This post covers things to do in January in New Orleans.

We include free, nighttime, as well as family-friendly activities and events, all updated for 2023.


This section covers our top 10 activities that you can enjoy in New Orleans in January. 

For tips on the most popular activities in New Orleans, check out our other popular posts:

Many of these items are already included for free with the purchase of a tourist discount pass.

If you're already planning to get a pass, you can purchase them here: All Inclusive GoCity Pass | Day Pass - New Orleans Sightseeing | Flex Pass - New Orleans Sightseeing

1. Take a Walking Tour

We offer a variety of pay-what-you-wish walking tours in New Orleans covering a vast array of subjects.

If you’re interested in learning more about the city, consider one of the following tours:

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If you’re looking for a tour with a different focus, we recommend the following options:

For even more great outings, make sure to read our post about New Orleans walking tours.

2. Go to a Concert

Talented musicians are drawn to New Orleans throughout the year – even in January!

If you’re looking for a great concert to see this month, consider one of the following opportunities:

For more great musical performances, check this list of concerts in New Orleans. Alternatively, you can also find more information on our post covering live music in NOLA.

3. Attend a Sporting Event

If you’re a football or basketball fan, there will be some great games to attend in New Orleans during the month of January.

Here are some events you might want to see this month:



For more great sporting events, make sure to check this list of sports tickets in New Orleans.

4. See a Musical or Comedy Show

Although New Orleans may not be known for having an expansive theater scene, there are often at least one or two excellent musicals to see in this city each month. 

If you’re visiting in January, you may want to consider seeing a play at the historic Saenger Theater. They'll be showing:

Comedy wise, there are a few very funny comedians performing this month:

If you're looking for a free show, check this list of free stand-up comedy shows in NOLA to find a location and time that fits your itinerary.

For more free comedy shows in New Orleans, check our post about free things to do in New Orleans.

Find all theatrical productions in NOLA here.

5. Go to a Mardi Gras Parade

Though Mardi Gras is the Tuesday before Lent, you can get a jump start on the festivities in January! 

The Carnival season begins on the Day of Epiphany (January 6th) and kicks off with five free parades, most of which take place in the evenings and are geared toward adult audiences. 

If you are traveling with children, the Joan of Arc Parade listed further down in this post is a good option.

One parade not to miss is the Phunny Phorty Phellows.

This wacky Krewe dresses up in satirical costumes and starting at 7 pm rides a streetcar along St. Charles Avenue to Canal Street and back again. The parade concludes in a Coronation Ball.

Along the way, they will be handing out classic Mardi Gras beads to the spectators. Check the Mardi Gras website for more details

To learn about Mardi Gras beads and other traditions, see our post about Mardi Gras and Carnival Season.

This is an excellent activity after dark. If you’re looking for more things to do when the sun goes down, check our nighttime activities section.

6. Save Money With a Tourist Pass

No matter what you’re planning to do in New Orleans this month, chances are you’ll be able to save a few bucks by using a tourist pass.

There are currently two different types of passes in NOLA, and each one includes admission to dozens of popular activities and attractions.

An all-inclusive pass will be the best way to save the most money.

It features 20+ fun and interesting things to do for a specific amount of time (1, 2, 3, 4, or 5 days). The more activities you enjoy, the more you save!

Here are a few of the most popular tours, museums, and entertaining locations included with both passes:

  • Hop on Hop off Bus Tour
  • Creole Queen Jazz Cruise
  • New Orleans Botanical Garden
  • National WWII Museum
  • Jean Lafitte Swamp Tour
  • Audubon Butterfly Garden
  • New Orleans Jazz Museum
  • Audubon Aquarium
  • Mardi Gras World
  • Audubon Zoo
  • And more!

Alternatively, you can purchase a flex pass which allows you to pay one flat price for a set number of attractions (2, 3, 4, 5, or 6). 

You can also enjoy a nice discount with this service, but you’ll have to use it for the most expensive activities possible in order to get the best deal.

Depending on how you use these passes, you should be able to save anywhere from 10% - 50% off general admission prices.

For more information, please read our post covering New Orleans tourist passes.

If you're already planning to get a pass, you can purchase them here: All Inclusive GoCity Pass | Day Pass - New Orleans Sightseeing | Flex Pass - New Orleans Sightseeing

7. Commemorate the Battle of New Orleans

Every January, live actors reenact the events of the final battle of the War of 1812, which took place just outside of New Orleans at the Chalmette Battlefield.

Spectators will enjoy period music, hear stories of the battle, and even see cannon and musket firings.

The events take place over three days and it is free to attend.

Another way to see the Chalmette Battlefield, you can take a historic river cruise on the Creole Queen.

Note that it's included on all 3 of the New Orleans Passes: All Inclusive GoCity Pass | Day Pass - New Orleans Sightseeing | Flex Pass - New Orleans Sightseeing

8. Attend a Music Festival

The 4th Annual School of Rock Winter Music Festival takes place in New Orleans in January.

