While most other cities across the U.S. are winding down from the holidays and settling into their resolutions, New Orleanians are gearing up for one of their most beloved times of the year: Carnival season! Joyful carolers are soon replaced with eager marchers, stockings become throw bags, and pumpkin pies make way for king cakes. If you’re considering visiting New Orleans in January, you’ll find everything you need to know about this special time of year below.
If the holiday cheer and New Year’s resolutions start to wear you out, a trip to New Orleans in January ensures a fresh (and fun) start to your year.
Referred to as Twelfth Night or Epiphany, this annual celebration marks the official end of the holiday season and the beginning of Carnival season in New Orleans. Each year, eager New Orleanians await January 6 so they can begin purchasing King Cakes and counting down the days until Mardi Gras.
The celebration of Twelfth Night also means the first parades of the Mardi Gras season, like the Streetcar-based Phunny Phorty Phellows. This parade showcases a group of gentlemen boarding the St. Charles streetcar to signal the arrival of Carnival. Another colorful event, Krewe de Joan d’Arc, honors the St. Joan of Arc’s birthday with a medieval-themed parade through the French Quarter that also celebrates the French heritage of New Orleans.
For more local events to check out in January, browse below. You can also check out our curated list of 10 Things to Do This January as the month gets closer.
With an average high of 62℉ and a low of 43℉, January is one of New Orleans’ cooler months. Enjoy leisurely strolls through one of the city’s many neighborhoods without breaking a sweat, or opt for indoor activities to beat the light chill. Jeans, sweaters, and light jackets are recommended. Don’t be afraid to get in the spirit and dress up for the walking parades mentioned above.
Typically offered only during carnival season, king cake is a must-try if you're visiting in January. Bakeries and shops across the Crescent City begin rolling the annual delectable out on January 6 and stop promptly after Mardi Gras Day. Try a traditional king cake or something unique like chantilly or praline-filled.
Here is a list of some of our favorite king cakes – and king cake-flavored treats – throughout the city.
For those looking to stick to healthy eating resolutions, don’t think that a trip to New Orleans will derail all your hard work! Many of the city’s best restaurants offer Eat Fit NOLA-approved dishes on their menu, so you can get the great taste of New Orleans without the guilt. We also have a large number of vegan and vegetarian-friendly options, if going meat-free was part of your New Year’s resolution. You can also find low-ABV drink and mocktails at these bars and restaurants if you’ve decided to cut back on alcohol in the new year.