Season of Light: New Orleans Best Winter Festivals

Gillian Robins, Cori Shalit, and Hannah Erbrick

Harrison Dai | Staff Artist

Known for its busy social schedule, New Orleans boasts tons of festivals each year. This is no exception during the winter months, when the holiday season offers ample opportunity for festive fun. Here’s a guide to enjoying some of the best festivals in the city this season.

Celebration in the oaks

The grand oak trees of City Park are alight this holiday season for the 32nd annual Celebration in the Oaks. This event is a classic winter light show with a New Orleans twist. The lights span 13 acres of the park, including the Botanical Garden, Storyland and Carousel Gardens. Some must see exhibits include the Cajun Night Before Christmas, Santa Gator and “A Jackson Square Holiday.” Other fun stops include the Poinsettia Tree and miniature train exhibit. To add to the festive spirit, each night there is live music by various groups, from orchestras to school choirs and gospel groups. Visitors can walk around to see the spectacles with a cup of cocoa in hand, hop on the carousel for just $4 or take a ride around the park on a train for $5. For a fun surprise, Santa makes a visit on the train gazebo every evening through Dec. 23. This is a perfect event to distract you briefly from final seasons stress. You can enter the park through either the entrance at the Amusement Park or the Botanical Garden on Victory Drive. Celebration of the Oaks is open until Jan. 1 (closed Christmas Eve). Event hours are Friday through Saturday from 5-11 p.m. and Sunday through Thursday from 6-10 p.m. Tickets are $10 per person and rides are $4. Bring a group of friends, your family or your significant other for a festive night out.

Merriment on Magazine

Taking a break from online shopping and saving yourself a trip to the mall has never been so festive. Merriment on Magazine is not only a fun holiday event, but also a wonderful way to show support for small businesses. Local businesses are not always capable of offering big discounts and elaborate advertisements that easily attract customers. Because of these setbacks, small New Orleans businesses don’t always get the love they deserve, but the Magazine Street Merchants Association created this event to counteract that. Strolling the six miles Magazine Street boasts anytime from the day after Thanksgiving to Christmas Eve will provide customers with the opportunity to find unique gifts for loved ones, discover and support local merchants and take advantage of special Christmas-time hours and discounts. Besides shopping, Merriment on Magazine includes free Santa photos, holiday dining and a free Holiday Trolley. Check out Magazine Street’s weekly Facebook live videos to see everything Merriment on Magazine has to offer.

Tiny House Fest

Think your dorm room is a little small? Try living in an entire house less than 500 square feet. This is the world of tiny homes. If you’ve been watching HGTV over the past few years, you know about the tiny house craze sweeping the nation. The “Tiny House Movement” has gained momentum as an alternative to the expensive cost of a traditional home, to which the average working-class American dedicates up to half of their income. While admittedly small, the charmingly quaint houses of the Tiny House Movement are much less expensive to keep up and boast many of the comforts of bigger abodes.

Want to see these marvels of modern architecture for yourself? Look no further than the Louisiana Tiny House Fest on Dec. 7-9 in Heritage Park in Slidell. The festival offers hundreds of different tiny homes spanning 10 different categories, including yurts, school bus conversions and tiny houses on wheels. Aside from tours of all the homes on display, the festival also boasts lectures and workshops for those looking to learn more about the Tiny House Movement. Topics include a spotlight on women in the movement and a guide to sustainability when going off-grid. Also scheduled throughout the day are concerts and keynote speakers sure to interest every tiny house enthusiast in Louisiana.

Entrance is free to the public starting Dec. 7 at 5 p.m., so don’t miss this fun celebration of minimalist living.

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