The 2020 Guide to Family Holiday Events In and Around New Orleans

It’s the most wonderful time of the year in the Crescent City. There’s no end to the festivities and fun that the holiday season brings to New Orleans. Things this year may look a little different, but the spirit of the season is still shining through. While some of the favorite events won’t be happening, they are already planning for 2021 to be even bigger and better than before. We’ve compiled a comprehensive list of family-friendly holiday events in and around New Orleans. Check back frequently; we will be adding more New Orleans holiday events as they are announced. Click on the category of holiday fun you’re seeking and you’ll be brought to the listing of those events. 

The entire team at New Orleans Mom wishes you and your family a peaceful, festive, and fun holiday season.

New Orleans Family Friendly Featured Holiday Events 

The 2020 Guide to Family Holiday Events In and Around New Orleans

Check out our event categories included below and jump straight to that section by clicking below to see all of the family friendly holiday events in and around New Orleans this year!

Holiday Teas, Concerts & Merriment | Santa Meet & Greets | Holiday Lights | Sips & Shops | Nutcracker Performances | Fun Runs & Races

Holiday Teas, Concerts & Merriment

Teddy Bear Teas, Caroling, Concerts and parades (of course) … there’s something for everyone no matter what holiday you celebrate or how you celebrate it.

Teddy Bear Teas, Caroling, Concerts and parades (of course) … there’s something for everyone no matter what holiday you celebrate or how you celebrate it.

Caroling in Jackson Square (December 20 | 7:00pm) :: This local favorite event is free and open to the public. Join in a truly moving annual tradition as Jackson Square brims with thousands of candlelit faces and spirits lift as high as the spires of the St. Louis Cathedral. Candles and song sheets provided. Gates open at 6:30pm, and Caroling begins at 7:00pm. 

French Quarter Holiday Home Tour (December 20 | 1:00pm) :: Savor the holiday spirit as Patio Planters of the Vieux Carré presents 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. This December fundraiser is a prelude to the highly anticipated Caroling in Jackson Square later in the evening.

Cookies with Santa and the Belles at the WWII Museum (Various Dates):: It’s the perfect holiday experience to share with children and grandchildren! Young guests will be entertained by the Victory Belles, holiday games and a visit from Santa with a special teddy bear gift for all children in attendance.

PRCNO Holiday Home Tour (December 12 and 13 | 10:00am) :: This is your chance to tour beautifully trimmed homes in the Garden District and admire the architecture and history of the neighborhood. The tour is a self-guided walking tour starting at Trinity Church, with stops at eight gorgeous, decked out homes. The tour also includes access to an extensive holiday boutique featuring dozens of local artists, craftsmen, and retailers; as well as regional cuisine, located at the tour headquarters at Trinity Episcopal Church.

Jewish Children’s Regional Service Latkes With A Twist (December 3  | 7pm) :: JCRS will host its 5th annual community-wide Hanukkah party, “Latkes with a Twist,” on Dec.12, at Press Street Station located at 5 Homer Plessy Way in the historic Faubourg Marigny. The Washington Post has listed our event as one of the Top 10 Hanukkah parties in the US! Frank Brigsten, chef and owner of Brigsten’s, will be the featured “Latke Master” along with NOCCA culinary students and friends. 

Court of Two Sisters Jazz Brunch With Santa (Various Dates) :: 2020 Dates: December 5th, 12th, 19th, and 23rd. Please call 504-522-7261 or email court2si@courtoftwosisters.com for reservations (required) and information. Includes live Jazz entertainment, full brunch buffet, special kid’s buffet, visit with Santa and a gift for every child.

Louisiana Philharmonic Orchestra (Various dates) :: Enjoy the sounds of the season, this year from the comfort of your own home. Check the LPO website for full details and event information.

