New Orleans

Get Festive with These Holiday Events in New Orleans

The ultimate guide to the best events, pop-up bars, and holiday markets in New Orleans this season.

Photo by James Collier for Paprika Studios
Photo by James Collier for Paprika Studios
Photo by James Collier for Paprika Studios

From Thanksgiving to Christmas, New Orleans is in full festive mode-so expect indulgence, over-the-top decor, and historic holiday traditions. The city sparkles during the holiday season, with a mix of modern traditions and unique historic customs dating back hundreds of years.

Neighborhood bars are transformed into magical wonderlands, and hotels like The Roosevelt, Windsor Court, and The Ritz-Carlton dazzle with seasonal flare. The Lafitte Greenway, City Park, and Convention Center Park are all aglow with thousands of lights, and holiday music fills the air. Restaurants around town participate in the Creole tradition of Reveillon dinners, local bakeries prepare festive treats, and grand homes open their doors to share some holiday cheer. Don’t miss a performance of the beloved Nutcracker (there’s a very local take on the ballet worth seeing too), and even Krampus makes an appearance with a parade.

From Black Friday all the way through the end of the year, there’s no shortage of holiday events in New Orleans to fill your calendar. So settle in for a laid-back Thanksgiving feast, then prepare for all the holiday cheer you can handle.

Photo by Randy Schmidt
Photo by Randy Schmidt
Photo by Randy Schmidt

Christmas Bars and Holiday Meals in New Orleans

Sippin’ Santa at Latitude 29

Friday, November 17–Sunday, January 7
French Quarter; Prices vary
The city’s premier tiki bar is transforming into an over-the-top tropical winter wonderland for the season. With over-the-top decor and a cocktail menu filled with drinks  like the Surf Nut, Sharkey’s First Christmas, and Ginger Snapper, it’s impossible to leave Sippin’ Santa at Latitude 29 without being in the holiday spirit. Don your best island-chic and a Santa hat for this annual fave.

Miracle on Magazine

Tuesday, November 21–Sunday, December 31
Lower Garden District; Prices vary
Miracle, the holiday-themed pop-up bar, will return to Barrel Proof again for the 2023 season. Kitschy holiday decor, festive cocktails, and unique mug designs make this pop-up a unique holiday experience. Cocktails include the Christmapolitan, Christmas Cricket, Rudolph’s Replacement, The Krampus, and Marshmallows & Unicorns. Mugs are available for purchase, and at the end of the season Miracle will donate 10% of all proceeds from the sale of Santa Pants, Christmas Carol Barrel, and Santa Heads signature glassware to the Seva Foundation, a nonprofit that provides eye care to vulnerable local communities around the world.

Bower Bah Humbug

Monday, November 27–Sunday, December 30
Lower Garden District; Prices vary
The Bower is hosting a Bower Bah Humbug holiday-themed bar takeover at The Bower Bar. Enjoy Christmas-themed decorations and specially-curated holiday cocktails. The restaurant will also host two Bower Bah Humbug Luncheons on December 15 and 22, featuring a three-course lunch menu and Bah Humbug cocktails. Tacky sweaters and festive attire are encouraged!

Holiday Food From Local Restaurants and Bakeries

Now through December 31
Citywide; Prices vary
What’s the holiday season without decadent meals and treats? Bakeries around the city will be rolling out exceptional holiday goodies for your enjoyment. For your Thanksgiving table, check out La Boulangerie, Windowsill Pies, Levee Baking Co., and Dragonfly Cafe and for seasonal pies, cakes, cookies, and other baked goods. When Hanukkah rolls around, Saba has you covered with its signature Latke Boards. Or look ahead to Christmas and get on the waitlist for a NOLA shotgun-style gingerbread house or a satsuma curd-filled “Bayoule Log” from Ayu Bakehouse. On the savory side of things, make your reservations now for Thanksgiving and Christmas dining at your favorite local restaurant.

Révellion Dinners

Now through December 24
Citywide; Prices vary
Many restaurants around town participate in the Creole tradition of Révellion dinners, offering special menus for the holidays. While the original tradition was a dining event following midnight mass on Christmas, you won’t have to wait that late nowadays. Traditional restaurants like Commander’s Palace, Tujaque’s, and Arnaud’s participate, elevating their already exceptional menus. Even relative newbies like Costera and Osteria Lupo will participate with special offerings for the holiday season.

