Where to Celebrate New Year's Eve in New Orleans

Ring in 2017 at these favorite Nola spots.

The bar at Cure, New Orleans

Kevin O'Mara, curenola.com

Everyone has their own way of celebrating New Year’s Eve. In San Francisco residents gather to watch the spectacular fireworks display on the waterfront. The folks in Austin, Texas usher in the new year with a live music/art festival downtown at Vic Mathias Shores. And New Yorkers assemble at Times Square to watch the big ball descend at midnight which is televised around the world.

But in New Orleans, the celebration takes place all over town, transforming the city into a floating party. Ann Tuennerman, founder of the city’s annual August event Tales of the Cocktail, says, “If you really want to celebrate the spirit of New Orleans, go into a cocktail bar, a neighborhood bar, a dive bar or a music club. There’s really good energy there. It’s doesn’t require a tuxedo or a lot of money. All socio-economic levels can enjoy each other’s company.”

Latitude 29 in New Orleans

Jochen Hirschfeld, www.latitude29nola.com

From Bourbon Street in the heart of the French Quarter to Frenchmen Street in the Faubourg Marigny district to Freret Street in Uptown New Orleans, you can experience New Year’s Eve like the locals. “With some of the stress that people are under now,” Tuennerman adds, “we should look at the new year and not separate ourselves as much from each other but celebrate diversity.” The major appeal of NYE for her is “this idea of getting together at midnight no matter what your situation was the year before and sharing a moment of hope with friends or strangers.”

Here are some of Tuennerman’s favorite spots for ringing in the New Year in Nola starting with the French Quarter. “Latitude 29 is a tiki bar that is owned by Jeff Berry and I call him the Tiki God,” she states. “He really is the tiki authority and has written several books [such as Beach Bum Berry’s Remixed: A Gallery of Tiki Drinks] and led seminars around the world.” She describes the decor of Latitude 29 as “quirky and a different kind of glamorous. They have decorated everything like a Hollywood set so it’s polished tiki but cute and comfortable. Tiki always makes you smile. And it’s in a little boutique hotel [Bienville House Hotel] that’s somewhat hidden.” One of the more popular cocktails is the Pontchartrain Pearl Diver, an iced buttered rum made with Jamaican rum, passion fruit, lime and honey butter.

The interior of French 75 in New Orleans

www.arnaudsrestaurant.com/bars/french-75/

“Another place in the Quarter that is one of my favorites is French 75,” Tuennerman advises, “It’s a cocktail bar that’s connected to Arnaud’s Restaurant. It has a really cozy atmosphere and is the most beautifully decorated bar and restaurant during the holidays. It just sparkles!” One of their signature cocktails is the French 75 which blends Courvoisier VS, sugar, lemon juice, Moet and Chandon Champagne - ingredients that make it ideal for a New Year’s toast.

The interior of Tiki Tolteca, New Orleans

Sara Essex Bradley, www.tikitolteca.com

Other places to check out in the Decatur Street area of the Quarter include Cane and Table, a Colonial rum bar with excellent food and a patio for people watching, and Tiki Tolteca, a Latin American themed exotica tiki lounge on the second floor of Felipe’s Taqueria which is a great place to view the fireworks on the Mississippi River. No cover charge or reservations are required at Tiki Tolteca and they even offer a complimentary champagne toast at midnight. 

The interior of the Sazerac Bar in New Orleans

Sammy Todd Dyess, therooseveltneworleans.com/dining/the-sazerac-bar.html

If you do want to drop some bucks and enjoy an open bar with live music, you might consider purchasing tickets for the New Orleans fleur-de-lis ball drop at Jax (Jackson Brewery Bistro Bar) near Jackson Square. Other possibilities include The Sazerac Bar in the historic landmark The Roosevelt where you can also enjoy a four-course holiday meal in the Fountain Lounge or celebrate the new year with a muffuletta sandwich and Pimm’s Cup Original cocktail at the beloved Napoleon House.