Holiday Tea at the Windsor Court (Select Dates through December 3o) :: The centerpiece of the New Orleans Holiday Season, seatings include a properly brewed pot of tea; a glass of sherry, sparkling wine or specialty cocktail; an enchanting selection of English tea sandwiches; seasonal scones with clotted cream; and a final course of gourmet desserts.

Papa Noel Tea at the Davenport Lounge, Ritz Carlton Hotel (select days in December) :: Head to the Davenport Lounge for a special holiday celebration featuring an appearance by Papa Noel. Children will enjoy cookie decorating, viewing The Ritz-Carlton’s one of a kind gingerbread display, and other holiday surprises. Seatings at 12pm.

Build Your Own Gingerbread House, Main Lobby, Ritz Carlton Hotel (Select Days in December) :: Continue the tradition with The Ritz-Carlton as children of all ages are invited to build a festive gingerbread house. Price includes one gingerbread house with all of the decorating essentials and holiday refreshments. Each house can accommodate up to four guests. Adult supervision and reservations are required. 1:00pm seating times available.

Santa’s Pajama Party at the Royal Sonesta  (December 5, 6, 12, 13, 19, and 20 and the length of each seating is as follows 9:30-11:00 a.m. and 12:30-2:00 p.m.) :: Prepare for the holidays in your pajamas at Restaurant R’evolution, part of our Royal Snownesta celebration! Children can wear their favorite holiday pajamas, deliver their wish list and visit with Santa and the Sugarplum Fairy Princess in Stay Safe with Sonesta style. Sip only the best house-made hot chocolate, warm apple cider and enjoy delicious food while decorating your own cookies (Chef John Folse’s famous recipe of course)! Two seatings will occur on December 5, 6, 12, 13, 19, and 20 and the length of each seating is as follows 9:30-11:00 a.m. and 12:30-2:00 p.m.

Teddy Bear Tea at The Roosevelt (select days in December) :: Our elves are busily preparing for this popular event that delights and excites children of all ages!  At Teddy Bear Tea you will be taken on Santa’s journey to the rooftops of New Orleans. Santa and Mrs. Claus will welcome you and your children while you enjoy a presentation of delicious holiday food, specialty teas, and tasty pastries, as well as sparkling wine and mimosas for Mom and Dad. Insider’s tip: The Roosevelt has one of the most spectacular light displays to enjoy if you don’t want to splurge for the tea itself!

Ponchatoula Christmas Parade (December 12 | 6pm) :: Please join us for our Annual Ponchatoula Christmas Parade! Theme and more details will be announced soon.

Holiday Teas at La Petite Palace (Various dates in December) :: La Petite Palace will host a variety of holiday parties. Check back soon for updated information!

NOLA Christmasfest (December 11-18) :: Home for the Holidays – NOLA ChristmasFest 2020 Goes Digital! Do you hear what I hear – kids clamoring to have some holiday fun?That’s why our elves are sending a sampling of NOLA ChristmasFest’s Craft and Activity stage offerings directly to your home this year, free of charge. Thanks to our community partners and friends, we’ve developed a week-long program designed to hone skills needed to be one of Santa’s elves-in-training. Programming includes Christmas crafts, holiday baking and decorating, holiday dance classes, nightly book reading from some our favorite Christmas characters, and so much more. 

Caroling Down the River: Christmas Eve on the Creole Queen (December 24) :: A Christmas Eve Cruise on the Paddlewheeler Creole Queen is the perfect New Orleans way to spend the night before Christmas. Enjoy a delicious feast with family and friends among beautiful holiday decorations in an elegant dining room. Dance and sing along to a live jazz band under the stars from the upper deck, offering the best views in the city.

Christmas Under the Stars (Every Friday & Saturday December 4- January 2nd) :: Join the City of Slidell for multiple days of holiday celebration at Griffith Park in Olde Towne Slidell 6 to 9 pm. This event features thousands of twinkling lights, festive decorations, visits from Santa and Mrs. Claus, the Parade of Trees, and a life-sized Christmas Village. Admission is free. The Old Towne Slidell Christmas Parade is December 5th.

