By now, you’ve probably heard it played in a store or restaurant “It’s the most wonderful time of the year…” Surely you’ve seen kids jingle-belling and TV commercials telling you to be of good cheer. And while holiday songs fill the airwaves, twinkling lights have filled local thoroughfares, windows and roofs. The holiday spirit is everywhere, and it’s easy to get in on the fun along the Gulf Coast this year. With concerts, plays, tours, brunches, dinners, private parties and community celebrations happening daily across December, there are tons of ways to spend time with your nearest and dearest this holiday season. Consider photos with Santa, hosting a party at an exquisite event space, or listening to carolers and musicians as they spread cheer and good will. The following guide to all holiday happenings – from entertainment and dining, to home improvement, accommodations, and giving – will help you generate ideas and plans for celebrating the season and making lasting memories with those you love.
Haunted History Tours is one of the only tour companies open throughout the holiday season – Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, New Year’s Eve, and New Year’s Day. Get your haunt on throughout the holidays with the tour company that the Travel Channel has recommended as “The #1 Tours in New Orleans…a must do!” From the daily cemetery tours to the nightly Ghost & Legends Tour, these are the tours you’ve heard about.
From walking tours to bus tours, Haunted History has it all with tours in the French Quarter, Garden District, and other historic New Orleans neighborhoods. This is the company that literally wrote the book on New Orleans haunts – New Orleans Ghosts, Voodoo & Vampires has become a local best seller.
If you’re looking for something special to do throughout the holidays, here’s an opportunity to find out why New Orleans is considered to be the most haunted city in North America.
For more information and to book your tour, visit HauntedHistoryTours.com or call 504-861-2727.
Across the Gulf South, the holidays have become synonymous with Beau Rivage Resort & Casino and its whimsical winter wonderland, exquisite shopping, holiday entertainment and visits from Santa.
On Sunday, December 8, Santa hosts an exclusive Christmas brunch at acclaimed steakhouse BR Prime. Families make holiday memories and enjoy an upscale menu, strolling characters, keepsake gift and commemorative photo with Santa.
Following brunch, the Mississippi Gulf Coast Ballet Theatre graces the stage of Beau Rivage Theatre for its 10th annual presentation of The Nutcracker Ballet for two shows on December 8 at 3 and 7 p.m.
December 10-14, Beau Rivage hosts its annual Holiday Open House, the perfect time to shop for unique gifts from artisans and vendors from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Sounds of the season will echo through the atrium December 18-20 as live performances by local choral groups greet visitors from 5 to 6 p.m. nightly.
Christmas in the Air takes place December 14-27 and features a 26-person cast of synchronized, high-kicking, Rockette-style dancers, world-class singers, veteran TV and film actors, and special appearances from Santa and his pals.
For more information, call 888-567-6667 or visit BeauRivage.com.
This holiday season, English Turn offers the perfect backdrop for a winter gathering of friends, family, or employees. At the center of this luxury golf and residential community sits a magnificent, 43,000-sq. ft. clubhouse that recalls the grace and grandeur of one of Louisiana’s legendary plantation homes. Surrounded by romantic verandas and an expanse of green lush lawns and flowering gardens, the clubhouse offers a spectacular location for your special event.
Consider gifting an English Turn membership to your family this year, and enjoy access to the community’s Jack Nicklaus Signature Design Par 72 Championship Golf Course, where every hole offers an individual personality among meandering lakes that provide quiet and seclusion from the city. English Turn also offers its members an expansive, luxurious pool and grill, tennis and fitness facilities, and a variety of dining options.
Experience all English Turn has to offer. For more information, visit EnglishTurnGolf.com or call 504-392-2200.
Delta Festival Ballet presents The Nutcracker with the Louisiana Philharmonic Orchestra at the Mahalia Jackson Theater on Saturday, December 21, at 7 p.m. and Sunday, December 22, at 2 p.m. With international guest stars, outstanding local professionals and a youth corps of over 100 young dancers from the Greater New Orleans Area, Delta Festival Ballet’s The Nutcracker is the show to see this holiday season.
