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French Quarter Holiday Follies: The season brings an extra festiveness to the French Quarter

French Quarter Holiday Follies: The season brings an extra festiveness to the French Quarter

by Sue Strachan

THE FRENCH QUARTER IS KNOWN far and wide as New Orleans’ crown jewel. During the holiday season, the QuarteR glitters and glows for visitors and locals.

To start your holiday jaunt, your first stop should be the French Market, which has been the site for commerce for more than 200 years. Its convenient location and variety of stores, vendors, and restaurants offer something for everyone.

French Market

The French Market hosts special events throughout the year. On December 10, you can experience the St. Nick Celebration, which provides family-friendly holiday fun. There will be live music including Johnette Downing and the National Park Service Arrowhead Jazz Band, as well as kids’ activities, and the St. Nick School Second Line from Oscar Dunn Park to the French Market.


The French Quarter is also home to several museums and antiques stores. Some of our favorites include BK House, The Historic New Orleans Collection, HermannGrima/Gallier Historic Houses, Sazerac House and M.S. Rau Antiques.

Amanda Chunn, curator at M.S. Rau Antiques, organized “Revolutionaries: The Impressionists and PostImpressionists,” which includes 50 works by 39 different artists. These works of art can be viewed through Jan. 7, 2023.  “The exhibition has been carefully curated to illustrate both the breadth and importance of these movements, which include the Impressionists, the PostImpressionists, Neo-Impressionists and the American Impressionists,” says Chunn.  The exhibition includes blockbuster names such as Edouard Manet, Mary Cassatt, Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec, John Singer Sargent, and Camille Pissarro, as well as some lesser-known names. Some of the works in the exhibition are on loan from private collectors, but the majority of them are for sale.

M.S. Rau does not just feature art exhibitions. Its building is also a cornucopia of antiques and jewelry, which is something that was recently recognized when the store won “America’s Coolest Jewelry Store” by InStore Magazine, a jewelry trade publication. A Rau representative noted that featured pieces in store include a ruby and diamond necklace that was part of the French crown jewels and a brooch owned by the Duchess of Windsor.

The Historic New Orleans Collection is busy this month with special events and exhibitions. The highlight is the “Notre-Dame de Paris: The Augmented Exhibition,” which is an interactive look at the famous French cathedral’s history, the effects of the 2019 fire, and real-time updates of the massive restoration effort.  “New Orleans is a city that understands the importance of buildings as places of history, while being all too aware of their fragile nature,” says Daniel Hammer, President, and CEO of The Historic New Orleans Collection.  “We are thrilled to bring this experience to the city and know that visitors will be awestruck by the cutting-edge technology and the way it communicates the history of one of the world’s most iconic buildings and what it takes to preserve it in the face of destruction.”  It will be on view through March 1, 2023. Admission to this exhibition is free, but advanced registration is recommended.

Other exhibitions to take in include: “Spanish New Orleans and the Caribbean / La Nueva Orleans y el Caribe españoles,” on view through January 22, 2023 and “French Quarter Life: People and Places in the Vieux Carré,” on view through February 28, 2023. The Museum Store is having its annual Holiday Market on December 17th. With a diverse selection of artists on site to showcase their work and the store’s usual wares with that special local flair, you will find something unique for everyone on your list.

The museum is also taking part in St. Louis Cathedral’s December concert series. On December 15 it brings “La Noce Buena: Spanish Christmas Music of the New World” to the Cathedral. And don’t forget, the Patio Planters organizes the annual Christmas Concert in Jackson Square on December 18.

Over at Hermann-Grima/Gallier Historic Houses, it is time to immerse yourself in 19th-century New Orleans. Through the month of December to January 9, both houses will be adorned with that era’s traditional decorations with tours discussing the customs of the time. The tours will include information about what it was like to be the owner of the house, as well as the experience of an enslaved man or woman who lived there.

The houses are also part of a Friends of the Cabildo’s 44th annual Creole Christmas tour which will be held December 27-29. The event will include the 1850 House (part of the Louisiana State Museum system in the French Quarter, which also includes the Cabildo and Presbytere), Spring Fiesta House and the BK House and Gardens.

BK House and Gardens

Speaking of the BK House, its December is actionpacked with a few other events, including the “Classical Shindig” presentation on December 6 by Dr. Quinn Peeper and Michael Harold whose entertaining prowess is legendary in the city with a book of the same title in progress. Visitors can also enjoy a “Holiday Tea Party” on December 10 and “A Very Merry Pops Concert” with Anais St. John and Harry Mayronne on December 11.

