With the arrival of Thanksgiving, the holidays are officially here. New Orleans and the metro area are alight with traditions to make the holidays feel more meaningful and create family memories.
Among the brightest: Celebration in the Oaks, light shows in Lafreniere Park in Metairie, the brilliance of Luna Fete, and the Algiers bonfire.
And do you hear what we hear? Handel's Messiah is back, concerts are lined up and for even more audience participation, caroling returns to Jackson Square. Read on for our big list of festive fun that runs through the end of the year.
CELEBRATION IN THE OAKS:?City Park’s annual lights festival opens Nov. 23 and runs through Dec. 30 for walking and driving tours. Tickets start at $5 for bikes, $35 for walkers and $40 for cars. Sunday through Thursday hours are 6 p.m. to 10 p.m. Friday and Saturday hours are 5 p.m. to 11 p.m. The driving tour entrance is 4 Friederichs Ave., and the walking tour entrance is 7 Victory Ave. This year, the driving tour visitors can pay $40 extra for the "Dasher Pass" to skip the line.?celebrationintheoaks.com?
CHRISTMAS AT LAFRENIERE PARK: The annual family-friendly light show and decorations will run Dec. 1-30 at the park, 3000 Downs Blvd. in Metairie. Hours for Sunday-Thursday are 5:30 p.m. to 9 p.m. and for Friday-Saturday are 5:30 p.m. to 10 p.m. Admission is $10 per vehicle. lafrenierepark.org
KENNER’S MAGICAL CHRISTMAS VILLAGE:?The lights display will run Dec. 1-23, 5:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m., at Heritage Park, 2015 Fourth St., in Kenner. Vendors and entertainment, music, food, arts, crafts and an appearance from Santa Claus will be available every Friday and Saturday.?www.kenner.la.us/
CHILDREN’S HOSPITAL HOLIDAY PARADE: The parade will be held Dec. 2, starting at 11 a.m., from the French Market with an extended route through downtown. It will feature 30 holiday-themed floats, helium balloons, more than a dozen dancing groups and marching bands, and will end with a post-parade concert in Lafayette Square. nolaholidayparade.com
KRAMPUS NOLAUF: The Krewe of Krampus presents its haunting holiday parade full of Alpine spirits, Swampus, the Krampus Horns and more. In Bywater, starting at Royal Street and France, Dec. 2 at 7:30 p.m. Visit kreweofkrampus.com for details.
THE AMAZING ACRO-CATS:?The troupe of former rescue and stray cats will present their "Meowy Catmas" special at the AllWays Lounge & Cabaret, 2240 St. Claude Ave. in New Orleans, from Nov. 30 to Dec. 17, with shows at 7 p.m. The performers, trained by Samantha Martin, will jump through wreaths, roll ornaments, push sleighs and perform an array of seasonal tricks.?Tickets start at $40.?www.rockcatsrescue.org.
LUNA FETE: The holiday show with light-based artworks will spread across 7.5 acres of the new Convention Center Pedestrian Park and into Mississippi River Heritage Park, Dec. 7-10, 6 p.m. to 10 p.m. An arts market and other glowing features will be available nightly at the Ernest N. Morial Convention Center, 900 Convention Center Blvd. in New Orleans. Free. www.lunafete.com
ALGIERS BONFIRE:?New Orleans’ only holiday bonfire will be Dec. 2, 4:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m., at the Algiers Batture, 200 Morgan St., in New Orleans. The event includes live music, food from local vendors and a holiday craft market. Performers include Kermit Ruffins, the New Orleans Maritime and Military Academy Marching Band, Shades of Praise Choir and DJ FTX. Free.?algierseconomic.com
CHANUKAH MENORAH LIGHTING: The event celebrating the first night of Chanukah with the lighting of a giant menorah will take place Dec. 7, 5:30 p.m., at the Riverwalk Outlets at Spanish Plaza, 2 Poydras St., in New Orleans, in partnership with Chabad-Lubavitch of Louisiana. The free event will feature live traditional Jewish music, kosher cuisine, latkes, Chanukah gelt (chocolate candy), dreidels and crafts. www.neworleans.com?
CAROLING IN JACKSON SQUARE: The free community sing-along gathers thousands of people for the tradition of holiday singing, with carols led by local dignitaries and clergy. Gates at 6:30 p.m. Dec. 17, singing from 7 p.m. to 8 p.m. Sponsor Patio Planters will have volunteers on hand to distribute free songbooks songbooks and candles. Download songbook at patioplanters.net.
