The holiday season in New Orleans and its surrounding areas returns for some much-needed cheer in the form of festive light shows.
One of the region’s popular light shows, Celebration in the Oaks, brings back its driving tour to New Orleans City Park and other new features.
This year, the holiday event will curate a “choose-your-own” approach with options to choose a driving tour, Carousel Gardens Experience or a combination of both.
For the first time, Celebration in the Oaks will also offer Bike Nights as a new way to access the event. Other new features include an outdoor bar and an upgraded festive train experience.
City Park’s storied event isn’t the only place to see breathtaking displays. Other holiday events announced their return for 2021, including the annual Holiday of Lights in St. Tammany and Christmas in the Park in Jefferson Parish.
All of these amazing displays will hopefully offer festive ways to help you create holiday memories with loved ones during our new normal.
We compiled a list of spots to see holiday lights in 2021 around the New Orleans area. Check back for updates as more events are announced.
Starting Nov. 23
Canal Street comes to life this holiday season when the Downtown Development District flips the switch on more than one million twinkling lights and Christmas trees at Canal Place and the Riverwalk. The official lighting ceremony happens at 5:30 p.m. on Nov. 23. It makes a great place to take photos and soak up the holiday spirit with loved ones.
Celebration in the Oaks
Nov. 25 – Jan. 2 (closed on Dec. 24 and Dec. 31.)
Celebration in the Oaks, the big holiday lights event at City Park, brings back its driving tour, along with some new features this year. The event runs from Nov. 25 to Jan. 2 (closed on Dec. 24 and Dec. 31).
Along with the return of the driving tour, Carousel Gardens Amusement Park reopens for an expanded experience with access to its popular attractions and a walking tour.
This year, the event will also include three brand new features: an outdoor bar in the Botanical Garden, a festive train experience with on-board entertainment and Bike Nights every Monday, New Orleans City Park officials announced.
During the 2.25-mile driving tour, visitors will see City Park’s giant live oaks covered in more than a million twinkling lights and those breathtaking light displays scattered throughout the park.
All tickets for the event must be purchased online in advance. For more information or to purchase Celebration in the Oaks tickets, visit the website.
Light Up the Huey
Starting Nov. 26
On the West Bank, historic Gretna gets dressed for the holidays.
Starting Nov. 26, holiday lights will wrap the trees along Huey P. Long Avenue from 10th Street to the river.
Annual Menorah Lighting at Riverwalk
Chabad-Lubavitch of Louisiana will celebrate their Annual Grand Menorah Lighting at Riverwalk’s Spanish Plaza on Nov. 28.
Guests are invited to enjoy traditional Jewish music, a hot latke bar, kosher food, crafts, and more for the whole family. Members of the community will light the 11 ft wooden Menorah first built by Isak Borenstein, a Polish holocaust survivor who later moved to New Orleans, in honor of the beginning of Chanukah. The event runs from 4:30 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. The lighting begins at 5:30 p.m.
Starting Nov. 30
Each holiday season, the Roosevelt New Orleans pulls out all the stops to transform its hotel lobby into the spectacular Waldorf Wonderland for visitors to enjoy.
This year, the Roosevelt Hotel taps philanthropist and owner of the New Orleans Saints and Pelicans Gayle Benson for the lighting of the Waldorf Wonderland in the hotel’s lobby on Nov. 30.
As Roosevelt’s 2021 honorary lobby lighter, Benson will flip the switch on more than 112,000 twinkling lights, 1,600 feet of garland and 4,000 glass ornaments adorning The Roosevelt’s block-long, grand lobby.
The long-awaited, New Orleans holiday tradition returns each November to celebrate the launch of the holiday season. Following the lobby lighting, the Roosevelt New Orleans opens its breathtaking lobby for visitors to partake in the beauty and spirit of the season.
A tradition since the 1930s, the scores of festively dressed Christmas trees serve as the perfect family photo-op. The gorgeous display tells a spirited story, showcasing the best of New Orleans and the holidays through a classic theme designed to wow crowds each year.
Christmas in the Park
Dec. 3 – Dec. 30
The annual holiday exhibit at Lafreniere Park sparkles with thousands of twinkling LED lights from Dec. 3 to Dec. 30.
Elaborate decorations, artificial snow and festive lighted displays illuminate Lafreniere Park, including themes such as Star Wars, Marvel, D.C Comics, Minions, Disney Princesses, a pirate ship and others.
