Christmas in New Orleans

New Orleans Christmas
New Orleans Christmas

Christmas in New Orleans, as you might imagine, is celebrated with great fervor. Among the most festive events are the Cathedral Concerts, which feature jazz artists, gospel choirs, ensembles, and just about any other kind of musician that you can think of. All of these concerts are free, and there are plenty to choose from during the month of December. The St. Louis Cathedral on Jackson Square is the venue of choice for the Cathedral Christmas Concerts, and you'll be glad to know that these popular affairs cost nothing to enjoy.

Christmas in New Orleans
  Image: Toby Armstrong -

In addition to enjoying the free Cathedral Concerts, anyone who is treating themselves to a New Orleans Christmas vacation can enjoy a variety of other fun events. Easily one of the most popular Christmas season events is the Celebration in the Oaks. This event, which runs from the day after Thanksgiving until early January, sees City Park being converted into a verifiable holiday wonderland. The beautiful oaks in City Park are lit with thousands of bulbs, and the overall display can be enjoyed two different ways. You can take a driving tour or a walking tour. A ride on a miniature train is included in the driving tour, and if you take the walking tour, you can access some carnival-style rides and enjoy an interesting train exhibit.

If you show up in New Orleans in late November, you just might be able to catch the Canal Street Lighting Ceremony. The 700 Block of Canal Street is where this event takes place, and what draws them in is the simultaneous lighting of the Downtown Development District and the Astor Crowne Plaza Hotel. It's quite the sight to see when the more than 1 million lights go on. As for other Christmas in New Orleans events, they pretty much run the gamut. You can meet Santa at a buffet breakfast, watch a free holiday movie at Riverwalk's Spanish Plaza, and take part in the joyous caroling session that is held at Jackson Square on an evening in mid-December. Worry not if you don't have the lyrics to Christmas songs memorized during the Caroling in Jackson Square event. Song sheets are provided, as are candles, and the whole thing is free.

For two weeks in December, the Le Petit Theatre du Vieux Carre at 616 Saint Peter Street on Jackson Square hosts a holiday-based show that is also worth keeping in mind when planning a 2023 New Orleans Christmas vacation. In 2010, for example, residents and visitors alike could hope to scoop up tickets for Irving Berlin's White Christmas.

As for other things to do that can be enjoyed while celebrating Christmas in New Orleans, they include taking tours that highlight historic sites and their holiday decorations and treating yourself to a Reveillon dinner. These dinners are reminiscent of nineteenth-century feasts that Creoles enjoyed on Christmas Eve after they finished with Midnight Mass. Chicken and oyster gumbo is often the main dish, and it is complemented with savory soups, soft souffles, and other delights. Many a Creole restaurant in New Orleans has a special Reveillon menu for guests to enjoy during the holiday season.

There are numerous reasons why a New Orleans Christmas 2023 vacation can be rewarding. Simply seeing the city decked out in holiday decorations is rewarding enough, and more often than not, the weather is quite agreeable. Discounted hotel rates are easy to come by during the holiday season in New Orleans, and while New Orleans is a spectacular place to visit in December, you won't have to deal with overcrowding. In fact, the holiday season might just be the very best time to visit this city. In addition to enjoying good weather, friendly hotel rates, and a variety of Christmas events, holiday season visitors can also expect to find the restaurants to be relatively empty. It's almost too good to be true when you add it all up.

Top image: Pat Garin
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