Napoleon House in New Orleans

CHRIS GRANGER, www.napoleonhouse.com

For the Frenchmen Street area, Tuennerman recommends d.b.a. "Great music, nice craft beers and a good whiskey selection.” Other fun music venues include The Spotted Cat, a funky hole in the wall bar with something to please every kind of music fan (jazz, blues, funk, Klezmer, etc.) and Snug Harbor Jazz Bistro, a local institution that is famous for its burgers and live jazz acts.

Snug Harbor in New Orleans

Snug Harbor, www.snugjazz.com

Snug Harbor does not take reservations for their dining room or bar (no cover charge) but you can still enjoy the live music from their private music room which is featuring Topsy Chapman & Solid Harmony on Dec. 31 and requires an advance ticket. Erica Dudas of Snug Harbor says, “Even when I'm not working, I like spending NYE here. It’s such a fun vibe with decorations and a bubbly toast at midnight - plus it gives you a little getaway from the busy Frenchmen crowd.”

Specialty Cocktails at French 75.

www.arnaudsrestaurant.com/bars/french-75/

If you plan to go Uptown on NYE, Tuennerman says, “I would definitely suggest Cure, which totally revitalized Freret Street. There was a time when the owner of Cure took a risk on this place, renovated it, worked with the city on the zoning and now it’s a fabulous street - bars and restaurants of all different varieties. It’s easy to get to and the parking is complimentary.” Other places to check out on Freret Street include Bar Frances, a New American restaurant and wine bar, and High Hat Cafe, specializing in Southern cuisine and craft cocktails like Delta Dawn (Honeysuckle Vodka, Lemon-Lavender Shrub, NOLA Blonde Ale, Creme Yvette).

The interior of Cure, a bar and restaurant in New Orleans

Kevin O'Mara, curenola.com

The possibilities for having a great time on NYE in Nola are endless. Just keep in mind that you might want to explore your options in the early evening before some of the venues become too crowded. The Allstar Sugar Bowl takes place at the New Orleans Superdome on January 2 so attendees may be arriving early to celebrate 2017.

NYE Around the World

Giant Onion Drop, St. George’s, Bermuda

Giant Onion Drop, St. George’s, Bermuda

Each year in St. George’s, Bermuda, a giant paper mache Bermuda onion festooned in holiday lights is dropped in front of the town hall. 960 1280

Dennis Martins  

Guitar Drop, Memphis, Tenn.

Guitar Drop, Memphis, Tenn.

The Hard Rock Cafe on Beale Street rings in the New Year in Memphis with its annual guitar drop. The ten-foot Gibson guitar is dropped more than 100 feet as part of a televised event that includes live music performances for a crowd of more than 50,000 revelers. 960 1280

Hard Rock Memphis  

Giant Potato Drop, Boise, Idaho

Giant Potato Drop, Boise, Idaho

For this year’s annual potato drop in Boise, an Idaho-based design firm is fabricating a brand new 17-foot long, high-tech internally lit “Glow-tato.” Reps from Idaho’s New Year’s Commission insist it will be more realistic and more durable than previous years’ potatoes. To see the animated build process visit: GlowTato.com. 960 1280

Idaho New Years Commission  

Orange Drop, Miami, Fla.

Orange Drop, Miami, Fla.

It may look like a ball from a distance, but in Miami, revelers ring in the New Year with the dropping of The Big Orange.  960 1280

Joe Raedle  

Giant Acorn Drop, Raleigh, N.C.

Giant Acorn Drop, Raleigh, N.C.

Each December 31 a giant copper acorn, the official monument commemorating the bicentennial of “the City of Oaks,” is transported from Raleigh’s Moore Square to the roof of the Civic Center where it’s dropped to celebrate the New Year.  960 1280

Mark Haynes  

Peach Drop, Atlanta, Ga.

Peach Drop, Atlanta, Ga.

At the biggest New Year’s Eve celebration in the Southeast, Atlantans drop a giant peach at midnight.  960 1280

Paras Griffin  

Electric Moon Pie Drop, Mobile, Ala.

Electric Moon Pie Drop, Mobile, Ala.

Moon Pie Over Mobile is the annual New Year’s celebration in Mobile, Ala. Festivities include  the cutting of the world’s largest moon pie and the dropping of a 600-pound, electric, fully-lit moon pie at midnight.  960 1280

Mike Tabb  

Pickle Drop, Mount Olive, N.C.

