Downtown Does December

Options for celebrating abound in Downtown New Orleans
courtesy of DDD NOLA

One of the most interesting aspects of New Orleans is how each of its neighborhoods has a distinct identity. The French Quarter may be the most famous, but Downtown Development District (DDD) has been hard at work for over 40 years promoting living and working in Downtown NOLA. For visitors during the holiday season, there are even more reasons to love this vibrant neighborhood.

Canal Street: Home for the Holidays began in 2008. According to Devona Dolliole, director of communications for Downtown Development District, the series of events was created to “support Canal Street and Downtown retailers during the holiday season and to encourage family activity along the grand corridor.”

Dollioile added, “Every year, this grand celebration, presented by the DDD and The Roosevelt New Orleans, brings more than 30,000 locals and visitors Downtown for holiday magic and merriment at several festive events held throughout the season.”

More than 1 million twinkle lights will make the season bright along Canal Street and throughout Downtown. The Fulton Street Mall outside of Harrah’s Hotel is the location of “Miracle on Fulton Street,” where the pedestrian mall is transformed by lights, interactive ornaments and even “snow.” On Friday and Saturday evenings Dec. 2-24, visit with Santa and enjoy live performances.

The first three Fridays in December also feature Holiday Movies on the Mississippi, a partnership with DDD and The Outlet Collection at Riverwalk. Dec. 2 will remind parents to bring their children on vacation with them with “Home Alone,” Dec. 9will get “Let It Go” stuck in your head all over again with “Frozen,” and Dec. 16 will have you craving “candy, candy canes, candy corns and syrup” with “Elf.” All movie screenings take place at Spanish Plaza at 6:30 p.m.

The National WWII Museum joins the festivities with A Vintage Christmas and Teddy Bear Teas. The Victory Belles will grace the Stage Door Canteen stage to sing holiday classics at these special shows. Tickets for both can be purchased in advance online at

The most New Orleans-style event is the Krewe of Jingle Parade on Saturday, Dec. 3. The parade will start at 1 p.m. and wind its way through Downtown. Floats will feature special holiday “throws” for the crowd, including beads of course. Marching bands, dance krewes, Christmas characters and Santa himself will bring happiness and cheer in this extremely family-friendly parade.

Providing an opportunity for fitness and fun, the Reindeer Run and Romp is scheduled for Saturday, Dec. 10. It is a fun run designed especially for kids of all ages that starts and finishes at Spanish Plaza. Participants will be given antlers, race T-shirts, and a bag of holiday treats. After the race, Spanish Plaza will feature healthy activities, games, music and crafts. Registration begins at 8 a.m. and the race is at 9 a.m.

If the kiddos (or grownups) aren’t worn out from the race, they can head to the Audubon Butterfly Garden and Insectarium for Jingle Bugs from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Holiday-themed activities will feature the creatures-in-residence, and even include a few dead ones if you want to eat some “buggy holiday treats.” Balloons and face painting, as well as a special reading, are also planned.

To ring in the New Year, head to the Louisiana Children’s Museum for its annual New Year’s Eve Countdown on Saturday, Dec. 31 from 9:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. At the stroke of noon, a confetti drop and balloon release create a fun way to celebrate.

Downtown New Orleans is a wonderful place to be to celebrate the holidays, and any visitor during this time of year has their pick of activities. The Canal Street: Home for the Holidays series and all of the bustling Downtown events are sure to create new holiday memories. For more information about these events and more, visit

Jennifer Gibson Schecter was once a tourist in New Orleans herself and is now proud to call NOLA home. Prior to New Orleans, she wrote for publications in the Midwest and New York City.


Categories: The Magazine