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The following post provides a list of things to do in New Orleans in December, updated for 2023.

We include family-friendly, nighttime, and free activities.



In this section, we cover the ten most interesting and fun activities available in New Orleans this December.

Don’t forget the things that make New Orleans a year-round destination! Check out 

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

1. Take a Tour

We offer several different pay-what-you-wish walking tours in New Orleans, including one in honor of the holiday season.

Our Creole Christmas tour covers a variety of notable sites such as Jackson Square, St. Louis Cathedral, Santa’s Quarters, and more.

Grayline Tours offers a Christmas Eve Bonfire Express Tour that takes you to see the traditional Christmas activity of lighting huge bonfires along the Mississippi River.

They also offer a Jingling Through the Crescent Tour which takes you through some of the most popular and historic sites in the city.

2. Attend a Holiday Concert

New Orleans attracts a number of musical acts throughout the year, although December tends to be a bit quiet.

There are a number of holiday concerts taking place in the city, though, ones that are sure to put you in the holiday spirit.


NOTE: If you’re looking for more concerts or musical performances to see, check out our tips for live music in New Orleans.

Again, you can easily find all the concerts in NOLA here.

3. Go to a Sporting Event

The Big Easy has two popular teams to root for in December: The New Orleans Pelicans and the New Orleans Saints.

Find all the games you can attend this month here.



In addition to these events, it’s worth noting that the New Orleans Bowl will also be held at the Caesars Superdome, on December 16th

Again, you can find all the games you can attend this month here.

4. See a Performance on the Stage

There are plenty of great shows to be seen on the stage in December in New Orleans.

You'll find popular shows from Broadway, comedy, and a number of shows that celebrate the holidays.

Holiday Shows

Comedy Shows


5. Enjoy a Holiday-Themed Riverboat Cruise

Both the Steamboat Natchez and the Creole Queen Paddlewheeler offer special activities to celebrate the holiday season.

Some sails will offer a holiday buffet and a bar, but others stick to food items such as tea and hors d'oeuvres.

If you are traveling with kids, they'll find the Papa Noel Cruise on the Creole Queen enjoyable.

Steamboat Natchez

Creole Queen Paddlewheeler

You can also find more details about both the Steamboat Natchez and the Creole Queen Paddlewheeler on our post which covers riverboat cruises in New Orleans.

If you want to find other things to do this holiday season, make sure to read our post on Christmas events in New Orleans.

6. Enjoy a Holiday Cocktail

With Christmas just around the corner, most of the pubs, bars, and other drinking establishments in New Orleans will have special holiday-themed cocktails available for a limited time. 

If you’re curious about the kind of cocktails you can expect during December, we go into much greater detail about this subject in our post about things to do for Christmas in New Orleans

NOTE: Anyone who is interested in grabbing a few drinks may want to consider taking our Cocktail tour as well. 

Many of the locations you will visit on this outing have special drinks during the holidays, giving you the chance to enjoy both activities at once!

7. Enjoy a Réveillon Dinner

Dating back to the 1800s, this Creole holiday tradition is now celebrated by many locals in New Orleans.

The customary Réveillon Dinner is a large family feast that takes place after midnight mass on Christmas Eve.

The modern equivalent of this meal can be found in many restaurants throughout the city during the holiday season. Prices range from $30-$60 per person.

You can learn more about these and other meals on our pay-what-you-wish Creole Christmas Tour and our French Quarter Food Tour.

8. Celebrate New Year's

There are a number of fabulous New Year's Eve parties going on in the city that knows how to live with joy.

And of course, you can see

If you’re looking for free activities during the month of December, this will definitely be one of your best options.

9. Celebration in the Oaks

Every holiday season, New Orleans’ City Park wraps its famous oak trees up in lights.

In addition to the wonderfully lit oaks, you’ll also see displays in areas such as their Botanical Garden and Carousel Gardens. 

This event attracts more than 165,000 visitors every year, making it one of the most popular holiday activities in New Orleans. 

With that in mind, they actually recommend purchasing tickets well ahead of time.

This year the event runs from November 23rd-December 30th.

Click here for additional information.

New Orleans’ City Park has much more to offer as well, so is well worth a visit.

This is one of the most family-friendly attractions in New Orleans during December, but you can find even more great ideas in our things to do with kids section.

10. Save Money With a Tourist Pass

If you’re planning to enjoy a lot of different activities in New Orleans, a tourist pass can save you plenty of money.

Depending on which service you choose and how you use it, you could save up to 50% off general admission prices at several notable attractions in the city.

An all-inclusive pass will give you access to dozens of popular tours and activities for a specific amount of time (1, 2, 3 or 5 days).

Alternatively, you can also get a tourist pass which will allow you to pay one flat price for a set number of attractions (2, 3, 4, 5, or 6).

Regardless of which service you choose, you can expect admission for the following activities to be included with at least one New Orleans tourist pass:

  • Hop-on-Hop-off Bus Tour
  • Jean Lafitte Swamp Tour
  • Riverboat Jazz Cruise
  • National WWII Museum
  • Audubon Aquarium
  • Audubon Insectarium
  • Mardi Gras World
  • Houmas House
  • Audubon Zoo
  • And more!

