New Orleans, LA > All activities
01/20/2020 ~ 01/26/2020

Is December a Good Time to Visit New Orleans (ANSWERED)

Suzanne Bratton

Is December a Good Time to Visit New Orleans (ANSWERED)

New Orleans, Louisiana, is more than just Mardi Gras madness on Bourbon Street! This unique and eclectic city is full of life, culture, and history far beyond beads and booze, making it a top vacation destination year-round.

Is December a good time to visit New Orleans, you ask? The short answer is yes. Spending the holidays in New Orleans adds the perfect amount of festive flare to any winter plans! Keep reading and learn what December in New Orleans has to offer, and make the most of the holiday season!

Table of Contents

  • December in the South
  • Stroll the Streets and Shop Boutiques
  • Eat, Drink, and be Merry
    • Food Tours
    • Pub Crawls
  • Seasonal Shenanigans
    • Warm Up by the Bonfire
    • Holiday Parades
    • Holiday Lights
  • Enjoy a Live Event
    • Sports
    • Concerts
      • St. Louis Cathedral Concert Series
      • Carolers in Jackson Square
  • Celebrate the City and Enjoy the Top Things to Do
    • Visit the Audubon Zoo
    • See the Mighty Mississippi
    • Holiday Haunts
      • Ghost Tours
      • Carriage Rides & Tours
  • Kick off the New Year
  • Is December a Good Time to Visit New Orleans?

 


 

December in the South

 

decorations in new orleans in december

When spending the holidays in New Orleans, you may see beads instead of icicles lining the streets. “Christmas in New Orleans” by HarshLight via Flickr

 

December in the South doesn’t yield your typical winter wonderland with ski lodges and snowball fights, but is uniquely its own, specifically New Orleans. From bonfires built to light the way for Papa Noel, to illuminating holiday lights like you’ve never seen, NOLA makes up for the lack of snow in its own, interesting, New Orleans fashion.

Besides the abundance of holiday fun to be had, winter temperatures in New Orleans are fairly mild, with an average high of 65 and low of 46. This means you can still get out and explore without having to drag your feet in giant snow boots. With perfect sweater weather and incredible things to do, spending December in New Orleans is a great way to create memories with your favorite people that will last a lifetime!

 

Stroll the Streets and Shop Boutiques

 

shopping in new orleans in december

December in New Orleans is the perfect time to check out the city's world-famous shopping

 

Shopping in New Orleans is a unique experience, as the culture and flavor of the city is exemplified through the different shops and galleries. With quirky and original art, vintage vinyl and antiques, voodoo shops, and so much more, you never know what little treasure you’ll end up bringing home!

Below are a few great places for unique finds when shopping in New Orleans:

  • French Market
  • Magazine Street
  • French Quarter Voodoo Shops
  • Mardi Gras Costume, Bead, and Mask Shops
  • Antique Shops
  • Music and Vinyl Stores
  • Bookstores
  • Art Galleries
  • Farmers' Markets

Another great thing about shopping in New Orleans in December is that the weather is perfect for window shopping in the French Quarter, which is a great place to find most of the shops listed above. If you’re looking for something more mainstream, New Orleans has that, as well.

Check out one of these shopping centers for popular name-brand stores:

  • The Shops at Canal Place
  • The Outlet Collection - Riverwalk New Orleans
  • Lakeside Shopping Center

 

Eat, Drink, and be Merry

 

beignets from cafe du monde in new orleans

Beignets from Café du Monde, pictured above, are a New Orleans delicacy and a must-try when in New Orleans in December and beyond! Image by Phil Roeder via Flickr

 

There’s no better way to get into the spirit of the holiday season than with some refreshing spirits and delicious eats, which New Orleans has plenty of! From Cajun classics like jambalaya and gumbo to fresh seafood and specialty cocktails, your tummy and your taste buds will be thankful you submerged yourself into the area’s rich food culture.

Food Tours

 

new orleans food tour

Pictured above is a tour group enjoying samples of New Orleans' finest on a delightful and delectable food tour

 

December in New Orleans is the perfect time to treat yourself to some mouth-watering cuisine! The food in NOLA is world-renown, and trying some of the city’s savory staples is a must. If you’re wanting to try it all, but your time is limited, then a New Orleans food tour is the perfect option for you!

