New Year’s Eve is a time for big celebrations here in New Orleans. Several venues host parties and celebrations for people of all ages and interests. From the big, all-inclusive, hotel-hosted celebrations to the live, music-centered parties to daytime kids events, there’s bound to be something to suit you and your family’s taste. In the end, the most difficult decision you’ll make is choosing which event to attend. Below are several options, categorized by different ways to celebrate.
Celebrate on the River
Since the Mississippi River is a central part of New Orleans’s identity, it’s fitting to ring in the New Year either on the waters or on the shore. The Steamboat Natchez hosts a special event tour on New Year’s Eve. Patrons can enjoy an open bar, holiday-themed dinner buffet, and musical entertainment by a live dance band. This cruise leaves later than normal (10:00 p.m.) to ensure that cruisers ring in the New Year out on the water.
For those who love the river but would rather remain landlocked, the city hosts its annual fleur de lis drop at midnight with an accompanying fireworks show on the river. This event is free and open to the public. For more information on the evening’s happenings as the evening approaches, visit the Crescent City Countdown Club’s website.
Celebrate in Style
Several upscale venues in the city are throwing huge parties that include food, beverages, and live music. All three parties in this section are for adults 21 and older. The biggest party of the evening takes place at the Hyatt Regency hotel on Loyola Avenue in the CBD. Aptly titled Big Night New Orleans, this event provides a luxurious celebration experience. Ten entertainment acts including bands and DJs will play over the course of the evening. Buy tickets here.
Another option for the evening is the party happening at the Westin Hotel, located in Canal Place, between Canal Street and the French Quarter. Not only is this another all-inclusive party but when celebrating the New Year here, but also you’ll have a view of the city’s celebratory fireworks display. The Westin has booked The Boogie Men for the evening’s entertainment. Buy tickets here.
Finally, if you’d want to celebrate in style but would rather do it in the French Quarter, Bourbon Vieux hosts a party and features one of Bourbon Street’s largest balconies. The party ticket is all inclusive, but those looking for a low-key evening be warned: Bourbon Vieux promises this will the wildest New Year’s Eve party in all of America.
Celebrate with Music and Drinks
Some people prefer for their New Year’s eve celebrations to be all about the music and bar scene. Of course, New Orleans delivers on this in several ways. DJ Soul Sister hosts her 13th annual New Year’s Eve party at One Eyed Jacks on Toulouse Street in the French Quarter. Patrons can opt for cover charge only or purchase tickets that include open bar. The Booty Patrol Dancers and Vintage Soul Train Projections accompany DJ Soul Sister. Doors open at 10 p.m., and this party is for adults 21 and over only.
For those looking for a brass-band-filled evening, check out New Orleans’ own Grammy Award-winning Rebirth Brass Band at the Howlin’ Wolf on South Peters Street in the Warehouse District. This party ticket has open bar options and is for ages 21 and older. Doors open at 10 p.m. and the open bar lasts until 2 a.m. Buy tickets here.
The Joy Theater on Canal Street hosts an 18-and-older show featuring Foundation of Funk, Ziggabo Modeliste and George Porter Jr. of The Meters and The New Mastersounds. General admission tickets are available plus two levels of VIP tickets that include open bars from 9 p.m. to 11:30 p.m., plus special perks. Doors open at 9 p.m., and the show starts at 10 p.m.
Celebrate with Kids
Finally, for those looking to ring in the New Year with children in tow, there are two daytime events at the Audubon Zoo and the Children’s Museum.
The annual Zoo Year’s Eve event at the zoo kicks off at 10:30 a.m. and last until 1 p.m. The event takes place at the Capital One Stage and Field in the Audubon Zoo. The event is free with paid zoo admission and free to zoo members. Festivities include a countdown to noon with Terrance Simien, appearances by the Saintsations, and much more. Buy your tickets here or at the zoo the day of the event.
For those who prefer to stay closer to downtown, the Children’s Museum’s event kicks off at 9:30 a.m. and lasts until 2:30 p.m. This party also includes a countdown to noon with the Count from “Sesame Street” that ends with a confetti toss and balloon release. Kids will make their own noisemakers and party hats to wear for the countdown. The Red Hot Brass Band performs from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m.
Nighttime activities for the kids are available, too, via the aforementioned fireworks event on the riverfront. This event is free and open to the public and offers a spectacular view of the river and the fireworks.
With 2016 just right around the corner make it your New Years’ resolution to get out and experience one of the many upcoming events in January here in New Orleans. Here’s a short list of our favorites:
Allstate Sugar Bowl — New Orleans plays host to the 82nd Annual Allstate Sugar Bowl at the Mercedez-Benz Superdome featuring the best of the best in football.
Phorty Phunny Phellows Parade — Another Jan. 6 event to ring in Twelfth Night, the beginning of the Carnival season. To call it a parade is perhaps an overstatement (the group “parades” in a streetcar down St. Charles, after all), but it’s a fun excuse to enjoy some King Cake and a beer at a bar along the street.
OffBeat Magazine’s Best of the Beat Awards — This year’s celebration of local music takes place Jan. 21 at Generations Hall with a special tribute to Allen Toussaint. Tickets include food from 25 different local establishments and proceeds go to the New Orleans Musicians’ Assistance Foundation.
Mardi Gras Parades — The parades really ramp up toward the end of January, with favorite krewes rolling along St. Charles Avenue and the French Quarter throughout the month.
King Cake Festival — On Jan. 31 from 11 a.m. until 5 p.m., the Mercedes-Benz Superdome morphs into king cake central. Admission is free, though cake samplings cost extra: totally worth it, since proceeds directly benefit babies and children at Ochsner Hospital.