|New Orleans Christmas Tradition: Celebration in the Oaks
New Orleans is full of beloved holiday traditions, from Christmas Eve bonfires on the levees to five-course Reveillon dinners like the ones available at our sister hotel’s restaurant, Criollo. Another perennial favorite this season is Celebration in the Oaks, an ongoing event in New Orleans City Park where all decorations are completed in house. While the light show is a local favorite, we encourage visitors to experience it for themselves! Here’s what to expect:
A Twinkle in the Trees
Celebration in the Oaks starts the day after Thanksgiving on Nov. 28, offering a perfect way to cap off your day of shopping. Centuries-old oak trees get a holiday makeover thanks to thousands of sparkling lights, creating a magical spectacle for guests who walk under the glistening boughs. Children will delight in themed trees (the Who Dat tree is a local favorite for Saints fans) and the kid-friendly light displays in Storyland. For adults, head to the Botanical Garden for glittering lights that adorn the more than 2,000 varieties of plant life on the property. Along the way, you’ll see charming walkways decorated by local schools. Are your feet tired yet? There’s also a two-mile train ride to take you through the exhibit.
Overall, the light display spans more than 25 acres, and our typically mild winters make the park an excellent spot for meandering and admiring (with a cup of hot cocoa, perhaps?) at your own pace.
While you can drive and park at City Park, we suggest taking the streetcar for fun and festive transportation. Our hotel is just steps from Canal Street, where the streetcar line runs to take visitors all the way to the Celebration in the Oaks venue. While the streetcar is iconic, though, it’s not always the quickest. If you can’t wait to get there, let us know so we can arrange a taxi!
Turkey Day, NOLA Style: Things to do on Thanksgiving
Thanksgiving means different things to different people. For some, the perfect Turkey Day entails staying in pajamas and watching football with the fam; for others, it’s a day off to explore and enjoy. If you’re in the latter camp, take a look at things to do on Thanksgiving in New Orleans.
College teams the Southern Jaguars and the Grambling Tigers play one another in the Bayou Classic, a Thanksgiving tradition at the Superdome that celebrates one of the biggest team rivalries in the region. You may not find turkey with all the fixings, but there are plenty of concessions at the Superdome to keep you satiated and smiling.
Thanksgiving at the Track
If the weather is nice, you can head to the Fair Grounds Race Course in lieu of the dining table. Thanksgiving is opening day for thoroughbred racing season, and the course hosts a Thanksgiving buffet in the upper-level clubhouse to celebrate (guests must be 21 and older). Guests can also enjoy concessions on the lower level as they watch live racing from 11 a.m. until about 3 p.m. Come in festive finery – this event draws fanciful crowds who love a good costume and a good time.
Where to Dine
Our new restaurant, Latitude 29, will be closed on Thanksgiving, but guests who book now at Bienville House can still take advantage of plenty of incredible restaurants in the area. Criollo, the restaurant at our sister property Hotel Monteleone, will host Thanksgiving dinner from 12:30 to 8 p.m. French Quarter favorite The Court of Two Sisters is open from 9 a.m. until 3 p.m. for lunch and then again from 5:30 p.m. until 10 p.m. for dinner. Luke, Borgne, Morton’s The Steakhouse, and Dickie Brennan’s Tableau are just a few of the many restaurants open on this food-filled holiday.Latitude 29 Grand Opening: Bienville House’s New Restaurant
Walk into Latitude 29 prepared for a good, old-fashioned game of eye spy.
Do you spy the ship’s bow that doubles as a host stand? Real starfish suspended for eternity in a stained-glass lamp? How about an expanse of textured seagrass (hint: look up)?
Authentic tiki carvings and totems line the walls, and nautical elements like buoy-esque lights create a believable Polynesian atmosphere: we’re not in New Orleans anymore.
Latitude 29 celebrated its grand opening on Wednesday, and Bienville House couldn’t be more excited about this incredible bar and restaurant, housed right within our hotel.