Lessons by the school have grown their young and skilled attendees into "confident and inspiring rock stars in their community".

An example of a student that has come through one of the schools can be seen above. They are truly amazing, and it's an honor to get to see them play.

Events take place January 14th and 15th, 2023, at The School of Rock (3940 Thalia Street, NOLA).

9. Pardis-Gras

If the traditional Mardis Gras celebrations aren’t your thing, perhaps you should look into Pardis-Gras!

From January 12th –15th, 2023, you’ll have the opportunity to enjoy a variety of live music, food tasting, pub crawls & more. 

Although this event is intended to celebrate the singer/songwriter Jimmy Buffet, it has evolved over the years to welcome attendees that simply enjoy a tropical atmosphere.

As a result, you don’t have to be a member of any particular group to take place in this activity. 

10. Experience a King Cake

For those who aren’t aware, King Cake is a traditional dish typically served during Mardis Gras festivities.

It’s such a popular dessert that there used to be a festival celebrating it.

It’s also one of the top 13 foods you must try in NOLA!

If you want to try this local delicacy, King Cake season lasts until around the end of Mardi Gras.

Just some of the locations that sell them are:

Note that we cover King Cakes on our pay-what-you-wish French Quarter Food Tour.

Grab a Drink at Winterfest

On January 21st, 2023, the Crescent City Homebrewers will be holding an event known as Winterfest.

This is a bit like Oktoberfest, as they serve a lot of classic German food and drinks during the festival. 

There will be 50+ home-brewed and commercial beers on tap, German sausages, potato salad, sauerkraut, soft pretzels and more.

The best part about all of this? The food is included for free with admission. 

Purchase tickets or learn more

TIP: If you’re interested in trying some more local foods, consider taking our French Quarter food tour.


Although several of our top 10 activities won’t cost you a thing, those aren’t the only free events you can enjoy in New Orleans this January.

Also, check out our guide to visiting New Orleans on a budget and our list of free things to do in Nola for more free and almost-free ideas. 

Stop by the Mardi Gras Museum

The timing is perfect as you are experiencing New Orleans during Carnival Season.

This museum is located at the famous Arnaud’s Restaurant and includes more than two dozen historic costumes and other memorabilia.

If you’re interested in learning about the history of Mardi Gras, this is the perfect time of year to do it! Stop by during restaurant hours to see the collection for free. 

See the Mardi Gras Museum website for more information.

Visit a Historic Cemetery

There are several notable cemeteries in New Orleans, and while you need to pay for admission to some, others are entirely free to visit.

One of the best examples is St. Louis Cemetery #3, and we actually offer a pay-what-you-want walking tour of this historic site. We also offer a tour of St. Louis Cemetery #1.

For more details, check our post covering New Orleans Cemetery tours.

Check Out the Historic New Orleans Collection

Whether you’re interested in history or art, the Historic New Orleans Collection is definitely worth a visit.

Their permanent collection is distinguished and their temporary exhibitions are always intriguing.

Best of all, most of their exhibits and collections are entirely free to see!

  • Locations: three campuses in the heart of the French Quarter
  • Hours:Tuesday - Saturday: 9:30 - 4:30 | Sunday: 10:30 to 4:30
  • Click here for more details

Enjoy a Free Jazz Performance

The history of jazz has its roots in New Orleans, so it shouldn’t be too surprising that you can usually find at least a few free performances to enjoy throughout the week.

One of the most popular options is at the Davenport Lounge in the Ritz-Carlton. Here, Jeremy Davenport performs a jazz set multiple times per week that won’t cost a thing.

Although this activity is free, we do recommend bringing some money for tips and/or drinks!

Find more budget-friendly activities in our full post on free things to do in NOLA.

Tet Fest: Vietnamese New Year

If you need a break from Mardi Gras, the free Tet Fest is an excellent idea. 

During the weekend of January 27th-29th, 2023, you can celebrate the Vietnamese New Year by trying authentic Vietnamese cuisine and watching performances of traditional music and dancing. 

There will be family-friendly activities, fireworks, and an evening dragon dance. 

  • Admission: Free
  • Location: Mary Queen of Vietnam Church at 14011 Dwyer Blvd.

Learn more about this event.

Krewe of Chewbacchus Parade

On Saturday, January 28th, 2023, at 7:00 pm, you can see the most 'out of this world' krewes parade in the streets of Marigny.

The 900-member Intergalactic Krewe of Chewbacchus is a sci-fi themed krewe and their parade is one not to miss.

You'll see stellar floats and costumes of characters of fantasy, horror, science fiction, and more. Click here for more information and a map of the parade route.To explore the area around the parade, check out our guide to Frenchmen Street and the Marigny.


In addition to all the parades and krewe celebrations taking place at night in January, there are also a few live performances and events to consider.

