Move over, Manhattan. In recent years New Orleans has positioned itself as one to the nation's top New Year’s Eve destinations. Even The New York Times counts it among “Four Cities That Celebrate New Year’s Eve in a Big Way.” Just how big? For the third year in a row, Dick Clark’s New Year’s Rockin’ Eve with Ryan Seacrest will broadcast live from Jackson Square. From Bourbon Street to the Mississippi riverfront, Preservation Hall to Audubon Zoo, you’ll find 2020 kickoff parties all over town all day long.
Louisiana Children’s Museum and Audubon Zoo: Think New Year’s Eve is only for adults? Not in New Orleans. The small-fry big fun gets going early at the Louisiana Children’s Museum (9:30 am) and Audubon Zoo (10:30 am). Both cater to kids with a variety of games and activities before ringing in 2020 at noon.
Allstate Sugar Bowl Parade: For 86 years the nation’s second-oldest college bowl game has played out here on New Year’s Day, and over the past decade the hoopla preceding the annual Allstate Sugar Bowl has morphed into a giant NYE pre-party. Things get rolling at 2:45 pm with a parade along Decatur Street, which continues to Canal.
Jackson Square: The Crescent City Countdown Club’s annual NOLA New Year’s Eve celebration culminates at midnight with the dropping of the fleur-de-lis (hey, it’s New Orleans) from the top of JAX Brewery and fireworks over the Mississippi.
Woldenberg Park and Crescent Park: Searching for the perfect perch for viewing the big bang? Join the thousands of others who line the banks of the river along Woldenberg Park. Too crowded? Nearby Crescent Park also provides riverfront access, along with room to spread out.
You can’t get much closer to the fireworks action than in the middle of the Mississippi aboard the Steamboat Natchez or Creole Queen Paddlewheeler. Both offer New Years Eve cruises with dinner, dancing and plenty of bubbly.
Hotels and Special-Event Venues
Hyatt Regency Hotel: Billed as “the biggest and best New Year’s celebration anywhere,” the Hyatt’s Big Night New Orleans is part of Big Night America, the largest New Year’s Eve series in the nation. Numerous dance floors and party spaces, multiple bands (including Flow Tribe, Petey Pablo and Big Sam’s Funky Nation) and DJs, cool party favors…did we mention the all-night open bar?
Westin Canal Place Hotel: With sweeping views of the river and two floors of entertainment, the Westin’s year-end blowout ranks as one of the city’s best. The tony affair features incredible edibles, a premium open bar and separate VIP rooms for an extra-special experience.
Marché: This elegant riverfront venue puts on one of the city’s most opulent NYE parties, with gourmet food stations, free-flowing champagne, live entertainment and killer views.
Stage Door Canteen: Swing back to the 1940s at the National WWII Museum. The retro-themed fun includes Big Band music by Victory Swing Orchestra, a four-course seated dinner with complimentary wine and beer and a midnight chocolate buffet.
Bourbon Vieux: Take in the fireworks and the revelry below from the largest balcony on Bourbon Street. The place to bead during Mardi Gras, this special-events space adds a bit of Carnival atmosphere to the evening.
Clubs and Theaters
The Jazz Playhouse: This swanky spot inside the Royal Sonesta Hotel blows out 2019 with an open bar, a top-notch buffet and live entertainment by Sierra Green and the Soul Machine.
The Civic Theater: Lace up those dancing shoes and get ready to get down and boogie with DJ Soul Sister at her 17th Annual New Year’s Eve Soul Train. The music starts at 10 pm and keeps grooving well into 2020.
Preservation Hall: Hot jazz and cool cocktails are the draw of Hall Lang Syne, the venerable venue’s annual “narrowly elegant affair.”