There’s nothing quite like the holidays in New Orleans, but to tip the hat to Satchmo, a Dixieland Santa Claus leading the band to a good old Creole beat is only the beginning when it comes to Christmas New Orleans Style.
Now in its 28th year, the joint community presentation between French Quarter Festivals, Inc. and the New Orleans Tourism Marketing Corporation gets festive with a month of lavish seasonal decorations, a Mid-City wonderland, sumptuous Reveillon dinners, free concerts and much more.
Along with Christmas New Orleans Style’s culinary lineup—almost 50 restaurants citywide will celebrate the Reveillon tradition, not to mention more than a dozen cooking demonstrations planned at the French Market—the music is undoubtedly the highlight. Offerings for 2012 include the return of performances hosted at St. Louis Cathedral on Jackson Square—the oldest Catholic cathedral in continual use in the United States—and, in Treme, St. Augustine Church—the oldest African-American Catholic church in the country.
Running almost nightly between December 1 and 20, this year’s eclectic roster includes Theresa Andersson, John Fohl and David Doucet; the St. Peter Claver Gospel Choir; Harmonouche featuring accordionist Norbert Slama; Opera Creole; harpist Rachel Van Voorhees; the Preservation Hall-Stars; Lars Edegran’s Jazz Band with “Big Al” Carson and Lionel Ferbos; the classical sounds of the Faubourg Quartet; Betty Win and the One A-Chord Gospel Singers; Germaine Bazzle and friends; and the annual St. Louis Cathedral Basilica Holiday Concert, set for Sunday, December 16.
Add to all that talent the lights of City Park’s “Celebration in the Oaks,” family-friendly activities, tours of antebellum homes decked out in period detail, cruises on the Steamboat Natchez, a parade down Canal Street, caroling in the French Quarter and the requisite retail therapy, and Christmas New Orleans Style remains a perennial draw for folks both in and out of town. Still, as with most everything else in the Crescent City, it’s the music—and its acoustic and historic setting—that perhaps best defines the annual program.
Explains French Quarter Fest, Inc. Executive Director Marci Schramm, “Watching the face of tourists and locals alike as they watch greats like Ellis Marsalis, Preservation Hall, the Pfister Sisters, Don Vappie, John Boutte, Lars Edegran—and many more—is such a thrill. So many people come in for the first time, not knowing what to expect, and they leave having seen one of the most magical performances of their life.
“It’s just another one of those things that make New Orleans such a special place during the holidays.”Visit neworleansonline.com/holiday for a complete schedule of the month’s events.