LOS ISLENOS CHRISTMAS AND BONFIRE:?Los Isle?os Fiesta will host a holiday event on Dec. 2, 4 p.m. to 7:30 p.m., 1357 Bayou Road, St. Bernard. Local schools will perform Christmas songs, followed by the bonfire.?www.losislenos.org.
FRENCH QUARTER HOME & COURTYARD TOUR: The 2023 tour, to be held Dec. 2, 1:30 p.m. to 4:30 p.m., includes homes and courtyard decorated for the holidays, and with docents explaining the history and features of each home. Tour begins at 826 St. Ann St. in New Orleans. Tickets $35. springfiestanola.com.
RINGING IN THE ARTS 2023:?The outdoor evening of fine art and entertainment in downtown historic Gretna will be held Dec. 2, 5 p.m. to 9 p.m., at Gretna Market Place, 300 Huey P. Long Ave. Free. Wine/champagne will be for sale in “bottomless” wine glasses.?www.ringinginthearts.com.
CHRISTMAS IN THE PARK:?The event will include live music, food, crafts and games, Santa, a fun run and the lighting of the oaks?in Monsanto Park, 13201 River Road in Luling, on Dec. 2, noon to 6 p.m. Free; registration for the 5 p.m. run is $15 per adult, $10 teens and kids, with under 5 free. www.pmbusinessandarts.org.
LUNA FETE WEST: RIVER CONNECTIONS:?The free, outdoor interactive light installation at City Hall, 740 2nd St. in Gretna, Dec. 7-10 with shows at 6, 7, 8 and 9 p.m. The Gretna Amphitheater water-based projection will feature Lantern Puppets on Parade at 6:30, 7:30 and 8:30 p.m. at 1st and Huey P. Long Ave. in Gretna. (504) 363-1500.
LIGHTS ON THE LAKE: Pontchartrain Conservancy's family-friendly celebration will be Dec. 9, 5 p.m. to 8 p.m., at the New Canal Lighthouse, 8001 Lakeshore Drive in New Orleans. The West End Boat Parade is scheduled for 5:30 p.m. to 7:15 p.m. The event will include hands-on activities for the kids, food trucks, stilt walkers, choirs and dancing performances. Admission is $10 (free for children 5 and under). scienceforourcoast.org/events.
PRC HOME TOUR:?The Preservation Resource Center’s self-guided walking tour of several homes in the historic Garden District and Lower Garden District of New Orleans will be Dec. 9-10. Festivities also include live musical performances, a holiday boutique and more. Tickets start at $40.?prcno.org.
HARAHAN CHRISTMAS PARADE: The annual event starts at noon Dec. 9 at the intersection of Hord Street and Jefferson Highway, proceeding in the westbound lanes of Jefferson Highway and disbanding at Folse Street.
HOLIDAY TEA PARTY: The annual party at the Historic BK House & Gardens, 1113 Chartres St. in New Orleans, will be held Dec. 9, 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. Families are invited to have snacks, storytelling, holiday crafts and a visit from a surprise guest. Tickets start at $15 via Eventbrite. www.bkhouse.org.
CHALLAH DAY PARTY: A night of celebration and connection, sponsored by the Jewish Federation, for adults 21-39 in the Jewish community, will be Dec. 9, 7 p.m., at 1133 Margaret Place in New Orleans. The event will include a DJ and dancing, open bar and Chanukah noshes (kosher options available). Tickets start at $18. jewishnola.com/ChallahDay.
RUNNING OF THE SANTAS: The holiday soiree will take place Dec. 9, starting with holiday food and specialty drinks from 2 to 6 p.m. at the “South Pole,” located at Manning’s, 519 Fulton St. in New Orleans. The city’s largest holiday costume contest will take place there at 5 p.m., followed at 5:45 p.m. by the crowd of Santas running the five-block fun run to the “North Pole,” Generations Hall, 310 Andrew Higgins Drive. Tickets start at $30. A portion of the proceeds benefits That Others May Live Foundation. facebook.com/runningsantas.
