The outdoor lights along Convention Center Boulevard are just a prelude to 13 days of merriment to begin Friday, when NOLA ChristmasFest at Christmas in the District brings the holidays indoors for a truly New Orleans-style event.

With a schedule of activities to rival Santa’s naughty and nice list, NOLA ChristmasFest provides a dose of holiday cheer inside the Ernest N. Morial Convention Center starting at 5 p.m. Friday.

The event runs until 9 p.m. nightly through Christmas Eve, opening at noon on weekends and the week of Christmas. Admission is $15.

Loads of live entertainment, including the Imagination Movers, Ice Princesses, a pajama party and a pet parade are slated.

The hoopla gets underway at 4:45 p.m. Friday with the Children’s Lantern Walk, a parade with Santa, a brass band and pre-registered kids proceeding from Fulton Street to the center. Mr. Bingle and more make appearances to kick things off.

Inside the center, the Great Hall of Trees features more than 50 tannenbaums. There will also be a Bead Town display, photo ops with Mr. and Mrs. Claus and Santa’s Playland — a petting zoo, miniature golf, crafts and inflatables.

Imagination Movers make the scene in a special concert at 12:30 p.m. Saturday, with a chance to “meet and greet” the New Orleans sensations.

Tickets are $30 and include admission to ChristmasFest.

Other musical entertainment throughout the two weeks include the 610 Stompers, the Louisiana Philharmonic Orchestra, Robin Barnes, Lena Prima, Joe Krown, the Pfister Sisters, Victory Belles from the National WWII Museum, ballet and school performances as well as gospel choirs, Irish dancers, the Audubon Aqua Van and Zoo Mobile.

The Ice Princesses and their chilly sidekicks will be on hand several days. The $35 admission includes entrance to ChristmasFest. The princesses’ parties will be Dec. 14 and Dec. 20-24.

The Sing-Along Pajama Party with Santa is at 6 p.m. Dec. 22. Tickets are $35.

Also watch for cooking demonstrations, a gingerbread house competition by local chefs (to benefit Operation Homefront) and the Santa Paws dog costume contest and parade Sunday from Lafayette Square to Convention Center Plaza. Registration for the parade is $25 at or call (504) 524-1227.

Singing and sipping will be the focus of an evening of Karaoke Caroling and Cocktails at 8 p.m. Dec. 18.

Tickets for ChristmasFest and most events will be available at the door, based on availability. For information or tickets, visit