Julie LaCour

The holidays are a time for lots of sparkle, magical moments and community celebration. Not many places celebrate the holidays quite like New Orleans City Park and its annual “Celebration in the Oaks,” a New Orleans favorite for decades. Each year, generations come together and make touring the ornate light displays part of family and friend traditions. This year, the event features a driving tour with more than a million lights on a 2.25 mile stretch through the park, a 90-minute Carousel Gardens Amusement Park and Botanical Garden walking tour experience complete with access to rides, play areas, festive food and more, plus exclusive “bike nights” for those looking for something a little different. Julie LaCour is the “head elf” in charge of making sure the entire process goes off without a hitch. We asked Julie what it’s like to pull off Celebration in the Oaks and some of her favorite aspects of the event heading into the 2022 holiday season. 

Q: What is the history of Celebration in the Oaks and how did it come about? In 1984 the Botanical Garden staged a daytime event called “A Tribute to the Christmas Tree,” which grew in popularity to 1987, at which time sponsors and volunteers came onboard and this very sweet event grew into the New Orleans tradition we know now as Celebration in the Oaks.

Q: What is your role and how long have you been with Celebration in the Oaks? I am the Director of Special Events and Celebration in the Oaks, a position I have had the honor of holding for the last 17 years.

Q: What does a typical planning and execution look like to pull something like Celebration in the Oaks off? It generally takes eight months of the year to envision new exhibit designs, build the new exhibits, repair and freshen up existing light exhibits, and the installation of all lights and exhibits. And of course, what goes up, must come down. No phase is any more important than the other.  

Q: What is your favorite part of Celebration in the Oaks? I absolutely love seeing the smiling faces and the excitement of children driving and walking through the lights. It’s amazing to know that we are the family tradition for so many in our community. And working with all of the dedicated City Park staff is a joy!

November 24, 2002- January 1, 2023
Tickets available online for driving, walking, biking or combination tours.