Pickle Drop, Mount Olive, N.C.

Described by the sponsor as “dill-lightful,” the Mount Olive Pickle Company hosts an annual New Year’s Eve fundraiser to benefit the Food Bank of Central and Eastern North Carolina. Festivities include live music and the 7 p.m. drop of a giant, fully-lit pickle at the corner of Cucumber & Vine. 960 1280

Mt. Olive Pickle Company  

Cow Drop, Marietta, Ga

Cow Drop, Marietta, Ga

Marietta’s New Year’s Eve festivities include ice sculpting, "cosmic golf" and the dropping of the Georgia-born franchise Chick-fil-A Cow. 960 1280

Lindsey Wiles  

Clam Drop, Yarmouth, Maine

Clam Drop, Yarmouth, Maine

Every December 31, Yarmouth's First Universalist Church lowers a giant clam named Steamer 25 feet from the bell tower. 960 1280

Portland Press Herald  

Blowing Rock Winterfest
Blowing Rock Winterfest

Blowing Rock Winterfest

Head to the mountains of North Carolina for the annual Blowing Rock Winterfest. This lively winterfest features a plunge into the icy waters of Lake Chetola, followed by the chance to warm up with hot chocolate and chili in downtown Blowing Rock. When: Late January 960 1280

Todd Bush Photography  

Vancouver Polar Bear Swim

Vancouver Polar Bear Swim

Run for your life! This group of New Year’s revelers rushes from the freezing waters of Vancouver’s English Bay. 2014 marks the Vancouver Polar Bear Swim’s 94th year, making it one of the largest and oldest clubs of its kind in the world. When: New Year's Day 960 1280

Reuters   

Courage Polar Bear Dip

Courage Polar Bear Dip

Courage, lads! Since its start in 1985, the annual Courage Polar Bear Dip in Oakville, Ontario, has become the largest polar bear dip for charity in Canada. Money raised supports clean water projects organized by the advocacy organization World Vision Canada. When: New Year’s Day 960 1280

Courage Polar Bear Dip  

Seattle Polar Bear Plunge

Seattle Polar Bear Plunge

They’re freezin’ for a reason. Plungers take to the waters off Seattle’s Matthews Beach for the city’s annual polar bear plunge. Now in its 12th year, the Seattle Polar Bear Plunge is one of 8 statewide plunges to benefit Special Olympics Washington. When: New Year’s Day 960 1280

mordac, flickr   

Aruba New Year's Plunge

Aruba New Year's Plunge

In search of warmer climes to take the plunge? Head to Aruba for the Caribbean island’s annual Aruba New Year's Plunge. Hundreds of people gather at MooMba Beach for the “Unox Nieuwjaarsduik” (New Year’s plunge), which takes place at noon sharp. The event is open to everyone; no charge. When: New Year’s Day 960 1280

Aruba Daily Newspaper  

Coney Island Plunge

Coney Island Plunge

Cold enough for you? These 2 brave guys take part in the annual Coney Island Plunge organized by the Coney Island Polar Bear Club, the oldest ice swimming club in the US. The yearly dip into the Atlantic begins at 1 p.m. sharp; afterward, if you’re still breathing, check out the famous Coney Island boardwalk. When: Jan. 1 960 1280

Getty Images  

Russian Orthodox Epiphany

Russian Orthodox Epiphany

In the name of the …wow, this water is cold! A Russian man celebrates the Russian Orthodox Epiphany with a dip in frigid waters. The age-old ritual commemorates Jesus’ baptism in the Jordan River, but we have a feeling the Jordan’s waters were a lot less cold. When: Mid-January 960 1280

Reuters  

Tybee Polar Plunge

Tybee Polar Plunge

Thousands of people flock to Tybee Island, near Savannah, GA, for the annual Tybee Polar Plunge plunge into the brisk waters of the Atlantic. Plungers register for a nominal fee, with proceeds going toward the historic Tybee Post Theater, built in 1930. When: New Year’s Day 960 1280

Tybee Polar Plunge   

Scotland's Loony Dook

Scotland's Loony Dook

Showing their white-and-blue Scottish pride, these 2 “loony dookers” take a dip in Scotland’s River Forth. The annual Loony Dook event in Scotland began in 1987 with a handful of participants; the event has since grown into a New Year’s rite of passage for thousands. When: New Year’s Day 960 1280

