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Things to Do

15 Things to do in December

Keep your social calendar merry and bright this month with our list of 15 things to do in December.

luna fete
A scene from the fantastic and fantastical LUNA Fete. (Photo: Paul Broussard)

The year will not be complete without seeing a cat play the guitar — trust me. The Acro-Cats’ holiday show will get you started with a December to remember. The month is jam-packed with many non-cat-related events too, like the third annual light projection event known as LUNA Fête, the Preservation Resource Center’s Holiday Home Tours, a parade (of course), and the Algiers bonfire lighting. A few outside-the-holiday-box events take center stage this December as well, including commemoration of the 75th anniversary of Pearl Harbor at the World War II Museum. Keep your social calendar merry and bright this month with our list of 15 things to do in December.

15 Things to Do in December

The Rock Cats, part of the Amazing Acro-Cats, will play seasonal classics like “A Cat in a Manger” and “God Rest Ye Merry Kittens.” (Photo via The Amazing Acro-Cats Meowy Catmas on Facebook)

See The Amazing Acro-Cats

The cat circus is coming back to town Dec. 2-18 at the Theatre at St. Claude, spreading furry holiday cheer with their show, “Tuna and the Rock Cats Meowy Catmas.” The Acro-Cats help promote cat rescue and adoption as well as cat training techniques as they travel the country in their cat tour bus. These former orphaned and stray kitties were rescued and trained by Acro-Cats founder Samantha Martin. They now dazzle audiences by walking the tightrope and jumping through hoops while other catastic felines weave in and out of audience members’ legs. The show also features the Rock Cats, a cat band that plays the drums, piano, and guitar. Several other animal species also make appearances throughout the show. A portion of the proceeds from the Acro-Cats’ New Orleans shows benefit the Jefferson ASPCA. Meow sweet! Buy tickets here.

Watch the Krewe of Jingle Parade

Now in its ninth year, the city’s official holiday parade, the Krewe of Jingle, takes to the streets on Saturday, Dec. 3 at 1:00 p.m. The route begins at Lee Circle, rolling up through the Central Business District on St. Charles Avenue before looping around on Canal Street and heading down Baronne Street to Howard Avenue. The free parade will feature Santa Claus, Mr. Bingle, holiday floats, and groups like the Urban Cowboys.

Bonfires (and fireworks) on the levees are a holiday tradition. (Photo: Cheryl Gerber)

Heat up your holidays at the Algiers Bonfire & Concert

Happening Dec. 3, Algiers’ annual bonfire lighting on New Orleans’ Westbank is a unique spectacle. The lighting is preceded by a small festival featuring Bag of Donuts, performing from 5:30 to 8:30 p.m., and a Landry-Walker High School marching band led second line. Food trucks and other vendors will be selling food and drink. The bonfire itself is a 33-foot wooden sculpture created by burn designer Brennan Steele of NOLA Burners. The official bonfire light takes place at 8:45 p.m. The event, at 200 Morgan St., is free and open to the public. 

PJ Morton. (Photo via Facebook)

Hear PJ Morton perform at Blue Nile

On Dec. 6, 13, 20, and 27, Maroon 5 keyboardist and New Orleans native PJ Morton takes up residence at Blue Nile on Frenchmen Street Tuesdays during the month of December. The son of gospel singer Rev. Paul S. Morton, PJ recently returned home to New Orleans to raise his family. His musical style is something he calls “soulful pop,” with elements of his gospel upbringing. Doors open at 9:00 p.m., and the show begins at 10:00 p.m. Tickets are available here.

A look inside the new “Road to Tokyo” exhibit. (Photo courtesy of The National World War II Museum)

Honor the 75th Anniversary of Pearl Harbor at the National World War II Museum

The date that will live in infamy now reaches its 75th anniversary. On Dec. 6 and 7, The National World War II Museum commemorates the attack on Pearl Harbor with several events. On Dec. 6, the museum will screen the film Tora! Tora! Tora!, a dramatization of the attack. On Dec. 7, events include the official commemoration ceremony from 11:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m.; an all-day oral history showcase of accounts from veterans of where they were when they learned of the Pearl Harbor attack; and the Living Memory Panel Discussion from 2:30 to 3:30 p.m. with Pearl Harbor survivors and family members.

LUNA Fete lights up Gallier Hall. (Courtesy photo)

Awaken wonder at LUNA Fête

The third annual light projection art event known as LUNA Fête, arranged by the Arts Council of New Orleans, will take place at Gallier Hall with additional installations along Lafayette Street on Dec. 7-10 from 6 until 9 p.m. nightly. The event features Gallier Hall as the highlight of the evening, with a video animation and light projection on the building’s facade. The LUNA Fête project merges art, architecture, technology, community engagement, and tourism into a one-of-a-kind event. A holiday market will also take place in Lafayette Square.

