The holiday season in New Orleans is one of the best times to visit. From age-old traditions like Celebration in the Oaks driving tour to breathtaking light displays in hotel lobbies and personal residences, it is the time of year when many come together to celebrate not only Christmas but Hanukkah and other holiday celebrations.
After Thanksgiving and the dishes are put away, New Orleananies are ready to start getting in the spirit by discovering beautiful Christmas and holiday lights in New Orleans.
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Holiday Decorations in Hotel Lobbies and Businesses
One of my favorite past times is cutting out of work early and doing a holiday light-happy hour crawl. Right after Thanksgiving, many of the downtown hotels will announce their lighting ceremonies. New Orleans is magical during the winter.
Walking from hotel to hotel to see the beautiful twinkling lights during Christmas is a special time. Check out some of these famous hotels to see Christmas Display – and maybe even book a night or two during the Christmas season.
Waldorf Wonderland at The Roosevelt New Orleans
130 Roosevelt Way
On top of many local and tourist, lists are visiting the Waldorf Wonderland at the Roosevelt Hotel. This iconic lobby decorates everything in a winter wonderland white. Over 112,000 twinkling lights, 1,600 feet of garland, and 4,000 ornaments create this spectacular view with an aisle of white Christmas trees.
This spot is Instagrammable, no doubt. You will find lots of people here taking their annual Christmas Instagrams (or cards) in the lobby.
Photo tip: There are always people in the lobby taking their photos – you will need to get creative if you do not want people in your photo by getting different angles or heading to the lobby in the middle of the night! Make sure to avoid popular check-in and check-out times to have a less busy lobby.
The Ritz Carlton
921 Canal Street
Known for its giant gingerbread creations, the Ritz-Carlton is never a disappointment when it comes to stunning Christmas decorations. Each year, the Ritz has a large tree in the lobby that is decorated each time differently. The Ritz Carlton’s holiday lights display is fabulous, beautiful, and ornate.
You will also want to go outside and enjoy the courtyard filled with beautiful Christmas trees and ribbons.
Photo Tip: The best angle to take a photo of the elegant tree is correct when you get off the elevator to encompass the entire lobby and get a beautiful background.
300 Bourbon St
The Royal Sonesta lines its main hallway and lobby with Real Christmas trees, stunning lights, garland, holly, and poinsettias each year. Each of the trees is flocked and is perfectly deemed Royal Snowesta.
621 St Louis St
The Omni Royal has three beautiful Christmas trees as decorations on the second story of the lobby. You can see the Christmas trees when you first walk in but walk up the stairs to grab a photo with the three trees.
214 Royal St
Hotel Monteleone decorates its lobbies with stunning, giant Christmas trees and beautiful colors of blues and gold. This Christmas lobby is perfect for relaxing after a spin on the carousel bar.
Windsor Court Hotel
300 Gravier St
With a 19.5-foot Christmas tree – what more can you ask for in a hotel lobby? The Windsor Court’s Christmas display has over 25,000 white lights and a mini classic toy train. Over 3,000 Ornaments and plenty of wreaths and garlands trimmed the Grand stairwell throughout the lobby. If you want to drop off a letter to Santa, the Windsor Court has a letter box for you to drop off your letters.
333 Canal St
While out shopping for Christmas gifts, stop but Canal Place to view their giant three-story tall Christmas Tree! This Christmas tree is so large this tree is hard to miss and can be seen from all three stories – make sure you ride one of the glass elevators to view it from top to bottom.
Looking for one of the biggest gingerbread displays in the city? Look no further than the Harrah’s Hotel Gingerbread House -each year, the gingerbread house changes and grows.
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Louis Armstrong New Orleans International Airport
1 Terminal Dr
Whether flying in or out of the airport, you must stop by and see the beautiful Christmas by baggage pickup. This tree does a quick New Orleans Tradition where the airport redecorates the tree for Mardi Gras.
If you thought the hotel lobbies and businesses were out of this world, you need to check out some of the bars around New Orleans. Some New Orleans bars decorate all out for Christmas, while others might have a tasty Christmas cocktail or two.
Barcadia Christmas pop-up
Barcadia hosts a popup all December long where they completely transform their entire bar into a Christmas extravaganza. We are talking about lights, blow-up characters, and more!
Barcadia also has Christmas-themed cocktails to help you get into the holiday spirit. Kids are allowed to celebrate in this Christmas wonderland until 9 pm!
Sippin’ Santa at Lattitude 29
Each Christmas season, Lattitue 29 transforms into a Beachbum Sippin’ Santa Pop-up! This bar is super cute, and the Christmas decorations make it extra special. These are not your typical Christmas drinks. However, these drinks have more of a tiki vibe – which could be a fun holiday tradition to add to your repertoire.
Barrel Proof is New Orleans’s miracle on Magazine street! The always popular Miracle popup that took the United States by Storm in 2014 has made a home at Barrel Proof. With beautiful decorations, cute cocktail glasses, and delicious drinks – what more could you want.
Snake and Jakes
Are you looking for the best Christmas bar and Christmas display? Snake & Jakes Christmas Club Lounge is the only Christmas bar all year round in New Orleans.
Even though this blog post is all about Christmas lights, we recognize that not all residents and visitors to New Orleans or Catholic or Christian. As we plan and write more material, please read our review of Sufganiyot (Hanukkah donut) that you can find in and around New Orleans.
