Savor the Holidays, New Orleans Style!

October 27, 2014
In New Orleans, holiday traditions are as thick as roux. Exquisite sights, wonderful Creole food, long-treasured Creole traditions spiced with 21st-century fun, and jazz concerts abound. When Louis Armstrong put his gravelly vocals to smooth brass on the swinging 1955 recording of "Christmas in New Orleans," his voice was like New Orleans itself"... a unique blend of rough edges and refinement. Our well-worn and mightily loved Crescent City is decked out in lights, bows, and sparkle, ready for the season's pageantry. Snuggle up in a horse-drawn carriage or break out your walking shoes to enjoy the magic of the French Quarter draped in garland and twinkling lights. We want to share some of the traditions any New Orleanian worth his Sazerac wouldn't miss. Cue the music...'Cause it's Holiday time in New Orleans.

On November 20th, be sure to take advantage of unique shopping opportunities in the French Market District with six blocks of garland and holiday lights and stay for the French Market District Annual Tree Lighting of our 27-foot fleur de lis topped tree at 6pm. Kids activities, costumed characters, live music, and shopping specials will give opportunities to experience the French Market, and the season, in a new, wonderful way!

Come early for the Tree Lighting and catch the kickoff to the Holiday Shopping season! At 4 p.m. The French Quarter Business Association will host a preview party to its third annual Mistletoe Marketplace, at Washington Artillery Park, where they will have a pop-up shop and shopping bags filled with discounts and a shopping guide map to help you navigate one of the oldest shopping centers in the country! Continue the holiday shopping fun".... November 21st - 23rd Mistletoe Marketplace in the French Quarter will have shopping specials from 11am to 6pm and will give shoppers a jumpstart on their holiday shopping!

Try a Thanksgiving Day feast with a New Orleans twist! If laboring in the kitchen all day doesn't sound like your idea of a holiday, leave it to the professionals to prepare your Thanksgiving meal. For a real Thanksgiving adventure, try one of our city's famous Turduckens, a unique Cajun creation cooks a chicken inside of a duck inside of a turkey. Or try a deep-fried turkey! Leave yourself open for a wide variety of uniquely New Orleans-style stuffings - cornbread, Creole pork, oyster, shrimp, crawfish or a combination of them. And save some room for dessert because our bread pudding with rum sauce is the best you'll ever find anywhere!

For an all-American feast of turkey and all the trimmings, visit Restaurant R'evolution in the Royal Sonesta. When Louisiana's John Folse and Chicago's Rick Tramonto teamed up to create Cajun and Creole cuisine, they sought to re-imagine both styles of cooking and offer the results in the most upscale environment they could envision. You'll have no regrets and no dishes to wash! 300 Bourbon Street, (504) 553-2328.

The newest fine dining restaurant offering a sumptuous Thanksgiving feast is Richard Fiske's Martini Bar and Restaurant. Innovative Chef Nick Gile puts a fresh spin on New Orleans staples, aptly dubbed "Nouveau Creole." This upscale dining experience also offers live jazz every night and boasts the best martinis and craft cocktails in the French Quarter. Chateau LeMoyne, 301 Dauphine Street, (504) 586-0972 It started out as a simple football game between two rival historically black Universities. Now, 40 years later, it has morphed into The Bayou Classic with five days of events featuring a parade that goes to the French Market, seminars, a battle of the bands and more, all of which culminates with a "Bayou Clash" football matchup between the Tigers of Grambling State and the Jaguars of Southern University on November 29th at the Superdome.

Take a memorable and educational walk with the Friends of the Cabildo through the historic Vieux Carre, decked out for the holidays. Tours emphasizing the history, architecture, and folklore of this fascinating city are every day but Monday, 10am and 1:30pm. They host a Creole Christmas on December 27th and 28th, allowing guests to visit five French Quarter historic houses decorated in traditional Christmas decorations. Their 1850 House shows how the Creoles celebrated Christmas past in the antebellum era"... less extravagantly, but with a greater emphasis on Christmas' religious importance. Decorations include typical small gifts and trinkets that were given around a wax myrtle tree. " Other featured houses include Gallier House, Spring Fiesta House with refreshments, Historic New Orleans Collection's Williams Residence, and Beauregard-Keyes House. Self-guided tours begin at the 1850 House Museum Store at 523 St. Ann Street on Jackson Square from 10:00 am-4:00 pm. All of December, except Mondays and holidays. (504) 523-3939 or (800) 568-6968.

