Cajun Christmas Cheer

Every year during the month of December visitors from around the world visit the Christmas New Orleans Style festival. During the month-long celebration, the city flaunts its unique music, architecture and cuisine traditions. Papa Noel, a spicy Cajun version of Santa Claus, delivers gifts in his pirogue (canoe), guided by bonfires along the Mississippi levee to the homes of local children.

By: Cheryl Woodruff

Every year during the month of December visitors from around the world visit the Christmas New Orleans Style festival. During the month-long celebration, the city flaunts its unique music, architecture and cuisine traditions. Papa Noel, a spicy Cajun version of Santa Claus, delivers gifts in his pirogue (canoe), guided by bonfires along the Mississippi levee to the homes of local children.

Local chefs share their secrets in free cooking demonstrations, and restaurants serve the Reveillon, an adaptation of an old Creole dining custom. Local musicians perform public concerts, gospel choirs sing in the Saint Louis Cathedral, and carolers sing to visitors in Jackson Square.

Other events include tours of decorated 19th century homes, the lighted Celebration in the Oaks (see sidebar), a bonfire and riverboat cruises. To accommodate visitors, 100 hotels are offering special Papa Noel rates of up to 80% off of published rack rates.

Some examples:

The Hotel Inter-Continental, with 482 rooms and suites, on the St. Charles Streetcar line in the central business district, is offering a rate of $80 per night. Call 800-327-0200. Web site: www.intercontinental.com.

Those preferring to stay at a mid-size hotel might consider the Chateau Sonesta Hotel New Orleans, on Bourbon Street, at a rate of $99 per night. Call 800-SONESTA. Web site: www.chateausonesta.com.

Boutique hotels in the French quarter offering discounts are the Hotel Saint Marie (800-366-2743; www.hotelstmarie.com); the Hotel Prince Conti (800-366-2743; www.princecontihotel.com); and the Hotel Place D’Armes (800-366-2743; www.placedarmes.com). All three are offering a rate of $79 Sundays through Thursdays and $99 Fridays and Saturdays. During December parking is free Sundays through Thursdays and is reduced from $20 to $10 Fridays and Saturdays.

From Dec. 6 to Dec. 31, the Fairmont Hotel’s Angel Hair Lobby, a block-long canopy of angel hair and twinkling lights, will re-create a New Orleans tradition begun in the 1930s. Rows of flocked Christmas trees, decorated with ribbons and lights, will also line the lobby from end to end. While at the Fairmont, take part in the Teddy Bear Teas and Storytelling and photo visits with Santa in his sleigh. Call 800-441-1414; www.fairmont.com.

For more Papa Noel hotel rates, call 800-749-5679. For more information about Christmas festival events, call 800-673-5725. Web site: www.christmasneworleans.com.

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