Bringing holiday magic to New Orleans for 38 years, the production is helmed by Artistic Directors, Joseph and Maria Giacobbe, assisted by Ballet Master Richard Rholdon. The Louisiana Philharmonic Orchestra, conducted by Glenn Langdon, will accompany the performances. Artists include Denise Parungao, Joseph Phillips, Janessa Touchet, Romel Frometta, Taela Graff, Donovan Davis and Aaron Wiggins. The role of Clara will be danced by Caroline Fernandez and Izabella De Jesus and Fritz by Clay Kinler.
Celebrate the holidays with family and friends this season in the French Quarter’s most iconic location for theater and entertainment, Le Petit Theatre. Established in 1916, the theatre’s legacy continues with exciting productions running year-round just steps from Jackson Square.
Running December 6-23 is the holiday favorite A Christmas Carol. Miserly and menacing moneylender Ebeneezer Scrooge learns lessons in love, generosity, and redemption when he is visited by a host of spirits on Christmas Eve. Filled with magic, ghosts, and holiday cheer, Le Petit’s second-annual production of Charles Dickens’ heartwarming Victorian classic features 20 young artists from Le Petit’s Young Conservatory Program and is directed by Maxwell Williams. Single tickets are now on sale for all performances. If you are a current season subscriber, please contact the box office at 504-522-2081 to receive your special subscriber discount rate.
Le Petite Theatre is located at 616 St. Peter Street. For tickets and information, visit LePetitTheatre.com or call the box office at
504-522-2081 ext. 1.
Music is integral to holiday season celebrations, and there’s no better way to experience the music of the season than with a full-scale symphonic orchestra featuring the state’s most accomplished and talented musicians. This month, enjoy the many seasonal concerts of the Louisiana Philharmonic Orchestra (LPO).
The season begins with Yuletide Celebrations featuring local student choirs on December 5 at Kenner’s Pontchartrain Center, December 6 at Hammond’s Columbia Theatre, and December 8 at Slidell’s Municipal Auditorium.
On December 14, the LPO will host its Holiday Spectacular concert with help from the 610 Stompers and other local guest artists at the Mahalia Jackson Theater in New Orleans.
As Christmas nears, the LPO will perform two Baroque Christmas concerts, which include classical holiday selections such as excerpts from J.S. Bach’s Christmas Oratorio and Handel’s Messiah. Experience Baroque Christmas on December 19 at the Orpheum Theater in New Orleans and on December 20 at First Baptist Church in Covington.
Consider giving the gift of music this holiday season – for gift certificates, subscriptions, tickets, and information, visit LPOmusic.com.
All eyes will be on the skies this December 7, as Santa and his Elves parachute into Breaux Bridge for the Breaux Bridge Community Christmas Celebration. The celebration begins at Breaux Bridge Junior High School football field, which is the “Drop Zone” for the team from the North Pole as well as a revered group of military jumpers from all branches of the U.S. military.
In Veteran’s Park, music and caroling commence along with a special military ceremony honoring those who sacrifice so much for the country’s freedom. Papa Noel makes an appearance, too, and children from St. Martin Parish will perform a “Night Before Christmas” play. The celebration culminates with the Lighting of The Biggest Christmas Tree in Breaux Bridge. The city will be in full décor and filled with Christmas spirit. Share this fun and memorable day with your family and friends.
For more information, visit TecheCenterfortheArts.com.
This winter, soak in a bit of Louisiana history with a visit to beautiful St. Joseph Plantation, where you can walk through time and enjoy a glimpse into the lives of the fascinating people who have called it home. St. Joseph Plantation provides an awe-inspiring setting for holiday parties, weddings, and other private events. Thanks to its historic allure, scenes from All The King’s Men, Skeleton Key, 12 Years a Slave, Underground, Queen Sugar, the remake of Roots, and four-time Oscar nominee Mudbound were filmed at St. Joseph Plantation.
Tour the grounds and learn about the Priestly family and grandson H. H. Richardson, who was born at St. Joseph and became one of America’s most important architects of the 19th century. Explore the story of Valcour Aime, known as “The Louis XIV of Louisiana,” and his two daughters, and learn about the slaves that lived and worked here. A thriving sugarcane plantation, St. Joseph also offers insight into the region’s significant sugarcane industry.
