January in New Orleans is unlike anywhere else in the world: while most are seeing the end of the holidays, we roll from one celebration to the next with the start of Carnival season on January 6. In fact, that's probably one of the reasons why AFAR named New Orleans one of the top 10 places in the world to visit in January 2024. Indulge in a king cake (or two or three or six), check out the first parades of the season, ring in the new year NOLA-style, and catch a performance in the theater. Here are 10 things to do this January in New Orleans. 

Ring in the New Year, NOLA-style 

New Orleans is the perfect place to ring in the new year, with your pick of celebration on New Year’s Eve. Plan to dine out, attend a NYE celebration, jam out at a concert, or catch the Allstate Sugar Bowl on New Year’s Day. See what’s going on during the holiday weekend here.  

Kick off the Carnival Season 

January 6 marks the official start to the Mardi Gras season, which lasts this year through February 13. What better way to kick off our favorite season than with not one, not two, but four parades? On January 6, see the Krewe of Joan of Arc as it passes through the French Quarter on foot and horseback, followed by The Société Des Champs Elysée a few blocks away. Uptown on St. Charles Avenue, Phunny Phorty Phellows will parade via streetcar followed by Funky Uptown Krewe.

Credit @thebigbookofkingcake and @randypschmidt

Eat lots of king cake 

Whether you like it traditional or unconventional, king cake season is here in abundance starting January 6. It’s considered bad luck by some to eat king cake out of season, but luckily for you most of January is in the clear and we couldn’t be more excited to finally indulge in our favorite seasonal treat. Check out some of our favorite king cakes here.

Go to Fan Expo 

Fan Expo returns to New Orleans from January 5-7 with all your favorite comic book characters, celebrities, and fan favorite events. Celebrities include Sean Gunn, Linda Hamilton, and more. Click here for the full lineup and get your tickets today. 

Catch a Pelicans or Saints game 

The Saints football season wraps up in January, but there’s still time to catch the game against the Atlanta Falcons on January 7. The Pelicans are in full swing with six games this month in the Blender.  

Photo by Matthew Murphy & Evan Zimmerman for MurphyMade

Head to the theater 

January is a great time to check out the performing arts scene in New Orleans with multiple productions occurring throughout the month. “My Fair Lady”comes to the Saenger from January 9-14 via Broadway in New Orleans. Le Petit Theater presents “Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf” from January 11-28. Then there’s Compañia Nacional de Danza visiting on January 20. You can also catch “Les Misérables” at the Saenger via Broadway in New Orleans from January 30-February 4. Plan to patronize the theater this winter. View our Winter Theater Guide here.

Commemorate Martin Luther King, Jr. Day 

January 15, 2024 is Martin Luther King, Jr. Day. New Orleans has plenty of community gatherings and volunteer opportunities to commemorate the day. Visit the Ogden Museum of Southern Art for free admission plus art, crafts, and music in celebration of MLK Day. New Orleans City Park hosts an annual day of service on MLK Day.

Catch an early season Mardi Gras parade 

The Intergalactic Krewe of Chewbacchus is set to roll through the Bywater and French Quarter on Saturday, Jan. 20. The satirical Krewe du Vieux rolls on January 27. See the full Mardi Gras parade schedule here and plan to pass a good time.

Visit an attraction 

From the Audubon Aquarium to Longue Vue House and Gardens, JAMNOLA, and Studio BE, New Orleans has no shortage of museums and attractions to keep you busy. January is the perfect time to beat the crowds and enjoy New Orleans to the fullest.

Enjoy a bowl of piping hot gumbo 

Cozy up to a bowl of piping hot gumbo this January. During one of our colder months, this classic New Orleans dish will warm you right up. Enjoy a bowl from Neyow’s, Dooky Chase’s, or one of these gumbo spots.