Celebrating Christmas in New Orleans? The city has a wonderful holiday season calendar that is bound to bring you much holiday cheer.
Though the city is known to be animated year-round, including the Mardi Gras parades, there are plenty of things to do in New Orleans for Christmas too. And below, we will give a brief description of what we recommend and why.
By looking at the Christmas activities in New Orleans we discuss below, you will be able to find the best of the best, plan out a schedule, and ensure your Christmas in New Orleans is one to remember.
15 Festive Ways To Celebrate Christmas In New Orleans
Drink Your Way Through The Christmas Drunk Tour
Though the New Orleans Drunk Tour is a year-round activity, if you come during the Christmas Season, you will learn not only about New Orleans’ French Quarter but also about Christmas and Christmas traditions found and practiced in New Orleans.
During this guided tour, you will be allowed to drink and encouraged to visit at least two bars, just in case a sober guided tour isn’t your ideal Christmas fun.
Not only will you discover a lot about the area and Christmas in New Orleans, but you will also get to drink some of the festive drinks I discussed earlier.
Visit The Celebration In The Oaks
Every year, the Celebration in the Oaks attracts hundreds of thousands of people to New Orleans by creating an after-dark Christmas-themed wonderland.
Late in November, the City Park’s oaks get decorated with light displays that stay on during December and into the new year.
There are also plenty of events in the area, making it a must-visit for Christmas activities in New Orleans.
If you are looking for a wholesome New Orleans Christmas, this should be on your list of places to visit.
Though this park is usually closed over Christmas eve, it is a great way to start getting into the Christmas spirit.
Join The Caroling In Jackson Square
If your Christmas plans involve staying for a bit longer, you may be interested in joining in on the caroling In Jackson Square.
This free Christmas-themed event is family-friendly and can be quite a breathtaking experience to join in on as plenty of people gather with candles and lights to sing Christmas songs in the middle of New Orleans.
Though there is no specified date for this Christmas in New Orleans tradition, it generally takes place a week or so before Christmas eve, so it is best to be around a couple of days in advance if possible.
Additionally, you don’t need to worry about bringing candles or knowing the words of the songs as sheet music and candles are available at the venue.
Read next: Weekend in New Orleans
Eat A Reveillon Meal At Any Of The Participating Restaurants
The Reveillon meals in New Orleans combine a city with a rich history of cuisine and Catholic tradition from the city’s religious roots.
Though this tradition started as a meal prepared for families to eat after the late-night Christmas service at church, it nearly died out before becoming something of a New Orleans Christmas tradition again.
In recent times you can go to one of the many different restaurants in New Orleans on Christmas to be served a four-course Reveillon meal that has gotten revamped and is now a well-known Christmas experience.
Though the food may differ based on the restaurant, some still serve dishes similar to the original tradition allowing you to celebrate history and Christmas with a delicious mouth-full.
Go On A River Boat Cruise
If you wish to see a unique side of New Orleans, you can take a festive boat tour that will be ongoing throughout December.
These riverboat tours give you a different perspective of New Orleans while allowing you to admire all the Christmas-themed decorations.
Though this can be a great activity to make your Christmas in New Orleans even more memorable, you may not want to do it with children.
However, New Year’s cruises are also available if you’re staying in New Orleans past the new year and don’t have time to admire the Christmas decorations before that time.
On the New Year’s cruises, you will be able to see the lights that are still hanging all over the town, as well as being able to see the fireworks displays in the night sky.
Visit The Christmas Themed Hotels
Whether you stay in these hotels in New Orleans or not, there is no denying that the hotel decorations in the city can make you feel like you have stepped into a winter wonderland, like the Roosevelt New Orleans.
During Christmas in New Orleans and the time surrounding it, the hotels in New Orleans decorate their lobbies to make them even more spectacular than they usually look.
From high-hanging Christmas lights and decorations to chandeliers that are even more breathtaking than usual, you will not regret seeing these hotels during this time of the year.
Additionally, the food and drinks mentioned above are often served in the hotel restaurants, giving you the perfect excuse to visit the lobby wonderland.
Enjoy The Bonfires On The Levee
If you want a traditional Christmas in New Orleans, you should take the time to see the fantastic bonfires made in St. James Parish.
These bonfires, including the making and burning of fascinating flammable shapes and even fireworks, form part of a Cajun tradition that draws “Papa Noel,” the Cajun Santa, to the area’s streets.
It is good to note that this specific tradition takes place in St. James Parish, which isn’t technically a part of New Orleans but is undoubtedly worth the trip and will make your New Orleans Christmas experience even more memorable.
However, there are other bonfires on Lafayette Square.
Enjoy A Festive New Orleans Cocktail Or Beverage
Though festive cocktails are a holiday tradition you will find the world over, they get made to complete such meals as Reveillon dinners in New Orleans.
If you want to warm up or enjoy your Christmas in New Orleans, you should not leave before having one of New Orleans’ signature Christmas-themed cocktails like the so-called “Whiskey Wonderland.”