Food tours allow you to taste and sample the best of New Orleans, and visit some of the restaurants that have been feeding the area for over 100 years! Why limit yourself to one meal at one restaurant, when you can explore the city and taste multiple area dishes at once? Check out a few of the crowd-pleasing restaurants you may visit during a food tour in NOLA:

  • Antoine’s
  • Brennan’s
  • Tujague’s

Use the "Book Now" button below and taste New Orleans on a delicious food tour:

 

book new orleans food tours

 

Pub Crawls

 

pub crawl through the french quarter in new orleans

Pictured above is a tour guide explaining the history of Jackson Square on a New Orleans pub crawl

 

Toast to the upcoming New Year with a yummy cocktail on a New Orleans pub crawl! Pub crawls are a great way to not only indulge yourself, but also to learn about the local history, landmarks, and beverages that helped shape the city you know and love!

Taking a pub crawl also means tasting New Orleans’ native drinks and local favorites like Sazerac and the Hurricane. A pub crawl during the holiday, however, means seasonal beverages may also be available! From crisp ciders to sugar cookie martinis, there is truly something for everyone!

Select the "Book Now" button below and book a fun and unforgettable New Orleans pub crawl:

 

book new orleans pub crawls

 

Seasonal Shenanigans

 

It’s the most wonderful time of the year! The holiday season is one of the best times to visit the Big Easy, as the city is as beautiful and festive as ever! With holiday cheer as far as the eye can see, there is no shortage of fun, seasonal things to do!

 

Warm Up by the Bonfire

 

festival of the bonfires

Pictured above is one of the many bonfires built along the Mississippi River to light up the bayou on Christmas Eve. Image by Eira Tansey via Flickr

 

While most people in the country are setting out milk and cookies for Santa Claus, families in New Orleans gather along the Mississippi River levees on River Road and light bonfires to help light the way for Papa Noel. According to tradition, these massive, 20-foot bonfires help Papa Noel navigate through the swamp, ultimately finding his way down the chimney delivering gifts for those on the nice list.

Hundreds of years later, this tradition still holds strong as thousands of people travel from across the country for this giant Christmas Eve celebration! Now called Festival of the Bonfires, this event also boasts the following:

  • Incredible live music
  • Bonfire contests
  • Art
  • Car shows
  • Pageants
  • Cook-offs
  • and MORE!

 

Holiday Parades

 

santa in the new orleans christmas parade

Image of Santa Claus in the Christmas Parade on Canal Street in New Orleans taken by Tory via Wikimedia

 

It wouldn’t be December in New Orleans without beads, moon pies, parades, costumes, and celebration! Parades are definitely a signature of New Orleans, and you don’t have to be in town for Mardi Gras to experience one! Below are a few of the popular parades taking place in December in New Orleans:

Krewe of Jingle: Canal Street | Saturday, December 7, 2019 | 1:00p.m.

Jingle on the Boulevard: Crowder, Hayne, & Read Boulevard | Saturday, December 14, 2019 | 12:00p.m.

New Year’s Eve Parade: Decatur Street | Tuesday, December 31st, 2019 | 2:30p.m.

 

Holiday Lights

With “eccentric” and “extravagant” defining the two “e’s” in “New Orleans” it’s easy to see why checking out dazzling displays of holiday lights made the list! Light up the night and check out one of these popular locations to see incredible light displays in New Orleans:

 

best places to see holiday lights in new orleans

 

Enjoy a Live Event

 

New Orleans is always bustling with people, music, and things to do! If you’re looking for something different, why not check out a live event? From the world’s top performers, to professional sports, and beyond, there is something for every age group and interest!

 

Sports

 

inside of the superdome in new orleans

Image of the interior of the New Orleans Superdome, where the New Orleans Saints play, taken by Davide Gabino via Flickr

 

Sports in the South, especially football, are more like a way of life and a part of the culture. The same is true in New Orleans, which is why experiencing a sporting event in NOLA should definitely make the bucket list! Especially if the weather is a little frightful for your flavor, you’ll be warm in no time after screaming “WHO DAT” for the win!