The work of the world’s leading tiki expert, Jeff “Beachbum” Berry, this restaurant is authentic, fun, and full of special details. We walked through our lobby and into the restaurant for a closer look (and taste) at all things Latitude 29. Here’s what we found:
Our waiter guided us toward the Pontchartrain Pearl Diver to start. This creamy, frothy concoction gets its flavor from a honey-butter-spice mix blended with passion fruit, lime, and plenty of Jamaica rum. We couldn’t help but notice the glass, a retro vessel with a cylindrical shape and banded detail. As it turns out, the glass is a replica of a rare vintage design: you can search all over the world, but you’ll only find it – and the delicious drink inside – at Latitude 29.
Another drink of note is the Mississippi Mermaid. Presentation alone makes this cocktail a standout: a tiny, plastic mermaid (perfectly kitschy) sits on the rim with a tamarind candy balanced on her tail. You’ll find notes of tamarind in the drink as well, alongside allspice, lemon, and vodka. The effect is festive without any cloying sweetness: spicy and delicious.
Chef Chris Shortall created the “PolynAsian” menu – one that beautifully complements traditional tiki cocktails. Shrimps in blankets were the starter of choice. We loved how the giant shrimps (with the heads on) were a subtle nod to New Orleans-style crawfish; the sweet-and-sour dipping sauce cut through the rich flavors of the outer won-ton pastry.
Perhaps our favorite dish of the day was the Loco Moco – an absolute must-try. The dish has its roots in traditional Hawaiian cuisine, although this version is made with sumptuous ground filet rather than pork. Fashioned into a patty and sandwiched between savory mushroom rice and a fried egg, the filet is topped with shitake mushrooms and a sprinkling of green onions. As for the taste? Shepherd’s pie meets stir fry: ultimate comfort food with subtle Asian flavors.
Berry’s wife, Annene, has long been a fan of this traditional Hawaiian dish. “I joked to my husband that it’s the most expensive Loco Moco ever,” she says. “Someone had to build a restaurant to make it for me!”
On an unseasonably cold day, we were grateful that Latitude 29 could take us through time and space to a 1950s tiki utopia. From retro music to staff outfitted in Hawaiian shirts, the playful mise en scene was immersive: we felt completely transported. Despite the vintage vibe, however, the space is technologically advanced. Latitude 29 doesn’t feel like such a throwback when you’re charging you’re phone in an outlet (available in each booth) and posting photos to Instagram in real time. #yum.
For unbeatable access to Latitude 29, book now at Bienville House.Enjoy Music and a Healthy Heap of (Vegan) Gumbo
The Jazz and Heritage Foundation has a reputation for spotlighting important, New Orleans-centric music throughout the year. Just a few weeks ago, residents celebrated Crescent City Blues and BBQ Festival, and April always draws a major crowd for Jazz Fest. This weekend, the Foundation is hosting yet another event that pairs the authentic sounds of New Orleans music with its iconic cuisine: Treme Creole Gumbo Fest starts this Saturday (Nov. 8) in Armstrong Park.
Running from 11 a.m. until 7:15 p.m. on both Saturday and Sunday, the festival will feature some of the finest brass music in the city, including the Treme Brass Band, the Louisiana Philharmonic Orchestra Brass Band, and the Soul Rebels. In a fun cross-section of Jazz and Heritage Foundation events, the festival will also feature the winners of the foundation’s annual “Class Got Brass?” high school band competition.
While brass music treats your ears, you can indulge in another classic New Orleans offering: gumbo. The festival will see several amazing area restaurants serving up their signature gumbos, filled with meats, seafood, rich broths, and plenty of flavor.
For the second year, festival organizers are also hosting a vegan gumbo competition, where participating chefs must dream up a gumbo completely free of any animal products (including meat-based stocks). Audience members can purchase samples of each gumbo and vote for their favorite – and if you find one worth recreating, you can do so at home! After the festival, each recipe will be available on the Jazz and Heritage Foundation website.
Another exciting addition to this year’s festival is the fusion of the children’s area and the arts market. Parents can peruse handmade artwork and wares while their kids stay engaged with a series of creative workshops.
Saturday’s lineup will give children the chance to make a nature collage card, stitch, screen print, and create rhythm makers with the help of local artists leading each workshop. On Sunday, children can attend workshops to make prints, jewelry, castanets, and more.
