Hang Out the Holly

NOLA ChristmasFest returns with new offerings this holiday season.
Photo courtesy of NOLA Christmas Fest
Returning for its third year, NOLA ChristmasFest will take over the Ernest N. Morial Convention Center from December 18 to 27 in an effort to boost tourism and spending. Tickets range from $5 to $20, depending on the level of participation. Children 2 and under are free.

New Orleans celebrates the holidays unlike any other city. We may not have snow falling gracefully from the sky, but the powdered sugar on our beignets is a tasty (and warmer) substitute.

Added to the menu of festivities for locals and visitors alike is NOLA ChristmasFest, returning for its third year. The New Orleans Ernest N. Morial Convention Center will kick off its festival on Friday, Dec. 18. The family-oriented holiday event will wrap on Sunday, Dec. 27, giving locals and visiting families 10 days to celebrate the Christmas spirit.

That holiday spirit is a perfect draw for tourist spending and it played a role in the creation of the event. According to Matthew Willard, the convention center’s representative at Schulkens Communications, “NOLA ChristmasFest was created by the convention center with the mission to increase demand for hotel rooms, restaurant covers and retail spending during a period that has been traditionally slow for tourism.

“Our goal is to position New Orleans as one of the top holiday-themed cities in the nation to visit during the Christmas season,” Willard continues, “and to encourage visitors and locals alike to celebrate Christmas in a family-friendly environment where they can create magical memories.”

NOLA ChristmasFest will take place inside Hall B at the convention center and will be open from noon to 8 p.m. An exciting new element this year is the indoor ice skating rink. It will also include a walk-through maze, themed inflatables, and carnival rides such as the Kringle Carousel, Winter Whirl and Snowy Summit Climbing Wall.

NOLA ChristmasFest visitors will have the opportunity to take photos with Santa and several of his friends. For those celebrating Christmas in New Orleans, this year’s festivities will continue on Christmas Eve from noon to 5 p.m. and on Christmas Day from 2 p.m. to 8 p.m.  

Convention Center Boulevard will also once again be draped in holiday décor and mesmerizing lights, synchronized to traditional and contemporary Christmas music.

Because the event is still in its infancy, there aren’t any numbers yet regarding the economic impact it has on the city, but the increased interest this year is encouraging.

“The indoor ice skating rink and carnival rides, together with the fact that we’ll be open on Christmas Eve and Christmas day, should make a big impact on the event and the overall appeal of New Orleans as a holiday destination,” Willard says.

Local businesses and organizations can take part in the festival by creating one of the corporate trees that will be on display. The deadline for sponsoring a corporate tree is Dec. 12, and more information can be found on the sponsor tab of NOLAChristmasFest.com.

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. She advises travelers to ask their cab/pedicab/gondola driver for their favorite restaurant and taking a chance.



Categories: Hospitality, The Magazine