The third annual NOLA ChristmasFest includes 10 days of fun from noon to 8 p.m. Dec. 18-23 and Dec. 26-27; noon to 5 p.m. Dec. 24; and 2 p.m. to 8 p.m. Dec. 25 inside Hall B at the New Orleans Ernest N. Morial Convention Center.

The fest will feature an indoor ice-skating rink, a walk-through maze, rides including the Kringle Carousel, Winter Whirl, Snowball Fight and Snowy Summit, and a climbing wall. On hand for photos will be Santa and several of his North Pole friends.

The setting will include thousands of dazzling lights and more than 70 Christmas trees decorated by local businesses. Convention Center Boulevard will be draped in holiday décor, with lights flashing to traditional and contemporary holiday music.

Now is the time to get tickets, which are available online at www.nolachristmasfest.com. The cost runs from $5 to $75, and teens and children must be accompanied by an adult.

To join businesses and organizations involved with the fest, visit the sponsor tab on the fest website. Sponsorships are available for the ice rink, carnival rides and the signature Christmas trees. Businesses may host corporate holiday parties at the fest by emailing info@nolachristmasfest.com.

NOLA ChristmasFest is presented by the convention center, and sponsors include Entergy, Capital One, UnitedHealthcare, Postlethwaite & Netterville, Raising Cane’s, New Orleans Tourism Marketing Corp. and the New Orleans Convention & Visitors Bureau.

‘The Hat Pack’

Join the sixth annual St. Catherine’s Day parade at 10:30 a.m. Sunday, beginning at the corner of St. Charles Avenue and Pleasant Street.

The theme is “The Hat Pack,” and the parade will feature music by Bart Ramsey and members of Zazou City. Women and girls are encouraged to march in fanciful hats, and men and boys are welcome to tag along.

Marchers will gather at 10 a.m. on the neutral ground, and the 1-mile parade will make right-hand turns onto Washington Avenue, Prytania Street and Louisiana Avenue, then end where it started. All are welcome to bring champagne for sipping at the after-party.

Create your own hat or grab one from the closet and embellish it for the Best Hat contest. Last year’s winner, Aryanna Gamble, will reign as this year’s grand marshal.

The parade honors St. Catherine of Alexandria, an early Christian martyr who is the patron saint of milliners and unmarried women. An annual parade is held in Paris on her feast day, Nov. 25. For information, visit www.hatnola.com.

Vineaux on Da Bayou

The Greater Mid-City Business Association will host a holiday season wine-tasting event called Vineaux on Da Bayou from 2 p.m. 5 p.m. Saturday at Pearl Wine Co., 3700 Orleans Ave.

A portion of event proceeds will benefit the association. For information about the group, visit www.midcitybiz.com.

Event tickets are $35 and include wine tastings from seven local distributors and food by Katie’s, Treo, Parkway Bakery, St. James Cheese Co. and Toulouse Gourmet. For tickets, visit www.vineauxondabayou.com.

Congrats, Young Audiences

Young Audiences recently was chosen by Baptist Community Ministries for the pilot program New Orleans Youth Program Quality Initiative.

Young Audiences provides an arts-integrated charter school in Jefferson Parish and offers after-school arts programming for public schools throughout the New Orleans area.

“As a leader in after-school programs in Louisiana, we are constantly looking for ways to improve and maximize our potential,” said Rickie Nutik, executive director of Young Audiences of Louisiana. “We are thrilled to be part of this initiative by BCM to better assess the quality of our youth programs.”

For information about the initiative, contact Jennifer Roberts, vice president of the Baptist Community Ministries education grants program at jroberts@bcm.org.

Young Audiences of Louisiana was founded in 1962 with the mission to inspire, empower and connect children and communities through education, arts and culture. For information visit www.ya4la.org.

And they’re off

The 144th Thoroughbred Racing Season begins Thursday at the Fair Grounds Race Course & Slots, 1751 Gentilly Blvd. Post time is 1:25 p.m. Opening day also is the first day of the Second Harvest Food Drive, which runs through Nov. 29. Look for food collection boxes.

Lynne Jensen writes about New Orleans community events and people. Contact her at jensencolumn@gmail.com