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 2024.
- Top 10
- Free Things to Do
- Nighttime Activities
- Other Things to Do in NOLA
- How's the Weather?
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.
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:
If you’re looking for a tour with a different focus, we recommend the following options:
- Garden District Mansion, Cemetery & More
- Secrets of the French Quarter w/ Beignet Tasting
- New Orleans Food and History Tour
For even more great outings, make sure to read our post about New Orleans walking tours.
2. Go to a Concert
You can't help but think about music when you're in New Orleans.
The city is loaded with talented musicians, and you can find a performance just about anywhere in the city, even in January when things are a bit quieter.
- The Radiators | January 11th-13th
- The Charlatans/RIDE | January 14th
- Elvis Costello/The Imposters | January 16th
- School of Rock Metairie Winter Music Festival | January 13th | Zony Mash | talented young musicians show off their skills
- New Orleans Cigar Box Guitar Festival 2024 | January 18th-21st | New Orleans Jazz Museum | a celebration of all things guitar
For even more musical performances in January, check this list of concerts in New Orleans.
To learn about other places you can find music in the city, read 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 out this list of other sporting events in NOLA.
4. See a Performance on the Stage
There is always something theatrical going on in New Orleans, whether that be a musical, a play, or a stand-up comedy.
Here's what's on tap in January:
- My Fair Lady | January 9th-13th (New Orleans)
- The Big Easy Boys | January 12th-28th (Kenner)
- Les Miserable | January 30th (New Orleans)
- Instant Ensemble: Long-form Improv Comedy | Big Couch | January 19th
- Miss New Orleans Comedy Queen 2024 | The Always Lounge and Cabaret | January 31st
If you're looking for a free show, check out 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 out our post about free things to do in New Orleans.
Find other theatrical productions in January 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, visit 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.
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.
This free event takes place January 5th and 6th. Visit the BONO website for more information.
Another way to see the Chalmette Battlefield is to take a historic river cruise on the Creole Queen.
8. Attend a Music Festival
If you're a fan of all things sci-fi, horror, anime, and gaming, FAN EXPO is for you.
Over 30,000 attendees will find celebrities, cosplayers, comics, and so much more at the New Orleans Ernest N. Morial Convention Center.
Activities take place January 5th through 7th.
For more information or to purchase tickets, visit the FAN EXPO New Orleans website.
9. Attend Pardis-Gras
If the traditional Mardis Gras celebrations aren’t your thing, perhaps you should look into Pardis-Gras!
From January 11th –14th, 2024, you’ll have the opportunity to enjoy a variety of live music, food tastings, pub crawls & more.
Although this event is intended to celebrate the singer/songwriter Jimmy Buffet, it has evolved over the years to welcome attendees who simply enjoy a tropical atmosphere.
As a result, you don’t have to be a member of any particular group to take part in this activity.
Click here for more information and to register.
10. Enjoy 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.
Some of the locations that sell them include:
- Joe's Cafe
- Haydel's Bakery
- Dong Phuong Bakery
- Maurice French Pastries
- La Boulangerie
- Manny Randazzo's (Metairie)
Note that we cover King Cakes on our pay-what-you-wish French Quarter Food Tour.
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.
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.
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!
For more information on the three locations that make up the collection, read our post.
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! Also, note that the attire is business casual.
Find more budget-friendly activities in our full post on free things to do in NOLA.
Krewe of Chewbacchus Parade
On Saturday, January 20th, at 7:00 p.m., 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 you won't want 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.
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:
- Ramos Gin Fizz
- Café Brûlot
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 out this list of the Top 10 Burlesque Shows in New Orleans.
Note that the Teaser Festival, a 4-day celebration of "Burlesque, fine food, well-crafted beverages, and live entertainment," takes place January 18th-21st.
You can find more ideas in 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
Visit the Krewe de Jeanne d'Arc website for additional Parade information.
Mardis Gras World
Although you can visit all year, 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!
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.