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Christmas & New Years in New Orleans

Christmas & New Years in New Orleans.

New Orleans is an exciting place to visit year-round, but it transforms into a winter wonderland during the holidays. What can we say? New Orleanians will find any reason to celebrate; the holiday season is no exception.

Everything you love about the culture and history of New Orleans collides to create a holiday getaway you won’t forget. Whether your perfect trip involves caroling with strangers, admiring twinkling Christmas lights strung in live oaks, or attending bonfires down by the levee – there is an event for everyone to enjoy. Come cozy up in a Book NOLA vacation rental and enjoy the magic that is New Orleans during the holidays.

In our holiday guide below, we’ll share everything you need to know to make your Christmas and New Year’s in New Orleans an unforgettable experience.

What to Pack for Your Holiday Trip

Photo Credit: William A. Morgan

New Orleans is known for its mild winter weather, making it a great place to escape the frigid temperatures up north. During December, the average highs are in the mid-60s, with the average lows in the mid-40s.

However, New Orleans weather can be pretty unpredictable. There have been years when Christmas Day reached the 80s! We recommend packing multiple layers for your holiday trip, as you never know what weather you’ll get. Be sure to pack comfortable walking shoes to explore the city. And don’t forget to bring a rain jacket, too, as it tends to rain for part of December.

Must-Do Holiday Festivities in New Orleans

Holiday Home Tours

Photo Credit: Wikimedia Commons via Google Images CCL

If you’ve ever dreamed of touring the historic homes of New Orleans, this is your chance! Every year, the French Quarter and Garden District neighborhoods host a Holiday Home Tour, inviting guests to experience New Orleans-style architecture through a self-guided walking tour. Dressed in their Christmas best, the stunning homes boast elaborate holiday decor for all to enjoy.

The Garden District Holiday Home Tour includes live music performances, boutiques, and more. The French Quarter Holiday Home Tour proceeds go towards putting on Caroling in Jackson Square, the beloved free event that takes place after the tour.

Caroling in Jackson Square

Photo Credit: 1000 Words

On one night of the year, Jackson Square transforms into a caroling concert filled with people of all ages singing Christmas songs together. This free event is beloved by locals and visitors alike. The crowd gathers in front of St. Louis Cathedral in the French Quarter for a night of singing and lighting up the sky with candles.

No matter your background, this family-friendly annual tradition invites you to join arms with strangers and spread the Christmas cheer together.

Nola Christmasfest

Photo Credit: Infrogmation of New Orleans via Flickr CC 2.0
  • Address: 900 Convention Center Blvd, New Orleans, LA 70130
  • Website:

Nola Christmasfest is the ultimate family-friendly holiday event. Located at the New Orleans Earnest N. Morial Convention Center, this indoor event is packed with entertainment for people of all ages.

It boasts everything from carnival rides to Christmas inflatables to New Orleans’ only ice skating rink. Visitors can wander around the Gingerbread Village before riding the Kringle Carousel. And, of course, you can’t leave without taking a group picture in front of the giant Christmas tree display!

Tickets are $25 during the week and $30 on the weekends.

Celebration in the Oaks

Photo Credit: enigmaarts via Flickr CC 2.0

Throughout the month of December, City Park puts on one of its largest festivities: Celebration in the Oaks. This family-friendly light festival has been a holiday tradition in New Orleans since the 1800’s.

Twinkling lights are strung on 100-year-old live oaks throughout the city’s largest park, creating a magical atmosphere that puts everyone in the holiday spirit. Visitors can enjoy the holiday lights through a walking tour of the park, with access to the park’s Botanical Gardens and Carousel Gardens Amusement Park. If you prefer to stay warm inside your vehicle, you can enjoy a driving tour through the park instead.

No matter how you choose to experience the light displays, they are sure to transport you to a winter wonderland. Celebration in the Oaks stays open through December.

