While New Orleans can’t count on snow, the city sees an annual flurry of festive events and activities throughout the holiday season. Check out our roundup of holiday happenings below to make sure you don’t miss a minute of the merrymaking.
SETTING THE SCENE
Celebration in the Oaks
City Park is decked in hundreds of thousands of lights for this immensely popular festival, which transforms the park with light-draped oaks, caroling, hundreds of poinsettias, miniature train rides, a carousel and the iconic snowman Mr. Bingle on display. Nov. 27 to Jan. 2 from 6 p.m. to 10 p.m. Sundays to Thursdays, and 6 p.m. to 11 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays. $8 per person. neworleanscitypark.com.
Kenner Christmas Village
Head to Kenner’s Rivertown historic district as it becomes a holiday village with Christmas lights, animated scenery and from Friday to Sunday, caroling, costumed holiday characters and Santa Claus as well as craft and food vendors and local entertainment. 5:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. Nov. 28 to Dec. 20. Free. (504) 468-7231.
Christmas Under the Stars in Slidell
Slidell’s Griffith Park features visits from Santa Claus and Mrs. Claus, holiday music, a Christmas Village, Slidell’s Nativity, the Parade of Trees and more. 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. Dec. 4, 5, 11 and 12, at 333 Erlanger Ave. Free. myslidell.com.
Waldorf Wonderland Lobby Lighting
The Roosevelt Hotel continues its generations-old tradition, decorating its block-long lobby with 44 birch trees, more than 22,000 lights and ranks of appropriately dressed Christmas trees. Lighting is 5 p.m. Dec. 1. Free.
The Royal Sonesta’s Lighting of the Balconies
Two patients from Children’s Hospital will have the honor of flipping the switch for The Royal Sonesta’s 10th annual Lighting of the Balconies. The Royal Teddy Bear and Santa Claus will attend alongside a number of musical acts outside the 300 Bourbon St. entrance. 6 p.m. Dec. 1. Free.
Holiday in the Park
The holiday lights come on at dusk in a ceremony at Lafreniere Park in Metairie Dec. 4. Holiday in the Park, known for its thousands of LED lights and displays, returns with musical groups, story times, character visits and the Lombardi trophy between two light up Saints player displays. The lights stay on until 9:45 p.m. Sundays to Thursdays and 11:45 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays through Jan. 2. $3 per car and free Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day.
Miracle on Fulton Street
The downtown pedestrian area on Fulton Street becomes a holiday wonderland each year, and this year’s debut on Dec. 4 includes a holiday market, a visit with Santa, a champagne stroll and a scavenger hunt. Between Poydras and Lafayette streets. Attraction continues through Dec. 27. Free. harrahsneworleans.com.
For 10 days, New Orleans Morial Convention Center fills with family-friendly holiday activities for NOLA Christmasfest, including the city’s only indoor ice skating rink, carnival rides, crafts, a carousel, a life-sized maze, Christmas trees and a festive lighting display. Dec. 18-27, 900 Convention Center Blvd. nolachristmasfest.com.
Caroling in Jackson Square
The Sunday before Christmas, thousands of carolers gather in Jackson Square to sing together and light up the square in front of St. Louis Cathedral. Candles and song sheets provided. Gates open at 6:30 p.m. Caroling begins at 7 p.m. Dec. 20. Free. patioplanters.org.
Algiers Bonfire and Concert
Michael “Soulman” Baptiste, King James and the Special Men and the Edna Karr High School Band play by the community bonfire near the riverfront at Algiers Ferry Landing, 200 Morgan St. 5:20 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. Dec. 5. (504) 362-6436. algiersbonfire.com.
Christmas Bonfire at Oak Alley Plantation
The historic Oak Alley Plantation hosts its 40th annual Christmas Bonfire, with a Creole buffet, bar service and live entertainment in an open house format. Guests will follow a brass quintet to the bonfire lighting along the Mississippi River levee. 7 p.m. to midnight Dec. 5 at 3645 La. 18, Vacherie. (225) 265-2151. oakalleyplantation.com.
Festival of the Bonfires, Lutcher
Celebrate the holiday season Cajun-style with the 25th annual Festival of the Bonfires, with food, live music, crafts, Santa’s Very Merry Forest and carnival rides. Cap each night with a fresh bonfire lighting. 2 p.m. to midnight Dec. 11, 9 a.m. to midnight Dec. 12 and 8:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. Dec. 13. $4 for adults; kids and seniors are free. www.festivalofthebonfires.org.
