If you're planning a trip to New Orleans during the holiday season, make sure to revel in the beauty of the plentiful Christmas lights displayed throughout the city. From Thanksgiving through December, take in the festive decor in one of the city's oldest and most well-known parks. Or, stroll through the lobby of a historic hotel to witness their Christmas remodeling. Attend a New Orleans fundraiser or family event that offers both tourists and residents the opportunity to experience the spirit of the season. Whether it's an event or an outing, map out your holiday itinerary before you go to fully participate in the festive vibe.
Celebration in the Oaks started out as a small fundraiser for the New Orleans Botanical Gardens, but today it has evolved into one of the country's most magnificent holiday light displays. This extravagant celebration kicks off on the day after Thanksgiving and funds 13 percent of City Park's annual budget with its fundraising efforts. And it draws more than 165,000 visitors annually. With century-old oak trees as the backdrop, the display lasts until January 2 and includes attractions like antique wooden carousel rides and miniature train park tours.
Canal Street's Home for the Holidays event offers a series of family-centric activities for visitors throughout the month of December. Canal Street—a wide expanse that separates the French Quarter and the American Sector—is beautifully decorated every year. Activities include a Christmas parade, an outdoor movie, a block party, complete with a "Reindeer Run and Romp," a 5K-race, a one-mile fun run, and a half-mile "Eggnog Jog." Check out the official website for up-to-date listings on seasonal events and performances before planning your Christmas trip to New Orleans.
Fulton Street—located in the warehouse and arts district of New Orleans—is a pedestrian-friendly mall lined with restaurants and shops. At Christmas time, this street comes alive with beautiful decor, featuring faux snow (after all, it is the Deep South), a Christmas tree, a holiday boardwalk, and a visit from Santa. Dates are released on their website each year, including the best time to view the lighting display. So, book a table at one of the chic restaurants, and then stroll the street to take in the holiday cheer.
Located in the New Orleans Convention Center, this annual event celebrates all the magic of Christmas with a multi-day, indoor Christmas festival. Enjoy family-friendly activities like ice skating, snowball fights, rock climbing, and ice sliding. The event traditionally takes place during the last two weeks of December with Santa making a showing during the first week (take a photo with him for an additional fee). Check out the website before planning your trip for pricing details, hours, and a special events calendar.
Roosevelt Hotel's Waldorf Wonderland
Those who grew up in New Orleans enjoy a favorite tradition of walking through the Roosevelt Hotel's lobby in December. The lobby, itself, runs the length of an entire city block and, years ago, the ceiling was adorned in angel hair and colored lights. Today, the more modern decor still evokes a sense of wonder, as thousands of white lights cover the lobby and twinkling birch trees line the entryway.
If you plan to visit on Christmas Day, the hotel's Christmas brunch and dinner are among the best holiday meals available in New Orleans. Reservations fill up quickly, though, and prices are—as expected from a luxury hotel—rather high. But the experience and ambiance are completely worth the cost.