New Orleans has a festival for everything and our beautiful spring weather is a good reason to have a festival every week! Check out Wednesday at the Square, a midweek fest at Lafayette Square, starting this week and running through May 18th.
Today, January 6th marks the 12th night since Christmas, the day the wise men arrived to see the Christ child. It is recognized in Christian faiths as the Feast of the Epiphany and marks the end of the Christmas holiday season. In New Orleans, this day also marks the beginning of Carnival season! Similar to the historic religious traditions, food and drink remain at the center of this celebratory occasion. Carnival season = King cake season! One of the oldest (and tastiest!) traditions that secular New Orleanians have adopted from Catholic ritual is the king cake. From today through Mardi Gras day (Feb. 9th this year) it is perfectly acceptable to eat as much king cake as you can. Uber is even delivering king cakes from Haydel's bakery today! If you are not in NOLA and want a king cake, some bakeries will ship them to you. Check out this list for where to get your king cake this year.
Celebration in the Oaks is a New Orleans City Park fundraiser that provides 13% of the operating budget of the park each year. This magical festival of illuminated artwork has become a New Orleans holiday tradition, but wasn't always so. This is the history of Celebration in the Oaks:
early 1980s: Due to the expansion of the New Orleans Botanical Garden, a fundraiser was required to maintain growth of the Garden.
1984: Paul Soniat, director of New Orleans Botanical Garden, develops a program called A Tribute to a Christmas Tree, where local artists would decorate trees which were displayed in a tent inside the Botanical Garden.
1985: The New Orleans Federated Council of Garden Clubs takes over the task of decorating the trees and the event's name is changed to Holiday Celebration.
1986: Paul Soniat invites Channel 4's Angela Hill to see the decorations, and she loved the project so much she volunteered to be the 1987 Chairperson.
1987: 1987 is generally considered the first year of the event, or the first real year. Thanks to Angela Hill, the event gained sponsorship and decorations expanded to other areas of the Park beyond the Botanical Garden. Thanks to volunteers, an electrical plan was put in place to light up the park, and traffic control was implemented to accommodate the newly established driving tour. The title of the event became Christmas in the Oaks.
1988: Expansion to include Storyland and the Carousel Gardens.
1991: Christmas in the Oaks becomes Celebration in the Oaks
1992: Clarence Ecklemann develops one of the event's most attractive exhibits, the lighted miniature train.
1995: The first Hanukkah exhibit was introduced.
2005: Dilliards donates the huge float-like Mr. Bingle. Due to damage from Hurricane Katrina, the driving tour is suspended indefinitely.
Since 2005, the Celebration in the Oaks has grown tremendously! From its humble beginning as a tent full of Christmas trees, it now displays nearly 600,000 lights, delighting over 165,000 people. New installations are added each year, including the Dripping Snow Tree in 2011, and the Pirate Ship, Treasure Island, and Flamingo Island in 2012. This is truly an event not to be missed!
Click here for more info on visiting our decorated City Park this holiday season.
Looking for some summertime fun in Mid-City this weekend? Check out the Mid-City Bayou Boogaloo! This annual event is one of our favorite festivals and features classic favorites like the bicycle pub crawl and rubber duck derby. The event takes place, rain or shine, on the banks of Bayou St John and features great music, great food, and family friendly activities Friday through Sunday. Find a full schedule of events here.
The New Orleans Wine and Food Experience, affectionately called NOWFE, is coming up in just a few weeks so it’s time to make your reservations! This year the incredible gathering of good food and great wine is featuring more than 40 different wineries from around the world. This year 31 different restaurants are hosting wine dinners on Wednesday, May 21, with tastings taking place on Thursday, Friday, and Saturday, and, of course, the Royal Street Stroll on Thursday, May 22. You can find a full list of participating wineries as well as details on all 31 wine dinners here. Be sure to make your reservations soon, and don’t forget to give us a call to schedule some daytime activities while you’re in town!
It's one of our favorite annual events! The New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival is finally here, and music lovers from around the globe are making their annual pilgrimages to the Crescent City. This year's lineup features Eric Clapton, Bruce Springsteen, Christina Aguilera, Phish, Arcade Fire, Preservation Hall Jazz Band, Santana, Robin Thicke, Trombone Shorty, and many others. Check out the official Jazz Fest 2014 Talent Announcement video for more highlights and get your tickets here. If you're sticking around for a few extra days, be sure to check out our tour offerings if you want to learn more about the city, visit a plantation, or hop on an airboat to see some gators!