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New Orleans is famous for hosting some of the top New Year's Eve parties in the country. Huge crowds gather in the city to celebrate the start of the new year in true southern style with live music and lots of food options. The city's main events are centered around the French Quarter, with an epicenter on Jackson Square. New Orleans has something for everyone—from night-long parties along Bourbon St on New Year's Eve to Allstate Sugar Bowl on New Year's Day.
One of the longest-running New Year's traditions of New Orleans—the Allstate Sugar Bowl (college football bowl)—traditionally takes place in the Mercedes Benz Superdome on January 1, but the festivities start a day before. On December 31, college football fans can catch the Allstate Sugar Bowl NYE Parade, a sort of Mardi Gras-style procession. The procession starts at 2:45 pm from Elysian Fields Ave & Decatur St and marches through the French Quarter all the way to Canal St, passing by The Allstate Fan Fest at the Jax Brewery parking lot. The Fan Fest offers lots of free activities and performances and serves as the Central Time Zone Countdown spot of Dick Clark’s New Year’s Rockin’ Eve with Ryan Seacrest.
Just a block away from the Jax Brewery you can join the biggest New Year celebration of New Orleans at Jackson Square. For a few hours before midnight, there's live music and festive mingling that culminates with the Fleur De Lis drop (an alternative to the Times Square ball drop) and fireworks over the Mississippi as the New Year kicks off. The admission is usually free, so you might want to show up early to get a spot closer to the center.
You can also find all sorts of live music shows and parties across the city. Lots of places on Bourbon St and Frenchmen St offer open bars and food for a flat cover fee. Some bars are lucky to have a balcony to throw the famous balcony bashes, a traditional French Quarter-style party.
If crowded outdoor and indoor celebrations are not your thing, make a reservation at one of the city’s fine restaurants that offer deals and packages for the quiet festive evening. Or you can have a magical night on the Mississippi River with a dinner cruise on the iconic Steamboat Natchez.
Check the latest program updates, make the reservations in advance, or spontaneously head to Jackson Square—and let your NOLA New Year be one of the best memories of the season.