The holidays are a special time in New Orleans. Decadent Réveillon dinners, bonfires on the levee, and holiday lights transform the Crescent City into a southern winter wonderland that doesn’t need snow and icicles to enchant and delight. For LGBTQ people looking for unique ways to experience the holidays, we’ve compiled a list of events that deliver cheer and inclusivity.
Holiday Dreams: A Spectacular Holiday Cirque!
The magic of the circus meets the magic of the holiday season in this stunning display of acrobatics, aerialists, and daredevils. Using innovative projection-mapping technology, Holiday Dreams is an immersive and breathtaking experience that will transport children and adults into a magical winter wonderland. This tour-de-force runs for one night only at Saenger Theatre and will ensure your holiday season is off to a wondrous start.
NUTCRACKER! Magical Christmas Ballet
December 27 at 4 p.m. & 8 p.m.
See this classic holiday story come to life at Saenger Theatre with larger-than-life puppets, breathtaking acrobatics, and stunning costumes. This year’s tour features performers from Ukraine, Italy, Japan, Kazakhstan, Turkey, and more to showcase its message of peace and harmony. Round out your holiday season with this beautiful and passionate performance.
Month of December.
Réveillon dinners are a holiday staple in New Orleans. Historically, these decadent dinners would be enjoyed after midnight mass, but in modern New Orleans tradition, our Réveillons are served with upscale Creole flare during regular dinner hours. Dozens of restaurants throughout the city participate in the tradition with special pre-fixe food and drink menus. A full list of restaurants is available here.
Holiday Shopping on Magazine
A festive street lined with delectable restaurants and one-of-a-kind shops, Magazine Street is a year-round alternative to crowded shopping malls. During the holidays, Magazine is frequented by locals as a reliable one-stop haven for gift shopping. If you visit Magazine Street between Thanksgiving and Christmas, you’ll also find many shopfronts transformed to celebrate the season.
December 21-December 30
Usher in the Christmas spirit at NOLA ChristmasFest! This attraction features the only ice-skating rink in New Orleans, favorite Christmas characters, amusement rides, and more in the New Orleans Ernest N. Morial Convention Center. You can even take private skating lessons for up to four people with New Orleans’ own Ice Ambassador, Sarah Zanolli. Expect to be full of holiday wonder as you navigate this winter wonderland, and be sure to purchase tickets in advance, as entry sessions are limited.
Celebration in the Oaks
November 24, 2022-January 1, 2023
Step into City Park any time between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Day to experience a joyous holiday light show. The display features scenes from the Cajun classic storybook, The Cajun Night Before Christmas, as well as other delightful holiday scenes across religions and traditions. Don’t forget to meet the famed Mr. Bingle and take a ride on the holiday train in the Carousel Gardens Amusement Park. Get tickets in advance here.
Bonfires on the Levee
Every Christmas Eve, Louisiana locals and in-the-know tourists alike take to the banks of the Mississippi River for this timeless tradition. This is no traditional bonfire, as a series of tall, pyramid wooden structures are joined by bonfires shaped as pelicans, alligators, and other cultural symbols. Some accounts date the tradition back to the 1880s, so this is a must-see for anyone wanting to round out their holidays with a touch of history. Sip a beer and enjoy time with your loved ones as you witness a classic Louisiana spectacle.
Saints and Pelicans Games
November and December
The New Orleans Saints and the Pelicans have various home games throughout the months of November and December, and tickets make for great gifts. Don’t miss the Saints as they look to nab some more home wins against the Falcons, Panthers, and Rams at the Superdome. And be sure to head to the Smoothie King Center to see the best of the Pelicans.
December 3 (Children’s Hospital New Orleans Holiday Parade) and December 17 (Jingle on the Boulevard).
In New Orleans, there’s never a bad time for a parade. And when it comes to holiday parading, there’s no better way to celebrate than with the Children’s Hospital New Orleans Holiday Parade and Jingle on the Boulevard parades. Put on your Santa hat and watch floats, reindeer, stilt performers, snowmen and fantastic live jazz musicians stroll by.
December 15-December 18
LUNA Fête is a free and public interactive light festival held at the Ernest N. Morial Convention Center Pedestrian Park. Featuring innovative light and projection art, jaw-dropping visuals and colorful performances, this attraction is the perfect place to make new and cherished holiday memories. The event also features local food, drink and craft vendors serving the best of local flavors and ingenuity. Don't miss this one-of-a-kind holiday experience.
Running Of The Santas
Strap on your finest Santa beard and don your red coat: Running of the Santas is returning to the Warehouse District. The party starts at 2 p.m. at Manning’s for a party featuring drink specials and live entertainment. The run begins at 6 p.m. as the Santas–alongside elves, reindeer and Grinches–will make their way to Generations Hall for even more live music and more libations. Dress to impress, and you may just win the Santa costume contest.
Chanukah at the Riverwalk
Hosted annually by the Chabad of Louisiana, this event brings together the local Jewish community for a celebration of culture and tradition. The event includes kosher food, live music, a menorah lighting, crafts, a Chanukah storybook trail, and more. Festivities start at Riverwalk Spanish Plaza at 4 p.m. and last until 6 p.m. Chanukah at the Riverwalk is free and open to the public and is sure to delight family members of all ages.
The Amazing Acro-Cats Meowy Catmas Special
December 1-4, December 8-11, December 14-18
In this feline-fronted spectacular, Allways Lounge & Cabaret and Rock Cats Rescue ring in the holiday season with special performances that will not only delight cat lovers but will also help Rock Cats Rescue find fur-ever homes for even more animals in need. The shows will feature real rescue cats jumping through wreaths, rolling ornaments, pulling sleighs, and more holiday-themed tricks and stunts. Be sure to buy your tickets in advance, as seats are limited.