PARADES AND RUNS
Krewe of Jingle Holiday Parade
New Orleans doesn’t miss an opportunity for a parade and neither does the festive Krewe of Jingle Holiday Parade. Parade floats, marching bands, stilt walkers, holiday characters and more take to a route beginning at Lee Circle, following St. Charles Avenue to Canal Street and looping back to continue up Baronne Street. 1 p.m. Dec. 5. Free. See route at downtownnola.com.
Norco Christmas Parade
An annual tradition in the River Parishes, the Norco Christmas Parade, features local marching bands, dancing groups, festival queens and Santa and Mrs. Claus. Local teams compete to make the best floats and marching groups to match this year’s theme, “Santa 4 President.” 2 p.m. Dec. 6. Free. norconoel.com.
Running of the Santas
Pop on a Santa hat or your favorite holiday costume and join thousands of others for the fifth annual “Running of the Santas.” Dec. 12. Registration begins at 11 a.m. at The Rusty Nail, 1100 Constance St., with live music and holiday drinks. Fun Run to the North Pole (aka Generations Hall, 310 Andrew Higgins Dr.) begins at 5:45 p.m. where the party continues. $15, general admission, $75 VIP. runningofthesantas.com/new-orleans.
JUST FOR KIDS
St. Nicholas Day Fair
The French Market celebrates St. Nicholas Day early with this fair designed for kids. They can meet the old saint and second line with him down Dutch Alley. The fair also includes live music, craft booths, ornaments, hats, scarves, cards, a petting zoo, costumes and miniature golf. 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Dec. 5. Free. frenchmarket.org.
Reindeer Run and Romp
Kids can take a dash down Canal Street as Rudolph, Santa and friends jingle their bells to signal the start of the annual kid’s 1-mile fun run and half-mile eggnog jog. After the race, there are healthy activities, games, music and crafts. Dec. 12 at the Riverwalk Spanish Plaza. Registration 8 a.m.; race at 9 a.m. $12. (504) 561-8927. downtownnola.com.
Royal Teddy Bear Tea
The Royal Kingdom returns to the Royal Sonesta’s Grand Ballroom for the annual Royal Teddy Bear Tea, with visits from Santa Claus and Mrs. Claus and many of their friends as well as singing, dancing and story time. Tea will be provided for adults and children. 11 a.m. and 2:30 p.m. Dec. 12 to Dec. 23. Tickets start at $53 for adults, $37 for children. (504) 553-2328. sonesta.com/royalneworleans.
Breakfast with Santa at Mizado
Kids will decorate pancakes, write letters to Santa and get photos with him as well. Children will receive a two-course meal and parents will receive three. $30 for adults, $15 for children. 9:30 a.m. Dec. 12 at 5080 Pontchartrain Blvd. (504) 885-5555. mizadococina.com.
“A Swingin’ Christmas”
The Victory Belles present “A Swingin’ Christmas” at BB’s Stage Door Canteen inside the National World War II Museum, presenting classic holiday hits in harmony. The three ladies who make up the Victory Belles promise bright costumes, synchronized choreography and audience interactions. Ticket prices start at $30. Dec. 2-30. nationalww2museum.org.
“A Christmas Carol” at Southern Rep
Southern Rep presents the holiday classic “A Christmas Carol” at the University of New Orleans’ Robert E. Nims Theatre. Dec. 2-20. All shows 7:30 p.m., except Sunday matinees at 3 p.m. $15-$25. southernrep.com.
“A Nightmare Before Christmas, Burlesque”
New Orleans performers give the Tim Burton film “A Nightmare Before Christmas” a Big Easy twist with live performances of “Nightmare Before Christmas Burlesque” 11 p.m. Dec. 11-12 and Dec. 18-19 at Old Marquer Theatre, 2400 St. Claude Ave. $10 online, $15 at the door. oldmarquer.com.
Harry Shearer & Judith Owen’s “Christmas Without Tears”
Each year, actor and humorist Harry Shearer and singer Judith Owen host “Christmas Without Tears,” a music show subtitled “Does This Tree Make Me Look Fat.” Pitched as an “irreverent antidote to the most stressful of seasons,” the show at Le Petit Theatre features songs, jokes, comics, magicians, impersonators and a sad clown. 7:30 p.m. Dec. 23 at 616 St. Peter St. $30. lepetittheatre.com.
