Now in its 30th year, New Orleans’ favorite winter wonderland returns to City Park with twinkling lights, the carousel (“flying horses” if you’re old school), Mr. Bingle, carnival rides and more Fri., Nov. 25-Sun., Jan. 1. Other highlights include the two-mile train ride through the park and the animated “Cajun Night Before Christmas” display. Local schools decorate Christmas trees and provide choirs for live music entertainment throughout the season. Every exhibit is made in-house by a hardworking staff of six people.
How has Celebration in the Oaks changed in your tenure? The lighting technology has advanced tremendously. Gone are the days of using simple incandescent strings of light. Now, it’s all about LED lighting and movement.
What’s new this year? The new exhibits this year are a 15-foot-high menorah and spinning dreidels to celebrate Hanukkah; the “Beacon to Celebration,” which is a 16-foot-tall lighthouse (With a working beacon!); the “Walk of Lights,” a stroll through lit archways in the Botanical Garden; and a “Flower Fest.” And, of course, we always add a few surprises on the train route!
Will the driving tour ever return? It’s unlikely that the driving tour will ever return, but I never say never.
What’s your favorite part of the festivities? It’s the smiles and wide eyes of the children that attend.
Is there a part of the event visitors tend to overlook? Visitors don’t always venture into the Entertainment Tent, where we stage three to five school groups, Irish dancers, church groups and more each night.
How do you balance the traditional and the new? Many exhibits have now become traditional crowd favorites, such as the “Cajun Night Before Christmas” and Mr. Bingle, and we’ll always display those exhibits. However, we generally retire a few exhibits each year to make room for the new ones.
For more information, visit NewOrleansCityPark.com.