There’s no better place to enjoy the holidays than by spending Christmas in New Orleans. I can say definitively, as a native, that we do know how to party. Tidings and good cheer with sparkling oaks in City Park, twinkling lights on iron-laced balconies, streetcars rumbling down Canal Street, and breaking bread in an old Creole dining tradition called Reveillon. Bebop to gospel, jazz and R&B in free evening concerts at the St. Louis Cathedral, or a favorite among locals, stroll through the finest hotels to savor their holiday décor and libations.
Royal treatment at the Windsor Court Hotel
The name says it all, a palatial hotel with equally exquisite holiday décor and festive feasts. Inside the majestic lobby of Windsor Court Hotel is a massive Christmas tree adorned with gold magnolia garland, a toy train rambling through a village of wrapped gifts and a gingerbread house in a design lifted from the poem, “T’was the Night Before Christmas.”
For those who love a proper cup of tea, bring the little princess to a charming holiday tea. The Grill Room Restaurant offers special menus for Thanksgiving, Reveillon Dinner, Christmas Day, New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day. Guests who want to enjoy their own seasonal splendor can book the Golden Holiday Package, which includes a suite with its own Christmas tree, garland and holiday arrangements. The greatest gift is the rates, the lowest of the season.
A ritzy showing at the Ritz-Carlton Hotel
New this year, and a first for New Orleans is a life-size gingerbread replica of a St. Charles Avenue streetcar. Peeking out the windows of the Ritz-Carlton streetcar is New Orleans Saints quarterback, Drew Brees; owner of the team, Gayle Benson, along with legendary author, Anne Rice; “Today Show” co-anchor Hoda Kotb; and jazz legend, Louis Armstrong.
Take your time strolling through the lobbies with lights sprawled across the ceilings, Christmas trees reaching for the sky in the patio and a long list of holiday activities. A popular holiday tradition for children is breakfast with Papa Noel or building their own gingerbread house. Toast the season with the Ritz Reveillon Dinner; this mid-1800s tradition includes a four-course feast. Why not take a break from holiday cooking and dine in luxury with the Ritz Christmas Day Jubilee with a seafood buffet, dessert station and unlimited champagne and live entertainment?
A winter wonderland at the Waldorf Roosevelt Hotel
No holiday would be complete without blazing a jolly trail of twinkling lights in the Roosevelt Hotel’s Waldorf Wonderland Lobby, which is dressed in a canopy of white birch branches and 46 Christmas trees. Inside Teddy’s Café, right off the lobby, both children and adults will enjoy the 6-foot by 12-foot gingerbread village featuring a display of storybook characters and a revolving carousel sculpted with candy and gingerbread.
The Roosevelt’s Teddy Bear Tea is another tradition and a perfect opportunity to dress the little ones in their holiday best. Children will be entertained by Santa and Mrs. Claus with a full spread of teas and tasty treats, while mom and dad sip on sparkling wine and mimosas.
Victorian glamour at the Le Pavillon
The century-old Le Pavillon Hotel welcomes guests to a lobby filled with Victorian Christmas decorations and two-story Christmas trees, along with Czechoslovakian crystal chandeliers, Parisian woodwork and Italian marble. Just blocks from the French Quarter, guests rest comfortably in rooms equally appointed with fine art and antiques.
In the spirit of an old-fashioned Dickens’ Christmas, ladies and gents gather in the lobby for a bedtime snack and the time-honored tradition of peanut butter & jelly sandwiches. Mingle around the tree sipping warm milk and hot chocolate dining on an elegant spread of wheat, white, and raisin bread sandwiches made with honey and a variety of jelly and jams.
Festive feast at the Maison Dupuy
This boutique hotel rests comfortably inside a residential section of the French Quarter. Maison Dupuy offers luxurious suites with balconies that overlook the delightful streetscapes. Indulge in the city’s European culture and experience one of the most storied holiday celebrations, the Reveillon dinner. Translated as “awakening,” the tradition harkens back to the early 1800s when Creoles would fast all day and upon returning from Christmas Eve Midnight mass, sit down to a holiday feast. Experience the same inside the hotel’s Bistreaux Restaurant. Begin the feast with a four-course, prix-fixe dinner with fried oysters, turtle soup, grilled cobia or braised beef short ribs and finish it off with apples topped with caramel sauce.
Family fun at Celebration in the Oaks
Celebration in the Oaks brings together the beauty of moss-filled oaks and cypress trees with one of the most spectacular holiday light festivals in the country. Like tiny stars, thousands of lights peek through the mighty branches, while others boast dripping snow lights. A perfect family outing, adults become kids again aboard the storyland rides, a century-old carousel, and a train ride through the ancient oaks with light displays at every turn.
At the Campfire Village, enjoy classic Christmas movies, colossal cotton candy and roasting marshmallows over an open fire. While you’re at the park, don’t miss the Peristyle Pavilion dressed in red and green, it is quintessential New Orleans.
Bring the camera and celebrate the moment from holiday home tours to bonfires on the levee, there is something for everyone during Christmas in New Orleans.
What’s appealing to the over-50 luxury traveler?
- It’s a perfect place to bring the whole family including grandchildren with an abundance of activities, both at hotels and Christmas in the Oaks.
- When booking your hotel, ask about the Papa Noel Rates. Most hotels offer 20% off standard rates.
- Most holiday events at hotels require reservations. Many can be made online, check the links on each hotel for more details.
- Celebration in the Oaks is an outdoors event so bring appropriate garments. A good bit of walking is involved. Avoid the lines and buy your tickets online.
IF YOU GO
Photo credits: All photos credits as noted.
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