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Things to Do

Holiday Home Tours: A New Orleans Holiday Tradition

A meticulously decorated New Orleans holiday home. (Photo: Paul Broussard)

December is quite a special month here in New Orleans. The French Quarter, along with much of the city, is decked out with all the trimmings and is brimming with holiday cheer. A litany of special events and dinners round out the month’s festivities. Along with Réveillon dinners at local restaurants, Christmas concerts, and caroling in Jackson Square, another beloved holiday tradition here in New Orleans is to participate in the holiday home tours offered throughout the month.

Preservation Resource Center (PRC) Holiday Home Tour

The foyer at 2520 Prytania St. (Photo courtesy of Preservation Resource Center and Sara Essex Bradley)

The holiday home tour schedule starts with the PRC’s annual Holiday Home Tour, taking place on Saturday and Sunday, Dec. 10 and 11. This year marks the 41st annual tour and includes eight stunning private homes located throughout the Garden District, as well as one bonus.

Each home, beautifully decorated for the holidays, will feature local musicians for some added ambiance. Holiday Home Tour ticket holders may also visit the tour headquarters at Trinity Episcopal Church for local bites at the café and shopping at the holiday boutique. This home tour is self-guided, though docents will be stationed at each home and available to answer questions. It runs from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. each day. Advanced tickets are available online for $40 per person ($30 for members and tours over 10 people each). Tickets will be available at the event for $45 each.

Patio Planters Holiday Home Tour

Created as a fundraiser for the annual Christmas caroling event in Jackson Square, the Patio Planters Holiday Home Tour takes place just before the caroling event in Jackson Square on Sunday, Dec. 18. From 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. that day, visitors can take a self-guided tour of several private French Quarter residences. The homes will be dressed in their holiday best. Tickets are only available prior to the tour and can be purchased at Creole Delicacies (cash or check) and French Quarter Gem & Lapidary (cash, check, or credit card) for $20 each. Children under 12 receive free admission. This event is put on by the Patio Planters of the Vieux Carré, a nonprofit gardening club for French Quarter residents.

Historic characters at the Spring Fiesta House (Photo courtesy of Friends of the Cabildo)

Friends of the Cabildo’s Creole Christmas Home Tour

For those looking for something special to do following Christmas, consider the Friends of the Cabildo’s Creole Christmas home tour, taking place Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday, December 27, 28, and 29. The Creole Christmas home tour features the Louisiana State Museum’s 1850 House, the Beauregard-Keyes House, the Gallier House, the Spring Fiesta House, and the Historic New Orleans Collection’s Williams Residence. The homes are decorated to reflect the Christmas style of mid-eighteenth-century New Orleans — with lots of garlands and ribbons. This self-guided tour takes place from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. each day, and tickets run $25 for the general public and $20 for Friends of the Cabildo and Louisiana Museum Foundation members. Refreshments and an ongoing presentation of the Reveillon meal tradition at the Spring Fiesta House are included. Tickets may be purchased online, by calling (504) 523-3939, or in person the day of at the 1850 House Museum Stop at 523 St. Ann St.

Hermann-Grima House + Gallier House

Two historic “sister” homes celebrating the holidays festively are the Hermann-Grima House and the Gallier House. While both adhere to their normal tour schedules during the holidays, the homes will be in 19th-century holiday dress through January. These 45-minute guided tours, which include some insight into the holiday decor traditions of the period, take place at both houses on Mondays, Tuesdays, Thursdays, Fridays, and Saturdays (closed Dec. 30 and 31). Tickets are available for purchase online or in person. Additionally, on Wednesday, Dec. 14 at 6:00 p.m., the homes host “How Christmas Came to New Orleans,” a lecture by historian John Magill on Yuletide traditions. Tickets are $7 (or free for HGGHH members).

Historic New Orleans Collection’s Williams Residence. (Photo courtesy of Friends of the Cabildo)

Williams Residence Holiday Home & Courtyard Tours

The Williams Residence, located along the back of the Historical New Orleans Collection’s compound on Royal Street, is decorated each year for the holidays with personal effects from Kemper and Leila Williams, the benefactors of the Historic New Orleans Collection. Visitors get a sneak peek of how this couple lived in the French Quarter during the 1950s, including their Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year’s Eve traditions. The Williams were avid antique collectors, and the house displays hundreds of items from their personal collection, including a Christmas tree with original ornaments. Running from Dec. 1-30, these hour-long, docent-led tours are $5 per person (free for THNOC members) and take place Tuesday through Saturday on the hour at 10 a.m., 11 a.m., 2 p.m. and 3 p.m. On Sundays, the tours start at 11 a.m., 2 p.m. and 3 p.m. Note: there will not be tours on Dec. 24 and 25.

Beauregard-Keyes House

Keeping with period-specific decor, the Beauregard-Keyes House uses winter fruits to add holiday cheer. (Courtesy photo)

Located at the far side of the French Quarter on Chartres Street, the Beauregard-Keyes House is decorated in the Victorian-era holiday style, and the normal tour given for the house is augmented to include details about the historical significance of the decor. Additionally, on Saturday, Dec. 3, from 1 to 4 p.m., the Beauregard-Keyes House will feature a doll-themed tea for children and a special tour for the parents. Call to reserve a spot, or show up the day of the event. Normal holiday tours take place daily (closed Sundays) and run on the hour from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Tours last 45 minutes, and the standard rate is $10 per person (various discounts available).