For more information and updates about how New Orleans is addressing the Covid-19 outbreak – including restaurants that are currently open for takeout and delivery – please visit
No, thanks

Get the LOCAL Perspective!

Find hidden gems and get insider information on NOLA’s best restaurants, bars, attractions, and events every week.

Best Local Things to Do

The Best New Orleans Holiday Light Displays

Five festive holiday light displays to get your eyes all aglow.

New Orleans may not have a white Christmas this year, but it certainly knows how to get in the spirit in other ways. Opportunities abound to enjoy the festive lights and other decorations across town through the New Year.

New Orleans’ Best and Brightest Holiday Light Displays

NOLA ChristmasFest

Convention Center Boulevard is awash in lights this time of year (more than one million, to give you an idea), and NOLA ChristmasFest brings that festive joy inside the Convention Center, too. An indoor family Christmas festival that runs from Dec. 18 through Dec. 27, NOLA ChristmasFest features beautiful lighting displays, live entertainment, holiday photo opportunities, children’s crafts, a carousel, a real ice-skating rink, and so much more. Oh, and did we mention it’s open on Christmas Day? Buy tickets in advance or upon arrival at the ticket booth. If you are short on time or are looking to save money, take a drive down Convention Center Boulevard until Jan. 6 to immerse yourself in the twinkling lights.

New Orleans Convention Center's Christmas Lights (Photo courtesy of NOLA Christmasfest)
New Orleans Convention Center’s Christmas Lights (Photo courtesy of NOLA Christmasfest)

Waldorf Wonderland at The Roosevelt

The Roosevelt Hotel’s holiday decorations have been a New Orleans tradition since the 1930s. Even when it was purchased by Fairmont Hotels and Resorts in 1965, the company retained this tradition until Hurricane Katrina. When the hotel reopened under the Waldorf Astoria flag, the beautiful decorations once again became part of this historic landmark hotel. The “Waldorf Wonderland at The Roosevelt” extends through the lobby from Baronne Street to University Place — an entire block of lights and holiday glory. The display, which opened on Dec. 1, features numerous charmingly decorated Christmas trees and 22,000 lights. The lobby is free and open to the public.

Lights on St. Charles Avenue
Lights decorate trees at a home on St. Charles Avenue near Louisiana Avenue (Photo: Lauren LaBorde)

St. Charles Avenue

Even the streetcars get a little holiday soul in their roll this month with red ribbons and greenery. The streetcars, though, are almost no match for the homes along St. Charles Avenue, arguably the grandest in New Orleans. The historic mansions are decorated for the season with lights, wreaths, garlands, and more and should not be missed. Take a drive from one end of St. Charles to the other to get in the holiday spirit, or even better, hop on that cheery streetcar and snag a window seat for a real treat.

Celebration in the Oaks at City Park (Courtesy of New Orleans City Park Archives)
Celebration in the Oaks at City Park (Photo courtesy of New Orleans City Park)

Celebration in the Oaks

It isn’t the holidays in New Orleans without Celebration in the Oaks in City Park, one of the city’s most beloved holiday traditions. Stroll through the Botanical Garden and Storyland to admire the lights and Christmas trees, take a picture in Cinderella’s carriage, and keep your hands warm with a hot chocolate. Oversized ornaments hang from live oak branches while lights wrap around them, and unicorns, dragons, and other whimsical light-up creatures twinkle throughout the park. Tickets are $8 per person (free for children under three) with additional pricing options for rides. Celebration in the Oaks runs from 6 p.m. to 10 p.m. from Sundays to Thursdays, and from 6 p.m. to 11 p.m. on Fridays and Saturdays (note: select days like Christmas and New Year’s Eve are closed). The 2015-16 holiday season wraps up on Jan. 2.

Lights on Canal Street
Lights on Canal Street (photo: Paul Broussard)

Canal Street

Canal Street’s lighting ceremony brought to life more than one million lights that will shine on through the holidays. The lighting display is set up on Canal from the Mississippi River to Elk Place. With tree trunks and light posts wrapped in glowing strands of light and the red streetcar cruising up and down the neutral ground, Canal Street has a romantic feel, hearkening back to its bygone days. Take a long evening stroll or eat outside at Palace Cafe to get in the spirit.

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.

Up Next:

Book Your Trip