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City Park will soon turn on a million lights for Celebration in the Oaks. Expect some changes to the holiday tradition

Lights replicating St. Louis Cathedral and the Andrew Jackson statue in the French Quarter. This display was one of many for Celebration in the Oaks along the lagoon. (Mid-City Messenger file photo)

The New Orleans holiday family tradition Celebration in the Oaks will turn the lights on beginning Thanksgiving night (Nov. 25), and they will continue to shine through Jan. 2, 2022.

City Park’s largest fundraiser has enchanted park visitors since the 1980s and is now considered one of the most spectacular holiday lights festivals in the country. The fundraiser is vital to the park’s year-round maintenance, care and beautification.

There are two parts to this year’s extravaganza: the Carousel Gardens Experience and the Driving Tour Experience. The two can be also combined into a single luminous adventure.

Last year, the lights went up throughout the park, but the spectacle was limited to drive-through tours. The Carousel Gardens will be open again this year, but with some changes.

Tickets are limited and new features — such as a “snow” area, an enhanced train ride and a bike tour — have been added.

“Our community has been through a lot in the past 19 months and making cherished memories with loved ones is deeply valued,” City Park CEO Cara Lambright said in a statement.

Driving Tour Experience
City Park’s famous oaks will be swathed in over a million twinkling lights, and displays can be viewed throughout the 2.25 mile driving tour of the park.

The Driving Tour Experience is approximately 30 to 47 minutes long. Park officials recommend tuning the car radio 103.7 FM for classic holiday songs to accompany the tour.

New this year, bike tours are available before the driving tour on Mondays only. Cyclists need to be off the road before the drivers begin.

The popular train ride through the park for Celebration in the Oaks has been upgraded. (Mid-City Messenger file photo)

Carousel Gardens Experience
An all-access pass to the Carousel Gardens Amusement Park for the Celebration in the Oaks features 18 rides guaranteed to put a smile on a child’s face and the festive outdoor bar in the Botanical Garden, where visitors can enjoy holiday treats under the twinkling lights.

The pass includes the dancing light shows in the Carousel Gardens, unlimited rides, marshmallow roasting, cups of hot chocolate, photo opportunities, a new train experience with on-board entertainment, a snow area and access to the Botanical Beer Garden (does not include beverage and food).

Celebration in the Oaks will be open daily except for Christmas Eve and New Year’s Eve.

The driving tour runs from 6 to 10 p.m. Sundays through Thursdays and from 5 to 11 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays.

The Carousel Gardens Experience runs from 6 to 11 p.m. Sundays through Thursdays and from 5 p.m. to midnight on Fridays and Saturdays.

There’s an 8:30 p.m. cut off for the Combo Experience during the week and a 9:30 p.m. cut off on weekends.

Cyclists can ride through the park on Mondays from 5 to 6 p.m., with the last admission at 5:45 p.m.

Tickets to drive through the holiday displays are $39.99 for cars and SUVs, with a maximum of eight guests per vehicle. Limos are $150 and sprinter vans are $225. The bicycle tour is $5 per bike.

Admission to the Carousel Gardens is $35 as a standalone experience and $25 when combined with the driving tour.

A limited number of tickets will be sold per day and time slot. Guests are encouraged to purchase their desired day and time, as some slots are anticipated to sell out. Tickets are only valid for the day and time slot purchased.

All tickets must be purchased online in advance. They are available here.

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