Events

Everything You Must Do in New Orleans This Holiday Season

Updated On 12/13/2017 at 04:17PM EST Updated On 12/13/2017 at 04:17PM EST
everything you must do in new orleans this holiday season
Celebration in the Oaks | New Orleans City Park Archives
November
Windsor Court
Windsor Court Holiday Tea | Windsor Court
November
Friday - Wednesday
Nov 24-Jan 3
CBD
Windsor Court’s lavish high tea gets decked out for the holidays each year, with tiny sandwiches, scones, desserts, tea, and (bonus!) cocktails. Wear your finest, most ostentatious hat, and ooh over the huge Christmas tree in the lobby.
Cost: $69.03 for adults; $35.84 for kids (tax and tip included).
Friday - Monday
Nov 24-Jan 1
City Park
There’s nothing that will warm your holiday spirit more than seeing acres of lagoons, botanical gardens, and ancient live oaks strung with 558,350 LED lights, a New Orleans tradition that goes back 31 years. Just don’t get freaked out by the 17-foot Mr. Bingle.
Cost: $9, but free for Friends of City Park members.
Friday - Sunday
Nov 24-Dec 24
Magazine Street
It’s always a good time to shop on Magazine Street, a 6-mile corridor of boutiques, restaurants, bars, and cafes, but Merriment on Magazine is a great time to shop there. For one thing, you probably need to buy shit, anyway, so why not do it at a charming local business that’s giving you free champagne, discounts, or any number of special promos?
Cost: Free.
Tuesday
Nov 28
CBD
A visit to this winter wonderland has been a New Orleans tradition since the 1930s, but only recently has the Christmas and birch tree-lined hotel corridor become clogged with Instagrammers smiling beatifically into their cell phones. Step inside, admire the 22,000 twinkling white lights and don’t forget to grab a cocktail at the hotel’s Sazerac Bar.
Cost: Free.
December
St. Louis Cathedral's Christmas concert series
St. Louis Cathedral's Christmas concert series | Courtesy of New Orleans Tourism Marketing
December
Monday - Sunday
Dec 4-17
French Quarter
From jazz and opera to classical and soul, there’s a huge range of musical genres played by top-notch musicians at the St. Louis Cathedral’s Christmas concert series. The fact that these amazing concerts are free is enough to restore your faith in mankind -- and isn’t that the greatest holiday gift of all?
Cost: Free.
Saturday
Dec 9
French Quarter
Equal parts pub crawl and walking parade, Krewe of Jingle features more over-served Santas, reindeers, and nutcracker than you can shake a snow globe at. (Of course, there are a few marching bands and sleighs thrown in for good measure.)
Cost: A $20 ticket gets you entrance to the bars on the route, or you can watch the parade for free.
Saturday
Dec 9
CBD
If, as a child, you were traumatized when you had to sit on the lap of a sweaty, beady-eyed, fake-bearded mall Santa, this Kris Kringle-themed bar hop offers you a way to conquer those fears (or perhaps reignite them).
Cost: Tickets are $10-$75.
Thursday
Dec 14
CBD
Amazing latkes, live music, free latke vodka, and proceeds that benefit a good cause (need-based scholarships for Jewish students)? Just try not to get in the holiday spirit after all that.
Cost: $25.
Friday
Dec 15
Fairgrounds
Hit up Swirl Wine Bar -- known for its great selection and small plates -- on Friday night for this free tasting of wine. This actually isn't a holiday-specific event, as Swirl offers these free tastings every single week. There's no registration required -- just show up by 6pm.
Cost: Free to attend and drink.
Sunday
Dec 17
French Quarter
Jackson Square is so picturesque during the holidays, you could almost forget that people were publicly executed here back in the day. This mass caroling event gets super crowded, so show up early to snag your (free!) candle and song sheets.
Cost: Free.
Friday - Sunday
Dec 1-31
Citywide
Like Mardi Gras, reveillon dinners are a Catholic tradition that combine New Orleanians’ spiritual and physical appetites. Reveillon dinners were typically served after midnight mass and a day of fasting during the 19th century. Today, you don’t have to fast prior to reveillon, but you might want to, because these decadent feasts land pretty heavy. They’re typically offered by every old-line New Orleans restaurant, including Arnaud’s, Antoine’s, and Tujaque’s.
Cost: Varies by restaurant; view menus here.
Sunday
Dec 24
Gramercy, Lutcher, Paulina, Baton Rouge, and other small riverside communities
In most places,  Santa Claus gets around just fine. But in south Louisiana, he needs dozens of flaming, 30-foot pyres to light his way, so he doesn’t get lost... or something? Also, his name’s not Santa. It’s Papa Noel. Just go with it, and you’ll have a great time burning shit and eating jambalaya with hundreds of your closest Cajun buddies. If you don’t feel like making the 45-minute drive to Gramercy, you can hop on a riverboat cruise that floats right by the bonfires.
Cost: Free to attend, $85 for riverboat cruise with live music, an open bar and a buffet dinner.
Monday
Dec 25
Warehouse District
After the holiday festivities at home wrap up, head out on the town for a full evening of comedy at the Howlin' Wolf. Comics like New Orleans' own Rude Jude, Shervey, Shaddy Feel Good, and more will treat you to hours of laughs as you nosh on Howlin' Wolf's signature bacon Cheddar beignets.
Cost: $25-120.
Monday
Dec 25
Mid-City
Why do Jewish people love eating Chinese food on Christmas Day? Not even The Atlantic's reporters know for sure. But every year on December 25, Five Happiness draws a convivial, standing-room only crowd. Pro tip: Order at the bar to bypass the wait.  
Cost: Varies.
Sunday
Dec 31
French Quarter
New Orleans’ answer to Times Square’ ball drop is followed by a truly awesome fireworks display on the Mississippi River. Plus, you might just get to see celebrities drink a little too much and act a fool, like last year, when CNN’s Don Lemon did shots and got pierced at a local tattoo shop.
Cost: Free.
January
krewe of joan of arc
Kim Welsh
January
Saturday
Jan 6
French Quarter
No, that’s not a typo. Christmas celebrations go until January 6 in New Orleans, and before you chalk that up to our unwillingness to take down the damn trees already, may we remind you of a little thing called the 12 Days of Christmas? Yep, count them, 12. And the 12th night doesn’t just end the holiday season -- it launches Carnival season! So, of course, there’s a parade. This one features hundreds of marchers dressed like the virgin warrior herself, carrying quotes such as, “I am not afraid; I was born to do this.” It’s actually pretty inspiring.
Cost: Free.