It may not be on everybody's top 10 Christmas song list, but in New Orleans, there's no better holiday tune than the brassy Christmas in New Orleans by Louis Armstrong, circa 1955. By Thanksgiving, the Crescent City pulls out all the stops with lights, glitter and holiday pageantry. Visitors will find plenty of only-in-New Orleans ways to celebrate, kicking off with a month of Creole-inspired Reveillon dinners to towering bonfires that light up the bayou across and up the river.
Many of the parks around the city are filled with carolers during December, but the most spectacular spot has to be caroling in Jackson Square, usually the Sunday before Christmas. With St. Louis Cathedral as a backdrop, voices raised and candles glowing, there really is joy to the world.
Take in the over the top lobby decorations at the Roosevelt Hotel, Windsor Court and the Ritz Carlton on Canal, along with the still family-owned Hotel Monteleone, home to a giant Christmas tree and a busy schedule of local choir performances. There are house tours along St. Charles Avenue Dec. 12 and 13, the 40th annual celebration of the grand mansions along the famed streetcar route. This city of artists offers untold opportunities for truly unusual gift buying, whether along Magazine Street, Royal in the Quarter, the French Market or the night art market on Frenchmen Street. Like everything else it does, New Orleans dances to its own beat during the holiday season.