Deck the Convention Center Halls

NOLA ChristmasFest returns with holiday happenings

Anyone who chooses to travel to New Orleans is a wise person, and those who travel here during the holidays are especially so. The historic charm of our city is multiplied when festooned with modern twinkle lights. Our renowned hospitality is increased by those filled with the holiday spirit. For a town that knows how to throw a festival, you can trust our holiday festival is worth a visit.

The fifth annual NOLA ChristmasFest kicks off Thursday, Dec. 21 and continues through Sunday, Dec. 31. The festival brings indoor holiday fun to the Ernest N. Morial Convention Center Hall I for 11 days of family-friendly magic.

NOLA ChristmasFest has grown since its inception and incorporated guest feedback to improve its offerings.

“Each year we add new elements to the event so it gets bigger and better,” said Diane Lyons, community liaison for NOLA ChristmasFest. “Last year, we added the ice slide and the snowball fight. This year, there are two ice slides and a walk-through gingerbread house. To celebrate the city’s Tricentennial, NOLA ChristmasFest will feature the “One Time in New Orleans" Story Booth where attendees can share their own favorite experiences or memories here in New Orleans.”

It’s most innovative addition, the only indoor ice skating rink in New Orleans, will return this year. Also available again this year are the daily private 30-minute ice skating lessons led by the Ice Ambassadors before opening.

With a focus on families, the festival appeals to all age groups.

“Not only is the setting an indoor winter wonderland of dazzling lights, decorated Christmas trees and spectacular gingerbread creations, but there’s something for everyone,” explained Lyons. “The carousel and inflatables for tots, twirling rides, ice skating and rock climbing for the adventurous, and ice slides for the young at heart. It’s a great place for mom and dads, grandparents and kids of all ages.”

This year there is also a philanthropic community aspect with a Copa Airlines raffle to win a trip to the Dominican Republic. Proceeds from the raffle will benefit the local nonprofit organization Son of a Saint.

Ticketing has been modified for 2017 with a $20 “Pay One Price” ticket, replacing the general admission and rides tickets. The “POP” ticket includes ice skating, skate rentals, admission to all rides and attractions. Skating lessons, photos with Santa, face painting, refreshments and cookie decorating will be at an additional charge. Tickets may be purchased online in advance with a service fee, or in person at the box office starting Dec. 21.

Hours have also been expanded until 9 p.m. to accommodate the after-work crowd. Daily hours are 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. daily. Exceptions are: Wednesday, Dec. 27 from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m.; Christmas Eve from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.; Christmas Day from 2 p.m. to 8 p.m.; and New Year’s Eve Day from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Parking is available directly across Convention Center Boulevard from the Hall I entrance for $10. The Boulevard will again be decorated with holiday décor and lights synchronized to traditional and contemporary Christmas music.


Categories: Tourism Biz