Bienville House is just a 15-minute walk from the park, providing our guests with a uniquely New Orleans way to spend their afternoon this weekend. Book now to enjoy Treme Creole Gumbo Fest in addition to all the excitement of the French Quarter.Get the Scoop on Latitude 29
We’re gearing up for our Latitude 29 launch happening soon, and we couldn’t be more excited! Over the past few weeks, we’ve had several exciting updates. Take a look at what’s been happening as we finalize the details of Latitude 29.
Monday was a busy day for us. The Fire Marshall visited our location to ensure that all equipment is installed and in working order, and both our contractor and lead architect were on hand to address questions and comments. We also had a reporter from the Times-Picayune drop by, setting the tone for other press and publicity folks who visited throughout the week.
In addition to stream of inspectors, friends, and acquaintances who’ve dropped by throughout the week, Latitude 29 also caught the eye of Eater, the online food and nightlife magazine with extensions in major cities like New York and Los Angeles. Their article, “Rise of the Zombie King,” profiled Jeff “Beachbum” Berry as he steps into his new role at Latitude 29.
As the piece details, not only is Berry working on his own restaurant (we couldn’t be more excited!), but this famed Tiki historian has also influenced the menus and even the very existence of other Tiki bars across the country.
Take, for example, Three Dots and a Dash, the famed Tiki bar in Chicago. The name, as it turns out, is a reference to a long-lost drink that Berry uncovered and decoded as part of his endless fascination with Tiki culture.
We can’t wait for visitors to enjoy Latitude 29 for themselves and try the authentically Polynesian creations so characteristic of Berry’s life’s work. While we can’t give too much away, let us say this: the phrase “simple syrup” is a misnomer when Berry is involved. His nine-ingredient simple syrup – which will sweeten up Latitude 29’s Professor Remsberger Punch – offers a glimpse into the meticulous, delicious world of “Beachbum” Berry.
Stay tuned for more updates about Latitude 29, and book your stay at Bienville House for prime access to this hot, new restaurant.Halloween Happenings in New Orleans
On any given day, New Orleans offers a bustling social calendar packed with things to do, but with Halloween happening on a Friday night, you can bet there’s even more to check out than usual. Take a look at our list Halloween happenings in New Orleans – both on the day of and throughout the weekend.
This three-day festival kicks off on Halloween and runs through Sunday. Major headliners like Outkast and the Foo Fighters are sure to draw substantial crowds to the City Park festival grounds. Expect vivacious live music, installation art studding the venue, and an arts market with jewelry and other handmade wares. “Foodoo” is also available for hungry revelers: choose dishes from restaurants like Bratz Y’All, Woody’s Fish Tacos, and Antonio’s Italian Restaurant.
French Quarter bar Molly’s at the Market will host its 19th annual Halloween Parade, cruising down Decatur at 6 p.m. on Oct. 31. The Irish bar, also on Decatur, is famous for its Frozen Irish Coffee and (perhaps more appropriately for Halloween) its Bloody Mary. Krewe of Boo parades through the Quarter the night before at 6:30 p.m. on Oct. 30.
Locals are split on which is scarier, but both The Mortuary Haunted House and House of Shock are prime choices if you’re looking for a horror-filled haunt. The Mortuary, housed in a real, 100-year-old house, has a zombie theme while House of Shock combines elements of pyrotechnics and live entertainment for an incredibly believable scare in its final year.
Can’t wait until Halloween? The next few days present several chances to don your costume. Boo at the Zoo runs from 5 p.m. until 9 p.m. at the Audubon Zoo on Friday, Oct. 25, and Saturday, Oct. 26. Kids and families can enjoy trick-or-treat houses, a ghost train, concessions, and candy at the event. The Audubon Society will also host Crawloween at the Butterfly Garden and Insectarium. This event will feature plenty of creepy crawlies, pumpkins filled with insects, and a “Guess How Many Maggots are in the Jar” contest.
