This special, month-long light show in City Park hosts hundreds of thousands of colorful lights and illuminated outdoor displays to showcase the holiday season in New Orleans. An annual tradition that began in the late 1980s, Celebration in the Oaks is a family-friendly event that only happens after dark. Over the years it has become one of the most beautiful and popular holiday lighting displays in the country, attracting hundreds of thousands of people annually.
Celebration in the Oaks opens every year on the Friday after Thanksgiving and closes January 1st.
During this glittering extravaganza, festive lights and colorful, imaginative holiday decorations are strung across City Park’s centuries-old live oak trees and elsewhere throughout the section of the park closest to the major attractions, including Storyland, the Botanical Gardens and the Carousel Gardens amusement ride area. Children and their parents are invited to take a two-mile ride on the miniature train that circles the park, passing underneath lit-up holiday displays and other special effects.
Points of Interest
Visitors are treated to a wide range of attractions, from light displays to the walkways lined with dozens of Christmas trees decorated by local school groups. Perennial favorites include the animated “Cajun Night Before Christmas” display and the “Who Dat Tree,” imaginatively adorned in New Orleans Saints black and gold and related football themes. Another favorite is New Orleans’ iconic snowman, Mr. Bingle, a holiday character beloved by generations of New Orleanians when he adorned the window of the old D.H. Holmes department store on Canal Street during the holiday season.
In Carousel Gardens, you can ride beautiful hand-carved flying horses on the same historic Carousel that New Orleanians have been enjoying for over 100 years. Or delight in breathtaking views of the park, its holiday lights, and the New Orleans skyline from the ferris wheel. There are more than a dozen rides to enjoy, as well as nightly entertainment and a full-service café.
Those who arrive by private vehicles will find ample parking on-site to make seeing New Orleans Christmas lights easy. The Celebration in the Oaks tour can only be taken on foot; vehicles are no longer allowed to drive through it. Hours of operation are Sunday through Thursday, 6:00-10:00 p.m., and Friday and Saturday from 6:00-11:00 p.m. (closed December 1-4, Christmas Eve and New Year’s Eve).
There is a small admission charge for Celebration in the Oaks and children under three are admitted free. Rides are each charged separately and money-saving unlimited ride wristbands can be purchased. You can avoid lines by purchasing tickets ahead of time to see these spectacular Christmas lights in New Orleans at this link. You’ll need to print your online tickets and bring them with you.
GrayLine Tours offers transportation packages that include express admission to Celebration in the Oaks and other park attractions. Buses depart at 6pm on Monday, Wednesday, Friday, and Saturday from Dec 5-22 and Dec 26-29 from their French Quarter ticket office at the foot of Toulouse St. on the Mississippi River. More information is available here.
This year’s Celebration in the Oaks takes place from November 25, 2016 through January 1, 2017. Event is closed on November 28, 29, 30 and December 1, and is closed Christmas Eve and New Year’s Eve.