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15 Things To Do in January in New Orleans

Editor’s Note: This post may be outdated. Head to for the latest on what’s open and how to safely enjoy New Orleans right now.

Phunny Phorty Phellows
The Phunny Phorty Phellows welcome Carnival season on January 6 with a ride on the streetcar down St. Charles Avenue. Photo: Rebecca Todd

A new year brings a new opportunity for lots of fun. That’s what you’ll find in New Orleans 24/7, 365 days a year. 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

Jan. 1 falls on a Wednesday 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 running (or walking) one of New Orleans’ best trails.

The Allstate Sugar Bowl takes place inside the Mercedes-Benz Superdome (Photo: Paul Broussard)

2. Watch the Sugar Bowl on New Year’s Day

The Allstate Sugar Bowl is an annual college football playoff game held on January 1. 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.

3. See the walking parade named for Joan of Arc

Krewe de Jeanne d’Arc parades annually on the birthday of Joan of Arc, January 6. In 2020, the organization will celebrate the 100th anniversary of Joan of Arc’s canonization. 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 in the French Quarter. The parade ends with the first king cake of the Mardi Gras season.

The Phunny Phorty Phellows welcome Carnival season (Photo: Paul Broussard)

4. Kick off Carnival Season with Twelfth Night

Twelfth Night, or the Epiphany, marks the official beginning of the Mardi Gras season on January 6. The king cake debuts on this day, making its way into homes, offices, and parties until Fat Tuesday (February 25, 2020).  Every year on Twelfth Night, the Phunny Phorty Phellows (or PPP) as they’re known locally, herald the arrival of Carnival with their “Carnival Countdown.” Afterwards, they pile up on a streetcar for a ride up and down the St. Charles Streetcar line. Locals gather along the route to cheer, wave and catch the first beads of Mardi Gras. When you see the Phunny Phorty Phellows, you know it’s officially Carnival season.

The Orpheum Theater (Photo: Rebecca Todd)

5. Enjoy Classical Music and Young Talent

The Louisiana Philharmonic Orchestra welcomes cellist Pablo Ferrández for a two night performance at the Orpheum Theater. The program begins with Three Latin American Sketches, continues with Ferrández’s performance of Concerto in C Major by Haydn, and finishes with Beethoven’s Symphony No. 3, “Eroica.” Performances are January 9 and 11 at 7:30 p.m.

6. Attend the College Football Playoff National Championship

Calling all football fans: The city of New Orleans will host the 2020 College Football Playoff National Championship on January 13, 2020 in the Mercedes-Benz Superdome. Coming off the heels of the Allstate Sugar Bowl, this game will bring a fresh new crop of football fans to town. Make it a weekend trip and come down to New Orleans early to enjoy the dining and music scenes before the Monday night game.

7. Experience theater with the NOLA Project

Celebrating 15 years, the NOLA Project brings innovative theatrical performances to a local audience. Sigrid Gilmer’s provocative and hilarious new play “Harry and the Thief” is a black comedy about traveling back in time to alter history. Catch the show at the Contemporary Arts Center from January 16-26.

Eat healthy at Carmo in New Orleans (Photo: Rebecca Todd)

8. Keep your New Year’s Resolutions

You don’t need to break your New Year’s resolutions in order to have a good time in New Orleans. Sure, it’s fun to indulge in the decadent lifestyle that New Orleans is known for, but there are plenty of options for healthy dining in the city. Planning to go out and have a good time? Schedule a fitness class for the next day. We’re all about balance in 2020.

9. Laugh at Le Petit Theatre

This January, Le Petit Theatre will present Something Rotten!, a comedy about two brothers living in 16th century London who struggle to find success in the theatrical world. This Broadway hit will premiere locally on January 17.

10. 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. If you want to volunteer, participate in a Day of Service on MLK Day, Jan. 20, 2020. The City of New Orleans is hosting a weekend of events, including a MLK Choral Concert on Friday, Jan. 17 and a Citywide Food Drive and Artist Exhibits on Saturday, Jan. 18. Follow the City of NOLA for details.

On Monday, Jan. 20, the Ogden Museum of Southern Art will host free admission all day with performances and activities for kids. Also on Monday, from noon to 3:30 p.m., head to the Contemporary Arts Center for WOKE DREAMS: A Celebration & Reflection of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., featuring a panel discussion, art explorations, and DJ Raj Smoove, where guests are invited to reflect upon the legacy of Dr. King. The Louisiana Children’s Museum will host King Fest, a special five-day celebration of Dr. King beginning January 16 through MLK Day. Children’s activities, yoga, and peace walks are just a few of the events.

The annual MLK Remembrance March begins on Monday at 10 a.m. from the New Orleans Jazz Market. Festivities for the day, including a commemorative celebration, begin at 9 a.m.

Miss Saigon Tour (Photo by Matthew Murphy)

11. See Miss Saigon at Saenger Theater

Broadway in New Orleans brings Miss Saigon to the city from January 21-26, 2020. Based on Giacomo Puccini’s opera Madame Butterfly, Miss Saigon is the story of love and heartbreak between a young Vietnamese woman and an American G.I. who meet just before the fall of Saigon. Catch the show at the Saenger Theater while it’s here.

12. Watch Dance Excellence at an Evening of Stars

An Evening of Stars features performances from some of the best ballet and ballroom dancers from around the world. Support the New Orleans Ballet Association by attending this performance. Save the date for Saturday, Jan. 25 at the Mahalia Jackson Theater for the Performing Arts.

Indulge in a Randazzo’s King Cake on the first day of Carnival season, Jan. 6 (otherwise known as Twelfth Night) (Photo: Paul Broussard)

13. Try All of the King Cakes

Cream cheese-filled, savory boudin, or traditional – the month of January is prime time for sampling king cakes as Carnival season officially begins on January 6. Put your stomach to the test and indulge in a new one each week. For the ultimate guide to king cakes in New Orleans, including king cake-inspired milkshakes, coffee, and cocktails, see here.

14. See the Marigny Opera Ballet in Paul Taylor’s “Aureole”

The Marigny Opera Ballet continues their season with Paul Taylor’s “Aureole.” This ethereal 1962 ballet is one of Taylor’s greatest works and will premiere with the Marigny Opera Ballet on January 31.

15. Take a Tour of New Orleans

With so many small, unique neighborhoods, there’s endless exploring to be done in New Orleans. This month we’re highlighting All Bout Dat Tours, a company that gives off-the-beaten-path, daily tours focused on the black history & heritage of New Orleans. Check them out and get your tour on the books.

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