The Crescent City pulls out all the stops come Christmastime. From the blazing bonfire along the Algiers riverfront at the beginning of December (designed to help guide the way for Papa Noël and his gator-pulled pirogue) to the dueling fireworks display over the Mississippi on New Year’s Eve, you’ll find bright spots and festive fun all over town all month long.
Where to begin? We wrapped a few of our favorite things just for you.
Celebration in the Oaks
This massive holiday lights spectacular transforms City Park into a winter wonderland with wow-worthy displays like the Dripping Snow Tree with its 42,000 LED lights. Traditionalists find what they’re after in the towering Poinsettia Tree, created from 500 live plants.
The Windsor Court, the Roosevelt, the Sheraton: Step into just about any hotel lobby, and you’re greeted by the scent of the season and giant gingerbread displays, from Harrah’s, where you’ll find a gingerbread Superdome, to the Ritz-Carlton, which this year features a life-size St. Charles streetcar. Hungry for more? Get thee to NOLA Christmas Fest.
Not a gingerbread fan? What about king cake? Locals will tell you king cake season doesn’t start until Jan. 6 (Twelfth Night), but Haydel’s skirts the rules with its similar-looking holiday season must-have. Each year the beloved bakery turns out more than 20,000 of the buttery pastry rounds loaded with praline filling and topped with caramel icing and pecans.
The Roosevelt’s block-long lobby decorations have been enchanting guests since the 1930s. What was once a riot of angel hair and flocked trees (under the Fairmont’s then-ownership) is now an elegant alley lined with lacquered birch branches accented with hand-blown ornaments, Fraser firs and thousands of white lights.
From the French Quarter to the Garden District, the riverfront to the lakefront, Uptown to down, the local passion for pageantry is on full display during the holidays. Nobody does it better than homeowners along stately St. Charles Avenue, whose jaw-dropping, decked-out digs slow traffic to a crawl. Instead, grab a seat on the streetcar, and take in the show for just $1.25.
Crab-shell St. Nicks. Check. Red pepper string lights. Check. Glittered crawfish, oyster shells and hot sauce bottles. Check, check and check. Christmas New Orleans style is on display year-round at this well-stocked holiday shop. Scope out the Mardi Gras section...’tis almost the season.