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(New Orleans, La.) - The mercury is dropping and NOLA ChristmasFest, the region's only indoor Christmas festival, is about to usher in the Christmas spirit. Doors open at 10 AM Friday, December 16 with an expanded ice skating rink, everyone's favorite holiday characters, fun amusement rides and inflatables inside the New Orleans Ernest N. Morial Convention Center.

The annual 15-day celebration, which runs through December 30, will once again feature the only real ice skating rink in New Orleans. Figure skater Sarah Zanolli will return as "Ice Ambassador" and will provide pre-reserved private skating lessons each morning before the new, 7,280 square-foot rink opens to the public.

This year NOLA ChristmasFest also features an exciting 120-foot ice slide, an amazing walk-through maze, themed inflatables and fun rides such as the Kringle Carousel, Winter Whirl, Snowball Fight and Snowy Summit Climbing Wall. NOLA ChristmasFest visitors will have the option to take memorable Christmas photos with Santa and several of his North Pole friends.

NOLA ChristmasFest will display thousands of dazzling lights and dozens of Christmas trees decorated by New Orleans businesses. Convention Center Boulevard will be draped in holiday décor with dazzling lights synced to traditional and contemporary Christmas music.

NOLA ChristmasFest visitors will be treated to special entertainment during the 10-day event including performances of "The Nutcracker" by the New Orleans Ballet Association on Friday, December 16 at 6 PM; Imagine Theatre's "The Present" on Saturday, December 17 and Sunday, December 18 at Noon; Riverwalk Band on Saturday, December 17; Victory Belles on Monday December 19 at 6 PM; Jeannie Morris School of Dance on Tuesday, December 20 and Wednesday, December 21 at 6 PM and the Hollywood Highsteppers on Thursday, December 22 at 6 PM.

The Christmas festival will take place inside Hall I at the Convention Center and will be open from 10 AM to 8 PM each day during the two week celebration. Special hours on Christmas Eve are from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and on Christmas Day from 2 p.m. to 8 p.m.

NOLA ChristmasFest tickets are now available online at Group rates are available for 10 or more.

NOLA ChristmasFest will provide $10 discounted parking in Lot F, directly across from the NOLA ChristmasFest entrance and nearby lots will also offer parking specials.

Gray Line will provide complimentary shuttle transportation to NOLA ChristmasFest in Hall I from the entrance of the Morial Convention Center at Julia and Convention Center Blvd. every half hour, 30 minutes before and after event hours daily.

NOLA ChristmasFest is sponsored by Southern Eagle - Bud Light, Capital One, Condor Airlines, Revolution Reality, Alamo Services, ACCENT-DMC, Coca Cola, Centerplate, Wyndham Vacation Resorts, Copa Airlines, The Advocate, State Farm, Dat Dog, New York Life Insurance, Southern Eagle, Diageo, Southern Glazers and Entergy and is presented by the New Orleans Ernest N. Morial Convention Center.

About the New Orleans Ernest N. Morial Convention Center
With 1.1 million square feet of contiguous exhibit space, an award winning staff and first class amenities, the New Orleans Ernest N. Morial Convention Center (MCCNO) is the sixth largest convention center in the nation, a consistent Top 10 host of the largest number of conventions and tradeshows annually, and one of the city's "Top Workplaces." A leading rainmaker of the city's hospitality industry, MCCNO event activity has produced $53.7 billion in economic impact since its 1985 opening, including $3.4 billion in new tax revenue for state and local governments.