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What to Do During Christmas in New Orleans

What to do during christmas in new orleans

If you’re interested in a fun experience for the holidays, what could be better than Christmas in the city of jazz and Creole culture? Enchanting any time of the year, New Orleans is truly magical during the Christmas season. Holiday traditions and celebrations in the Crescent City are unique and full of Christmas cheer. From the Festival of the Bonfires to enjoying hot chocolate and beignets on Decatur Street, it’s a lovely way to experience the holiday.


Here are just some of the many family-friendly activities and events that take place during the holidays in New Orleans:

Here We Come A-Caroling

On the Sunday before Christmas, locals and visitors alike make their way through the French Quarter to take part in free Caroling at Jackson Square. Beginning at sunset, volunteers pass out song sheets and candles, which are lit from caroler to caroler until the entire square is set beautifully aglow.

Christmas Eve Bonfires

The Lighting of the Levee is a spectacular mix of fire and water that helps guide the way for Papa Noel’s arrival. This is a tradition dating back to the early 1700s. Bonfires can be found throughout the city, including at Algiers Point on New Orleans’ West Bank. The “feux de joie” (fires of joy) are not to be missed!

Holiday Lights

Celebration in the Oaks is surely the highlight of the month. It has nearly two million lights that decorate the 100-year-old oak trees in City Park. It is quite possibly the most popular family tradition during Christmas in New Orleans. The park also offers nightly entertainment including a laser show, food, amusement rides, and photos with Santa.

Beauty of Christmas Past

Two unique house tours offer a glimpse of the diverse cultures that have made up New Orleans for hundreds of years. The Beauregard-Keyes House does Christmas Victorian style, with greenery dressed with lace and velvet ribbons. On the same street, the Old Ursuline Convent celebrates a Creole Christmas. This 258-year-old landmark is hone to the 158-year-old Chapel of the First Archbishop of New Orleans.

Gumbo Nights and Reveillon

Tradition calls for fasting before a Reveillon (awakening) night of dining, and for good reason. The dinners spring from the Creole tradition of serving meals that could last until dawn after midnight Mass on Christmas Eve. Throughout the month of December, dozens of restaurants, including Antoine’s, Arnaud’s, and cozy Upperline. These restaurants serve up three, four or more courses in their gorgeously decorated dining rooms. Specialties include Gulf Fish stew, creamy bisques, shrimp remoulade and “baba au rhum.” This is a small, delicious cake soaked in rum and layered with whipped cream.

Festive Sippers

Afternoons and evenings offer Christmas cheer in the form of spiked eggnog and cordials. The French 75 Bar in Arnauds serves the Contessa (gin, grapefruit juice, and Aperol) If you want something different, the Bombay Club has a rich Eggnog Noel with its jigger of butterscotch Schnapps. Locals love to walk among the decorated trees of the marbled-floor lobby in The Roosevelt Hotel and watch the sunset from the rooftop bar.


New Year’s Eve

Ring in the New Year down at Jackson Square, which hosts one of the nation’s largest street parties. Experience all the French Quarter has to offer, including live music, the Fleur-de-lis drop, and a spectacular fireworks display.

Want more ideas on what to do during Christmas in New Orleans? Check out this comprehensive listing and then contact us about booking a tour to celebrate Christmas New Orleans style!