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The Roosevelt Hotel's lobby Christmas light installation | © Infrogmation of New Orleans/Flickr
The Roosevelt Hotel's lobby Christmas light installation | © Infrogmation of New Orleans/Flickr
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How To Celebrate Christmas In New Orleans

Picture of Rebeca Trejo
Updated: 15 December 2016
Now that you’ve finally decided to celebrate Christmas in New Orleans, its time you start thinking about how you’re going to make the most out of your holiday stay in the Crescent City, aka one of the most exciting travel destinations in the word. Whether you are looking to savor the city’s world-renowned culinary legacy, attend an annual Christmas event, shop at a holiday market, or experience one of the many dazzling light displays around town, NOLA’s festive calendar has something planned for you. Here’s our guide to spending the festive period in New Orleans.

Where To Stay: The Best Hotels

With more than 59 hotels and up-to-25-percent-off rates, New Orleans’ hospitality scene is set to satisfy every visitor’s travel style. From historic stays in the heart of the French Quarter to more local accommodation around the city’s many thoroughfares, here’s a hotel list including the best holiday season deals.

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The Troubadour, a Joie de Vivre Hotel

Up to 30 percent off / 4 star / Central Business District / 1111 Gravier St, New Orleans, LA, USA, +1 504 518 5800

The Troubadour, A Joie Vibre Hotel, courtesy of The Troubadour, A Joie Vibre Hotel.

The Troubadour, A Joie Vibre Hotel | Courtesy of The Troubadour, A Joie Vibre Hotel.

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Omni Royal Orleans Hotel

Up to 20 percent off / 4 star / French Quarter / 621 St Louis St, New Orleans, LA, USA, +1 504 529 5333

Balcony views at Onmi Royal Orleans Hotel, courtesy of the Onmi Royal Orleans Hotel.

Balcony views at Onmi Royal Orleans Hotel | Courtesy of the Onmi Royal Orleans Hotel.

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Hotel Monteleone

Up to 15 percent off / 4 star / French Quarter / 214 Royal St, New Orleans, LA, USA, +1 504 523 3341

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Four Points by Sheraton French Quarter

Up to 10 percent off / 3 star / French Quarter / 541 Bourbon St, New Orleans, LA, USA, +1 504 524 7611

Four Points French Quarter, courtesy of Four Points French Quarter.

Four Points by Sheraton French Quarter| Courtesy of Four Points by Sheraton French Quarter.

Where to Eat: Reveillon Dinners

Dating back to the early 19th century, Reveillon (pronounced REH-vee-on) is an old holiday season tradition where the Creoles, some of New Orleans’ earliest residents, celebrated the beginning of the Christmas by feasting around a big family dinner after returning home from midnight mass. With modifications reflecting the times, this European-inspired custom from the mid-1800s has not only ingrained itself among the Big Easy’s popular culture, but has also gone from home family dinners to the tables of the city’s finest restaurants. Inspired by the Creole families who began the annual celebration, this decadent, four-course Xmas feast – with all the trimmings, of course – can be best enjoyed at the following eateries:

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Arnaud’s Restaurant

$49 rate / Creole / French Quarter / 813 Bienville St, New Orleans, LA, USA, +1 504 523 5433

Arnaud's & the French 75 Bar at the French Quarter, courtesy of Arnaud's Restaurant.

Arnaud’s & the French 75 Bar at the French Quarter | Courtesy of Arnaud’s Restaurant.

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The Bombay Club

$45 / Steaks & Seafood / French Quarter / 830 Conti St, New Orleans, LA, USA, +1 504 577 2237

The Bombay Club bar and restaurant, courtesy of the Bombay Club.

The Bombay Club bar and restaurant | Courtesy of the Bombay Club.

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Muriel’s Jackson Square

Restaurant, French, American, Seafood, $$$
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Po Boy
Po Boy | © Rambling Dream / Flickr

Muriel’s Jackson Square

$48 / Creole / French Quarter / 801 Chartres St, New Orleans, LA, USA, +1 504 568 1885

Muriel's Jackson Square Restaurant, courtesy of Muriel's Jackson Square Restaurant.

Muriel’s Jackson Square Restaurant | Courtesy of Muriel’s Jackson Square Restaurant.

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What to do: Holiday Traditions

Bonfires on the Levee

Bonfires on the Levee is a Christmas Eve tradition dating back to Southern Louisiana’s earliest Cajun settlers. Intended to light the way for Papa Noel, (the Cajun Santa Claus) during his NOLA airborne journey, this lighting celebration takes place annually along the banks of the Mighty Mississippi River. During the Christmas night bonfires, crowds gather to enjoy the free show and, in some locales, complimentary bowls of hot gumbo. Attendees can book a narrated motor coach excursion with Gray Line Tours and experience the four-hour Christmas Even Bonfire Express, which only includes the bonfires, or purchase the 6 ½-hour Christmas Eve Bonfire Adventure Tour, which includes a tour of San Francisco Plantation and a holiday dinner there.

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Concerts at the St. Louis Cathedral

Headlined by prominent New Orleans musicians, church choirs and singers in the jazz, classical, gospel and pop world, the St. Louis Cathedral concert series is a musical celebration where the nation’s oldest and most architecturally significant church stages free holiday concerts in front of the historic Jackson Square. The annual event, produced by French Quarter Festivals, runs every until December 18 from six to seven pm.

St Louis Cathedral, 615 Pere Antoine Alley, New Orleans, LA, USA, +1 504 525 9585

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NOLA ChristmasFest

Featuring the city’s only ice skating rink, the Kringle Carousel, carnival rides and inflatables, Christmas characters, children’s crafts, and of course, Mr. Santa Claus himself, NOLA ChristmasFest is a holiday celebration running from December 16th until the 20th at New Orleans’ Ernest N. Morial Convention Center. Since 1980s, this family event, open daily from 10 before noon until 8pm, offers many ticket packages for adults, students, and children as well as plenty of on-site parking space.

Ice Skaters at NOLAChristmasFest, courtesy of NOLAChristmasFest.

Ice Skaters at NOLAChristmasFest | Courtesy of NOLAChristmasFest.

Christmas Caroling in Jackson Square

Known as New Orleans’ holiday season highlight, Christmas caroling in Jackson Square is a Crescent City tradition that has been going on since 1946. Held on Sunday, December 18th, this joyful, free event is experienced annually by all of those who wish to get together and croon everyone’s favorite Christmas tunes, regardless of their religious affiliation. Hosted by Patio Planters (A nonprofit group dedicated to the horticultural beautification of the Quarter), the illuminated square opens its gates at 6:30 pm and the caroling begins around seven.

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Celebration in the Oaks

Filled with thousands of colorful lights and illuminated festive outdoor displays, Celebration in the Oaks in a month-long light show in New Orleans’ City Park. Ever since its late-1980s inception, this annual family-friendly event, which runs until January 1st, has gained national attention, luring in visitors from all over the country. Celebration in the Oaks is closed Christmas Eve and New Year’s Eve.

Celebration in the Oaks, 1 Victory Ave, New Orleans, LA, USA, +1 504 483 9415