Steele’s Christmas Tree Farm (Opens Thanksgiving Day at 2:00pm) :: Make family memories at this Christmas tree farm in Angie, Louisiana. A short drive from New Orleans, you can give your children the experience of cutting down their very own tree. Steele’s has been in business for over 30 years and has hundreds of trees to select from, up to 12 feet tall!

Annual Festival of the Bonfires (December 11-13) :: Christmas on the river, Cajun style! Enjoy great food, live entertainment, crafts, Santa’s Very Merry Forest and carnival rides throughout the weekend. Each night will be highlighted with a single bonfire lighting. Come out and experience a prelude to the famous Christmas Eve Bonfires: A tradition unique to St. James Parish and all the world!

Christmas Eve Bonfire Express (December 24 | 4:45pm) :: Celebrate a time-honored Louisiana tradition: the lighting of the bonfires on the banks of the Mississippi River!  The Bonfire Express includes round-trip transportation 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. Come see the “feux de joie” (fires of joy)! Some walking is necessary

Holiday Gingerbread Workshop at Red Fish Grill (December 13) :: Start a New Holiday Tradition! Kids of all ages are invited to partake in this festive and fun tradition of building and decorating gingerbread houses at Ralph Brennan’s Red Fish Grill.  Spend time with family decorating pre-assembled gingerbread houses with handfuls of holiday candy, royal icing, and celebratory sprinkles, personally procured by Santa’s elves. Order from our shareable seafood menu, complete with special brunch dishes, kids menu, and featured Holiday Cocktails, as well as a full bar. We are offering digital photo downloads. Jingle all the way home with your commemorative Red Fish Grill holiday bell, after our elves will bring your final masterpiece to our Gingerbread House Wrapping Station, where houses are hand-wrapped for easy and safe transport.

Christmas at TerraBella ( December 4 | 5:30pm) :: Join us for our Annual “Christmas at TerraBella”. The evening will be filled with different music performances, food trucks, and more. Lighting of the Tree will take place at 6:00 PM. We hope to see you there to celebrate our last event of 2020 and look ahead to a new year!

Holidays on Harrison (December 9 | 5pm) :: Holiday choirs, snow, caroling, cookie decorating, and so much more will be happening in the schoolyard of St. Paul’s Episcopal as Lakeview comes together to celebrate the season.

Pancakes With Santa (November 13 & 14) :: Come out to the Junior Auxiliary of Hammond’s Annual Pancake Breakfast with Santa at the Jolly Jingles Market!! $10 per person includes pancake breakfast, entry to Jolly Jingles Market, and picture time with Santa and his elves!

A Very Merry Christmas Spectacular (December 4-13) :: Recurring weekly on Fridays and Saturdays at 7pm, and 2:30pm Sundays, the 30 by Ninety Theater in Mandeville presents this fun Christmas production.

A Visit to Santa’s Land & Reindeer Rowe (December 5) :: A Visit to Santa’s Land has become a tradition for children in Thibodaux and the surrounding areas. Join us for a family holiday event featuring kid’s crafts and activities, games, snacks and pictures with Santa.

Papa Noel Christmas Festival at the Bayou Country Children’s Museum (December 18-20) ::Featuring larger than life inflatables, a synthetic ice skating rink, arts and crafts and pictures with Santa, entertainment, carriage rides and hay rides, and so much more! We are even going to have an add-on Beignets with Coco the Alligator (the museum’s mascot) hosted at Cuvee restaurant with Chef Nathan Richard!

Santa Meet & Greets

Santa loves the Crescent City! More Santa sightings and photo opportunities will be added as they are announced.

Santa’s Arrival at Lakeside Shopping Center (November 21) :: ‘Tis the season of Magic & Memories! Join Lakeside and jolly old St. Nick for a season of comfort and joy. Special activities at the arrival celebration include crafts for kids, letters to Santa, Mrs. Claus meet & greet, and of course, photos with Santa himself. Santa and the North Pole Express Train will be at Lakeside through Christmas Eve.

