City Park is an extremely important part of New Orleans and very historic. You can visit it year round, but there are certain times of the year when a few festivities take place which make it a particularly fun place to visit.
We were in New Orleans right before Christmas. This meant that we got there on time for their most popular festival of all – Celebration of the Oaks.
This is a festivity that anyone can enjoy on their own, but I wanted to really see the celebration and to learn as much as I could about it. That’s why I decided to take a guided tour. I chose Grayline Tours. This provided us with a guide and transportation. They took care of all the fees. Overall, they gave us an overview of New Orleans’ history, especially around Christmas time.
However, I must admit that I would have preferred to go on another of their longer tours (they have tons to choose from) but I was traveling with a curious four year old and ten year old who gets bored easily. Even if this was a short tour, I had to promise them a reward at the end of it.
New Orleans City Park – Celebration of the Oaks
I’ll start by explaining what Celebration of the Oaks is all about. This is one of the most spectacular holiday lights festivals in the country. It is so popular that more than 165,000 visitors come each year. During the holiday season, City Park’s famous oaks are swathed in hundreds of thousands of twinkling white lights and breathtaking light displays.
This part of the park is opened year round and in it you will find some rides. During the Christmas season they are included in the Celebration of the Oaks festival. Each ride is $3. You can also get an unlimited package for $17. However, keep in mind that there really is only one main ride for older kids; the rest are for kids eight and younger.
The carousel here is the oldest ride in New Orleans and a moving work of art. Even if it was a bit boring for my little men, I made them go for a ride.
There is also a botanical garden with several cool exhibits inside. The rain forest one made us feel like home.
History and Facts about New Orleans City Park
• New Orleans’ City Park is one of the ten largest urban parks in the country.
• The park is one mile wide and three miles long comprising a total of 1,300 acres.
• It is over 150 years old.
• It was designated a public park in 1854 by the 4th District Court.
• The Peristyle at New Orleans City Park opened in 1907. It is a concrete dancing pavilion of classical design.
• 1911 – The Isaac Delgado Museum of Art is dedicated. It is the one currently known as New Orleans Museum of Art.
• 1939 – The 1,300 acres of Couturie Forest in the center of the park was designated as a community arboretum with a bequest of $50,000 for 6,000 trees. It has since expanded to include trails, a rustic amphitheater, six education stations, and docks at the surrounding lagoons.
• The Beatles played at City Park Stadium in 1964.
• The 5 acre Sydney and Walda Besthoff Sculpture Garden Opened in 2003. It holds more than 60 sculptures worth over $25 million.
• When hurricane Katrina hit 90% of the park was under salt water. It killed most of the grass, tender vegetation and over 2,000 trees were extensively damaged.
• 2008 – The Three Little Pigs debut in Storyland.
• In 2012 the 5,000th tree was planted after Hurricane Katrina.