New Orleans in December is one for traditions, both old and new. This year, you can enjoy old traditions reimagined, like Celebration in the Oaks, and partake in old favorites, like the Réveillon dining tradition. Whether you’d like to book a room at a hotel or simply stop in to see the lights, there’s something for everyone this holiday season in New Orleans. Here’s our top 10 things to do this December.
A beloved New Orleans tradition, Celebration in the Oaks lights up City Park every holiday season, and this year is no different. Typically a walking tour, this year, Celebration in the Oaks will return as a driving tour. Wind your way through two and a half miles of the park illuminated with both new and returning lights displays. You can also enjoy Carousel Gardens Amusement Park with an optional add-on experience. Pack your hot cocoa and your holiday tunes–and don’t forget to book your tickets online in advance. Celebration in the Oaks returns November 25-January 2.
Browse the bookstores, boutiques, and specialty stores of New Orleans to find unique gifts for your loved ones this holiday season. Magazine Street is lined with shops, but you can search the whole city here. How about a set of glassware from Sazerac House for the home bar? Or a one-of-a-kind piece of artwork made by a local artist? There’s no shortage of creative gift ideas when it comes to holiday shopping in New Orleans.
Celebrate the tradition of Hanukkah from November 28-December 6 in New Orleans with lots of latkes and seasonal cheer. Chanukah @ Riverwalk is an annual menorah lighting that will take place on the first night of Hanukkah at 4:30 p.m. The Mobile Menorah Parade will travel down St. Charles Avenue through Uptown and downtown on Saturday, Dec. 4 starting at 7:30 p.m. Eight nights of latkes will return at Marjie’s Grill, where each night features a different creative take on the traditional dish. See here for more information on Hanukkah in New Orleans.
The indoor Christmas festival known as NOLA ChristmasFest returns to the Convention Center with lots of seasonal cheer. An ice slide, ice skating rink, yuletide market, gingerbread village, and photos with Santa are just a few of the highlights. NOLA ChristmasFest is open December 17-22 and 25-30.
Broadway in New Orleans returned for the 2021/2022 season in November, and December is a real treat with two shows in one month: Cats the Musical and Hadestown. An Andrew Lloyd Webber classic, Cats is a razzle-dazzle sung-through musical giving T.S. Eliot’s 1939 poetry collection new life. Hadestown is a contemporary take on an old tale, a dark and spellbinding version of Orpheus and Eurydice, King Hades and his wife Persephone. You can find both musicals at the Saenger Theater, with Cats from December 14-19 and Hadestown from December 28-January 2.
Settle into December via the sounds of jazz with two performances at the Jazz & Heritage Center on 1225 N. Rampart St. December 4 will feature the New Orleans Jazz Vipers and December 11 will feature local artist Gabrielle Cavassa. Tickets are $5, and proceeds will benefit the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Foundation, including the Jazz & Heritage Music Relief Fund.
Réveillon is a holiday dining tradition that typically began at midnight on Christmas Day. Dating back to the 1800s, Creole New Orleanians would feast on lavish meals following midnight mass on Christmas Eve. Restaurants across the city have adopted this tradition, offering decadent Réveillon menus throughout the month of December. Take part in the celebrations this holiday season.
Get into the spirit of the season with holiday concerts from St. Augustine Church and St. Louis Cathedral. The concerts will be held in person this year, as will Caroling in Jackson Square, which will take place on December 19 at 7 p.m.
New Orleans is a festive city year-round, and the holidays are no different. Visit the city’s most popular sights for a look at how we decorate for the season. St. Louis Cathedral is a great starting point, followed by Canal Street and the lobbies of the Windsor Court and the Roosevelt Hotel. Two lights festivals will return this December: Greenway Supernova and LUNA Fête, both free to the public and filled with holiday magic.
Treat yourself this holiday season with a stay at a New Orleans hotel. Every December, hotels here roll out Papa Noel Rates, which often include perks such as discounted room rates and free parking. Many will be decked out for the season with lights, perfect for getting into the festive mood with New Orleans at your fingertips.
For even more events, activities, and can’t-miss celebrations this holiday season, visit https://holiday.neworleans.com.