A new year, a new chance for lots of fun. That’s what you’ll find in New Orleans 24/7, 365. 2018 is a particularly exciting year in New Orleans because of the Tricentennial, the city’s 300th birthday. With an already jam-packed schedule, the Tricentennial brings an entire year’s worth of events with it as we celebrate here in NOLA. So go ahead and make your plans to come down and see us. We’ve got a taste of the year ahead with 15 things to do in New Orleans this January.
1. Ring in the New Year, New Orleans-Style
January 1 falls on a Monday this year, but that doesn’t mean you can’t spend the day doing something fun. Head to breakfast at one of our favorite spots or spend the day exploring a new neighborhood in New Orleans. Get a running start on those resolutions by spending the day literally running (or walking) one of New Orleans’ best trails. Then, spend some time reflecting on 2017 before putting it to rest.
2. Watch the Sugar Bowl on New Year’s Day
Tickets for the Allstate Sugar Bowl may be sold out, but that doesn’t mean you have to miss out on the fun. Host a Sugar Bowl watch party or head to one of these sports bars to watch the game like a true fan. Even if you can’t be in the Dome to catch the game, you’ll see fans of both teams flooding downtown, so why not join them?
3. Go to the first Mardi Gras parade of 2018
The Phunny Phorty Phellows herald the arrival of Carnival in non-traditional fashion. Loading up on the streetcar at South Carrollton, the krewe heads rides all the way down St. Charles Avenue and back throwing the first beads of the season. Dress up in your most satirical costume and see the krewe as they spread the New Orleans-version of holiday cheer on January 5 at 7 p.m.
4. See the walking parade named for Joan of Arc
Krewe de Jeanne d’Arc parades on the birthday of Joan of Arc every year, January 6. Catch the parade celebrating this French war hero as it runs through the French Quarter for its 10-year anniversary. The walking parade features a medieval-themed procession and is the first parade of the new year, so make sure you’re in your spot to catch the spectacle at 7 p.m., sharp.
5. Kick off Carnival season with the King’s Day Celebration
King’s Day, or the Epiphany, marks the official beginning of the Mardi Gras season. The king cake debuts on this day, making its way into homes, offices, and parties until Fat Tuesday. Because of the Tricentennial this year, January 6 marks a King’s Day celebration complete with fireworks on the river at 9 p.m. It’s officially Carnival season, y’all.
6. Welcome the Tricentennial with Mass at St. Louis Cathedral
The first Sunday of the new year brings an inaugural mass with it. The Tricentennial Mass at St. Louis Cathedral will welcome the new year in one of New Orleans’ most iconic places. Opening mass begins at 11 a.m. on January 7.
7. See the Tempest at New Orleans Shakespeare Festival
The New Orleans Shakespeare Festival at Tulane University breathes new life into centuries-old Shakespeare plays. This January you’ll find the classic tale of love and revenge on the Dixon Hall stage. With the Tempest, you’ll witness a storm of emotions as you are transported into a different world. Catch the show on January 12, 2018.
8. Celebrate Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
Whether you’re looking to volunteer or join in on community celebrations for MLK Day, we’ve got you covered. On January 15 at 9 a.m., join the city of New Orleans at Al Davis Park for a Martin Luther King, Jr. celebration program followed by a communal block party on Oretha Castle Haley Blvd. at noon. Participate in City Year New Orleans’s Day of Service on MLK Day, January 15, 2018 if you’re looking to volunteer.
9. Laugh yourself silly with TABASCO: A Burlesque Opera
If you’re a fan of Tabasco sauce, this one is for you. This show produced by the New Orleans Opera Association will tell the story of everyone’s favorite condiment through song and dance. It’s also an official Tricentennial event. TABASCO: A Burlesque Opera is actually a re-staging of the opera last heard 150 years ago. It’s a show you won’t want to miss, running January 25-28 at Le Petit Theatre. Tickets start at $25.
10. Head to the French Quarter for Krewe du Vieux
Signaling the (un)official start to parade season is the infamous parade known as Krewe du Vieux. This year, the parade known for its political commentary, sarcasm, and raunchiness rolls through the French Quarter on January 27. Pick out your costumes early and get your spot on the route – you’re in for a real treat this year.
11. Feel the heat at Tango Fire
With this show, you’ll feel the fire from your seats. New Orleans Ballet Association brings Tango Fire to the Mahalia Jackson Theater for the Performing Arts on January 27, 2018. This ensemble of tango-dancing couples from Buenos Aires puts on a show-stopping performance with world-class dancing and sizzling choreography. Dazzling costumes and fancy footwork will have your head spinning. You’ll need Sunday to recover from the heat of this show. Tickets start at $25.
12. Sample them all at King Cake Festival
Cream cheese-filled, bananas foster-style, or traditional – this festival has all the king cake you can imagine. On Saturday, January 28, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., head to Champions Square for the King Cake Festival. If you can’t decide which to try, let the judges decide for you in the king cake competition featuring categories like ‘best non-traditional’ and ‘most likely to replace a meal.’ Come hungry. Until then, get your king cake fix at one of these spots in NOLA.
13. Visit France with An American in Paris
Broadway in New Orleans brings this Gershwin musical to New Orleans January 30-February 4. An American in Paris is a classic love story intertwined with symphonic music and breathtaking ballet. Coming off of big success on Broadway, this show is something you won’t want to miss. All performances are at the Saenger Theater. Tickets start at $31.
14. Catch the big Mardi Gras parades
The first weekend of big parades kicks off January 27 with Krewe du Vieux and only heats up from there. The weekend of January 27-28, you’ll find nine parades in and around New Orleans with krewedelusion, Krewe of Little Rascals, and much more. For more information, check the schedule here.
15. Enjoy the art in Prospect.4
Prospect.4 started in November, but it runs through February 25. January is the perfect time to check out some of the artwork in museums and around the city. This year’s theme, the Lotus in Spite of the Swamp, marks Prospect New Orleans’ fourth installment. If you’re not sure what to check out, read all about Prospect.4 here and our 20 Questions with Interim Director Ylva Rouse here.