Thanksgiving has come and gone, and the autumn wreaths and pumpkins will be traded out for tinsel, string lights, and pine. Here in New Orleans, we use any excuse to celebrate, and we do it BIG. So, it is no wonder that this time of year is full of magic all around the city. If you are still feeling a bit like a Grinch, here are several ways to get into the holiday spirit this year.
Celebration in the Oaks
November 24-January 1
City Park: 5 Victory Ave.
Celebration in the Oaks is one of the most spectacular holiday lights festivals in the country, bringing more than 165,000 visitors into the park to experience the magic. The beautiful oak trees are doused in hundreds of thousands of twinkling lights and light displays across 25 acres of the park. Complete with a Christmas village for you and your loved ones to explore, a festively adorned tiny train, and a herd of holiday dinosaurs, there's so much for everyone to see. For those who celebrate Hanukkah, a new lighted Hanukkah menorah and dreidel display was added just last year.
St. Louis Cathedral
December 10-14, December 17
Pere Antoine Alley
Every year, hundreds of people line the historic cathedral's pews to enjoy musical performances ranging from blues, folk, jazz, and opera, to gospel and country. All performances begin at 6 p.m. (except December 17, which begins at 5:30 p.m.) and are free to the public.
Caroling in Jackson Square
700 Decatur St.
If you love Christmas music, then you must go caroling in Jackson Square. The annual sponsors of this tradition, Patio Planters du Vieux Carre, will begin to hand out song sheets and candles to the crowd at 7 p.m. and will be led by the singers and instrumentalists on stage. This event is free to the public and will bring joy to the world.
Miracle on Fulton Street
December 23 and 24
228 Poydras St.
The Fulton Street Mall is adorned with Christmas trees, lights, mistletoe, and fleur de lis ornaments for the annual Miracle on Fulton Street. Since it is extremely rare for New Orleans to experience snow, this festive event includes artificial snow so that you can experience the white Christmas you hear all about. Make sure that you bring a toy to donate, and if you don't want to see Santa at the mall, he will make a special appearance for you and your family at Fulton Street while you enjoy local music and holiday dining.
The Lighting of the Bonfires
Along River Road in St. John the Baptist and St. James Parishes.
You may be familiar with bonfires, but have you ever seen a snowman, steamboat, and a crawfish set on fire? On Christmas Eve, St. John and St. James Parishes will do just that as part of an age-old tradition. Some say this tradition provided light for people attending Christmas Eve mass, while others say it was started as a beacon to help direct Papa Noel.
New Orleans has a way of making the holidays special, so bundle up in your favorite holiday clothing, bring your thermos of hot chocolate, and experience the cheer that fills the air all month long. Here are Where Y'at, we hope you have happy holidays and a wonderful new year!