Visit StJosephPlantation.com or call 225-265-4078 for information on tours and private events.
Happy holidays from your Scarlet Pearl family! Visit the Scarlet Pearl Casino Resort on the Mississippi Gulf Coast to shop at Frankly My Dear Boutique for all of your holiday gifts, including Fendi, Pandora, and many more lavish brands. Skip the dishes, and dine with Scarlet Pearl on Christmas Day with pan seared filet of beef, honey glazed ham, and more.
Earn entries now to win a 2020 Mercedes CLA or Free Slot Play on Monday, December 30 at 10 p.m. Ring in the New Year with a live performance from Storyville Stompers Brass Band, a walking jazz band, on New Year’s Eve from 6 p.m. to 10 p.m.
Treat yourself to an ultimate getaway at Scarlet Pearl Casino Resort, voted Best Favorite Casino Resort to Vacation At by Casino Player magazine. With breathtaking views, superior service, and bathrooms that feel more like a spa, Scarlet Pearl has taken the definition of luxury into the clouds. Book your stay at ScarletPearlCasino.com or call 888-BOOK-SPC.
Eat, Drink, & Be Merry: Dining
Consistently top rated, downtown brunch staple Red Gravy welcomes the holiday season with its acclaimed brunch and lunch fare in addition to a special, limited-seating dinner opportunity.
On December 19, Red Gravy will host the third installment of its Third-Thursday Wine Dinners, and this dinner coincides with the restaurant’s annual Feast of the Seven Fishes. An Italian tradition, Feast of the Seven Fishes is typically celebrated on Christmas Eve and features a multi-course feast highlighting the bounty of the sea with fin fish, shellfish, mollusks and/or squid. According to owner Roseann Melisi Rostoker, the family feast would traditionally begin as early as 6 p.m. and continue until the family gathered for midnight mass. Red Gravy’s Feast of the Seven Fishes wine dinner will run from 6:30 to 9 p.m. Seating is limited to 35, and tickets are $90, all inclusive.
For information and reservations, visit RedGravyCafe.com or call Chef Roe at 504-561-8844.
The holidays are an especially magical time to dine at Commander’s Palace. Holiday carolers provide added merriment to this month’s lunches, December 11-24, and lunch also provides an opportunity to add to your Commander’s jingle bell collection with a complimentary bell, December 2nd through December 23rd.
At Commander’s, Executive Chef Tory McPhail, along with the support of an experienced team of sous chefs, serves haute Creole dishes that continue to delight the discerning locals and visitors of New Orleans. The restaurant is known as a place where memories are made. Commander’s Palace was named The South’s Best Restaurant 2019 by Southern Living Magazine.
Enjoy dinner seven days a week, lunch Monday through Friday, and jazz brunch on the weekends. Planning a winter dinner party? Commander’s Palace makes entertaining easy. The restaurant’s experienced party planners will work with you to tailor every aspect of the event to your liking.
For reservations and more, visit CommandersPalace.com.
Located at 701 S. Peters Street in the Warehouse District, Briquette is a celebrated seafood destination from restaurateur Anna Tusa, Owner of New Orleans Creole Cookery. With Briquette, Tusa puts seafood and contemporary coastal cuisine at the center of the dining experience. As the name indicates, the restaurant features a large charcoal grill to highlight the fresh coastal flavors. The menu emphasizes a variety of fresh fish and seafood, including whole grilled fish. Other flavorful menu items include aged beef, pastas, pork, and more. The bar at Briquette features a curated wine list to accompany the menu along with specialty, hand-crafted cocktails with fresh local ingredients.
Start a new family tradition this holiday season with a delicious food shared together at Briquette. Briquette is open for lunch from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m., Monday through Friday. Dinner hours are 5 p.m. ‘til daily with happy hour from 3 to 6 p.m. For more information and reservations, visit Briquette online at Briquette-nola.com or on Facebook.
For over a decade, Austin’s Restaurant has been known as Metairie’s hot spot for steak, seafood, and the Creole-Italian creations of Restauranteur Ed McIntyre and his esteemed culinary staff. Garnering accolades from critics and readers alike, Austin’s was named “Favorite Steak House” and McIntyre named “New Orleanian of the Year” in 2010 by readers of New Orleans Magazine.