Photos with Gentilly Santa (December 6, 3-7pm & additional dates to be announced soon) ::Let’s get the season started! Gentilly Santa is coming to town! Our first date open to the public is DECEMBER 6, 2020! Bring the kids out to get their pictures with Gentilly Santa.

Santa Pictures at the Southern Hotel (November 22, 27, 29, December 13) :: Santa will visit the beautiful Southern Hotel in Covington on four dates in November & December. Photos will be taken by Heidi Bower; reservations required.

Santa at Oakwood Mall (November 27- December 25) :: Stop by Oakwood Mall in Gretna and visit with Jolly Old St. Nick while you get your photo taken. Special pet photos with Santa are also available on select dates. Santa will also be doing virtual visits through December 27th!

Holiday Lights

Pack the kids up in the car, turn up the holiday music, get a go-cup of hot cocoa, and check out the amazing light displays NOLA has to offer. Some neighborhoods have some larger than life lights displays that are worth a detour and a later-than-normal bedtime.

Celebration in the Oaks (November 26 – January 3, closed Christmas Eve and New Year’s Eve) :: An annual favorite in New Orleans City Park 34 years running, this seasonal event is fun for the whole family. Featuring hundreds of thousands of lights, this is a do-not-miss holiday event in New Orleans. This year’s event is a 2.25 mile-long Driving Tour event with options for Add-On Activities in Carousel Gardens. Please read everything on CelebrationintheOaks.com as this year’s event is NEW! Tickets this year are time and date specific. Tickets must be purchased ahead of arrival and online only. If you need assistance with booking, please contact us at support@wrstbnd.com prior to your ticket event date.

Supernova on the Greenway (December 9-20, Wednesdays-Sundays | 5pm-9pm) Experience a new lights exhibit this holiday season on Lafitte Greenway, the 2.6-mile long linear park and trail running through the heart of New Orleans. This free, safe and socially distanced outdoor experience will take place from December 9-20 in partnership with LUNA Fete. Head to 3200 Lafitte Ave. to see the lights and celebrate the Greenway’s 5th birthday.

Light Display at Lafreniere Park (Dates TBA) :: The park sparkles for the holidays with thousands of twinkling lights and displays.  $5.00 per vehicle – you must use the entrance on West Napoleon Avenue access gate of the park.  The Children’s Carousel will be open nightly  – $1.00 per child.  You can also park and walk to see the lights for no extra charge. Sunday-Thursday Dusk til 9:45 pm and Friday-Saturday Dusk til 11:45 pm.

Kenner Christmas Village (Fridays & Saturdays, Dates TBA | 6:00pm – 9:00pm) :: The Kenner Christmas Village will light up the Rivertown historic district. Fridays & Saturdays feature various festivities, including caroling, costumed holiday characters, and appearances by Santa, along with craft and food vendors and entertainment by local school and dance troops. Christmas Village admission is free.

Sips & Shops

Need to get some holiday shopping done? New Orleans has plenty of art markets and holiday sip & shop events to offer. Check back for more additions as the holidays get closer!

St. Matthew the Apostle Holiday Market (November 21st | 10am-4pm) :: Crafts, Shopping, and door prizes will be available at this festive and fabulous event!

Waldorf School Winter Faire and Tree Sale (November 28) Crafts, a book fair, magical forest, puppet show, gifts and entertainment await you at the Waldorf School!

St. Tammy Christmas Celebration Expo (December 4, 5 & 6 | 10am-4pm):: Featuring more than 500 artists and craftspersons from a multi-state area, plus 20 food booths, at the St. Tammany Parish Fairgrounds in Covington.

Nutcracker Performances

The classic Nutcracker ballet is a Christmas favorite for young and old. Sugar Plum Fairies, dancing snowflakes, and a growing Christmas tree will make for magical memories to last a lifetime.