(Photo: Rebecca Ratliff)

Toast Tales of the Toddy

A favorite holiday party, Tales of the Toddy on Dec. 8 is thrown by the same organization that puts on Tales of the Cocktail. Party-goers can taste 26 holiday cocktails ranging from toddies to eggnogs, and everything in between at the Celestin Ballroom inside the Hyatt Regency Hotel. The party also features music, a celebrity bartender drink-making competition, of sorts, plus snacks from some of the city’s tastiest restaurants, including Sac-a-LaitPrimitivo, Kingfish Kitchen & Cocktails, Bacchanal Wine, and even The Creole Creamery. What’s more, GoNOLA readers receive a 10% discount. Use promo code cheer10 when you purchase tickets in advance

The Ogden Museum of Southern Art. (Photo: Rebecca Ratliff)

Indulge in Happy Hour with a Healthy Twist at The Ogden Museum

Stay healthy in preparation for the upcoming holiday season with a yoga, pilates, and barre workout class at the Ogden Museum of Southern Art on Dec. 8 from 6:30-8:30 p.m. The event takes place during the Ogden’s regular “Ogden After Hours” event, so cocktails, food, and live music will also be part of the evening. This event is provided through a collaboration with Footprints to Fitness. Register now through their website and receive 20% off with the code 20OFFHHH.

The Orpheum’s exterior. (Photo courtesy Jamey Shaw)

Get Merry at the Orpheum Holiday Spectacular with 610 Stompers and the LPO

The Louisiana Philharmonic Orchestra presents the LPO Holiday Spectacular performance featuring the moves of the 610 Stompers. Lucas Waldin guest conducts music from around the world at the beautiful and recently restored Orpheum Theater on Dec. 9 and 10 at 7:30 p.m. and Dec. 11 at 2:30 p.m.

This Garden District home on Coliseum Street is just one of more than a half a dozen homes decorated and open to the public on the Preservation Resource Center Holiday Home Tour. (Photo: Paul Broussard)

Ogle Holiday Home Tours

Get inside stunning local homes dressed for the holidays. The Preservation Resource Center’s 41st annual Holiday Home Tour runs Dec. 10 and 11 from 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. and features eight Garden District homes (plus a bonus house at McGehee School) with decked halls of ribbons, garlands, and live music. A holiday boutique, cafe, and tour headquarters will be stationed at Trinity Episcopal Church. Tickets are available here.

A Reveillon cocktail from Dickie Brennan’s Steakhouse. (Photo: Rebecca Ratliff)

Drink a holiday cocktail, all month long 

Kick back and relax by imbibing some local seasonal cocktails around town. My personal favorite is Café Brûlot, a hot cocktail made with coffee, brandy, a lemon peel, and sugar and spice and everything nice. Nurse one at Antoine’s, where it was invented during Prohibition, on a chilly night. Alternatively, order a hot buttered rum at 13 Monaghan in the Marigny. Check out more holiday drink options here.

A poinsettia tree at Celebration in the Oaks. (Photo: Paul Broussard)

Scope out the city’s best holiday decorations

City Park’s Celebration in the Oaks runs throughout December (closed Dec. 1, 24, and 31). Hundreds of thousands of lights are strewn across 25 acres, including the Botanical Garden, Storyland, and Carousel Gardens, paths and trees. Alternatively, take the streetcar along St. Charles Avenues to view stately homes clothed in twinkling holiday lights. Visiting the Roosevelt Hotel is another time-honored New Orleans tradition during the holidays. Its lobby is decorated with birch trees, Christmas trees, and 22,000 lights.

Holiday decor at Restaurant R’evolution. (Photo: Paul Broussard)

Dine the classic Creole way

Reveillon dinners, a Creole tradition with Catholic roots, were traditionally the meals eaten after Midnight Mass on Christmas. These meals were originally eaten at home amongst family. Today, however, local restaurants are working to keep Reveillon alive by serving prix-fixe Reveillon meals throughout December. The Caribbean Room’s five-course Reveillon menu includes foie gras with chestnuts and gingerbread, lamb chops with sweetbreads and sauce perigueux, and a tarte a la bouillie with grapefruit and white chocolate ($95). Vacherie’s menu includes seafood gumbo, fried oysters with Louisiana barbecue butter, crab cakes with shrimp sauce, roasted potatoes, and asparagus, and bread pudding with whiskey sauce (starting at $45).

A Clarence John Laughlin photograph.

See a surreal photography exhibit

Clarence John Laughlin: A Picture and a Thousand Words is the latest exhibition at the Historic New Orleans Collection exhibition and focuses on surrealist and experimental photographer Clarence John Laughlin, a Louisiana native. On display are letters he wrote to his contemporaries as well as carbon copies of his photographs and some of Laughlin’s own collection of photographs by other artists. This exhibit is free and runs throughout December until March 2017.

The Victory Belles. (Photo via Victory Belles on Facebook)

Spend Christmas Day New Orleans style

After church, if that’s your thing, what is one to do with the rest of Christmas Day? Luckily, there are plenty of options in New Orleans. Listen to the Victory Belles’ “A Vintage Christmas” Christmas caroling performance at the World War II Museum. Go ice skating at the Convention Center for NOLA ChristmasFest (open from 2 p.m. to 8 p.m.). Or, eat dinner at Restaurant R’Evolution, a joint venture of legendary Louisiana chef John Folse and chef Rick Tramonto.

Emily Ramírez Hernández is the child of New Orleans natives whose families have been in the city for generations. Emily's earliest memories of New Orleans include joyful car rides over bumpy streets, eating dripping roast beef po-boys at Domilise's, and catching bouncy balls during Mardi Gras parades with cousins. An urban planner by day and freelance writer by night, when she is off the clock she enjoys biking around town, belly dancing, and catching nerdlesque shows.

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