Our location in the French Quarter offers quick, seamless access to several of these events: the parades and Crawloween are within walking distance, and Voodoo Experience is accessible via street car. Book now to experience a New Orleans Halloween at one of the city’s most iconic hotels.Dance and Dine at Crescent City Blues and BBQ Festival
When people think “New Orleans,” they think jazz and jambalaya, but this weekend, blues and barbecue is the more accurate pairing. The Crescent City Blues and BBQ Festival starts Friday in Lafayette Square, a park within the Central Business District just a few blocks from Bienville House. Running through Sunday, Oct. 19, the event features a variety of musicians and foods that will add spice and soul to your weekend. Here are some of the highlights the fest has to offer:
Louisiana Blues has remained one of the most recognizable genres out our state. Adding jazz characteristics and Caribbean influences to classic blues, New Orleans Blues rose to fame in the 1940s and ‘50s as a prominent sub-genre, adding a new sound to our jazz-heavy city. Blues and BBQ Festival celebrates our rich – though not always recognized – blues history with a lineup of prominent musicians.
Local blues guitarist Little Freddie King performs on Friday, and Anna Popovic closes the festival that evening. Originally from Serbia, this singer/guitarist exemplifies the international reach of the blues sound born out of the American Delta. Other standouts throughout the weekend include Los Lobos, Denise LaSalle, and Valerie June.
Just like the blues, barbecue often plays second fiddle to Creole cuisine in New Orleans. At the festival, however, visitors can expect a wide selection of dishes from local restaurants, including cochon de lait po’boys from Walker’s BBQ and pork and slaw tacos from Squeal. With more than a dozen gluten-free options available, as well as options for vegetarians and vegans, everyone can enjoy a helping or two of smoky, sweet flavors.
Arts and Crafts
Every year, the festival chooses 35 local and regional artists to sell their wares at the event. Visitors can peruse the booths and purchase handmade items like soap, pottery, silverworks, wooden mirrors, and more. Check out a complete list of vendors and view a slide show of select vendors’ work to get a head start on what to buy.
If you’re looking for hotel options for this fun and free event, book now at Bienville House. We have rooms that include access to amenities like a complimentary breakfast and heated saltwater pool – not to mention we’re within walking distance to the festival.Reel in Southern Flavor at the Louisiana Seafood Festival
If your weekend plans don’t include chowing down on the freshest seafood this side of the Mississippi, they should: Louisiana Seafood Festival runs from Oct. 10-12 at the festival grounds in City Park.
The festival features a savory parade of seafood-centric dishes from some of the area’s most beloved restaurants. Sample Pontchartrain shrimp pasta dressed in a decadent Alfredo sauce from Blue Crab, savor the hearty crunch of a fried shrimp BLT po’boy from Galatoire’s, or delight the senses with the salty-sweet combination of redfish beignets from Royal House.
Distinctly Louisiana proteins show up on the menu (alligator, anyone?) alongside globally inspired dishes like shrimp quesadillas and Asian-style tuna.
Running from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. on Friday and Saturday, and 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. on Sunday, the festival also includes a constant flow of music. With bands taking the stage practically around the clock, guests can look forward to musicians like horn powerhouse Brass-A-Holics and Louisiana native Mark Broussard, who will treat audiences to his signature style of “Bayou Soul.”
Of course, nothing accompanies a delicious meal and music quite like a handcrafted cocktail. While your drink selections at the Seafood Fest will be limited (though nonetheless delicious – try the watermelon lemonade from Café Reconcile), keep in mind that our new Bienville House restaurant, Latitude 29, is opening soon with plenty of exotic cocktails to quench your thirst.
Channeling vintage Tiki décor and drinks into an Asian-influenced dining experience, cocktail craftsman Jeff “Beachbum” Berry is at the helm of Latitude, opening later this fall inside Bienville House. Executive chef Chris Shortall is developing a menu that draws on Asian flavors to complement the layered, fruity notes of authentic Tiki cocktails.
Our Bienville House location offers quick access to the festival via cab, car, or streetcar. Interested in a last-minute reservation? We still have rooms available! Book now to enjoy the French Quarter and fresh seafood together: a perfect New Orleans pair.Haunted New Orleans
New Orleans is one of the spookiest and most haunted cities in the United States
Ghosts sightings, haunted hotels, abandoned buildings and murder scenes are just a few of the many secrets Haunted New Orleans holds. In celebration of October, we have listed some of New Orleans’ best paranormal activities to help you get the perfect scare out of your next New Orleans experience.