Delta Festival Ballet (December 19 & December 20) :: DFB’s 37th Anniversary Season of The Nutcracker directed by Joseph and Maria Giacobbe. This year’s ballet will be performed by DFB’s outstanding local professionals and a Youth Corps of over 100 young dancers from the Greater New Orleans Area. The Louisiana Philharmonic Orchestra will accompany the performances at Mahalia Jackson Theater for the Performing Arts.

Saenger Theatre Stream (December 19 | 7:00pm) :: This year Moscow Ballet’s Great Russian Nutcracker is streaming in New Orleans, directly to your living room!  Celebrate the beloved Christmas tradition with the whole family as world-class Russian artists bring this charming classic to life. Experience Tchaikovsky’s master score this Christmas with the magic of larger than-life-puppets, growing Christmas tree and life-sized Matrushka Dolls!

Columbia Theatre for the Performing Arts (December 11 & 12th | 7pm | December 13 | 2pm) :: Enter a winter wonderland of sugar plum fairies, dancing flowers, and toy soldiers as the classic ballet returns to Columbia this holiday season. Staged by the Hammond Ballet Company, The Nutcracker features professional guest artists and excellent all-star local dancers. This very special production is a family favorite and sure to fill everyone with the spirt of the holidays.

Ballet Apetrei (December 12th & 13th):: Join Ballet Apertei and creative director Kelly Fortier in Mandeville for their annual performance of the classic Nutcracker Ballet.

Jefferson Performing Arts Society (Dec. 12, 13, 19 & 20 | 2:00 pm):: An ALL NEW PRODUCTION of the classic ballet which has become a holiday favorite. THE NUTCRACKER is the story of a young German girl who dreams of a Nutcracker Prince and his fierce battle against a Mouse King. Under the direction of Kenneth Beck.

Fun Runs & Races

December weather is beautiful in south Louisiana; less humidity makes everyone want to get outside. Load up the family for a holiday fun run, race, or people-watching along a race route!

Celebration in the Oaks 2 Mile Run/Walk (December 12) :: NOLA’s favorite family fun run, participants will make their way  through City Park as they enjoy all of the light displays and festive decorations. The costume contest is always a big hit. Special appearance by Jolly Old St. Nick! Race entry gets you refreshments and admission to the Botanical Gardens, Story Land, and the Amusement Park.

Lutcher Bonfire Festival 5k & Kids Run (December 13) :: Part of the St. James Parish tradition of lighting the way for Santa Claus, join runners from the River Region for a 5k and 1/2 mile kids fun run. Lutcher Park • 2601 Lutcher Avenue Lutcher.

Jingle Bell Virtual Run – New Orleans (December 11-13) :: The Arthritis Foundation’s Jingle Bell Run is a fun way to get out, get moving and raise funds and awareness to cure America’s #1 cause of disability. Kick off your holidays by helping conquer arthritis once and for all! Wear a holiday-themed costume, tie jingle bells to your shoelaces, show off your ugly Christmas sweater, and complete a 5-kilometer run or walk with your team members, spreading smiles, good cheer, and a winning spirit … and be a Champion of Yes!

Lindsay
Lindsay is a native New Orleanian, displaced only by her years at Mississippi State, where she earned a B.S. in Wildlife and Fisheries and a minor in English. She came home shortly after Katrina, to work as a zookeeper and be a part of the rebuilding of her beloved city. She dragged her husband Drake, a Tennessee native, along with her. Their son Bennett joined the family in 2010, and in 2014 they welcomed identical twin girls, Genevieve and Kellen Clair. She now works full time as an Environmental Scientist and part-time as NOM’s resident Jill of All Trades. Powered by espresso, cake, and craft beer, her happy place is on a beach or in the woods. Need to identify a plant, tree, or animal? Lindsay’s a wealth of random knowledge. She loves to cook and sprinkle a little glitter on everything.

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