At Santa’s Express Mail Center, children are able to view Santa’s elves building toys for all the good little girls and boys. Attendees can also enjoy an interactive walking tour set to random scenes from their favorite holiday classics.
Admission is $10 per vehicle. All vehicles must enter the park from the West Napoleon Avenue access gate and exit at Down Boulevard. Upon entering the park, traffic will flow counter-clockwise around the park. Driving and walking tours through the exhibit run Sunday to Thursday from 5:30 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. and Friday to Saturday from 5:30 p.m. to 10:30 p.m.
Lafreniere Park will close on Christmas Day and reopen on Sunday, Dec. 26.
22nd Annual Holiday of Lights in St. Tammany
Weekends from Dec. 3 to Dec. 19, Dec. 24-25
The annual Holiday of Lights on Koop Drive in Mandeville returns for its 22nd year, kicking off on Dec. 3. Typically featuring entertainment from local schools and area performance groups, due to COVID-19 concerns, a modified version will go forward this Christmas season as a drive-thru-only event.
The drive-thru Holiday of Lights display runs Fridays through Sundays from 5 p.m. until 8:30 p.m. from Dec. 3 to Dec. 19, and on Christmas Eve and Christmas night.
Guests should plan to drive into the Parish Administrative Complex, at 21490 Koop Drive in Mandeville, and follow the directional signs, where they will be guided through the light display for sightseeing from the comfort and safety of their vehicles.
After last year’s inaugural success, Greenway Supernova returns to the Lafitte Greenway from Dec. 9 to Dec. 11.
Supernova is a free, outdoor light-based art exhibit and community celebration featuring striking light installations.
Supernova will celebrate a dozen luminary artworks by artists such as Monique Lorden, William Nemitoff and the Virtual Krewe of Vaporwave.
Lights on the Lake Celebration and Boat Parade
Pontchartrain Conservancy hosts its eighth annual Lights on the Lake Celebration & Boat Parade from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. on Dec. 11 at the New Canal Lighthouse. This year’s holiday boat parade will feature music, delicious food from local food trucks and refreshments. There will also be kids craft and educational activities and pictures with Santa!
Slidell’s Bayou Christmas
Slidell’s Bayou Christmas is a yearly fundraiser for the Boys and Girls Clubs of Metro Louisiana. The merry holiday festival happens at Heritage Park from Dec. 16 to Dec. 23.
This event features free photos with Santa Claus, daily entertainment, light displays, food and beverage, holiday decorations and a narrated Nativity display. Admission is free to the public.
Christmas on Front Street
Dec. 1 – Jan. 1
Olde Towne Slidell gets dressed for the holidays with a dazzling display of holiday lights all along Front Street.
Last year, Keep Slidell Beautiful and the City of Slidell partnered with local organizations and businesses to form the Christmas on Front Street Initiative, intending to spread some Christmas cheer for the holiday season.
The drive-by, LED light display can be seen along Front Street from West Hall to Erlanger Ave., on view from Dec. 1 through Jan. 1. The light displays will turn on automatically when street lights turn on.
“Many of us remember the light displays that were around Slidell before Hurricane Katrina,” Trey Brownfield, executive director of Keep Slidell Beautiful, said. “Mayor Cromer, the City of Slidell, Keep Slidell Beautiful and the Rotary Clubs of Slidell are working together with many other businesses and organizations to light up Front Street. This project is much needed in our community especially during these trying times. We want this to be a new Christmas tradition in Slidell.”
Christmas Under the Stars
Slidell gets decked out for the holiday season with its annual holiday celebration Christmas Under the Stars.
The 33rd annual Christmas Under the Stars features twinkling lights, festive decorations, life-size Christmas Cottages and other family fun at Griffith Park in Slidell. The 2021 holiday celebration runs four nights, Dec. 3, 4, 10 and 11, from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. each evening. Admission to all displays and activities is free.
Dec. 16 -19
LUNA Fête, the Arts Council New Orleans’ free light-art festival, returns with a fresh take at a new location.
Now in its eighth year, light-based artworks by artists and scientists exploring the wonders of the natural world will be spread across 7.5 acres of the new Convention Center Pedestrian Park for visitors to safely enjoy via social distancing. A nightly arts market, delicious food, drinks, and other glowing features will be available to enjoy each night.
The event runs nightly from 6 p.m. to 10 p.m. from Dec. 16 to Dec. 19.
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