Ahh, December – the most magical month of the year. There are lots of ways to get into the holiday spirit here in New Orleans. Hang out with Kris Kringle at NOLA Christmas Fest, or go caroling in Jackson Square. Marvel at the holiday lights in Celebration in the Oaks, Luna Fête, or the gorgeously decorated, historic Roosevelt Hotel.However you choose to spend the season, be sure to mark the Tricentennial in your calendar as New Orleans prepares to celebrate it’s 300th birthday. 2018 is going to be an exciting time in the city, but first, let’s finish 2017 strong with a spectacular December! Here’s where to start.
1. Head to Lafayette Square for Luna Fête
From December 6-9, the Arts Council New Orleans creates a visionary wonderland in downtown New Orleans. Luna Fête, celebrating its fourth year, is free and open to the public and includes light projections, illuminated installations, and more as it explores new technology each year. This interactive festival is great for the whole family, so bring the kids down to Lafayette Square. See the festival website for specific showtimes between 6 p.m. – 10 p.m.
2. Enter into a Winter Wonderland at the Roosevelt
Head to the Roosevelt Hotel this holiday season for a beautiful display of lights. The Waldorf Wonderland display features the hotel beautifully decorated with nearly 50 Christmas trees and over 60,000 lights. Make it an evening and head to Domenica for dinner or the Sazerac Bar for a holiday drink afterwards.
3. Celebrate Faulkner at Words & Music Festival
Explore the work of author William Faulkner at Words & Music Fest From December 6-10. Live readings, master classes, and workshops are featured at this festival celebrating literacy. Make sure to check out the creative writing competition as authors compete in the categories of book-length fiction, short story, poetry, and more.
4. Go ice skating at NOLA Christmas Fest
An ice rink, a carousel, and an ice slide. How about a little winter adventure? NOLA Christmas Fest is back at the Convention Center offering kids and adults alike a taste of winter wonderland. This year the event will be held from December 21-31 and admission will be $20. Bring the kids out for the amusement rides, take photos with Santa, and bounce on giant inflatables. Go ahead and bring out the inner child in yourself too.
5. Light the way for Papa Noel
Take a trip out to St. James Parish for the lighting of the bonfires on Christmas Eve. Legend has it that bonfires are illuminated along the River Road levees to guide Papa Noel along his grand journey. If you can’t make it out on Christmas Eve, the Festival of the Bonfires from December 8-10 will give you a peak of the tradition, as they light a bonfire each night of the festival.
6. Go holiday shopping on Magazine Street
Support local businesses by shopping for your holiday gifts on Magazine Street. Merriment on Magazine encourages everyone to come out to Magazine Street during the month of December for six miles of shopping, food, and entertainment. If that’s not enough to get you out the door, take a look at your holiday shopping list. What better way to find a uniquely-New Orleans gift than by shopping at local stores?
7. Join the carollers in Jackson Square
Get into the holiday spirit on Sunday, December 17 by spreading joy with this holiday tradition that started in 1946. Gates to Jackson Square open at 6:30 p.m., and candles and song sheets are given to those who wish to participate. Carolling begins at 7 p.m. and is open to everyone, regardless of religious affiliation. Just be sure to arrive early as this event draws thousands.
8. See the Spectacular Nutcracker
There’s plenty of chances to see this holiday classic in New Orleans this December. New Orleans Ballet Theatre’s production of the Nutcracker will be held at the Orpheum Theater on December 16, 17, and 22. Delta Festival Ballet’s Nutcracker will be performed December 22 and 23 at Mahalia Jackson Theater for the Performing Arts. Moscow Ballet’s Great Russian Nutcracker makes its way to the Saenger Theatre on December 26.
9. See City Park illuminated at night
Is it really the holiday season without a trip to Celebration in the Oaks? This all-ages attraction celebrates its 31st anniversary this year and it keeps getting better and better. When you’re done visiting the Poinsettia Tree and Mr. Bingle, make your way over to the Carousel Gardens Amusement Park to ride the rides. Celebration in the Oaks runs from November 24 to January 1, but we recommend getting tickets in advance.
10. Go to Broadway, New Orleans Style
The Big Apple isn’t the only place where you can get a taste of Broadway this December. Broadway in New Orleans, which brings touring musicals to the Saenger Theater, will present White Christmas from December 19- 24. Jefferson Performing Arts Society will present the magical Tuck Everlasting this December as well, so be sure to get your tickets now.
11. Run (and party) with the Santas
When else could you dress up as Santa and go on a run without getting obscure any stares? (Actually, you probably could do it any month in New Orleans.) Running of the Santas brings Santas from far and wide together for a good time. Join the masses in a run through the Warehouse District to a party featuring Flow Tribe and drink specials afterwards. Tickets are $20 in advance for this event on December 9.
12. Kick off the New Year from New Orleans
Make plans to bring in the New Year in New Orleans! It’s always a celebration of some sort here, and New Year’s Eve is no different. On December 31, take the kids to Audubon Zoo for Zoo Year’s Eve and count down to the new year during the day. Then, head downtown for the second annual Rockin’ New Year’s Eve Official Countdown to Tricentennial presented by Dick Clark Productions. The concert starts at 9 p.m. with fireworks welcoming the new year at midnight.
13. Wish NOLA a Happy 300th Birthday
2018 marks New Orleans’ 300th year, and we’re welcoming it with style. NOLA 300 has a host of exciting events in store for 2018, so start marking your calendars now. Get ready for the festivities with this snazzy, Tricentennial gear and raise a glass to 300 more years to come. Happy birthday New Orleans!