Be sure to check out our definitive guide to things to do at night in NOLA, including our night tours, as well as tips on hearing live music in the city.

Take in the sights and sounds of Frenchmen Street

Frenchmen Street is great for live music, food, and drinks.

There are dozens of places to try local cuisine, hear the sounds of the city at clubs and plenty of watering holes to enjoy bourbon and other spirits. 

Our guide to Frenchmen Street and the Marigny will help you figure out where to go to enjoy it all. 

TIP: You can find out about other great venues to hear live music from our post on music performances in New Orleans.

Grab a Cocktail 

New Orleans has an interesting history with cocktails, as many popular drinks were actually invented here.

Whether you plan on doing a pub crawl or you’re just going to go out for a nice dinner, keep your eyes peeled for classic cocktails created in NOLA such as:

  • Hurricane
  • Sazerac
  • Ramos Gin Fizz
  • Roffignac
  • Café Brûlot

We have even put together a self-guided cocktail tour of New Orleans or learn about the 12 must-try New Orleans cocktails and which locations specialize in them.

See a Burlesque Show

Burlesque shows are more popular in NOLA than ever before.

You’ll even find a few locations taking a neo-burlesque approach with a brand of entertainment that is very similar to circus arts.

If you’re in the mood for a fun and interesting night on the town, check this list of the Top 10 Burlesque Shows in New Orleans.

You can find more ideas from our guide to Things to Do at Night in New Orleans

Take a Ghost Tour

Many consider New Orleans to be one of the most haunted cities in the United States.

The Crescent City is also home to a large community of voodoo followers, and it has of course been the subject of certain Anne Rice vampire novels.

With so many spooky subjects to cover, you might want to consider taking a New Orleans Ghost tour.

If cost is a factor, we offer our own pay-what-you-wish ghost tour that takes place after dark.


Below is our list of things to do with kids in January.

These events are perfect for families and give younger children plenty of opportunities to explore and have fun.

We also have a guide to New Orleans with kids for more family-friendly ideas for any time of year.

Krewe of Joan of Arc Parade

As the name suggests, this event celebrates the birthday of St. Joan of Arc.

Members of the parade are usually found wearing gold clothing based on a medieval theme and eating king cake.

There are three theatrical stops during the parade, and we recommend visiting one of those locations to get the best view of the show. 

Not only is this event free to enjoy from the sidelines, but it could also be educational, making it a somewhat family-friendly experience

Mardis Gras World

Although you can visit all year long, it’s even more fun to see Mardi Gras World right before the actual event! 

For those who don’t know, this is the location where several notable Mardi Gras floats have been created over the course of over 75 years.

Take a trip through the history of this celebration and find out how they build the floats that you see during the parade. 

Tours of the studio are affordable and fun for guests of all ages. See our detailed post for more information.

TIP: Mardi Gras World is included for free with all three passes, so if you're ready to purchase one, you can find it here: All Inclusive GoCity Pass | Day Pass - New Orleans Sightseeing | Flex Pass - New Orleans Sightseeing

See Storyland in City Park

Have your children heard the tales of Peter Pan and Captain Hook?

Do they know about Pinocchio and Cinderella? If so, Storyland will give them an opportunity to see these fairy tales come to life! 

Everywhere you look, you’ll find displays related to popular children’s stories from throughout the ages.

Give your kids the chance to meet the three little pigs and climb Jack & Jill’s hill. As if that weren’t interesting enough, a ticket to Storyland also includes admission to the Carousel Gardens Amusement Park!

  • Ticket Prices: $6 per person | Kids 36″ and smaller get in for free
  • Availability: Wednesday - Sunday from 10 am – 4:30 pm
  • Tickets include admission to Carousel Gardens Amusement Park.
  • Click here for additional information.

Take the Kids to Audubon Zoo

Although they aren’t hosting any events in particular, a trip to the zoo could be quite exciting for younger visitors.

The Audubon Zoo has exhibits featuring animals such as Giraffes, Jaguars, Zebras, Cougars, and more.

In addition to these animals, they also have an Aquarium and an Insectarium which offer a rare look at both aquatic and insect life. 

Tickets for each of these attractions must be purchased separately, but they do offer a combo ticket for both the Aquarium and Zoo.

To find out about ticket prices, hours and other information, see our post about the Audubon Zoo in New Orleans.

We also have a guide to New Orleans with kids for more family-friendly ideas for any time of year.


About The Author


Sarah first moved to New Orleans in 2001 to work for the American Red Cross of Southeast Louisiana. While working in the communities of New Orleans she fell in love with the unique culture of the Big Easy; it's food, music, architecture, wildlife, and most of all history. Sarah began her career with FTBF, first as a guide, then as an owner/operator. She believes every day is a good day if she gets to impart her love of her beloved New Orleans with Free Tours By Foot guests. She especially likes to convert new Who Dat Saints Fans!
Updated: marzo 16th, 2023
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