Though these cocktails and drinks got initially created to form a part of the traditional Reveillon dinners, instead of the more conventional wine, you can find them everywhere and order them as “stand-alone” drinks.
No matter which bars or restaurants you visit, you will find a cocktail to boost your Christmas spirit.
Go To The Nola Christmas Fest
Since we don’t yet have complete control of the weather, especially over Christmas, it is good to know that there are still fun activities to keep you and your family busy.
The Nola Christmas Festival, held in the New Orleans Convention Center, is a great place to enjoy, even when the weather tells you not to.
This festival can provide whole-family fun and laughter and includes excellent activities like ice skating, tree decorating, and carnival rides.
Additionally, if you’re looking to capture the essence of your exciting Christmas in New Orleans, you can also take the little ones to see famous Christmas mascots like Santa, and you won’t struggle to find a professional photographer to capture the experience.
Walk Through The Wonder Of Fulton Street
Fulton Street is a part of Downtown New Orleans that does not allow cars to drive through the area, giving pedestrians the perfect excuse to walk around and explore.
During Christmas, this area gets decorated with awe-inspiring decorations, including a massive Christmas tree.
If you come at the perfect time, you may even get treated to live performances and a visit by Santa.
If you have children that enjoy Christmas and decorations, this will take their New Orleans Christmas to the next level, as you can even find a gingerbread village on display.
There is also periodic “snowfall” to make this experience even more special. You should not forget this if you want an authentic and wonderful Christmas in New Orleans.
Other streets to check out are Royal Street, Magazine Street, and Chartres Street.
Ride The Polar Express
You would be wonderfully mistaken if you thought Christmas in New Orleans couldn’t get any more moviesque.
Though the Polar Express movie and book are not the most popular with children of the modern world, since it is still a movie tradition for many of us, and since adults are welcome, there is no reason you should miss this Christmas activity in New Orleans.
During this one-hour train ride from the New Orleans Union Passenger Terminal, you will meet some of the original characters from the book and movies, drink a nice warm beverage, and even get a true Polar Express gift.
If you are looking for early-bird tickets, you can find them online from as early as August.
Visit One Of The Christmas Themed Plantations
If you are spending your Christmas in New Orleans, there is no reason why you should avoid going to some of the more historical attractions in the area, like the plantations.
Since Christmas in New Orleans gets accompanied by decorations and festivities, it is no surprise that you will find many of the historical plantations decorated similarly.
Not only are the tours of the plantation grounds very informative, but many plantations offer special Christmas-themed activities during the Christmas season.
Suppose you are looking to explore the grounds of one of the old and historical New Orleans plantations while not skipping any of the festive activities. In that case, this is an excellent addition to your Christmas in New Orleans itinerary.
Take A Holiday Home Tour In The Garden District
If you’d like to admire the New Orleans Architecture while admiring the way homes get decorated this season, you can take a Holiday Home Tour offered in December.
These day tours will take you through some breathtaking dwellings of the Garden District and Lower Garden District of New Orleans while allowing you to indulge in the New Orleans Christmas decorations that adorn every one of them.
In addition to seeing these gorgeous homes and how they get decorated, you will also be able to view live entertainment and shop at some shops along the way.
If you enjoy making your New Orleans Christmas one filled with history, awe, and festive feelings, this is a great way to enjoy your day.
Pssst: Something worth checking out is the festival Luna Fete, a free outdoor light exhibition throughout Downtown NOLA.
Take A Night Stroll Through The Audubon Zoo
During December, the Audubon Zoo opens its gates and surprises the public with a beautiful display of glowing wildlife in the form of life-sized aminal recreations.
Taking a stroll through the zoo, you will be amazed at how a place of nature can turn into a Christmas wonderland with hanging lights, illuminated trees, and life-sized and glowing replicas of zoo animals.
While this beautiful display allows you to focus on the lights and the recreated animals, you will also be able to see and sometimes interact with some zoo animals, even during the evening. If you have children, this is also a family-friendly activity that they can enjoy.
Going for an evening stroll through a zoo may not seem as exciting, but it will surely spruce up your Christmas in New Orleans.
Enjoy Some Of The Festive Themed Local Cuisine
New Orleans is known for many things, including the food you can find there and the local cuisine.
Though you may be able to try some of the traditional and exceptional foods throughout the year, if you are looking to do so in true Christmas fashion, many of the local restaurants will accommodate the Christmas theme in their dishes during the festive season.
One of the other eats you should try while in New Orleans is the Christmas King cake, which many people who visit New Orleans during this time enjoy very much.
However, I should warn you that the lines to get some Christmas King Cake may take a while, so be sure to be an early bird if you don’t want to waste your New Orleans Christmas waiting around.
Final Thoughts on NOLA Christmas
There are many activities and things of interest to do during Christmas in New Orleans. And though not all of these activities are specific to the holiday season, you will likely find a festive spin on almost all of the activities you would usually enjoy.
So get into the holiday spirit and let yourself be awed by the Christmas in New Orleans.