CHRISTMAS IN LAFRENIERE PARK RUN/WALK: The Crescent City Classic will hold a holiday two-mile run/walk on Dec. 9, 4 p.m., at Lafreniere Park, 3000 Downs Blvd. in Metairie. The course goes through the annual lights display. The event includes hot cocoa, visits with Santa and holiday costume contests. Participants get complimentary entry into both the Christmas in the Park Lights Driving Tour and the Walking Tour before gates open to the public. General registration is $35, $30 until Dec. 2. Children 3-10 are $5 off, and 2 and under are free. runsignup.com.
ALGIERS POINT CAROLING SINGALONG: The community musical event will be held at Holy Name of Mary Church, 400 Verret St. in Algiers, on Dec. 13, 6 p.m. to 7 p.m. (504) 812-8151.
BAD SANTA CLAUDES HOLIDAY COSTUME PARTY: Hi-Ho Lounge hosts its annual holiday costume party, featuring performances by Hollyrock, Bakey's Brew, Whisper Party! and The Budz. The contest winner gets “a lump of coal, $100 and 2 tickets to next years Boba Fete.” Tickets are $15 in advance, $20 at the door. eventbrite.com.
NOLA CHRISTMAS FEST: The event including a gingerbread village, ice-skating rink, carnival rides and holiday entertainment will take place Dec. 21-30 at the Ernest N. Morial Convention Center, 900 Convention Center Blvd., in New Orleans. Timed entries are for 4.5-hour sessions. Tickets are $25 on weekdays and $30 on Saturday and Sunday. The festival is cashless; only credit cards will be accepted, including at concessions.?nolachristmasfest.com.
MUSIC & DANCE
BLIND BOYS OF ALABAMA: The world-renowned gospel quartet will present a concert of holiday classics on Dec. 1, 7:30 p.m., at the Jefferson Performing Arts Center, 6400 Airline Drive, in Metairie. Tickets start at $38.?www.visitjeffersonparish.com.
THE BIG EASY BOYS: The throwback vocal quartet, accompanied by the Big Easy Band, a live seven-piece New Orleans brass band, and The Big Easy Babes, will present a concert Dec. 1 at the Gretna Cultural Center for the Arts, 740 Fourth St., in Gretna. Doors open at 7 p.m., and the show starts at 8 p.m. Tickets start at $55 via Eventbrite. www.visitjeffersonparish.com.
WILL STELLA STEAL THE SHOW?: The Crescent City Sound Chorus presents its Christmas show Dec. 2, 4 p.m., at the UNO Performing Arts Center Recital Hall on campus, 2000 Lakeshore Drive, in New Orleans. Tickets are $20 for adults, $10 for children 12 and younger.? crescentcitysoundchorus.
HOLIDAY SPECTACULAR: The Louisiana Philharmonic Orchestra plays holiday tunes, including music from "Home Alone," “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas” and “Hanukkah Festival Overture,” Dec. 2, 7:30 p.m., at the Orpheum Theater, 129 Roosevelt Way, in New Orleans. Tickets start at $28.?lpomusic.com.
CAROLING IN THE CHAPEL: The?Crescent City Sound Chorus will be joined by the?Ursuline choirs and orchestra for an afternoon of caroling on Dec. 3, 3 p.m., at the National Shrine of Our Lady of Prompt Succor, Ursuline Academy, 2701 State St., in New Orleans. www.shrineolps.com.
"THE NUTCRACKER SUITE":?The New Orleans Ballet Association’s production of Tchaikovsky’s holiday ballet will be performed Dec. 3 at 3 p.m. and 6 p.m. at Tulane University’s Dixon Hall, Newcomb Circle, 6823 St Charles Ave., in New Orleans. Tickets are $15.?nobadance.com.
A VERY VAPPIE HOLIDAY: The New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Foundation will present a concert with Don Vappie on Dec. 8, 8 p.m., at the George and Joyce Wein Jazz & Heritage Center, 1225 N Rampart St., in New Orleans. Tickets are $10 via Eventbrite. www.jazzandheritage.org.
MARINE FORCES RESERVE BAND: The free concert, to be held Dec. 9, 5:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m., at Jefferson Performing Arts Center, 6400 Airline Drive, in Metairie, includes arts and crafts and kids’ activities, caroling, a tree lighting ceremony and an appearance by Santa. Reservations suggested. https://ci.ovationtix.com/35874/performance/11388689?performanceId=11388689.