Austin’s impressive menu includes signature appetizers, soups, and salads such as the popular Austin’s Louisiana Creole Crab Salad and Oyster Fitzgerald, as well as the finest aged USDA steaks and savory Creole-Italian entrees of seafood, veal, duck, and pork. Austin’s is located at 5101 W. Esplanade in Metairie and is open Monday-Saturday, 5:00pm ‘til, and for private luncheons and banquets. Austin’s is now accepting reservations for Christmas Eve and New Year’s Eve. Mr. Ed’s Restaurant Group Gift Cards are available for the holiday season.
For information and reservations, call 504-888-5533. Visit Austin’s online at MrEdsRestaurants.com. McIntyre also oversees The Pearl Room event venue in Harahan, Mr. Ed’s Seafood & Italian Restaurant, and Mr. Ed’s Oyster Bar & Fish House, including his newest location at 821 Iberville Street in the French Quarter.
Holiday charm and delicious flavors abound at Ralph Brennan restaurants Ralph’s on the Park, Red Fish Grill, and Brennan’s this month.
Ralph’s on the Park is turning Sweet 16 – to celebrate, guests in December will receive a Sweet 16 “sweet-stakes” scratch-off card with a grand prize of a private, seated wine dinner for 16. The 16-week sweet-inspired celebration will continue into the new year with a $16 two-course lunch menu, birthday bubbles, a 16-night charitable giving campaign and more. Visit RalphsonthePark.com for details.
Gather your tribe and tap into your creative side with Holiday Gingerbread House Team Building Workshops at Red Fish Grill. Group workshops are available December 2-20, Sunday to Friday, 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Workshops run $38 per person and include one gingerbread house, decorative candy, jingle bell, and a cocktail, beer or wine. Two- and three-course packages are available. Call 504-539-5508 for details.
Visit Brennan’s on December 20th for Naughty or Nice Happy Hour. From 2 to 7 p.m., the Roost Bar & Courtyard will play host to a festive happy hour with falling snow, “Home for the Holidays” cocktails, and deeply discounted bottles of bubbly.
Cozy up to the fireplace or enjoy crisp evenings in the courtyard this season at Effervescence. Taste bubbles from around the world, with flights available by the full or half glass. Every Wednesday, Effervescence pops open a magnum of Champagne – double the excuse to celebrate midweek.
Discover the deeper side of bubbles with sparkling red wine, a special flight only available this holiday season. The full bar also serves cocktails, beer, and spirits. The Effervescence bites menu features items made from fresh and local ingredients prepared by the Michelin-trained chef team. Highlights include a Gulf Seafood Plateau, Caviar Service, Dry-Aged Louisiana Wagyu, and Pommes Frites.
Effervescence will ring in 2020 with their Roaring Twenties New Year’s Eve celebration. The extravaganza will include a retro-classic dinner, caviar, live music and, of course, Champagne.
For holiday hours, New Year’s Eve details, menus, and event bookings, visit NolaBubbles.com. Limited reservations are available on OpenTable.
For over 100 years, Parkway Bakery and Tavern has been a staple provider of delicious, locally produced foods, and today, Parkway is known as the go-to place for New Orleans’s signature sandwich – the poor boy. Locally owned since 1911, Parkway has survived major floods and economic shifts, including the Great Depression. This holiday season, make it a yearly tradition to dine with friends and family at one of New Orleans’s most famous and historical sandwich shops. With over 25 different poor boys, ranging from seafood, sausage, turkey and alligator to their famous slow-cooked roast beef and the original French fry poor boy, there’s a sandwich for any appetite.
Situated at the corner of Hagan & Toulouse in Mid-City, right on Bayou St. John, Parkway’s poor boys and ambiance create a dining experience unlike any other. Decorated with memorabilia from Parkway’s early days, the historical neighborhood atmosphere is great for reminiscing with friends and family.
Parkway is open from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. daily and closed on Tuesdays. Call-in orders are now taken with pick-up available at a special call-in kitchen window (504-482-3047). For more information, visit ParkwayPoorboys.com.