And, if you have several invitations to address, take a Calligraphy Class consisting of three segments taught by Eugenia Uhl which start in January. It is never too early to learn the art of fine writing!

While Christmas and its surrounding events capture people’s attention this time of year, don’t forget the beginning of Carnival season is just around the corner! Sazerac House always has multiple events happening each month, and in honor of the start of Carnival season on January 6, it will be hosting two events to get you into the mood.

King’s Day Celebration on January 6 will see the lobby transformed into a purple, green and gold (the official colors of the event) sanctuary. As the big day approaches, Mardi Gras is February 21, Sazerac House will make sure you get your fill of king cake at its Cocktails and King Cake Tasting on January 31, when the museum explores the history and craft of king cake and Carnival cocktails. It’s just past the half-way mark until the big day, so it’s a fun way to maintain that Carnival joie de vivre!


If the thought of king cake makes you hungry, then it’s also time to check out the Réveillon dinners at restaurants throughout the city.


The tradition started in the early 1800s when Creoles had a big family meal after they returned home after Christmas Eve Midnight Mass. While the tradition faded through the years, it was revived by local restaurants in the 1990s.  Among the menus to check out are those at Antoine’s, Broussard’s and Galatoire’s.

Galatoire’s is also a hot bed of holiday table auctions to benefit local charities. On December 6, the Galatoire Foundation Christmas Table Auction will offer tables in the restaurant for auction for the Friday before Christmas. The Mardi Gras Table Auction on January 30 will offer the chance to bid on tables the Friday before Mardi Gras. The foundation started this tradition in 2006 and has raised nearly $3 million for local charities.

Sazerac House

Also, Galatoire’s will feature the return of the famed Galatoire’s “33” Bar and Steak’s Fried Chicken Brunch on January 22. Reservations fill up fast, so pick a time and make a date.

Did someone say oyster happy hour? New Orleans Creole Cookery is here to fulfill your oyster cravings! Its daily oyster happy hour is a popular option, as are the chargrilled oysters. “Wind Down Wednesday” offers all bottles of wine at half price, and brunch is offered in the courtyard on Saturdays and Sundays. And for those who just don’t want to cook on Christmas Eve, New Year’s Eve or New Year’s Day, the restaurant is open!

What better way to end — or start — a French Quarter adventure than at the Ritz-Carlton, New Orleans, which will be joyfully adorned for the holiday season. It will also feature some festive events! “Build Your Own Gingerbread House,” December 10, 11, 17-21, will allow children of all ages to make their own gingerbread house. The Ritz will also offer a “Papa Noel Tea” on December 3, 4, 10, 11, 17-21 with a threecourse tea menu for children, while adults can indulge in champagne, mimosas, or stick to tea! Reservations are required for both events.

If cooking or entertaining at home isn’t your thing, or you just want to do something different and memorable, the Ritz-Carlton offers a Christmas Eve Dinner (Réveillon style) and Christmas Day Jubilee, as well as a New Year’s Eve Celebration. Each offer multi-course meals that can be paired with wine.

New Orleans Creole Cookery

Famed musician Jeremy Davenport will be performing at the New Year’s Eve event, but if you miss him that night, you can see him and his band on stage Wednesday through Saturday.

Finally, if you are looking for a last-minute gift, The Shops at Canal Place is home to many local stores, including Reagan Charleston Jewelry. Among her collections are the popular New Orleans-inspired pieces, and on December 3, take time to sip on champagne while perusing baubles for yourself or a loved one.

It’s the holiday season, which doesn’t’ end in New Orleans until Ash Wednesday, so pace yourself and enjoy!


French Quarter Festing

Antoine’s, 713 St. Louis St.,

BK Historic House and Gardens, 1113 Chartres St.,

Broussard’s, 819 Conti St.,

See Also

French Market, 1008 N. Peters St.,

Friends of the Cabildo,

Galatoire’s, 209 Bourbon St.,

Gallier House, 1132 Royal St.,

Hermann-Grima House, 820 St. Louis St.,

The Historic New Orleans Collection, 520 Royal St.,

M.S. Rau Antiques, 622 Royal St.,

Patio Planters,

Reagan Charleston Jewelry, The Shops at Canal Place,

Ritz-Carlton, New Orleans, 921 Canal St.,

St. Louis Cathedral, Jackson Square,

Sazerac House, 101 Magazine St,

The Shops at Canal Place, 333 Canal St.,

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