This weekend in New Orleans offers plenty of festive fun, as holiday events kick off all over town. Bring the whole family downtown for the start of NOLA ChristmasFest at the Convention Center, join the Running of the Santas on Saturday, enjoy holiday tea with Papa Noel aboard the Paddlewheeler Creole Queen, or do some holiday shopping the handmade way at Piety Street Market. For a sexy take on holiday fun, join Fleur de Tease at One Eyed Jacks on Saturday and Sunday for their interpretation of The Nutcracker. Take advantage of the new free monthly music and art showcase, This is NOLA, at the Joy Theater on Friday night, or get your laugh on, as comedians Dave Chappelle and Bianca Del Rio both perform multiple shows this weekend.
1. NOLA ChristmasFest – 13 days of holiday-themed family-fun kick off this weekend at NOLA ChristmasFest at the Ernest J. Morial Convention Center. This weekend’s activities include the inaugural Children’s Lantern Walk on Friday, a concert and meet-and-greet with the Imagination Movers on Saturday, and Santa Paws pet parade and costume contest on Sunday. A full schedule of events and ticket information can be found at the NOLA ChristmasFest website.
Thursday and Friday, December 11-12
2. Dave Chappelle – Comedian Dave Chappelle performs in New Orleans for the first time in 10 years, with three shows at the Saenger Theatre: Thursday at 7:30 p.m. and 10 p.m. and Friday at 7:30 p.m.. Tickets are $55 and are available via ticketmaster.com or (800) 745-3000 or the Saenger box office (1111 Canal St.).
Friday, December 12
3. This is NOLA – The free monthly event This is NOLA returns to the Joy Theater this Friday night at 8 p.m. with performances by Sweet Crude, Boyfriend, TYSSON, and Quickie Mart, plus visual installations by Brent Houzenga. The event also features craft cocktails and Diva Dawg and Burgers Ya Heard food trucks on site. Admission to the event is free, but you must RSVP in advance. There are also a limited amount of tickets available for purchase that guarantee entry (includes one free specialty cocktail).
Saturday, December 13
4. Running of the Santas – Kick off the holidays Saturday with the Running of the Santas in the Warehouse District. The party starts with drink specials and food trucks at Barcadia at 3 p.m. The run kicks off at 6 p.m. as the party moves to Generations Hall for live music by Category 6 and Big Sam’s Funky Nation, plus a costume contest. A full schedule and ticket information is available at RunningoftheSantas.com.
5. Bianca Del Rio: Rolodex of Hate – New Orleans native and reigning winner of RuPaul’s Drag Race, Bianca Del Rio, brings her signature brand of insult comedy back home to New Orleans for two performances Saturday night. The now world-famous drag queen got her start in local bars and community theater. She will perform at 8 p.m. and 11:30 p.m. at House of Blues; tickets are available in advance.
6. Fleur de Tease Presents: The Nutcracker – Burlesque troupe Fleur de Tease presents a sexy take on the holiday classic The Nutcracker, with performances at 8 p.m. and 10:30 p.m., Saturday and Sunday, Dec. 13-14 at One Eyed Jacks. General admission tickets are available in advance for $15; reserved seating is $25.
7. Piety Street Holiday Market – Get a start on holiday shopping the handmade way, as Piety Street Market hosts their monthly event with special guests Team Etsy Nola. More than 20 local Etsy sellers will have handmade gifts for sale, and Yelp will be onsite with a gift wrapping station.
8. Cajun Holiday Tea with Papa Noel – Celebrate the holidays with the whole family aboard the Paddlewheeler Creole Queen and enjoy a classic holiday tea complete with storytelling, face painting, and other children’s activities, including the chance to hold a real live alligator. Cruises depart Saturday and Sunday, Dec. 13-14, plus Saturday, Dec. 20. Tickets are available at CreoleQueen.com.