Photo by Justen Williams
Photo by Justen Williams
Photo by Justen Williams

Holiday Events in New Orleans

Thanksgiving Classic at the Fair Grounds

Thursday, November 23
Mid-City; Prices vary
While the track opens in mid-November, Thanksgiving is the biggest day at the Fair Grounds, kicking off the season in earnest. Don your most fabulous hat or fascinator and head out for a day filled with mint juleps, racing, and a whole lot of fun. The clubhouse hosts a holiday dinner with all the trimmings, or you can dig into the big holiday buffet. Be sure to make a reservation, as both fill up quickly.

Black Friday and Small Business Saturday

Friday, November 24–Saturday, November 25
Citywide; Prices vary
Black Friday and Small Business Saturday mean big shopping deals at malls and big box stores, but they’re especially great days to focus on shopping local. From quirky vintage stores and art galleries to antique shops and boutiques, New Orleans has a wealth of unique businesses boasting locally-made products. For one of the best local shopping experiences, head to Magazine Street for miles of independent shops plus plenty of options to stop for a bite along the way, and set a reminder to enjoy complimentary bubbles at Magazine Street’s after-hours Holiday Stroll on December 2.

Holiday Arts Markets

Citywide; Free
Arts markets are the perfect spot to shop locally for holiday gifts. The twice-monthly, open-air Arts Market New Orleans sets up extended two-day markets in November (25-26) and December (16-17) at Marsalis Harmony Park in addition to the regular markets held there and in City Park. The monthly Freret Market will have holiday shopping on December 2, Deutsches Haus will host a German-style ChristKindleMarkt from December 1 to 3, the Shop at the Historic New Orleans Collection will have special holiday vendors on December 16, and the eclectic Piety Market at Hotel Peter and Paul will be decked out on December 17.

Holidays New Orleans Style Concert Series

Now through December 31
Locations vary; Free
The live music calendar is packed with special holiday performances, including traditional concerts in St. Louis Cathedral and genre-spanning concerts exploring the African diaspora at Ashé Powerhouse Theater. See the likes of Irma Thomas, Benny Grunch and the Bunch, and the Zion Harmonizers performing their holiday favorites.

Krampus NOLAuf Parade

Saturday, December 2
Bywater; Free
The Krewe of Krampus parades through the Bywater with Krampus and a cast of Alpine spirits plus Swampus, the Krampus Horns, and more. It’s the largest Krampus parade in America, and includes performers from all over the country and abroad, in addition to local performers. Don’t miss this enchanting parade with some of the most creative costumes and props you’ll see this holiday season.

Latkes with a Twist

Saturday, December 2
Bywater; $36-$54 in advance, $75 at the door
Celebrate the Festival of Lights with Jewish Children’s Regional Service at NOCCA’s Press Street Station. Stephen Stryjewski of Link Restaurant Group serves as the event’s celebrity chef with assistance from NOCCA culinary program students. The night features food, live music, and an open bar with wine, beer, a Vodka Latke Punch, and a Buffalo Trace Old Fashioned Hanukkah Hi-Ball.

L’Chaim Lounge

Thursday, December 7–Friday, December 15
Uptown; Free
This annual Hanukkah pop-up bar at Saba features specialty cocktails, latkes, sufganiyot, menorahs, dreidels, gelt, and everything else you need to celebrate Hanukkah in style. Celebrate the season with a signature latke board or just kick back and enjoy the Hanukkah vibes on every night during the festival of lights (except Tuesday, December 12).

Bonfires on the Levee

Friday, December 8–Sunday, December 10 and Sunday, December 24
Lutcher; Free
This Christmas bonfire tradition in the River Parishes is a must-see for the holidays. Throughout the month, residents construct massive bonfire structures up to 20 feet tall that are lit on Christmas Eve to guide Papa Noel along the Mississippi. The Festival of the Bonfires earlier in the month celebrates this tradition with music, food, and bonfire burning. The main event takes place on Christmas Eve, when residents gather for the big bonfire party, joined by spectators who trek from all over to join the fun.

New Orleans Jazz Nutcracker

Friday, December 8–Sunday, December 17
Marigny; $35-$60
This local take on the holiday classic, performed by the Marigny Opera Ballet at the Marigny Opera House, is set in Jackson Square. Follow the story of Clara, a young woman transported to the Land of Rain and back again on Christmas Day. She encounters a fortune teller, tourists, a drag queen, and more. Music is performed live by the Lawrence Sieberth Ensemble.