“A Crescent City Christmas”
An original holiday play at New Orleans Center for the Creative Arts’ Nims Black Box Theatre, “A Crescent City Christmas” features an all-star cast and is set in a Marrero orphanage. Patrons are encouraged to wear their Christmas best for a raffle featuring $1,000 worth of prizes. 7:30 p.m. Dec. 4 and Dec. 10-12 at 2800 Chartres St. $20. secondstarperformance collective.com.
“Fancy Nancy’s Splendiferous Christmas”
The Rivertown Theater for the Performing Arts will perform “Fancy Nancy’s Splendiferous Christmas” on the Lagniappe Stage. Bring the kids to watch as Fancy Nancy and friends work and sing as they decorate this year’s Christmas tree. 7 p.m. Dec. 4-5 and 11-12, and 1 p.m. Dec. 6 and 13. $16. (504) 461-9475. rivertowntheaters.com.
“Meowy Catmas in Mew Orleans”
Featuring Tuna and the Rock-cats, the Amazing Acro-cats return with “Meowy Catmas in Mew Orleans” at The Theatre at St. Claude. These acrobatic felines perform for an hour’s routine with a number of different tricks. 2240 St. Claude Ave. Dec. 4-20. Times vary. Tickets start at $22. circuscats.com.
MUSIC and DANCE
LPO Yuletide Celebration
The Louisiana Philharmonic Orchestra will suit up for the holiday season to present its annual Yuletide Celebration concert. For 80 minutes on Dec. 3 at First Baptist Church of Kenner and Dec. 6 at Slidell Municipal Auditorium, concertgoers can listen to everything from Irving Berlin’s “White Christmas” to Ludwig van Beethoven’s “Ode to Joy.” Stuart Chafetz will serve as guest conductor and the performances begins at 7:30 p.m. Tickets start at $20. lpomusic.com.
“A Joyous Occasion: Musica da Camera’s Music for the Holidays”
Musicians play holiday pieces from the Medieval and Renaissance eras on period instruments. The concert will also feature Vox Feminae, an all-woman chorus. 4 p.m. Dec. 6 at Ursuline Chapel, 2701 State St., New Orleans, and 3 p.m. Dec. 13 at Holy Name of Mary Church, 500 Eliza St., Algiers Point. Free.
Trinity Episcopal Church hosts its 29th annual performance of Handel’s Messiah. The Trinity Choir will sing, church organist Albinas Prizgintas will play and the audience can sing along to the chorus parts. 5 p.m. Dec. 6. Free. (504) 522-0276. trinitynola.com.
Handel’s Messiah at the Orpheum
The Symphony Chorus of New Orleans brings Handel’s Messiah to the Orpheum Theater. This volunteer chorus, led by conductor Steve Edwards, will interpret the text compiled by Charles Jennings from the King James Bible. 7:30 p.m. Dec. 10. Tickets $25-$75. orpheumnola.com.
NORDC/NOBA’s “Nutcracker Suite”
Featuring more than 200 local ballet students in a classic holiday production. 3 p.m. and 6 p.m. Dec. 6, Tulane University’s Dixon Hall, 6823 St. Charles Ave. $10. nobadance.com.
“A Charlie Brown Christmas”
The New Orleans Volunteer Orchestra performs the music of Vince Guaraldi “A Charlie Brown Christmas” at St. Charles Avenue Baptist Church. The music will be played by a small jazz ensemble. Dec. 11 at 7100 St. Charles Ave., at Broadway. Free. novorchestra.com.
Orpheum Holiday Spectacular
The 610 Stompers perform with the Louisiana Philharmonic Orchestra at the Orpheum Holiday Spectacular, along with Roots of Music, Alexis Marceaux, the New Orleans Children’s Chorus and the Archdiocese of New Orleans Mass Gospel Choir. 7:30 p.m. Dec. 12 and 2:30 p.m. Dec. 13. Tickets start at $20 for adults and $10 for kids. orpheumnola.com.
Christmas Concerto Ballet
Formed only last year, the Marigny Opera Ballet celebrates the music of Handel and Corelli, performed live by the New Resonance Orchestra for this Christmas Concerto Ballet. The performance features the work of local choreographers Maritza Mercado-Narcisse, Nikki Hefko and Donna Crump. 8 p.m. Dec. 10-13, 725 Ferdinand St. $30, $20 for students and seniors. marignyoperahouse.org.
Chanukah Family Concert
The New Orleans Jewish Community Center hosts the Chicago-based a cappella group Listen Up!. The event includes a concert, dinner and a community candle lighting to celebrate the eighth night of Chanukah. 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. Dec. 13 at 5342 St. Charles Ave. nojcc.org.