Lee Carson, flickr  

Baltimore PlungeFest

Baltimore PlungeFest

Holy moly, ma, Darth Vader’s not wearing any clothes under that cape! This wickedly cool plunger takes a dip in the Chesapeake Bay’s cold waters near Baltimore. The annual Baltimore PlungeFest kicks off in Annapolis, MD’s Sandy Point State Park, with proceeds going to Special Olympics Maryland. When: Late January 960 1280

Steve Ruark Photography  

Chicago Polar Plunge

Chicago Polar Plunge

Skip the clothes, grab a wig! Celebrate the New Year (and a good cause) with hundreds of revelers who dive into the icy waters of Chicago’s Lake Michigan in early spring. 2015 marks Chicago Polar Plunge’s 15th year, with proceeds going toward Special Olympics Chicago. When: Early March 960 1280

Grace Trivino, flickr   

Netherlands New Year's

Netherlands New Year's

Wearing colorful vestments, this man takes a dip in the waters off Scheveningen, a beachside resort town in the Netherlands. The annual event began in 1960, and attracts more than 10,000 people, who plunge into the icy North Sea on New Year’s Day. When: Jan. 1 960 1280

Reuters  

Fireworks in Sydney, Australia 
Sydney

Sydney

Fireworks explode above the Sydney Harbor Bridge and Opera House. Thousands of people lined the harbor to watch the country's biggest fireworks show. 960 1280
Rotterdam, Netherlands

Rotterdam, Netherlands

New Year's Eve fireworks illuminate the sky over the Erasmus Bridge crossing the Nieuwe Maas River in Rotterdam, the second largest city in the Netherlands. 960 1280

Reuters  

Berlin

Berlin

An explosion of fireworks light up the Quadriga sculpture atop the Brandenburg Gate during a New Year's Eve party in Berlin. 960 1280

Reuters/Tobias Schwarz  

New York City

New York City

At NYC’s Times Square, confetti rains down on thousands of revelers celebrate the beginning of a new year at the stroke of midnight. 960 1280

Reuters/ Kena Betancur   

Vienna, Austria

Vienna, Austria

People stroll down the Silvesterpfad aka New Year’s Eve Trail at Stephansplatz during New Year's Eve celebrations in Vienna. 960 1280

Reuters/Lisi Niesner   

Toronto

Toronto

Spectators can watch the fireworks explode over Toronto's waterfront, one of the best New Year's Eve celebrations in the world. 960 1280
Scotland

Scotland

Two New Year revelers kiss as they take part in the Edinburgh Hogmanay street party celebrations in Edinburgh, Scotland. Edinburgh's 4-day festival includes a torchlight procession, street party, resolution concert and more. 960 1280

By Robbie Shade (Fireworks over Edinburgh) [CC BY 2.0]  

Rio de Janeiro

Rio de Janeiro

Fireworks explode above Copacabana beach in Rio de Janeiro. More than 2 million people gather along Rio's most famous beach to witness the 15-minute fireworks display and celebrate the New Year. 960 1280
Egypt

Egypt

Thousands of people flock to an amazing concert held in front of the 4,500-year-old pyramids in Egypt. A popular artist uses his techno-wizardry to entertain spectators from sunset to sunrise at the Millennium New Year's celebration. 960 1280

Khaled Desouki/Stringer/Getty Images  

Hong Kong

Hong Kong

Revellers take part in New Year celebrations in Hong Kong's Times Square. 960 1280

Reuters  

London

London

Fireworks explode behind The Big Ben clock tower during New Year celebrations in London. 960 1280

Reuters  

Paris

Paris

Thousands of revellers celebrate the New Year on the Champs Elysees in Paris. 960 1280

Reuters  

Prague

Prague

Local residents and foreign tourists celebrate New Year's Eve at the Old Town Square in Prague, Czech Republic. 960 1280

Getty  

Moscow

Moscow

Fireworks explode over St. Basil Cathedral at Red Square during New Year's Day celebrations in Moscow. 960 1280

Reuters  

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