Enjoy the sounds of the season at historic Saint Louis Cathedral, the oldest continuously active Roman Catholic cathedral in the U.S., featuring a variety of New Orleans artists including well-known jazz, classical, and gospel musicians. Beloved holiday classics and Christmas favorites will be performed in one of the country's most beautiful and elegant landmark churches. Celebrate Christmas Midnight Mass at St. Louis Cathedral! November 20, December 1-4, 7-10, 14-17, 6pm-7pm, St. Louis Cathedral, Jackson Square; (504) 522-5730. Free and open to the public.

Hop on Gray Line's "Santa's Bus" for a three hour narrated tour to New Orleans' City Park for a Celebration in the Oaks Tour, City Park's 28th annual holiday lights festival, a family tradition. New Orleans' magnificent thirteen acre Botanical Garden and Amusement Park remains one of the most beautifully dazzling holiday light displays with magic aglow at every turn. Tours run from December 5th-22nd, and 26th-29th at 6pm on Monday, Wednesday, Friday and Saturday. Or, you can hop on the Bonfire Express on Christmas Eve and celebrate a time honored Louisiana tradition - the lighting of the "feux de joie" (fires of joy) on the banks of the Mississippi River! Stop by a plantation home for dinner on the way, or go straight to view the bonfires that light the way for Papa Noel, our Cajun Santa Claus, to bayou country. For many years this Cajun community has built mammoth wooden structures such as cabins, tepees, & riverboats along the Mississippi River levee. On Christmas Day, they also offer a city tour to Jingle through the Crescent City. Gray Line Lighthouse Ticket Office, Toulouse St. at the Mississippi River. (504) 569-1401.

Lasting holiday memories begin and end at one of the Crescent City's most cherished landmark hotels, the Royal Sonesta. On December 3rd at 6pm, their 9th annual Lighting of the Balconies celebration kicks off. With a ceremonial "flip of the switch," two young patients from Children's Hospital will experience the thrill of illuminating the hotel's elaborate wrought-iron balconies with thousands of twinkling lights. Each weekday at noon during December, school choirs from across the metro area spread holiday cheer with musical performances in the hotel's elaborately decorated lobby. Every weekend from December 13th through 22nd at 11am and 2:30pm, the Royal Sonesta will feature a New Orleans holiday tradition for the little Princes and Princesses in your life with their Royal Teddy Bear Tea. Their fantasies will come to life as they are crowned upon arrival and enjoy story time with Mrs. Claus, a sign-a-long with Rudolph, Frosty, the Sugar Plum Fairy, Marching Toy Soldiers, the Dancing Royal Teddy Bear and the Saintsations Cheerleading Team for the New Orleans Saints for an interactive holiday adventure for children of all ages! Santa himself will make a special appearance all the way from the North Pole! Photos with Santa, commemorative ornaments, and holiday libations are available. Each child is invited to "share the magic" of the giving season by donating a small, unwrapped gift for the Children's Hospital Toy Drop. Enjoy a Christmas Day Champagne Brunch with all the trimmings, or ring in 2015 in style with an exclusive New Year's Eve Blowout at Irvin Mayfield's Jazz Playhouse. Special Papa Noel Rates available. 300 Bourbon Street, (504) 553-2328.

Here's some fun for kids of all ages! Vince Vance will entertain for the second year with the family-friendly Kids Holiday Sing-Along & Dance Party at Deanie's Seafood Restaurant in the French Quarter. New Orleans' only live holiday music show for kids, this special holiday program will delight the little ones with an interactive sing-along; face painting, Oops the Clown, holiday crafts, and breakfast and photos with Santa. Four seatings: 9AM-11:30AM, Dec. 6-7,& Dec. 13-14, 841 Iberville St., (504) 581-1316

The Historic New Orleans Collection offers a Holiday Home and Courtyard Tour of the 1889 townhouse owned by founders General L. Kemper and Leila Williams. Filled with antiques and other objets d'art collected in their wide travels, the residence is festively adorned with the Williams' original decorations, including a beautiful Christmas tree with vintage ornaments and family photos; visitors will also learn about the family's unique holiday traditions. December 5th - January 4th, Tuesday-Saturday, 10am, 11am, 2pm, 3pm; Sunday, 11am, 2pm, 3pm (closed on Mondays.) The Historic New Orleans Collection, 533 Royal Street, (504) 523-4662.

