New Orleans in the winter is a magical place. From holiday lights and unique traditions to sporting events and festivals, there’s always something going on. While the rest of the country is hibernating, we’re out on the town, celebrating all things New Orleans. We’ve rounded up some of our favorite must-do winter activities below. Sub your snow boots for some dancing shoes and book your trip to New Orleans today.

Justen Williams, NOTMC

This New Orleans delicacy is the perfect way to warm up when the weather is cool. Served over rice (or even over potato salad – real ones know), this warm, hearty stew is made with a variety of local ingredients using recipes that vary between families and restaurants alike. See some of the best places to get gumbo here.

Devonte Williford

Many hotel lobbies decorate during the holidays, but every year, the Roosevelt’s breathtaking hallway lobby stuns visitors and locals alike. More than 60,000 lights branch throughout and many holiday activities take place there as well. 

Hartley Wasser, New Orleans & Co.

It wouldn’t be a celebration in New Orleans without a parade, and that includes the holidays! Every December, the Children’s Hospital New Orleans Holiday Parade rolls through the French Quarter and downtown with larger-than-life holiday-themed floats, marching bands, dancing groups, and high-flying helium balloons. You won’t want to miss this holiday magic, which culminates in a post-parade celebration in Lafayette Square. 

Paul Broussard

From Thanksgiving to New Years, City Park is transformed with a holiday light show that is exciting for all ages. The festive display has everything from a Cajun Santa and the Saints to dinosaurs and sea life. For extra fun, children (and adults!) can ride the rides at the Carousel Gardens.

Justen Williams, New Orleans & Co.

A Creole Christmas means Réveillon Dinners. Dozens of New Orleans restaurants host special meals during the holidays to show off their culinary and cocktail creativity. Head to the official website to see who is participating this year.

Zack Smith

It’s the most wonderful time of the year because it’s Saints and Pelicans season. Be a Who Dat or Flock Up during your trip whether you’re in-stadium or at one of city’s many sports bars. See the best places to watch the Saints here and our tips for the ultimate game day here.

Peter Forest, New Orleans & Co.

Think ball drop, New Orleans style. Head to Jackson Square for the fleur de lis drop followed by a fireworks display over the Mississippi River.

Rebecca Todd

You can’t come to New Orleans without hearing a trumpet blare and a drumbeat. Head to Frenchmen Street to hear live music all night long, from traditional jazz to reggae and rock. During the cooler months, a night out dancing is the perfect way to stave off the chill in the air.

Zack Smith, NOTMC

There are plenty of bars around the city that boast warm and cozy vibes that are ideal for winter. Sip on a signature New Orleans cocktail in an intimate setting, paired with a cigar or some dessert.

Zack Smith

Oysters are best in the months that have an “R”- meaning the winter months fit the criteria perfectly. Enjoy them in a variety of forms: raw, chargrilled, or fried to name a few. Restaurants love to get creative with their oyster offerings. Some favorite spots include AcmeDrago’sSuperior Seafood, and Seaworthy.

Colton Clifford, New Orleans & Co.

Indulge in a Cozy Dessert

New Orleans has numerous decadent desserts that are especially appealing during the cooler months. Bananas Foster, bread pudding, Baked Alaska and beignets are all served hot, and you can’t go wrong with some Café Brûlot to finish it all off. Best of all, most of these sweet treats come along with a spectacular tableside presentation.

Photographer Rebecca Todd

Celebrate Vietnamese New Year on the grounds of Mary Queen of Vietnam Church. Indulge in báhn mí and phở, admire the dragon dance, and enjoy other authentic Vietnamese activities. The Vietnamese community is strong in New Orleans, and this is a great way to experience it firsthand.

Paul Broussard

King Cake is the official food of the Carnival season. Traditionally, it's a mix of a coffee cake and a cinnamon roll, served with purple, green, and gold sugar or frosting. Bakeries add twists to the beloved dessert, making it a constant discussion for who has the best king cake among locals. Be sure to snag some this Carnival season which starts January 6. 

Cheryl Gerber, NOTMC

Mardi Gras kicks off every year on January 6, also known as Twelfth Night. For weeks following, parades roll to celebrate the Carnival Season. Attending a Mardi Gras parade should be on everyone’s bucket list (in fact, we even have a special Mardi Gras Bucket List to help you plan the ultimate Carnival experience). Consider coming to town in the early weeks of Carnival season with our Early Mardi Gras Guide here. Dance with the bands, catch some beads, and experience the revelry with the whole family. Learn about all things Mardi Gras here.