CLASSICAL CHRISTMAS: HANDEL’S MESSIAH: The Louisiana Philharmonic Orchestra will present the holiday classic, as well as Vivaldi’s “Gloria,” on Dec. 8, 7:30 p.m., at the Orpheum Theater, 129 Roosevelt Way in New Orleans. Soloists include Joel Dyson, soprano; Claire Shackleton, mezzo-soprano; Chauncey Packer, tenor; and Ivan Griffin, bass. Tickets are $28. lpomusic.com.
DANNY O’FLAHERTY’S CELTIC CHRISTMAS: The yuletide customs that evolved over the centuries in Ireland, Wales, Scotland, Cornwall, Brittany, Galicia and the Isle of Man will be highlighted in concert, with singers, bagpipes and Irish dancers, on Dec. 10, 2 p.m., at the Jefferson Performing Arts Center, 6400 Airline Drive in Metairie. Tickets start at $25. www.jeffersonpac.com.
THE MAGIC OF CHRISTMAS: The Tim Laughlin trio, featuring Yolanda Robinson, will perform a concert Dec. 10, 6 p.m., at the Historic BK House & Gardens, 1113 Chartres St. in New Orleans. Light refreshments will be served, but guests are encouraged to bring beverages of choice, openers and extra cups. Tickets start at $30 via Eventbrite. www.bkhouse.org.
CHRISTMAS CONCERT: The Jefferson Community Band will present a holiday concert Dec. 11, at 7 p.m., at First English Lutheran Church, 3701 Cleary Ave. in Metairie. Tickets are $10; free 12 and under. Proceeds will benefit the Greater New Orleans Therapeutic Riding Center. www.jeffersoncommunityband.org.
“PEACE ON EARTH” CHRISTMAS CONCERT: Our Lady of Prompt Succor Church will host a seasonal concert under the direction of Gregory Lambousy on Dec. 15, 6:30 p.m., at the church 146 4th St. in Westwego. Free.?olpsw.org.
"THE NUTCRACKER": The Jefferson Performing Arts Society production of the classic holiday ballet will be performed Dec. 16-17, 2 p.m., at the Jefferson Performing Arts Center, 6400 Airline Drive, in Metairie. Tickets start at $23. www.jeffersonpac.com.
LOUISIANA CHRISTMAS DAY:?The Victory Belles celebrate Christmas, Louisiana style, with holiday tunes and a buffet luncheon at BB’s Stage Door Canteen in The National WWII Museum, 1023 Magazine St., in New Orleans, Dec. 1-22. Matinee luncheons run Tuesdays through Fridays and Sundays, with an 11:45 a.m. seating and 12:45 p.m. showtime. Tickets are $60, $57 for members.?nationalww2museum.org.
COVENANT HOUSE LUNCHEON:?St. Rita Cascia Catholic Church in Harahan and the Knights of Columbus Marquette Council are seeking donations of prepared items for the annual Christmas Day luncheon for teens at Covenant House New Orleans. The luncheon serves approximately 180 residents of the house, which provides safe, stable housing to homeless and many trafficked teens, as well as to their young children. Those interested in donating should call or text Eddie Rafidi at (504) 382-0389 or Kelley Rafidi at (504) 382-7651.
CREOLE HOLIDAY TRADITIONS:?Two historic houses are offering special tours through Jan. 10. At the Hermann-Grima House, 820 St. Louis St. in New Orleans, local 19th-century?methods of holiday decorating and culinary traditions will be the focus. Tours of the Gallier House, home of famous New Orleans architect James Gallier Jr., will show the home as it would have looked for Christmas in the mid-19th century. Guests will learn about Christmas customs of the day including holiday décor, religious traditions, reveillon dinners and the experience of enslaved men and women. Gallier House is located at 1132 Royal St. in New Orleans.?Tickets for each tour start at $14.?hgghh.org.
TEDDY BEAR TEA:?The teas are Nov. 26 through Dec. 27 at the Roosevelt Hotel, 130 Roosevelt Way, in New Orleans. Featuring savory snacks, specialty teas and hot chocolate, pastries, plus sparkling wine and mimosas for adults, the event includes Mrs. Claus telling holiday stories and a more. Photos with Santa for a fee. Tickets start at $72.?https://www.showclix.com/event/tbt23.