Fa La La La Fright! A Holiday Ghost Tour

Photo Credit: Ben Beard via Flickr CC 2.0

People from all around the world visit to experience New Orleans’ mysterious side, from cemetery tours to Voodoo culture to haunted mansions.

If you thought you missed out on Nola’s spooky season, you thought wrong! Ghost tours happen all year round, and Christmas is no different. Fa La La La Fright! is a holiday-themed walking ghost tour set in the French Quarter at night. Dressed in garland and twinkling lights, the historic buildings hold secrets you will discover on this epic holiday ghost tour.

Christmas Eve Bonfires

Photo Credit: Andre Sólo via Flickr CC 2.0

The New Orleans Christmas season isn’t complete without one of Louisiana’s oldest traditions, Christmas Eve Bonfires. According to legend, early Cajun settlers lit bonfires on the Mississippi River to light the way for “Papa Noel,” the Cajun Santa Claus. These simple bonfires evolved throughout the centuries to become elaborate events, with some bonfires as high as 20 feet!

On Christmas Eve, communities all around New Orleans head to the levee to enjoy the bonfires. While you are welcome to just pull up and enjoy the view, we recommend a guided tour to experience this beloved tradition. The Christmas Eve Bonfire Express offers a four-hour excursion that provides transportation, a front-row seat on the levee, and even a warm drink to enjoy while you watch the embers with locals and visitors.

Holiday Tea at The Roosevelt Hotel

Photo Credit: petereleven

If your dream Christmas getaway involves holiday tea in a fancy hotel, Teddy Bear Tea is the event for you. Every December, the Roosevelt Hotel puts on its annual tea for children and adults alike, complete with specialty desserts, teas, and champagne. The tea takes place in the hotel’s iconic ballroom dressed with holiday decor. There’s even a visit from Santa and Mrs. Claus!

After your tea, we recommend walking the lobby halls of the Roosevelt, as they are always decked out in dazzling lights this time of year.

Reveillon Dinners

Photo Credit: Kurman Communications LLC via Flickr CC 2.0

Reveillon Dinners are another ancient New Orleans tradition dating back to the 1800’s. Following midnight mass, Creole families would gather for a meal to officially kick off the Christmas season. Imagine starting a large feast at 2 am in the morning!

To this day, families with Creole roots still gather for Reveillon dinners every Christmas. Over the years, restaurants all over New Orleans began offering their own version of Reveillon Dinners during the holidays for everyone to enjoy.

Participating restaurants offer specialty Reveillon menus featuring traditional Creole dishes and Christmas-themed drinks. Each restaurant offers something a little bit different, so no two Reveillon dinners are the same. Guests are encouraged to book reservations well in advance, as spots fill up quickly!

A New Orleans New Year’s Eve

Photo Credit: Gary J. Wood via Flickr CC 2.0

New Orleans goes all out when it comes to NYE celebrations, and NYE is no different. Whether your perfect New Year’s involves a fancy dinner, music performances, or all-night entertainment, you can find it in the Big Easy.

It’s no secret that Bourbon Street is the place to be if you’re here to party. Head to the iconic street for a night of bar hopping to bring in the New Year. Each bar offers something a little different, but you’ll be sure to find live music, Nola-style cocktails, and eccentric costumes gracing your presence on Bourbon Street.

If you want a more low-key night, head to Frenchmen Street instead, where you can appreciate local talent with live music performances all night long.

Be sure to schedule your reservation for a New Year’s Day NOLA brunch! Many restaurants offer a special menu to ring in the New Year’s.

Enjoy Your New Orleans Holiday Getaway

New Orleans is a special place to visit any time of the year. But this thriving city pulls out all the stops when it comes to the holiday season.

The city’s mild winter weather makes it the perfect destination to escape the cold while still experiencing the magic of the Christmas season. The city hosts countless holiday events, from family-friendly fun to fancy dinners to lively nightlife options. With Book NOLA vacation rentals well located all throughout the city, it’s easy to enjoy all that New Orleans has to offer this time of the year. Book today for the upcoming holiday season!

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