December is a great time to catch both professional and collegiate football and basketball in New Orleans with one of the following teams:

  • New Orleans Saints | NFL
  • Tulane Green Wave Football | NCAA
  • New Orleans Pelicans | NBA
  • New Orleans Privateers | NCAA
  • Tulane Green Wave Basketball | NCAA

Aside from your regularly scheduled programming, New Orleans will also occasionally host special games including:

  • Super Bowl
  • College Football Playoff National Championship Game
  • BCS National Championship Game
  • Sugar Bowl
  • Men’s Final Four
  • Women’s Final Four
  • NBA All-Star Game

From the thrill of the first kickoff or opening tip, to sharing a high-five with your favorite person after putting some points on the board, sporting events in New Orleans are a great way to create memories that will last a lifetime!

 

Concerts

 

street performers in new orleans

Expect to see plenty of street performers, like the group pictured above, when walking through the French Quarter. Image by brando via Flickr

 

From street performers in the French Quarter, to some of the world’s top artists at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome, there’s no shortage of incredible music in the Big Easy year-round! And you don’t have to pay hundreds of dollars to jam out to some marvelous music. Local music halls, like the ones listed below, are a great way to witness the incredible talents that keep New Orleans alive through music and celebration:

  • Preservation Hall on Bourbon Street
  • Mother-In-Law Lounge on Claiborne Avenue
  • Rock-N-Bowl on Carrollton Avenue
  • Maple Leaf Bar on Oak Street
  • The Spotted Cat Music Club on Frenchman Street
  • House of Blues New Orleans on Decatur Street

And that’s just to name a few! These lively dive bars/music halls have produced some world-renown musicians including:

  • Louis Armstrong
  • Fats Domino
  • Allen Toussaint
  • Trombone Shorty
  • Dr. John

It’s safe to say that when you’re enjoying the sounds of the Crescent City, you could quite possibly be listening to the next up-and-coming jazz superstar! While dancing to some awesome music is a great way to warm up in December, if you're looking for something more seasonal, NOLA has that, too:

  • St. Louis Cathedral Concert Series: Year after year, hundreds flock to the beautiful St. Louis Cathedral in Jackson Square for their annual St. Louis Cathedral Concerts. This free concert series features local favorites, church choirs, jazz musicians, and more! All shows are open to the public, donations are welcome, and for show times and more information, click here.

  • Carolers in Jackson Square: Join thousands of others on December 22, 2019, at 6:30p.m., and light up Jackson Square by candle light and caroling! Since 1946, this event has been one of the city’s favorite ways to spread holiday cheer. It is recommended to arrive early, since capacity is usually met. This event is free, and for more information, click here.

However you decide to spend your December in New Orleans, diving in to the music scene is a necessity. Whether you're checking out the talented street performers on Bourbon Street, or listening to some jazz at the Spotted Cat Music Club, this music is truly the heart and soul of the city, and one of the best ways to understand the area's rich culture.

 

Celebrate the City and Enjoy the Top Things to Do

 

With so many fun and fantastic things to do in New Orleans, it can sometimes be hard to choose the best activities for you and your group. Don't worry! We've narrowed down some of the top tours and attractions, and compiled a list of some of the best things to do in New Orleans in December:

Visit the Audubon Zoo

 

audubon zoo in new orleans

With multiple coupons and discounts available, visiting the Audubon Zoo in December is the perfect way to celebrate the holiday on a budget

 

The Audubon Zoo is a New Orleans staple, and a great outing for the whole family! Since 1884, the Zoo ranks consistently as one of the best in the country with 100-year-old oak trees, a vast array of impressive and interesting animals, and a wildlife sanctuary that reflects New Orleans’ style and flavor.

December is actually one of the best times to visit this wildlife wonderland, as you can watch it transform into a winter wonderland! With incredible lights, animals, and attractions, you’re sure to have a wonderful time at one of the Zoo’s awesome holiday events:

  • Audubon Zoo Lights
  • Jingle Bugs
  • Zoo Year’s Eve

Select the “Book Now” button below and experience the wonderful and whimsical Audubon Zoo:

 

book new orleans zoo tickets

 

See the Mighty Mississippi

 

paddlewheeler in new orleans

According to a recent Traveler Story, a dinner cruise is one of the best ways to make beautiful memories in the Big Easy

 

December is also the perfect time for a New Orleans river cruise! With sightseeing, dining, romance, and fun all in one, a trip down the Mississippi on a paddlewheeler is the perfect winter activity. With lunch and dinner options to choose from, there is something for everyone!

