NEW ORLEANS, December 27th, 2013— As the tinkling of jingle bells fades wistfully into the distance, the season of holiday cheer adjourns for New Year’s celebrations of firecrackers and champagne glasses. The awkward gap between December 25th and December 31st, however, does not have to be a dull waiting period for 2014. New Orleans still praises the time of Yuletide with the distinguished event, Celebration in the Oaks, and, up-and-coming classic, Miracle on Fulton Street.
Celebration in the Oaks, formerly known as Christmas in the Oaks, has established itself for over twenty years as necessary for every holiday to-do list. Until January 4th, visitors can experience the magic of New Orleans City Park, with thirteen acres immersed in brilliant LED bulbs. The event opens at 6 P.M., shutting its gates at 10 P.M. from Sunday to Thursday and 11 P.M. over the weekend. Light displays, like “Buggin’ Out,” “Butterfly Garden,” and “Cajun Night Before Christmas,” encompass the expansive lawns and paths. The monstrous oak tree, dripping with clusters of white bulbs, complements the already enchanting winter garden. Train rides chug around two miles of the property for $4.00 a person, showcasing LED dinosaurs, mermaids, flamingos, and displays of New Orleans culture. The amusement park, which sells tickets for $3.00 each, includes a ferris wheel, fair rides, and a majestic carousel. The rows of fir trees, adorned by local organizations and businesses, are the cherry on top of the Christmas atmosphere.
A standard family tradition for Christmas in the Oaks regulars is a walk through Storyland, a haven for youngsters and a photo opportunity for all. Countless scenes from childhood tales are portrayed throughout the expanse, with everything from three familiar piggies to a towering shoe house to an open-mouthed whale. An additional custom endures in the Botanical Gardens, which houses a colossal poinsetta tree and the Historic New Orleans Train Garden. The Train Garden exists as a three-dimensional history lesson— the dwarfed buildings and streetcars recount the significant events of the past couple centuries in the city.
Visitors can gain entry to Celebration in the Oaks with $8.00 tickets, which are available at the front gates and online at http://www.neworleanscitypark.com/celebration-in-the-oaks. Children of three years and under are not charged. Guests aged 17 and younger are only granted access with an adult of age 21 and over. Both restrooms and food vendors are available on site because, after all, what’s a stroll through the park without a cup of hot chocolate? Several dance teams, gospel choirs, and other organizations provide entertainment each evening; New Year’s Eve is the exception— the park will be closed.
After a trip to City Park, head on over to Fulton Street in downtown New Orleans. Only a twenty minute drive away, the holiday celebration, called Miracle on Fulton Street, has really made a name for itself in the past few years. The closed-off block is snuggled between a series of boutiques and restaurants, right outside of Harrah’s Casino at 8 Canal Street. Spend an hour ambling through the brick walkway, glittering with LED lights and holiday decorum, until its nightly close at 10 P.M. The novelty of the event, however, stems from its incorporation of snow powder— while slush in the South can rarely be expected, an hourly dust of imitation snow, beginning at 5 P.M. every day, falls upon the shoulders of visitors.
Open to the public until January 6th, the festivity is free for all. A beautiful thirty-foot Christmas tree stands at the end of the block for photo opportunities, in addition to the mammoth gingerbread house of Cafe’ Du Monde, the local restaurant famous for its beignets. Adults are invited to eat, drink, and be merry on Mistletoe Row, where alcoholic beverages are served and other light refreshments.
Just because December 25th is gone for another year does not mean the holiday hoopla has to end. The Christmas season is not truly complete without a night under the lights of Celebration in the Oaks and Miracle on Fulton Street.
What: Celebration in the Oaks
Where: New Orleans City Park, 1 Palm Drive
When: Now until January 4th, 2014
6 P.M. to 10 P.M., Sunday through Thursday
6 P.M. to 11 P.M., Friday and Saturday
For more information, please visit www.neworleanscitypark.com/celebration-in-the-oaks, call (504) 483-9415, or e-mail [email protected].
What: Miracle on Fulton Street
Where: Fulton Street, outside of Harrah’s Casino at 8 Canal Street
When: Now until January 6th, 2014
5 P.M. until 10 P.M.
For more information, please visit www.harrahsneworleans.com/shows/miracle-on-fulton-street.html.