10Best ways to celebrate the holidays, New Orleans style

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. 8 and 9, the annual grand celebration of the 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.


Crescent City Countdown on New Year's Eve
Photo courtesy of neworleansonline.com


There are certain New Orleans New Year's Eve traditions that shouldn't be missed: the annual fleur-de-lis drop, the breathtaking fireworks show over the Mississippi River and the live entertainment in Jackson Square. But no matter what you're...  Read More

Running of the Santas
Photo courtesy of New Orleans Tourism & Marketing Corp.


Thousands of costumed revelers will celebrate Christmastime festivities when the "Running of the Santas" returns to the New Orleans Warehouse District on December 8. The annual extravaganza kicks off at 11 a.m. from the "South Pole" located at...  Read More

Christmas New Orleans Style!
Photo courtesy of New Orleans Tourism & Marketing Corp.


This month long event draws hundreds of locals and visitors alike. To celebrate the season, Jackson Square fills with carolers, choirs and musical artists who all joyfully sing at Christmas. There are candlelight processions, free concerts and...  Read More

French Quarter
St. Louis Cathedral


Come make a joyful noise this December with gospel choirs, jazz bands, classical artists and more during this free concert series in historic St. Louis Cathedral. Produced by French Quarter Festivals, Inc. as part of Christmas New Orleans Style,...  Read More

Miracle on Fulton Street
Photo courtesy of New Orleans Tourism Marketing Corporation


Fulton Street just may be the best thing to come out of the 1984 World's Fair, second only to the Hand Grenade, the powerful drink sold only at Tropical Isle. What was once the main entertainment promenade during the fair was revitalized by...  Read More

Bonfires on the Levee
Photo courtesy of New Orleans Tourism Marketing Corporation


Nothing like dancing around a roaring 20 foot high bonfire to get into the Christmas spirit. The tradition of lighting bonfires on the river levees dates back to the earliest Cajun settlers of the regions of southern Louisiana to the west and...  Read More

Reveillon Dinners
Photo courtesy of Arnaud's


Leave it to New Orleans to give an old Creole holiday custom a deliciously modern spin. In this historically Catholic city, Reveillon (French for awakening) dinners were elaborate family feasts served after midnight mass on Christmas Eve. A...  Read More

NOLA ChristmasFest
Photo courtesy of NOLA Christmasfest


The fourth annual NOLA ChristmasFest will kick off on December 20 and continue through December 31, a family extravaganza that is ideal for visitors too, especially because its open on Christmas Day. Taking place inside Hall B at the New...  Read More

Lune Fete
Photo courtesy of Arts Council of New Orleans


Taking place this year Dec. 6-9, bringing another version of last year's large-scale animated projection to Lafayette Square, 6 – 9 PM nightly. The Arts Council New Orleans' initiative, LUNA (Light Up NOLA Arts) blends New Orleans' historic...  Read More

Celebration in the Oaks
Photo courtesy of New Orleans Tourism Marketing Corporation


This month-long holiday light exhibit in City Park draws hordes of families and visitors up for a festive good time. Take a walking tour through the park to see nearly two million lights decorating century-old live oak trees. Celebration in the...  Read More


Meet Beth D'Addono

Beth D'Addono is a food and travel writer obsessed with flavor, exploring cultures, street music and the city of New Orleans.

Beth writes about New Orleans and other destinations for outlets...  More About Beth