‘The Nutcracker

Friday, December 15–Saturday, December 23
Downtown; $19-$83
The New Orleans Ballet Theatre’s production of the holiday classic is a beloved annual tradition. The performance features the talented professional ballet company alongside more than 120 local schoolchildren. No holiday season is complete without catching this show-featuring stunning sets and costumes alongside the iconic score-at the Orpheum.

Caroling in Jackson Square

Sunday, December 17
French Quarter; Free
Another beloved holiday tradition, this community caroling event brings thousands to Jackson Square to sing along to holiday favorites. Local dignitaries lead the carols for an hour of merriment, so whether you belt out a verse yourself or simply stop by to take it all in, you’ll leave with a dose of holiday cheer.

Photo courtesy of Arts New Orleans
Photo courtesy of Arts New Orleans
Photo courtesy of Arts New Orleans

Holiday Lights and Decorations in New Orleans

Celebration in the Oaks

Thursday, November 23–Saturday, December 30
Mid-City; $5 and up
City Park’s annual celebration of the holidays is an enchanting spectacle of lights, as the glorious oak trees are decked with more than a million lights, and light sculptures are scattered throughout the park. Tour the park by bike, on foot, or in a car. The Botanical Garden features even more holiday cheer, with plenty of Instagrammable photo ops.

Lafitte Greenway Supernova

Thursday, December 7-Saturday, December 9
Mid-City, Free
The Lafitte Greenway transforms into a cosmic collection of light and sound art to celebrate the season. There will be illuminated installations from local artists as well live music on two stages from the likes of SaxKixAve and Bon Bon Vivant, plus local food vendors, and an art market with lots of holiday shopping opportunities.


Thursday, December 7-Sunday, December 10
Warehouse/Convention District, Free
For this annual festival of light, art, and technology – the tenth annual installment – the Ernest N. Morial Convention Center Pedestrian Park will be transformed into a runway for illuminated fashions. Hourly projections on the building will honor the power of costumes, while light-based artworks spread along 7.5 acres of the Park will celebrate the creativity of costumery and culture. Each night will also feature local food vendors, drinks, an arts market, and other glowing features.

PRC Holiday Home Tour

Saturday, December 9–Sunday, December 10
Garden District, $45
This self-guided walking tour is your chance to explore the interiors and grounds of several of the Garden District’s and Lower Garden District’s most stunning homes decked out for the holidays. Festivities also include live musical performances and a holiday boutique (free and open to the public) at the tour’s headquarters at Louise S. McGehee School.Want more Thrillist? Follow us on Instagram, TikTok, Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, and YouTube.

Gerrish Lopez is a Thrillist contributor.

New Orleans

Where to Go on a Perfect Date in New Orleans This Spring

Woo that special someone with sultry live music and inviting outdoor date ideas.

Photo courtesy of Louisiana Travel
Photo courtesy of Louisiana Travel
Photo courtesy of Louisiana Travel

Whether you’re searching for the perfect spot for a first date or looking to spend some time with your longtime love, you should have no problem planning a romantic outing in New Orleans. Our amazing restaurants and bars are classic settings for some quality time, but think outside the date night box and literally get outside. Spring is the most gorgeous time of year here, so you can score some serious romance points. From strolls in the park and outdoor music to cozy wine bars and sultry jazz nights, here are some can’t-miss ideas for the perfect date in New Orleans.

Spend an afternoon in City Park

One could spend hours strolling beneath City Park’s moss-drenched oaks, but combine this beautiful setting with the park’s other offerings and you’ve got yourself a date. Start with coffee and beignets at Cafe du Monde to ease into things. Explore the collections at the New Orleans Museum of Art or stroll through the sculpture garden. Continue your romantic walk around the Big Lake, or rent a boat and paddle your way around. If things are going well, finish up with a well-earned drink and a bite at Ralph’s on the Park.

Grab bagels and bike on the Greenway

Bike the Lafitte Greenway and you’ll get moving while having plenty of time to connect. Fuel up at Flour Moon Bagels with coffee and stellar carbs before you hit the pavement. The Greenway’s linear path is 2.7 miles, but you can make it a longer ride by linking up with the Wisner Trail or the Norman C. Francis bike path. The Greenway goes all the way to the Quarter, but you can save that for another date. End up back where you started and cool down with a pint or two at Skeeta Hawk Brewing.

