Christmas Tree Fulton Alley | Loews New Orleans
New Orleans

Welcome to the festive season, Big Easy style… As with most things, New Orleans has a decidedly unique way of celebrating the holidays. Here are some of the most interesting New Orleans holiday traditions, filled with history and fascinating backstories.

Commander's Palace | Loews New Orleans

@emilyelizabeth369

Réveillon Dinners

This French-Creole tradition dates back to the early 1800s, with deep roots in the Catholic faith. After fasting almost all day before Christmas Eve, families would dress in their fine attire and make their way to church to attend Midnight Mass. Returning to their homes after the service, they would proceed to prepare these lavish feasts to officially break the fast and celebrate the Christmas holiday. Oftentimes these meals would go on into the early morning, even until dawn.

By the 1940s, this tradition had begun to die out and had almost become extinct. It wasn’t until almost 50 years later it was brought back to life and reimagined with a modern twist. Restaurants throughout the city began to adapt the typical Réveillon menu adding their own unique touches and flavors. Today, practically every dining establishment in the Crescent City has their own pre-fixe Réveillon Dinner Menu for you to enjoy.

Here is a list of participating restaurants in the city!

Bonfires on the Levee | Loews New Orleans

@b.c.lorio

Bonfires on the Levee

As Santa Claus, or Papa Noel as the Cajuns call him, comes soaring over south Louisiana in his magical sleigh, he will be guided by the tall, flickering flames of the bonfires on the levee. All along the Mississippi River, predominantly in Gramercy, Lutcher & Paulina, Louisiana, pyramid-shaped log structures burn slow and bright, creating some 20–30-foot tall flames. Gatherers come from all over to participate in this beloved tradition, enjoy the live music, delicious food and the magnificent fireworks display (which comes after the bonfire lighting). Fire departments are standing by and vehicular traffic is highly restricted in the surrounding areas, so it’s a safe and particularly family-friendly event.

Here is a tour that’ll take you on a four-hour adventure where you can catch all the festivities!

Celebration in the Oaks

Every year, City Park is carefully adorned in hundreds of thousands of glittering lights for Celebration in the Oaks. Over 25 acres are covered with spectacular light displays all throughout the trees and around the grounds in all fun shapes and sizes, from alligators and rocking horses to leprechauns and St. Louis Cathedral! Ticket lines are long, especially on Saturdays, so be sure to purchase them ahead of time here.

Grab a hot cocoa and some popcorn from one the vendors inside and stroll at your own pace around the grounds of the Botanical Gardens (where the majority of the light show will be). Or if you want a different kind of experience, you can ride the train for $5 which will take you on a winding two-mile journey throughout City Park. And don’t forget Carousel Gardens, where you can get your thrill on 17 different carnival-style rides, perfect for the whole family.

Lizzie