WhereTraveler New Orleans

Holly jolly holiday happenings

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It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas in the Crescent City. From gingerbrea­d houses and Santa sightings to brilliant bonfires and community caroling, we’ve wrapped the season up for you.

STREET SCENES

Festive floats, prancing candy canes, Mr. and Mrs. Claus: The holidays officially get underway Dec. 7 with the family friendly Krewe of Jingle Parade (www.downtownno­la.com/holidays), which begins at 1 pm at Howard and St. Charles avenues then loops around Canal and Baronne streets. Risqué reindeer and inebriated elves follow with the booze-fueled Running of the Santas (www.runningoft­hesantas.com) — “the world’s naughtiest pub crawl”—at 6 pm. The merry mischief continues at 7 pm in the Bywater neighborho­od with the frightfull­y fun Krampus NOLAuf Parade (www. kreweofkra­mpus.com), in which lumps of coal are the prized catch.

MERRY AND BRIGHT

Throughout the month you’ll find City Park all aglow with Celebratio­n in the Oaks (www.neworleans­citypark.com), a 25-acre holiday lights extravagan­za that has been making the season bright for more than three decades. Audubon Zoo Lights (www.audubonzoo­lights.org) spotlights the award-winning facility’s residents with illuminate­d, life-size replicas of alligators, elephants and other animals. Historic Gallier Hall morphs into a modern, light-projection masterpiec­e with the 6th annual Luna Fête (www.lunafete.org) Dec. 12-15, which also features a variety of outdoor, interactiv­e installati­ons. Take it inside Dec. 20-31 for NOLA ChristmasF­est (www.nolachrist­masfest.com), which transforms the Convention Center into a massive winter wonderland.

FOR A GOOD CLAUS

A little one-on-one time with St. Nick? Santa makes multiple appearance­s around the city during December, dropping in for brunch at Broussard’s (Dec. 14-15 and 20-22) and the Court of Two Sisters (Dec. 20 and 23), posing for pix during the Royal Sonesta’s annual Teddy Bear Tea (Dec. 15 and 19-23), and cruising aboard the Creole Queen and steamboat Natchez (both of which also offer Christmas Eve and New Year’s Eve excursions). Big kids can party with the Big Guy on Friday and Saturday evenings at Pat O’Brien’s. To help Papa Noël guide his gator-pulled pirogue, locals have been igniting blazing bonfires along the Mis

sissippi for more than two centuries. That tradition continues Dec. 7 with the free Algiers Bonfire & Concert (www.algiersbon­fire.com), just across the river from the French Quarter.

JOYFUL NOISES

St. Louis Cathedral and St. Augustine Church offer free concerts by such standouts as Ellis Marsalis, Opera Creole and the Preservati­on Hall All-Stars throughout the month (www.holiday.neworleans.com), while Tipitina’s (www.tipitinas.com) plays host to Trombone Shorty’s Tunes for Tots toy drive/concert Dec. 19 and the House of Blues (www.hob.com) mounts its Home for the Holidays fundraiser, featuring Kermit Ruffins, Irma Thomas, John Boutté and other New Orleans greats, Dec. 20. Grammy winner Lauren Daigle pulls into the Saenger on her “Behold Christmas” tour Dec. 13-15 (www.saengernol­a.com), the Louisiana Philharmon­ic Orchestra performs Bach’s “Christmas Oratorio” and Handel’s “Messiah” at the Orpheum Theater (www.orpheumnol­a.com) Dec. 19 and the annual Caroling in Jackson Square communal sing-along sounds off Dec. 22 at 7 pm (see p. 14).

SEASONAL STAGINGS

The Sugar Plum Fairy, the dancing snowflakes, the towering tree:

Christmas isn’t Christmas without a performanc­e of The Nutcracker. The New Orleans Ballet Theatre jetés into the Orpheum with its production (Dec. 14-15 and 21-22), followed by the Moscow Ballet’s Great Russian Nutcracker Dec. 27 at the Saenger. Le Petit Theatre (www.lepetitthe­atre.com) offers Dickens’ classic A Christmas Carol Dec. 6-23, while the Saenger mounts the traveling Broadway musical adaptation of A Christmas Story Dec. 17-22. For something naughty, there’s A Drag Queen Christmas at the Fillmore (www.fillmoreno­la.com) Dec. 22, and for something nice, The Amazing Acro-cats Meow-y Christmas Show Dec. 3-23 at the AllWays Lounge (www.theallways­lounge.net).

TASTES OF TRADITION

The Roosevelt, Ritz-Carlton, Harrah’s and other area hotels erect giant gingerbrea­d displays in celebratio­n of the season, while the Preservati­on Resource Center (www.prcno.org) and the Patio Planters (www.patioplant­ers.net) provide entry into decked-out private residences with their annual holiday home tours. During the 1800s locals would indulge in lavish, multicours­e meals following Christmas Eve midnight Mass. Today chefs citywide serve up special Reveillon dinners all month long, in addition to holiday-inspired cocktails. For menus and participat­ing restaurant­s, visit www.holiday.neworleans.com.

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CELEBRATIO­N IN THE OAKS
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AUDUBON ZOO LIGHTS
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RUNNING OF THE SANTAS
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KRAMPUS NOLAUF PARADE
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FROM LEFT$ THE AMAZING ACRO-CATS AN! %THE GREAT RUSSIAN NUTCRACKER'
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FROM TOP LEFT: A GINGERBREA­D DISPLAY, NOLA CHRISTMASF­EST AND BONFIRES
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