NOLA ChristmasFest returns with bigger ice skating rink and family fun
With Thanksgiving behind us and Mardi Gras beckoning, we are squarely in the middle of the holiday season. New Orleans has a tradition for practically everything, and a relatively new one opens in just two weeks—NOLA ChristmasFest.
The NOLA ChristmasFest will be open daily from Dec. 16 – Dec. 30 at the New Orleans Ernest N. Morial Convention Center inside Hall I. It will even be open for shortened hours on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day.
The family-friendly festival was intended from the start to attract tourism to New Orleans during a time of year when there is a lull in leisure and convention travel.
"NOLA ChristmasFest was created in 2013 under the name 'Christmas in the District' and featured a variety of concerts on the plaza and a musical lighting display on the neutral ground along Convention Center Boulevard,” said Bob Johnson, president and general manager of the Convention Center. “In keeping with the mission of the New Orleans Ernest N. Morial Convention Center, our goal from the start was to increase the demand for hotel rooms, restaurant covers and retail spending during the traditionally slow tourism season between Thanksgiving and Christmas.”
Johnson added, “Our ultimate hope is to position the City of New Orleans as one of the top 10 holiday destination cities in the nation."
Johnson and his team have been diligent in offering new attractions to ChristmasFest each year, while keeping those aspects of the event that attendees have grown to love. As a result, they are creating new family traditions while keeping things fresh for the growing number of attendees. Last year brought a record of more than 44,000 visitors from across the south and organizers anticipate an increase in 2016.
Last year’s innovation, New Orleans’ only indoor ice skating rink, has been improved upon by doubling in size for 2016. It still offers open skate times, as well as private lessons. Skates can be rented onsite for children and adults.
A New Orleans-themed Gingerbread House Exhibit is also new this year and will feature hand-crafted gingerbread creations.
Favorite children’s activities returning include inflatables, the A-Maze-ing walk-through Maze, Kringle Carousel, Winter Whirl, Snowball Fight and the Snowy Summit Climbing Wall, as well as photos with Santa and beloved holiday characters.
The indoor Festival will display thousands of lights and more than 70 Christmas trees decorated by local businesses. Additionally, Convention Center Boulevard is festooned with more than one million lights synced to traditional and contemporary Christmas music.
Tickets are available online and can be purchased in advance and during the festival. Single day general admission tickets are $20 and children two and under are free.
NOLA ChristmasFest is located inside Hall I at the Convention Center and will be open 10:00 a.m. until 8:00 p.m. daily, with special hours on Christmas Eve from 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. and on Christmas Day from 2:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m.