Al Copeland’s famed Christmas lights may now belong to New Orleans’ ever-growing cache of “ain’t dere no more” lore—but there are plenty of other new and established ways to enjoy the December tradition of holiday light-gazing. As the year comes to a close, hotspots around the city will be illuminated by everything from twinkling palm trees to projection mapping installations. Here are some of the best light displays in town.Read More
Where to catch holiday lights in New Orleans
A merry, colorful city becomes even more so throughout December
1. Lake Pontchartrain Basin Foundation
Catch a boat parade, arts and crafts, food trucks, pictures with Santa, and more merriment at the Lake Pontchartrain Foundation’s Lights on the Lake event. The boat parade kicks off at 5:30 p.m. on December 14. Admission is $5 and kids 12 years and younger get in free.
2. Celebration in the Oaks at City Park
New Orleans, LA
November 26 through January 1
Now in its 33rd year, Celebration in the Oaks needs no introduction. From glowing reptile displays and a massive Mr. Bingle to decked-out oak trees and bayous, it’s a definite wonderland. Officials at the park expect to welcome over 165,000 visitors throughout the holiday season with more than a million lights spread across 25 acres. This year, dogs are welcome on “Mutt Mondays,” and you can take a yoga class under the lights (with paid admission).
3. Lafreniere Park
Metairie, LA 70003
November 30 through December 30
This Metairie park turns into an illuminated wonderland with an LED light exhibit, including a 60-foot sea serpent, and a magical castle. (Some of Al Copeland’s old displays ended up here, by the way.) For information on admission, check out Jefferson Parish’s official website.
4. Jackson Square
New Orleans, LA 70116
French Quarter Festivals, Inc. will illuminate Jackson Square this holiday season—and when it’s decked out in more than 40,000 lights, the Old World-style square looks straight out of a Dickens village. For even more festivity, join the free caroling session at 7 p.m. December 19, or check out a free Christmas concert in the St. Louis Cathedral.
5. The Roosevelt New Orleans
Through January 4
Note to social media influencers: a selfie in The Roosevelt’s twinkling winter wonderland display is de rigueur for the holidays, and the festivities kicks off the annual Lobby Lighting Ceremony on December 3 at 5 p.m. Spanning about a block in length, the lobby is filled with more than 112,000 lights, custom displays, and 46 Christmas trees. Cap the experience off with a cocktail in the Sazerac Bar and have a merry time, indeed.
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6. Canal Street
New Orleans, LA 70130
Tuesday, November 26 through January 1
Right before Thanksgiving, the Downtown Development District will flip the switch, lighting Canal Street with festive displays from Claiborne Avenue to the Riverwalk. An illuminated 50-foot Christmas tree also sits at the Riverwalk near the Spanish Plaza. Be sure to catch a free holiday flick in the Plaza during the Movies on the Mississippi events, which include free popcorn and hot chocolate.
7. Lafayette Square
December 12 through December 15
Lafayette Square Park hosts Luna Fete, the most high-tech lights display in the city, from 6 p.m. to 10 p.,. nightly during the second weekend in December. Projection-mapping installations cover the front of Gallier Hall and many more large-scale light installations take over the square. Best of all, the installations link up with Fulton Street and its many light displays—so you can easily enjoy both attractions in the same night.
8. Miracle on Fulton Street
New Orleans, LA 70130
Through December 26
Fulton Street becomes a winter wonderland with public light show, a 30-foot Christmas tree, and hourly (artificial) snowfall on Fridays and Saturdays from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Don’t forget to check out the gorgeous gingerbread display inside Harrah’s hotel lobby, or the many special events December brings to Fulton Street (live music, a Champagne stroll, and the Running of the Santas are among them).
9. Audubon Zoo
Select nights November 30 through December 30
Presented by Children’s Hospital, this festive event brings animal-themed light displays, live music, elf workshops, a 30-foot tree, and photos with Santa to the Audubon Zoo. Tickets are $15 when purchased online.