Create some Magazine Street magic

Uptown/Garden District
Magazine Street boasts six miles of unique, locally owned businesses. There are plenty of one-off date options along the street (like grabbing coffee and chocolate at Piety and Desire, having a romantic dinner at Coquette or Saffron, or ordering wine and small plates at Saba). But for a longer get-to-know-you date, the street is perfect for an all-day stroll. Browse esteemed art galleries and shops, have a well-made cocktail at Bouligny Tavern, stop for fresh oysters at Basin, taste a few wines at Spirit Wine, and admire the mix of architecture along the street. Why stop there? Shop for some vinyl at Peaches, grab a casual dinner at Picnic Provisions & Whiskey or Tito’s, then see who’s playing at Le Bon Temps.

Take in the West Bank nature and noodles

Take the Crescent City Connection and head down to the Barataria Preserve to explore acres of secluded wetlands that’ll confirm you’re really in south Louisiana. A boardwalk winds through swampy land packed with all the best regional flora and fauna, including alligators. April is typically peak iris season, so check the bloom forecast. Before you head back across the river, stop by Tan Dinh or 9 Roses for excellent pho and other Vietnamese faves.


Go on a wine bar crawl

Various locations
A wine bar presents a perfect middle ground between grabbing casual beers and sipping superior cocktails. You’ve got chill environs, curated selections, and just enough nibbles to sustain your conversation. Second Vine Wines and Faubourg Wines are thoughtfully curated shops that serve wines by the glass, so you can start off with a couple of glasses then buy a bottle if the date moves to another location. Tell Me Bar and Pluck offer rotating selections of intriguing wines you’ll want to learn more about. And of course there’s Bacchanal, where you can enjoy wine, good vibes, and live music under the stars.

Cross the river by boat

Algiers Point
There’s something undeniably romantic about standing at the bow of a boat with wind blowing through your lover’s hair, so take the Algiers Ferry to behold the mighty Mississippi and gorgeous views of the city. Stroll charming Algiers Point, grab a drink with the locals at the Old Point Bar or Crown and Anchor, and then enjoy dinner at Tavolino, Tonti’s Hand, or Plume.

Saunter down St. Charles Ave

Uptown/French Quarter
The streetcar is an underrated date option-get to know each other while rolling past the majestic St. Charles Avenue mansions. Start with a late afternoon drink at The Chloe before hopping aboard. Once you’re in the Quarter, take a spin around the bar with a cocktail at Hotel Monteleone, take a stroll through Jackson Square, then pick from swoon-worthy dining options like St. John, Jewel of the South, Cane & Table, Doris Metropolitan, or MaMou.

Explore Lake Pontchartrain

Take a trip out to Lake Pontchartrain for some sun, fresh air, and seafood. Cruise Lakeshore Drive, check out the Mardi Gras Fountain, maybe take a roll down the levee to connect with your inner child, then sit and watch as the boats and birds go by. As the sun sets, head over to The Blue Crab for fresh seafood or JB’s Fuel Dock at West End Park for pizza and beers.

Photo courtesy of Three Keys NOLA
Photo courtesy of Three Keys NOLA
Photo courtesy of Three Keys NOLA

Let music and lounge vibes set the mood

Various locations
Let someone special know just how you feel by taking them out for a classy evening of fine cocktails and world-class jazz. Grab a prime spot to watch Jeremy Davenport do his thing at his namesake lounge at the Ritz-Carlton, listen to the smooth sounds of solo artists at the intimate Bayou Bar at the Pontchartrain Hotel, or pop into the Jazz Playhouse at the Royal Sonesta next time you do a French Quarter outing. For a new-school option, check out a performance at the Ace Hotel’s Three Keys.

Go the extra mile with a day trip

Covington/Abita Springs
Driving the Causeway’s 24 miles will give you plenty of time to go beyond small talk, making a nearby road trip the ideal activity for upping the ante on your relationship. Head to Covington to enjoy the boutiques and galleries of the quaint historic downtown before grabbing a bite at Lola or Tavi, or rent bikes and ride the Tammany Trace to the Abita Brewery where you can take a tour and sample some of the finest local beers. Even better, head over when the brewery is hosting one of its food truck roundups or live music.

Photo courtesy of Urban South Brewery
Photo courtesy of Urban South Brewery
Photo courtesy of Urban South Brewery

Peel crawfish and sip local beer

Various locations
Spring means crawfish boils, and the city is loaded with experts bringing their boil skills to some of the top local breweries. Crawfish and beer make a perfect pair, and what better way to gauge relationship potential than by observing peel technique and spice tolerance? Check their calendars, but breweries including Faubourg Brewing, Urban South, NOLA Brewing, Miel, and Parleaux usually host boils on weekends throughout the season.

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Gerrish Lopez is a Thrillist contributor.