If you choose an all-inclusive pass, it will be important to use it for at least 3-4 activities to save a decent amount of money.

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


This section will provide a few additional ideas for free things to do in New Orleans during the month of December. 

If you want even more to do for free, don’t forget that we offer a lot of pay-what-you-want walking tours such as the Creole Christmas Tour.

To save even more money, check our post about the best free and cheap things to do in New Orleans.

Free Concert Tuesdays

A local jazz band performs a free concert at the New Orleans Jazz Museum every Tuesday at 2 p.m.

All you need to do is drop in at the right time and grab a seat to experience this 60-minute show every week.

There are several additional free shows at the museum throughout any given month and other concerts that come with a price tag.

Make sure to check their events calendar.

Enjoy Christmas Activities

There are a lot of great things to do for Christmas in New Orleans, and several activities are actually free.

Here are a few examples of holiday events you can attend without paying a dime.

  • Krewe of Jingle
  • Sugar Bowl Parade
  • Winter Wonderland
  • NOLA Fest
  • Merriment on Magazine Street
  • Miracle on Fulton Street
  • Jackson Square Caroling

If you want to learn more about these opportunities and others, make sure to read our post about the best Christmas activities in New Orleans.

NOTE: Some of these events have yet to be confirmed for 2023, but they are likely to still take place in some way, shape, or form.

Go to a Free Wine Tasting

Faubourg Wines will be offering a free wine-tasting event every Wednesday in December from 5:00 pm - 7:00 pm

This event is open to the public, and no reservations are required.

During each wine tasting, Faubourg Wines selects 4 different drinks (which change every week) for visitors to taste.

This location also offers classes where you can learn more about wine and how to appreciate it. These courses are not free, but they do include even more wine tastings.

TIP: If you’re interested in trying some wine, you might also want to consider taking our Cocktail tour to learn more about the popular beverages in New Orleans.

To save even more money, check our post about the best free and cheap things to do in New Orleans.


In this section, we will give you a few additional ideas for fun and interesting things you can do at night in New Orleans in December. 

You can find more nighttime activities such as free wine tasting, free comedy shows, attending a concert, going on a riverboat cruise or seeing a sporting event in our other sections.

Make sure to read our post about things to do in New Orleans at night.

Take a Ghost Tour

The beloved tale A Christmas Carol proves that ghost stories are just as fun and intriguing during the holiday season as they are at other times of the year. 

If you’re interested in learning about some of the haunted history of New Orleans, we offer a pay-what-you-like ghost tour that covers a variety of different subjects and locations in the French Quarter.

While you’re in the area, you can enjoy some of the wonderful Christmas lighting displays at notable landmarks that you will pass along the way. 

This is also a great option if you’re looking for something other than holiday cheer during this special time of year.

In addition to our main ghost tour, we also provide these creepy outings:

See the Holiday Lights

No matter where you choose to go in New Orleans during the month of December, chances are that you’ll see some lighting displays.

Here are a few places you might want to visit for holiday lights:

These aren’t the only locations where you will find Christmas lighting displays, but they are some of the more popular sites that tend to decorate for the holiday season. 

If you’re looking for more information about some of the attractions on this list, make sure to read our post about the best Christmas activities in New Orleans.

If you’re looking for more attractions after dark, make sure to read our post about things to do in New Orleans at night.

Go to LUNA Fête

The 10th anniversary of LUNA Fête, a light art and technology festival takes place in December 7th-10th.

You'll find illuminated costumes and light-based artworks in the Convention Center Pedestrian Park.

There are also nightly markets, food, drinks, and so much more.

Read more about LUNA Fête here.


The following section covers a variety of family-friendly things you can do in New Orleans in December. 

For additional ideas, make sure to check the other sections in this post for activities such as seeing a show at Saenger Theater, going to a live sporting event, attending a concert, or enjoying the holiday lights.

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

Celebrate the Holidays

With Christmas right around the corner, it probably won’t surprise you that there will be several family activities available in New Orleans this month. Here are a few of the attractions you might want to check out:

  • Teddy Bear Tea
  • Christmas Bonfires
  • Audubon Zoo Lights
  • Celebration in the Oaks
  • Jackson Square Caroling
  • Christmas Musicals/Ballets
  • Jingle Bugs at Audubon Insectarium

If you want to find even more fun things to do, make sure to check our post about the best Christmas activities in New Orleans.

Watch the Sugar Bowl Parade

In celebration of the Sugar Bowl, which takes place on December 31st, the Sugar Bowl Parade will be held.

This parade begins at about 3 p.m. at the intersection of Elysian Fields Avenue and Decatur Street.

With a wide variety of floats, bands, and other participants, there will be plenty to see and do during this event.

Even if you’re not interested in football, this is a fun family activity!

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

Attend NOLA ChristmasFest

New Orleans' annual ChristmasFest celebration returns in 2023.

For ten days folks can go on ice slides and carnival rides, and go ice skating. Santa and his friends will be there as well, and on December 23rd you can even go ice skating with him!

There are plenty of special events each day as well, all of this taking place between December 21st and 25th.

To purchase tickets visit the ChristmasFest website.


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: September 13th, 2023
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