Haunted History Tours
Walking through the French Quarter at night is in itself a spooky activity. However, walking through this iconic neighborhood with one of New Orleans’ infamous French Quarter Phantoms Ghost Tours or Haunted History Tours will help you get the full effect. These tours bring visitors all around a historical and haunted New Orleans that not even locals know about. Some tours even offer cemetery ghost tours! While becoming wrapped up in these spooky stories, you might even come across one of New Orleans’ famous ghosts.
New Orleans Pharmacy Museum
Also among the most haunted French Quarter locations is the New Orleans Pharmacy Museum. This museum was home to America’s first licensed pharmacist, who was known for having performed illegal experimental surgeries on women. The museum is filled with all of his past tools and other voodoo potions. It is said the pharmacist still haunts the 3rd floor of the building.
If you’re looking to get your adrenaline really pumping, visiting one of New Orleans’ spooky haunted houses will do the trick! Some of the most famous include The Mortuary and House of Shock. Both offer a gruesome experience unlike other haunted houses. At the end you might find yourself being chased by a dead man holding a chain saw.
Not only is haunted New Orleans filled with paranormal activities, it is also home to famous gruesome murder scenes. Fans of American Horror Story: Coven will recognize one of these famous locations, the Lalaurie Mansion. This Royal Street house dates back to 1832. When the Lalaurie family lived there, the house caught fire and inside firefighters found a torture chamber filled with slaves that Mrs. Lalaurie had been brutally torturing for years.
Although the hauntings of New Orleans offer a scary side of the city, they come hand-in-hand with its rich history. To get the best of your spooky October, plan a trip to haunted New Orleans and get the full paranormal experience with us at Bienville House. Book your stay with us today!Latitude 29
Jeff Berry’s Latitude 29 is Bound for Success
All the details on Jeff “Beachbum” Berry’s new restaurant, Latitude 29, have officially been released. With a very impressive staff behind him, Jeff Berry is set to make Latitude 29 a New Orleans success! Because of the amazing staff, perfect French Quarter location and refined dining, Latitude 29 is the talk of the town.
Among this impressive staff are bartenders Hadi Ktiri and Brad A. Smith, and Sous Chef James Rivard in the kitchen! All of these employees have the experience one needs to make a great French Quarter restaurant and bar with amazing cocktails.
Hadi Ktiri has past experience working at beloved French Quarter bar, French 75. Since his days at the French 75 bar, Ktiri worked as Food and Beverage Supervisor at the Roosevelt Hotel. Eager to get back behind the bar, Ktiri is a great addition to this upcoming New Orleans establishment.
Ktiri will be working alongside Brad A. Smith, a New Orleans Bywater legend. Known best for his acclaimed cocktail program for the bar at Maurepas, Smith will be another great addition to the Latitude 29 team!
Jeff Berry knew what he was doing when he chose New Orleans native James Rivard to be the new Sous Chef at Latitude 29. With an impressive past working at Upperline Restaurant and Stein’s Deli, Rivard has also worked alongside Latitude 29’s Executive Chef Chris Shortall at Shortall’s BBQ.
Having previously thought a French Quarter location was unobtainable, Jeff Berry and wife Annene Kaye had given up on the idea of finding a spot in the French Quarter for their upcoming restaurant.
Berry explained, “We’d stayed at the hotel more than once and hosted a rum dinner at Iris way back in 2008, so we knew how amazing it was, and we felt an immediate affinity for Mr. Caputo.”
The restaurant will have a wide variety of cuisines with a great Tiki ambiance. Latitude 29 will be preparing several varieties of ribs, including the savory flavored petit-cut pictured above. The menu will also feature plenty of vegetarian options as well.
The restaurant and bar will be open six days a week, Tuesday through Sunday (3PM to 11PM on week days and 11AM to 11PM on weekends). Located in our very own Bienville House, book your visit today and explore the uniqueness that is Latitude 29 in late October.