Click the "Book Now" button below and roll down the river on a New Orleans dinner cruise:

 

book new orleans dinner cruises

 

Holiday Haunts

Charles Dickens wasn’t the only one searching for ghosts at Christmastime! New Orleans is considered to be one of the most haunted cities in the country, and this is reflected in the sheer amount of ghost tours available. Get into the holiday spirit, and learn about the ghosts, spirits, and hauntings in the French Quarter and beyond!

Ghost Tours

 

walking ghost tour in the french quarter

Pictured above is a tour group taking the Haunted Pub Crawl Tour through New Orleans Ghost Adventures Tours

 

Ghost tours are probably one of the most popular types of tours to take in New Orleans. With an expert and enthusiastic guide leading the way, you’ll learn everything you need to know about NOLA’s spiritual side. Aside from that, ghost tours are a great way to see the city up-close-and-personal, and learn about the history and hauntings that made the city what it is today.

Below are just a few of the different types of ghost tours available in NOLA:

  • Cemetery Tours
  • Voodoo Tours
  • Haunted Bus Tours
  • Vampire Tours
  • Witch Craft Tours
  • Haunted Pub Crawls
  • Haunted Bike Tours
  • Family-Friendly Ghost Tours

No matter what type of ghostly experience you’re looking for, you can find it in New Orleans!

Use the “Book Now” button below and look for the ghost of Christmas past, present, and future on a New Orleans ghost tour:

 

book new orleans ghost tours

 

Carriage Rides & Tours

 

carriage tour in new orleans

A carriage tour, like the one pictured above, is the perfect activity for date night, girls night, and everything in between

 

Mule-drawn carriages were the original Uber in New Orleans, helping settlers travel the unpaved streets. Now, they’re operated by some of the best tour guides in the business, and are one of the best ways for visitors to see the city! Unfold 300 years of incredible history, architecture, sights, stories, and more as you sit back, relax, and trot through the French Quarter!

To book an unforgettable New Orleans carriage ride, select the “Book Now” button below:

 

book new orleans carriage tours

 

Kick off the New Year

 

bourbon street on new years eve

Image of Bourbon Street in New Orleans on New Year’s Eve taken by Gary J. Wood via Flickr

 

New Orleans is one of those places where once you’re there, it’s really hard to leave. With December coming to an end and the new year approaching, you may want to consider extending your stay through the first and start the year off New Orleans-style! As you would expect, there will be plenty of food, music, and festivities.

If your stay extends into January, you may want to consider one of these fun and festive ways to ring in the new year:

  • Dick Clark’s New Year’s Rockin’ Eve | Jax Brewery on Decatur Street
  • Allstate Sugar Bowl New Year’s Eve Parade | Decatur Street
  • Annual New Year’s Eve Soul Train | Civic Theatre on O’Keefe Avenue
  • Big Night New Orleans New Year’s Eve Gala | Hyatt Regency on Loyola Avenue
  • Galactic New Year’s Eve | Tipitina’s on Napoleon Avenue
  • Zoo Year’s Eve | Audubon Zoo on Magazine Street
  • The Jazz Playhouse’s Countdown to 2020 | The Jazz Playhouse on Bourbon Street
  • New Year’s Eve Balcony Party at Bourbon Cowboy | Bourbon Cowboy on Bourbon Street
  • Dirty Dozen Brass Band | The Maison on Frenchmen Street

 


 

Is December a Good Time to Visit New Orleans?

 

roosevelt lobby in new orleans in december

Image of the Roosevelt Hotel in New Orleans decorated for the holidays taken by Information of New Orleans via Flickr

 

New Orleans, Louisiana, is a great place to visit all year long! With a wide variety of incredible shopping, dining, drinks, history and so much more, the party doesn’t stop once the winter weather starts.

The holidays are definitely different in New Orleans, from bonfires lighting the way for Papa Noel, to joining thousands in Jackson Square and singing your favorite Christmas tunes. With that being said, December is the perfect time to visit New Orleans for unique and magical holiday memories that only the Big Easy can provide!

   

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