PHOTOS WITH SANTA:?Santa Claus will be available for photo ops with children in the Lakeside Shopping Center's center court daily through Dec. 24, 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday-Saturday, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Sunday. See Lakeside's?website for package prices or to book an appointment. Meanwhile in Gentilly, Santa is holding three chances for kids to get their pictures this year. He’ll be at Backatown Nola on Basin Street on Dec. 17 from 3 p.m. to 6 p.m and at Emline Store on Dec. 21 from 4 p.m. and 7 p.m. and again on Dec. 23 from 2 p.m. and 5 p.m. Appointments must be booked in advance. Check @gentillysanta for information, added dates and to book a photo.
HOLIDAY DRIVE-IN MOVIE:?"The Muppet Christmas Carol" and "The Santa Clause" will be shown at the Shell Theatre at the Lafon Arts Center, 275 Judge Edward Dufresne Parkway in Luling, on Dec. 9, starting at 4 p.m. Tickets are $30 per car. lafonartscenter.org/tickets/
MOVIES UNDER THE STARS: Free family holiday movies will be shown outside on Spanish Plaza, 2 Canal St. in New Orleans. Dec. 9 is "Elf"; Dec. 16 is "The Polar Express." Showtime is 5:30 p.m. www.riverwalkneworleans.com
MOVIES WITH SANTA: Every Saturday through Christmas the Prytania Theaters at Canal Place will be showing holiday movies. Tickets include the movie, popcorn and a cold drink. Check theprytania.com for more information. Movies and dates are as follows: Dec. 2, "Jack Frost"; Dec. 9, "Elf"; Dec. 16, "Polar Express"; Dec. 23, "How the Grinch Stole Christmas."
SANTA PAWS & PRINTS: Pet photos with Santa will be available at Port Orleans Brewing Company, 4124 Tchoupitoulas in New Orleans, Dec. 2, noon to 4 p.m. Pet photos with Santa Claus are a $10 donation (humans welcome too). A portion of every pint will go to Animal Rescue New Orleans (ARNO). portorleansbrewingco.com.
COCKTAILS & CANDY CANES: A holiday event benefiting the Special Olympics of St. Charles will be held Dec. 9, 6 p.m. to 9 p.m., at Grand Ridge Country Club, 500 Willowdale Blvd. in Luling. It will include a silent auction, live music, food and cocktails. Tickets are $50 via Eventbrite.
HOME FOR THE HOLIDAYS: The annual music and art event benefiting the Daniel Price Memorial Fund for Aspiring Artists will be held Dec. 20, 6:30 p.m. to midnight, at the New Orleans House of Blues, located at 225 Decatur St. in New Orleans. It will feature performances by Irma Thomas, John Boutte, Kermit Ruffins, Preservation Hall Jazz Band, Ivan Neville, Stanton Moore, and more. Tickets start at $79.50. NOCCAFoundation.org/holiday HouseOfBlues.com/neworleans
TURN UP THE LIGHTS
THE ROOSEVELT LOBBY LIGHTING: The Roosevelt, 130 Roosevelt Way in New Orleans, kicks off the holiday season on Nov. 28 with the traditional lighting of the Waldorf Wonderland, featuring more than 112,000 twinkling lights, 1,600 feet of garland and 4,000 ornaments in the hotel’s lobby.
PICNIC UNDER THE LIGHTS: Reservations are open for the Picnic Under the Lights Tent, 1035 Huey P. Long Avenue in Gretna. Spots are available Dec. 1-17, 6 p.m. to 10 p.m. Thursdays-Sundays. Cost starts at $75. 504-363-1580
CHRISTKINDLMARKT: The market will be held Dec. 1-3 at Deutsches Haus, 1700 Moss St. in New Orleans. Hours on Friday are 4-8 p.m., Saturday 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. and Sunday 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Experience a German Christmas with live music and Christmas lights in the evening, local and regional artists and crafters and German foods, desserts and Glühwein (mulled wine). Free.?deutscheshaus.org
MERRY MARKET: The outdoor marketplace will be held at Longue Vue House and Gardens, 7 Bamboo Road in New Orleans, on Dec. 2, 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. The event includes shopping with local vendors, crafts, music and photos with Santa. $10, $5 for members. longuevue.com
HOLLY JOLLY MARKET: The Junior League of New Orleans will host the sale on Dec. 7, 6 p.m. to 8 p.m., at the Academy of the Sacred Heart, 4521 St. Charles Ave. in New Orleans. www.jlno.org.