From classic holiday traditions like Thanksgiving Day at the races and Celebration in the Oaks, to weird and wacky events like the Robot Parade and Ball and 9th Annual 24-Hour Draw-A-Thon, this weekend in New Orleans offers plenty of things to do. Join the celebration at Bayou Classic, with festivities downtown all weekend long, or get an early start on holiday shopping on Small Business Saturday, as local artists offer up handmade gifts at events throughout New Orleans.
1. Bayou Classic – The 41st annual football game between rival college teams, the Grambling State University Tigers and the Southern University Jaguars, is the main event in a 5-day long Bayou Classic celebration. This year’s festivities include business and leadership events, as well as annual highlights including the Thanksgiving Day Parade from the Mercedes-Benz Superdome to the French Market, a Battle of the Bands and Greek Show on Friday night, and of course, the big game on Saturday afternoon. For a full schedule of events and ticket information, visit the official Bayou Classic website.
Thursday, November 27
2. Thanksgiving – Celebrate the holiday with a variety of festive events around town, including a local favorite: opening day at the Fair Grounds Race Course. Enjoy watching fast horses and fancy hats as New Orleanians step out in their finest apparel to celebrate the day; the first post is at 11 a.m. Grab a bite to eat at one of the many New Orleans restaurants that will be open on Thanksgiving, and finish off the evening with the annual Thanksgiving throwdown at The Howlin’ Wolf. Rebirth Brass Band and Glen David Andrews team up for an unforgettable night of music which kicks off at 10 p.m.
Friday, November 28
3. Celebration in the Oaks – The annual holiday tradition Celebration in the Oaks officially starts on Friday, Nov. 28 at 6 p.m. and runs through Jan. 3. This family-friendly event features more than 25 acres of twinkling lights and breathtaking holiday decorations. Take a two-mile train ride though the park, enjoy amusement park rides as Carousel Gardens and Storyland stay open late for the event, and visit with the local ambassador of all things holiday, Mr. Bingle. Admission is $8 per person (does not include amusement park and train rides). Advance tickets are highly recommended for this popular event.
Saturday, November 29
4. Small Business Saturday – Take a break from the Black Friday madness and shop local, as New Orleans celebrates Small Business Saturday with a variety of events and art markets. The NOLA Brewing Tap Room hosts the Sip & Shop Art Market from noon – 5 p.m., featuring handmade gifts by local artists, plus food trucks and live music. The event is free and open to the public, but shoppers must be 21 and older due to the location of the event. The Arts Market of New Orleans also hosts their monthly event at Palmer Park both Saturday and Sunday, Nov. 29-30 from 10 a.m. – 4 p.m. The event features handmade, affordable art and gifts from local and regional artists, plus live entertainment and activities for kids. (For more local gift ideas, stay tuned for GoNOLA’s holiday gift guides, and check out the New Orleans Official City Store.)
5. 9th Annual 24hr Draw-A-Thon – Local visual art and literary nonprofit Press Street hosts their 9th Annual 24hr Draw-A-thon, beginning Saturday, Nov. 29 at 6:30 a.m. at Art Klub (519 Elysian Fields Ave.). The event promises an art experience in which attendees are active participants — not spectators. Last year’s Draw-A-Thon drew a crowd of more than 1,200 participants throughout the day. The family friendly event is free and open to the public with all art materials provided.
6. Robot Parade & Ball – Join a parade of robots through the Bywater at the Robot Parade & Ball this Saturday. This community event kicks off with costume making, in conjuction with Press Street’s 24hr Draw-a-thon, from noon-4 p.m., followed by a Robot Parade through Bywater, ending at The Old Iron Works (612 Piety St.) for a Robot Ball from 6 p.m.-9 p.m., with live music and art. The event features a festive atmosphere that promises to be a cross between an art opening, science fair and circus.