Throughout the holiday season, you can visit a wide variety of light displays and shows throughout the city. There is no better way to spread holiday cheer than admiring the twinkling lights and colorful displays in City Park, Audubon Zoo, Lafayette Square, hotel lobbies and beyond.
This special, over month-long light show in City Park hosts hundreds of thousands of colorful lights and illuminated outdoor displays to showcase the holiday season in New Orleans. An annual tradition that began in the late 1980s, Celebration in the Oaks is a family-friendly event that only happens after dark. It opens every year on the Friday after Thanksgiving and closes January 1st. (Please note that the event is closed on November 27, 28, 29, and 30, and is also closed Christmas Eve and New Year’s Eve.)
Visitors are treated to a wide range of attractions, from light displays to walkways lined with dozens of Christmas trees decorated by local school groups. Perennial favorites include the animated “Cajun Night Before Christmas” display and the “Who Dat Tree,” imaginatively adorned in New Orleans Saints black and gold, and related football themes. Another favorite is New Orleans’ iconic snowman, Mr. Bingle, a holiday character beloved by generations of New Orleanians when he adorned the window of the old D.H. Holmes department store on Canal Street during the holiday season. Children and their parents are invited to take a two-mile ride on the miniature train that circles the park, passing underneath lit-up holiday displays and other special effects.
For the first time, Audubon Zoo is joining in on the festivities by transforming the zoo into a winter wonderland. Light displays and silk-lightened replicas of animals will be positioned throughout the zoo beginning on the Friday after Thanksgiving and ending on January 1st. Specific dates for 2018 are November 23-25, 29, 30, December 1-2, 6-7, 9, 13-23, 26-30. Holiday storytime, arts and crafts, caroling and more will add to the magical evening.
From December 6-9th, enjoy a one-of-a-kind light display in the Central Business District. Luna Fete will take over Lafayette Square with lights, art, and technology. Gallier Hall will be transformed with video projection-mapping, while the square and Fulton Street will have illuminated sculptures and light activations.
More than 100,000 attendees have enjoyed Luna Fete in the past two years, and this year is especially unique as the show will honor the Tricentennial of New Orleans. The projections on Gallier Hall will take place every hour on the hour from 6 p.m.-10 p.m. nightly. It is free, open to the public and fun for all ages!
Many hotels in the French Quarter and CBD illuminate their lobbies with decorations– from lights and trees, to fake snow and Gingerbread Houses. Thousands of lights are used to transform these spaces into a holiday dreamland. Even if you are not staying at one of these hotel, it is worth a visit. The Roosevelt includes a canopy of lights and an aisle of white Christmas trees, while the Ritz-Carlton has Santa’s toy shop. The Royal Sonesta has Christmas Tree Land, while the Windsor Court has one of the biggest trees in the city. Harrah’s Hotel has an outdoor light display and extravagant gingerbread houses replicating New Orleans buildings. Both Hotel Monteleone and Le Pavillon have various traditional decorations. Many participating hotels also offer Holiday Tea and visits from Santa, as well.
Driving around town, you will find holiday decorations everywhere. From the Christmas Tree Lighting in the French Market to lit up houses along St. Charles Avenue, New Orleans really puts on a show when it comes to dressing up for the holidays. Take a streetcar ride when the sun goes down to see it for yourself.