LPO’s Baroque Christmas
An annual favorite, the Louisiana Philharmonic Orchestra’s Baroque Christmas features select musicians, including LPO harpist Rachel Van Vorhees Kirschman and LPO flutist Patti Adams, before the main performance of Handel’s “Messiah.” Tickets start at $20. 7:30 p.m. Dec. 17 at First Baptist Church of New Orleans, 5290 Canal St., and 7:30 p.m. Dec. 18 at First Baptist Church of Covington, 16333 Hwy. 1085, Covington. lpomusic.com.
“The Nutcracker” with New Orleans Ballet Theatre
The Orpheum Theater hosts Tchaikovsky’s classic “The Nutcracker” with New Orleans Ballet Theatre, including over 60 dancers. 7 p.m. Dec. 18-19 and 2 p.m. Dec. 19. Tickets start at $25. orpheumnola.com.
Delta Festival Ballet’s “The Nutcracker”
This 34th annual production will combine professionals and 100 other young dancers from the New Orleans community joined by the musicians of the Louisiana Philharmonic Orchestra. Performances will be 7 p.m. Dec. 18, and 2 p.m. Dec. 19 and 20 at Tulane University’s Dixon Hall. Tickets from $28-$65. (504) 888-0931. deltafestivalballet.com.
Moscow Ballet’s Great Russian Nutcracker
The day after Christmas, the Moscow Ballet stages its rendition of the Great Russian Nutcracker at the Saenger Theatre as 40 Russian dancers bring Tchaikovsky’s music to life. 3 p.m. and 7 p.m. Dec. 26 Tickets $32-$106. (504) 525-1052. saengernola.com.
Holiday Movies on the Mississippi
Showing classics on the big screen, this film series is set outdoors along the riverfront. The first 50 families to sign in get free fleece blankets. “Polar Express” Dec. 4, “Home Alone” Dec. 11 and “Elf” Dec. 18, 6:30 p.m. at Riverwalk’s Spanish Plaza. (504) 561-8927. downtownnola.com/holidays.
Art of Giving at Ogden Museum of Southern Art
The annual holiday shopping event at the regional art museum offers a craft market featuring artists from the Center for Southern Craft & Design with original glass work, jewelry, ceramics, woodcrafts, textiles and books. Museum members receive a 15 percent discount. 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. Dec. 1 at 925 Camp St. (504) 539-9650. ogdenmuseum.org.
PRC Annual Holiday Home Tour
Visit eight historic homes in the Garden District for this Preservation Resource Center fundraiser. The self-guided tour showcases the history, architecture and music of the famous New Orleans neighborhood. Begin at tour headquarters, Trinity Episcopal Church, 1329 Jackson Ave., with regional cuisine and holiday shopping. 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Dec. 12-13 Tickets from $40 for nonmembers. (504) 581-7032. prcno.org.
French Quarter Holiday Home Tour
Learn about the French Quarter residences and historic homes in this self-guided walking tour, which covers architectural styles, types of furnishings and special Christmas decor. 1 p.m. Dec. 20. $20; children under 12 free. Tickets available at Creole Delicacies, 533 St. Ann Street (at Jackson Square) and French Quarter Gem & Lapidary, 527 St. Philip St. (888) 756-6250.
HAPPY NEW YEAR
“Noon Year” at the Zoo
Bring the kids to Audubon Zoo to ring in the “Noon Year” early in the day. All kids and parents are welcome to the celebration, party hats, noisemakers and Pepsi for toasting. This event is free for Audubon members or included with Zoo admission. 10:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. Dec. 31 at 6500 Magazine St. auduboninstitute.org.
Crescent City Countdown
Live music, the Fleur-de-Lis Drop and midnight fireworks are on the program to usher in 2016 with the Crescent City Countdown in Jackson Square. Sam’s Funky Nation performs at 9:30 p.m., followed by Terrance Simien + the Zydeco Experience at 10:45 p.m. Dec. 31. crescentcitycountdown.com.
“New Year’s Eve … Vegas Style”
The style and sounds of Louis Prima and Frank Sinatra are performed by Lena Prima, Clint Johnson and the Victory Swing Orchestra at BB’s Stage Door Canteen inside the National World War II Museum for “New Year’s Eve … Vegas Style.” Ticket includes a Bellini cocktail, a four-course Italian meal, wine and beer, champagne at midnight and a post-midnight chocolate buffet. 9 p.m. to 1 a.m. Dec. 31. $150. nationalww2museum.org.