The New Orleans Hornets have gotten off to a fantastic start this season. Guided by a new head coach, Monty Williams, the team has a renewed sense of talent and drive. With superstars including Chris Paul, David West and new hire Trevor Ariza, who last year scored a career-high 21 points in a playoff game, the team is certainly catching the eye of the rest of the league as it emphasizes shut-down defense and an unflappable offense. Hornets games are fast-paced and exciting, with spectacles during halftime that aren’t to be missed. The team will play several home games  this month at the New Orleans Arena (aka “The Hive”) on Dec. 1, 3, 8, 10, 15, 17, 22, 26 and 29. Information,

Celebration in the Oaks

While we may not be getting a white Christmas, there’s certainly no shortage of celebration when it comes to the winter holidays.

A revered holiday tradition and a delight for all ages, Celebration in the Oaks will again dazzle those who flock to City Park throughout the month of December. Dozens of Christmas trees decorated by local school children will be on display, and the Conservatory of the Two Sisters hosts the popular 40-foot poinsettia tree exhibit.

The holiday magic to be experienced isn’t limited to displays; the park also offers amusement rides – a roller coaster, carousel and bumper cars are just a few of the offerings – and nightly performances by school choirs, Irish dancers, orchestras, cloggers, bell choirs, ballet troupes and gospel groups, among others. Families will also be offered a chance to get photos taken with Santa in the Carousel Gardens.


Holiday on the Boulevard

Offering a uniquely seasonal experience, Ashé Cultural Arts Center and GoodWork Network collaborate this month with artists, musicians, actors, merchants and community members to create a holiday festival and marketplace in Central City for the 11th annual Holiday on the Boulevard, held at Ashé Dec. 10-12.

With free admission, the fête features jazz, hip-hop, R&B, gospel, folk, reggae and spoken word poetry and dancing on Dec. 10 at Ashé Cultural Arts Center. Noted musicians Michael Ward, singers Naydja Cojoe, Lloyd Daly, Michaela Harrison, Baby Boyz Brass Band and more can be heard.

The GoodWork Network’s Youth Marketplace will give young people who have participated in entrepreneurship training, to test their real-world sales skills on Dec. 11 as they market affordable gifts, such as food items and hand-made crafts.

Another feature of the festival is Voices Not Forgotten, which spotlights senior citizens from the Central City Senior Center. These revered seniors infuse oral histories with videography and song-and-dance routines, as well as gospel, R&B and humor.

Information, 569-9070,

Look through the Lens

If a picture is worth a thousand words, then PhotoNOLA 2010, a local annual photography festival held Dec. 2-11, should get more than a thousand good conversations going. The New Orleans Photo Alliance, in partnership with several galleries, museums and photographers kicks off the festivities with French Quarter openings, followed by the “Slideluck Potshow” on Dec. 2 – a slideshow and potluck in one. Portfolio reviews with an international cast of curators, editors and gallery owners will take place Dec. 4 and 5, and a Photowalk offers a peek at more than 60 rising photographers from across the country. PhotoNOLA will culminate in a party and benefit at The Big Top as well as art openings in the up-and-coming St. Claude Arts District.


Art Home New Orleans

In the past several years, the city has witnessed a cultural renaissance as artists, architects and designers collaborated with a younger generation to fuel an economy of creativity. This month, the Creative Alliance of New Orleans showcases a variety of homes as well as artist lairs. ArT Home New Orleans is a citywide, self-guided tour of homes and personal art collections that offers aspiring and established art collectors a chance to peer inside at paintings, sculptures, drawings and multimedia works of art in a variety of neighborhoods, taking place Dec. 4-5 and 11-12. CANO is also pairing artless spaces with local artists to install temporary salon exhibitions of artwork.

CANO is a network of cultural producers, community organizations and creative professionals whose mission is to increase investment in the creative economy.


The Color of Water

Feeling a deep connection with the Gulf Coast, artist Betsy Stewart, whose works place tremendous emphasis on water, will have her works on display this winter in a show called “AQUAZOA: Micro Dramas in Peril.” Stewart, who has shown her works all over the country, uses shapes, jewel tones and elegant compositions to demonstrate how we’re all interconnected and how water is a vital part of our livelihood – and not just to drink. Her art, she hopes, tells stories about the balance of nature; she also hopes to reveal her respect and compassion for the waterways of the Gulf Coast. In fact, Stewart is working with the Preservation Resource Center on a charity event to take place in the spring of 2011. To view her works, check out the Octavia Gallery on Magazine Street or visit her website.



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