During the holidays, stop by any of the Tropical Isles, Home of the Hand Grenade®, for New Orleans’ Most Powerful Drink® and the Hand Grenade® Martini. It’s the #1 cocktail in the French Quarter. Experience Trop-Rock, Cajun/Zydeco, Traditional Country, Blues and booze with Tropical Isle’s nightly entertainment, the best on Bourbon. State-of-the-art sound systems plus great live bands will keep you dancing the night away. Also, enjoy your favorite sporting events with big screen TVs.
Treat yourself to a Hand Grenade® at all locations: Little Tropical Isle, Tropical Isle Original, Tropical Isle’s Bayou Club with authentic Zydeco/Cajun music, Tropical Isle Bourbon with the best balcony on the street, and Top of the Trop. Delight in the all new Bourbon Street Honky Tonk with traditional country music mixed with soul-shaking blues. For more on Tropical Isle, visit TropicalIsle.com.
For a quiet escape with a casual fine dining atmosphere, visit The Orleans Grapevine Wine Bar & Bistro right off of Bourbon. Enjoy more than 350 varieties of wine by the bottle and over 60 by the glass. Bacon Happy Hour runs 4 – 6 p.m. and 10 p.m. to midnight. Visit OrleansGrapevine.com.
Home for the Holidays: Home Improvement
Based in New Orleans and licensed by Louisiana, Mississippi, and the International Society of Arboriculture to care for your trees, Benton Tree Service covers both residential and commercial work in Greater New Orleans. Owner Tim Benton, a New Orleans native, has over 20 years of experience in arboriculture and has been operating Benton Tree Service for over 12 years.
Benton Tree Service can help you with fine pruning of trees and large hedges, removal of hazardous or declining trees, root pruning and root barrier installation, and protection of your trees from construction or other possible stresses. The company does not apply any harmful or petroleum-based chemicals. All of its remediation techniques are natural and organic-based, and Benton Tree Service enjoys great success with these practices.
Benton Tree Service invites you to compare its Google rating with your current tree care provider. For more information or to schedule a free estimate, visit BentonTreeService.com or call 504-896-0820.
Travel & Accommodations
The Alder Hotel Uptown is a true neighborhood gem accommodating visiting family and friends of Uptown residents, Tulane & Loyola Universities, and Ochsner Baptist Hospital. Located off of Napoleon Avenue between St. Charles & Claiborne, this mid-century style hotel features 90 spacious guest rooms with balconies and modern amenities, a serene courtyard with swimming pool, complimentary continental breakfast, and parking onsite.
Once a quiet neighborhood thoroughfare, nearby Freret Street has undergone a massive revival, becoming a new food and entertainment destination. Just two blocks from the Alder Hotel, this lively area provides much to see and do. Enjoy the Deep South cuisine of High Hat Café or true Neapolitan-style pizza at Ancora. Listen to music at the hip music venue, Gasa Gasa, or relax with a cocktail at James Beard award-winning bar, Cure.
Formerly known as the Bristow Tower, this historic building was once home to doctors and nurses of the Southern Baptist Hospital. Placed on the National Register of Historic Places and graciously restored in 2017, the Alder Hotel provides the style and convenience sought by modern travelers. Visit AlderHotel.com or call 504-207-4600 for more information.
The Blood Center and St. Tammany Parish are excited to introduce Thank the Donor, a program that connects patients confidentially with their blood donor. Through ThanktheDonor.org, the technology allows patients, their family, or friends to send a note, photo or video to their donor using a smartphone, tablet, or computer. The program breaks the communication barriers with a new and different way to share a “thank you” while protecting the anonymity of both the donor and patient. Blood brought to a patient’s room includes a green heart hanging from the bag along with a card containing simple instructions on accessing the site.
“To date, we’ve already received several messages of thanks from patients,” says Paul Adams, Public Relations Manager for The Blood Center. “Knowing how or when your blood was used can be extremely gratifying and hopefully encourages others to give as well.”
If you would like to schedule a blood drive with your business, school, community or religious organization, please call The Blood Center at 504-592-1596, or visit TheBloodCenter.org. Individual donors may also visit website to find the center most convenient to them.