Guide to celebrating the holiday season in NOLA

Elka Cuttino, Staff Writer

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Cecilia Hammond | Senior Staff Artist

The holiday season is a special time of year anywhere in the world, but seeing Santa characters walk around the French Quarter and lights adorn City Park make New Orleans a special place to be, even though it’s not snowing. Dozens of activities may put you into the holiday spirit, but this list is sure to bring some cheer to an otherwise stressful exam season. 

#1 St. Louis Cathedral Concerts

New Orleans is a city known for its music, and the city does not disappoint during the holiday season. Every year, the St. Louis Cathedral offers a series of free concerts consisting of both nationally known and local musicians, church choirs and singers in the genres of jazz, classical, gospel and pop. The concerts generally run from 6-7 p.m. and occur on any given day of the week, so be sure to check out the schedule and listen to the finest music the city has to offer. 

#2 Krewe of Krampus

Based on an ancient Alpine tradition called Krampusnacht, the Krewe of Krampus brings demons and mischief to the Bywater on the corner Royal and Lesseps Streets. All sorts of characters with horns and fur and tails will be giving out exciting throws, such as coal and ornaments. Krampus comes to town on Dec. 7 at 7 p.m., and you won’t want to miss him.

#3 Lights at Luna Fete

Put on by the Arts Council of New Orleans, this free festival of lights is an educational opportunity for many local artists. The large-scale installation presents some of the top artists in the world while training local artists to improve their capabilities. The installations bathe the city in dazzling and colorful LED lights for an experience of a lifetime. 

#4 Krewe of Jingle

The more cheerful counterpart to Krewe of Krampus is the Krewe of Jingle, a kick-off to the holidays that makes its way down Canal Street on Saturday, Dec. 7 at 1 p.m. The family-friendly event has a more classic Christmas feel with special guests the Gingerbread Man, Frosty the Snowman, and Mr. and Mrs. Claus. Come dressed in your best holiday costume to get a taste of Mardi Gras before the season starts. 

#5 Caroling in Jackson Square

A New Orleans twist on a classic holiday tradition occurs on Sunday, Dec. 22, at 7 p.m. Whether you want to participate in the singing or simply watch, everyone is welcome to join in the merriment of music and classic Christmas carols. 

#6 Celebration in the Oaks

Open Nov. 29 through Jan. 1 for the 33rd year in a row is the iconic holiday lights festival in City Park. With over one million lights, the famous oak trees in the park are decorated with gorgeous light displays throughout the 25 acres. Tickets start at $10 a person not including the Botanical Garden, Storyland, and Carousel Gardens Amusement Park.

#7 Polar Express Train Ride 

When you step onto the train at New Orleans Union Passenger Terminal, you are transported inside the classic Christmas movie The Polar Express. The one-hour train ride includes hot cocoa and cookies served by dancing chefs and a read-along to the classic book by Chris Van Allsburg. Every passenger receives a silver bell as a gift from Santa and his helpers as a keepsake of the magical trip.

#8 Holiday Movies on the Mississippi

Everybody loves a good holiday movie, and there is no better place to watch “The Grinch” or “Elf” than on the Spanish Plaza downtown for a nice outdoor movie screening. Enjoy the movies on the three Fridays leading up to Christmas at 6:30 p.m. while eating a hot beignet from Cafe Du Monde Riverwalk.