In a city that knows how to celebrate, the holidays are one of the best times of the year to visit New Orleans. This season enjoy world-class restaurants, citywide festivals and special holiday traditions that can’t be found anywhere else.
1. Christmas caroling in Jackson Square has occurred since 1946 on the Sunday before Christmas. Every year, a chorus of amateurs and professionals sing holiday favorites and illuminate the night sky with festive candles.
2. New Orleanians take Santa Claus seriously—so much so that it has become a tradition to light the way for Santa’s sleigh with bonfires along the Mississippi River on Christmas Eve. The fires are arranged in pyramid-shaped structures, resembling old Cajun cabins.
3. Foodies should visit the city during Reveillon, a Creole feast that originated in the mid-1800s. Every night until December 31, around 50 restaurants across New Orleans offer four-course holiday dinners.
4. More than 165,000 visitors each year attend Celebration in the Oaks in City Park. The entire 25-acre park is lit up with holiday lights, and glowing displays are located in the Botanical Garden, Storyland and Carousel Gardens. Groups can view the whole spectacle on a two-mile train ride.
5. The ultimate party is New Year’s Eve, and there’s no better place to be than New Orleans. Instead of watching the ball drop, spectators see a giant fleur-de-lis fall from the top of Jax Brewery. Fireworks also light up the sky on the Mississippi River.
6. The city’s Mardi Gras festivities may be legendary, but the actual celebration starts as early as January 6. Make a visit early in the year to see the parades in the French Quarter and Uptown.
7. Budget-conscious travelers can take advantage of deals and discounts at more than 50 participating hotels. Every year, Papa Noel rates offer up to 25 percent off hotel rooms through January. Be sure to take advantage of special rates while they last.