Free Outdoor displays
New Orleans has plenty of free outdoor displays showing off different light shows or twinkling lights to get you into the Christmas spirit. Check out some of these free Christmas things to do while in New Orleans.
Washinton Artillery Park
Across the street from Jackson Square, there is a beautiful tree in Washinton Artillery Park. This tree has the perfect backdrop of St Louis Cathedral and the red bows on the fences of Jackson Square.
Peace yall corner
Royal and Dumaine
The corner of Royal and Dumaine says what everyone is thinking – Peace, Yall! During a New Orleans Christmas, one of the best things to have is a way to remind people that we are all looking for peace.
Beautiful Oak Trees
4534 St. Charles Ave
While driving down St Charles, you will notice a few massive oak trees and their branches beautifully wrapped. Each year the owners of this house cover the oak trees and fence to give the neighborhood a beautiful light show.
Miracle on Fulton Street
Miracle on Fulton Street brings guests from all over to enjoy the New Orleans Christmas lights in the heart of downtown. Guests will enjoy a 30-foot Christmas tree, Faux snow every hour, and live entertainment on Fridays and Saturdays.
LUNA Fête is the New Orleans arts council free festival of light show that projects lights and lasers onto the facade of local businesses. Luna Fete only happens for one weekend each December, and there is nightly music and arts festival. Luna Fete happens at Lafayette square in the heart of the central business district.
Love doing free things while traveling? Check out these top free things to do in New Orleans.
Caroling in Jackson Square
Hundreds of carolers descend on Jackson Square for one night only on the Sunday before Christmas day to sign by candlelight. Gates opened 30 minutes before the event, but Jackson Square often reached total capacity for this annual Celebration. Song sheets and candles are passed out for participants – but you may want to bring your lighter – to set the ambiance of this Christmas Tradition.
Admission-based Christmas lights
Even though we love doing all free things in New Orleans, there are some special events you need to pay to see different Holiday Lights. Many family-friendly events are worth spending the extra money to see the beautiful holiday displays.
Celebration in the Oaks
4 Friederichs Avenue
Celebration in the Oaks is an age-old New Orleans tradition on a 2.25-mile Christmas light driving tour of New Orleans City Park. If driving and seeing Christmas lights is not your thing, you can sign up for the walking tour of the botanical garden or the biking tour of the park (Bike nights are Tuesdays only) to enjoy the different displays. Celebration in the Oaks isn’t just lights, though – there is an entire amusement park component at Carousel Gardens Amusement Park.
If you are there on a cold night, you can warm up with a cup of hot chocolate or have fun with a Marshmellow roasting.
Lights on the Lake Celebration & Boat Parade
If you love boat parades in town, go to the Lights on the Lake Celebration & Boat Parade hosted by the Lake Pontchartrain Basin Foundation. All you need to do is park at the Robert Parking lot in Lakeview, and a free shuttle will bring you to the New Canal Lighthouse for all the festivities!
There is so much to see that you sometimes want to book a tour or two to explore the holiday and Christmas lights. These tours are bound to bring out some holiday cheer while enjoying.
Creole Christmas French Quarter Walking tour
If you want to get almost everything on this list jammed into one day, take the Free Tours by Foot Creole Christmas French Quarter Walking tour. Patrons will pass by Jackson Square, St. Louis Cathedral, Hotel Monteleone, and much more!
Even though Free tours by foot are technically free, the tour guides are knowledgeable and work off tips. If your group is 6-9 people, you must prepay $10 per person, which is a perfect amount to tip for a 2-hour, 1-mile tour of the French Quarter.
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Christmas Displays Outside of New Orleans
When visiting or living in New Orleans, a couple of different towns and parishes are easy to get to and see the holiday lights. These places are just a short car ride from Downtown New Orleans.
Christmas in the Park by Lafreniere Park
In Jefferson Parish, Lafreniere Park lights up yearly with millions of twinkling lights coming on at dusk. This driving tour takes you through the park, where you can see lots of festive decorations.
Light up the Huey
Head to the Westbank to Ligh up the Huey to see the Holiday Lights display of trees all along Huey P Long Avenue. You will catch the light show from 10th Street down to the river.
Kenner Christmas Village
2015 Fourth Street
Each year in November and December, the buildings in Rivertown are adorned with lights and transform into Kenner’s Christmas Village. Admission and parking are free every night, but you can expect to have vendors, activities, and performances at the Christmas Village on Fridays and Saturdays.
Christmas Eve Bonfires on the Levee
Did you know that legend has it the bonfires lit in Lutcher, Louisiana, light the way for papa noel to find his way to all of the little girls’ and boys’ houses? This annual tradition brings people from all over Louisiana to help Cajun Santa Claus find he was up the river.
Guests can expect over 100 bonfires to be set ablaze. Need to avoid driving on your own? Many guests book a tour with Gray Line bus tours, so they can go without going. If there is rain on Christmas eve, the lighting of the bonfires is moved until New Year’s Eve.
Christmas in New Orleans
Christmas in New Orleans is such a special time that you will want to plan at least 4-5 days to get everything in. If you are coming in when a special event is planned, check the hotels for different discounts while staying during the holidays.
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