a medieval-themed walking krewe annually celebrates New Orleans’ French heritage on January 6, the birthday of the famous Saint. The parade ends with a king cake-cutting ceremony, which marks the first bite of the season for devoted locals who only eat it during Carnival.
- Parrotheads galore flock to the French Quarter in January for Pardi-Gras, a celebration of Jimmy Buffett and all things tropical. With live music, parades, and food and drinks galore, plus more tie-dye and Hawaiian shirts than you knew existed, it’s quite the scene.
- Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Day is held on on Monday, January 15, and the weekend preceding it fills with marches, gospel and jazz music concerts in churches and performance halls all over town, at least one or two parades, and more service events than you can count. Locals typically welcome visitors, and these events (especially the service-oriented ones) can give tourists a way to really connect with the city and its residents, so keep an eye out as the date draws closer for ways to join the celebration.
January Travel Tips
- With Mardi Gras upcoming, January is a popular time to visit. Hotel prices are relatively high, but you can still find deals if you dig around a bit. Dates near holiday weekends, like the weekend surrounding Martin Luther King, Jr., day and sporting events will drive prices up even further.
- The New Orleans Saints NFL team near the end of their season in January, so locals will love to talk about football — especially if they make it to the playoffs.