Free New Year’s Eve events for those who bought one too many presents
Just when you think your wallet can take a respite from the strain of the holidays, New Year’s Eve pops up with its all-inclusive prix fixe meals and parties. Those events can be a blast, but for those of us who spent our last dime on Legos or a Lexus, we might need to find cheaper alternatives to celebrate the change of the calendar page.
Thankfully, New Orleans excels at throwing free parties. Our street culture is part of our lifeblood, and you can’t charge admission to the street. Here are some suggestions for free events to ring in the new year.
Although Carnival won’t start for a few more weeks, this Mardi Gras-style parade features beautiful floats, marching bands, dance groups and float riders tossing beads and other throws to the spectators. Not only will you get the thrilling experience of a parade in New Orleans, you could end up with a free souvenir as well. The parade will begin at 2 p.m. on Monday, Dec. 31. The staging area is always interesting to observe and will be along Elysian Fields between Burgundy St. and Decatur St. It will officially begin at Decatur St. and Elysian Fields and snake its way along river-hugging Decatur. Beginning at approximately 2:30 p.m., the parade will pass the WDSU stage at the Allstate Fan Fest in the Jax Brewery Parking Lot (418 Decatur St.) where each parade participant will perform a 2-minute show before continuing on the parade route and finishing at Canal St. around 5 p.m.
The Allstate Sugar Bowl is played annually on Jan. 1 in New Orleans and part of the festivities leading up the big game include not only the parade, but a two-day party called Allstate Fan Fest. This marks the 13th year for the event which is on Sunday, Dec. 30 from 12 p.m. to 6 p.m. and Monday, Dec. 31 from 12 p.m. to midnight. Both days feature interactive fun like trying to kick a field goal and football-related drills, but the real party is on New Year’s Eve. That’s when each of the competing teams will hold a pep rally at the Fan Fest to fire up their visiting fans with their marching bands, mascots, dancers and cheerleaders. Texas will show their Longhorn pride at 1 p.m. and the Georgia Bulldogs will put the pep in their step at 4:30 p.m. Later that night brings the culmination of Fan Fest with musical performances by headliners Florida Georgia Line and Maren Morris. Those performances are rolled into another free event, the nationally-televised…
This marks the third year it has broadcast from New Orleans for the central time zone. The television network will air the coverage along with its New York City and Hollywood parties. The New Orleans celebration will be hosted by award-winning actress Lucy Hale who will interview celebrities and fans alike during the broadcast. The party will be at the Jax Brewery parking lot and also in Jackson Square, where the fleur de lis will “drop” at midnight.
Beginning at midnight, the sky over the Mississippi River will glow with fireworks choreographed to the music of the late, great Fats Domino. The fireworks are launched from barges and can be seen from both sides of the river. Algiers Point on the Westbank will provide the backdrop of the French Quarter. The Riverwalk on the Eastbank is an easy walk from other French Quarter festivities. Crescent Park will also be open for extended hours to allow for viewing. The Crescent City Countdown Club, the producers of the show, have created an app for iPhone and Android that will allow spectators to stream the music in real time with the fireworks. Visit this website to download the app.
Mystery Tricentennial Event
As of today, Mayor LaToya Cantrell, Chevron, New Orleans City Council, New Orleans Tourism Marketing Corporation and New Orleans & Company are planning to announce a “larger New Year’s Eve celebration” in honor of the city’s Tricentennial. The announcement is scheduled for Thursday, Dec. 27 at 11 a.m. so be on the lookout for those details. I anticipate the celebration will be part of free events that are already planned.