Visiting New Orleans in January

USA, New Orleans, Louisiana, Fleur de Lys and street in background
Daniel Grill / Getty Images

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 Feb. 25 officially begins on Twelfth Night, Jan. 5. On this day, New Orleanians eat their first slices of the celebrated king cake; take down their red and green celebrations and replace them with purple, gold and green ones; and begin the celebrations that make the city famous around the world. 

With an average high temperature of 62 degrees F (17 degrees C) and an average low of 43 degrees F (6 degrees C), January in NOLA feels colder than the thermometer might indicate. The chilling humidity burrows into your bones and can be hard to shake. So bring warm clothes: 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 definitely need good walking shoes, and if you plan to dine in the evening at Commander’s Palace or another of the finer old-line restaurants in the city, bring a dressy outfit (jackets for men). Then fill your social calendar with these January 2020 event dates.

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Jan. 1: Allstate Sugar Bowl Classic

The Sugar Bowl Classic trophy is seen after the Alabama Crimson Tide beat the Clemson Tigers at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome on January 1, 2018 in New Orleans, Louisiana.

Chris Graythen/Getty Images 

This major college football event takes place on Jan. 1 each year in the Mercedes-Benz Superdome and pits two national-caliber teams against each other in an always-exciting game.

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Jan. 3 to 5: Wizard World Comic-Con

Wizard World Comic Con
Albert L. Ortega / Getty Images

Jason Momoa, Nichelle Nichols, and Chris Evans are just a few of the star's fans might meet at this convention held at the New Orleans Ernest N. Morial Center on Jan. 3, 4, and 5. 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.

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Jan. 6: Joan of Arc Parade

New Orleans Marks 300th Anniversary Of Its Founding
Mario Tama / Getty Images

Marching through the French Quarter, this medieval-themed walking krewe annually celebrates New Orleans’ French heritage on Jan. 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.

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Jan. 6: Start of Carnival With Phunny Phorty Phellows

Phunny Phorty Phellows color 2012

 anthony posey / Flickr / CC BY 2.0

While the Krewe de Jeanne d’Arc parades through the French Quarter, this masked and rowdy krewe takes over a handful of St. Charles streetcars on Jan. 6, riding the stretch of the streetcar route from Carrollton to the French Quarter to herald the start of the Carnival season. 

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Jan. 8, 10, & 11: Battle of New Orleans Anniversary

National Park Foundation's Parks 101 Experience In New Orleans

Tyler Kaufman / Getty Images

1 Battlefield Rd, Chalmette, LA 70043, USA
Phone +1 504-281-0510

Each year, history experts in period costumes reenact Andrew Jackson’s victory at the Battle of New Orleans at the Chalmette Battlefield. Visitors enjoy living history events, tours of the site, craft demonstrations, period music and dance, and more from Jan. 10 and 11, with a wreath-laying ceremony on Jan. 8.

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Jan. 16 to 19: Pardi-Gras

Parrotheads galore flock to the French Quarter Jan. 16 to 19 for this weekend 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 really quite the scene.

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Jan. 15: Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Day

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Day on Monday, Jan. 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.

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Visiting New Orleans in January