On December 6th, bring the kids to the St. Nicholas Day Fair to meet old St. Nick and secondline with him around the French Market! Kids will experience interactive craft booths to make holiday puppets, ornaments, hats, plus experience a petting zoo, costumed characters, live music, and miniature golf! Dutch Alley, 10am-4pm. (504) 522-2621.

Experience the Historic 19th Century Holiday Decorations Exhibit and grandeur of the Hermann-Grima House at 820 St. Louis Street and the Victorian splendor of Gallier House at 1132 Royal Street, both decking their halls for an old-fashioned Creole Christmas. Guided tours of the completely restored houses offer a wealth of sights and smells that recall the rich traditions of New Orleans' past. Holiday cooking demonstrations in the 1830s open-hearth kitchen will be offered throughout December at the Hermann-Grima House. (504) 525-5661.

The Krewe of Jingle Parade will delight with authentic parade floats, marching bands, stilt walkers, Christmas characters and many more magical surprises on December 6th! The parade starts at 1pm from Lee Circle, goes down St. Charles Avenue then along Canal Street.

On December 13th at 1:30pm, children can bring a favorite doll to enjoy a Christmas tradition at the Beauregard-Keyes House with a sing-a-long, a story in the elegant ballroom, and see dolls "at tea" while their parents tour the house, then all guests have refreshments and meet Santa Claus by the old-fashioned Christmas tree. Any weekday, tour the Beauregard-Keyes House in Victorian holiday trim, dressed in greenery, velvet ribbons and lace. Hourly tours include the 1826 House, Frances Parkinson Keyes' doll collections, folk costumes, and fans. 10am-3pm. 1113 Chartres Street (504) 523-7257.

As a prelude to caroling on Jackson Square, savor the holiday spirit on December 21st as Patio Planters of the Vieux Carre presents a self-guided Holiday Home Tour of French Quarter residences and historic homes dressed for the season. The tour includes interesting architectural styles and home furnishings as well as a variety of collections of Christmas decorations. 1:00 and 4:00 p.m. Tickets are available for purchase at Creole Delicacies, 533 St. Ann Street and at French Quarter Gem & Lapidary, 527 St. Philip Street. (888) 756-6250.

Also on December 21st, join in a truly moving annual tradition of Caroling in Jackson Square with candlelit faces and song-lit spirits as high as the spires of the St. Louis Cathedral. Candles and song sheets are distributed, flames are passed from person to person until the whole square is aglow, and voices carol into the evening with all manner of "Fa La La." Gates open at 6:30 with caroling at 7pm., (504)220-8300.

New Orleans counts down to the New Year in Jackson Square during one of the nation's largest street parties! Gather in the French Quarter for live music, the fleur di lis drop from Jax Brewery (New Orleans version of the ball) and a fireworks display on the River to usher in the New Year! Ring in 2015 in style with an exclusive New Year's Eve Blowout at Irvin Mayfield's Jazz Playhouse in the Royal Sonesta. 300 Bourbon Street, (504) 553-2328.

Midnight on the last authentic steamboat on the Mississippi River is unforgettable! At the New Year's Eve Gala on the Steamboat Natchez, you will revel in delicious holiday foods, good friends, party favors, a popular dance band, and luscious libations. Enjoy the most unique view of New Orleans and the best seat in town for the river-launched fireworks. Departs from Toulouse Street at the River at 10pm. (504) 569-1401.

On January 1st, the 2015 Sugar Bowl college football semifinals bowl game will be played at the Superdome. This 81st Sugar Bowl game will match two of the top four teams selected by the selection committee to compete for a spot at the College Football Playoff Championship Game in Arlington, Texas.

This 7th annual Joan of Arc Parade is always held on Joan of Arc's birthday, January 6, or Twelfth Night. The Krewe de Jeanne d'Arc includes approximately 150 members of all ages dressed in medieval clothing handing out thematic handmade favors, accompanied by large-scale puppets, music, knights, royalty, peasants, angels, and Joans of Arc on horseback. 6pm, route details at

Warm wishes to you and yours as we celebrate the holidays, New Orleans style!