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Farewell, 2021, and hello, 2022! How to ring in the new year in New Orleans

Ryan Nelsen
The city will host a fireworks show in Jackson Square on New Year's Eve, Dec. 31, 2021.

After nearly two years of cancellations and delays due to COVID-19, New Orleans is returning to its busy schedule of hosting its world-famous parties and celebrations, starting with New Year’s Eve.

With Carnival season set to kick off on Twelfth Night, Jan. 6, the city will ease into its festive ways with options for tourists and residents to enter the new year.

But there will be some protocols and recommendations in place during the revelry. In August, Mayor LaToya Cantrell implemented a vaccine mandate to enter bars, restaurants and entertainment spaces and has said that the protocol will remain in place during Mardi Gras.

Recently, Cantrell expanded the mandate to require children ages 5 and older to have proof of vaccination, but that mandate will start after the new year on Jan. 3.

The mandate requires patrons to show proof of at least one dose of a coronavirus vaccine or negative PCR test from the past 72 hours to enter indoor restaurants, bars, gyms and entertainment spaces. The mandate will again change in February to requiring proof of two doses.

Acceptable forms of proof are:

  • A CDC-issued vaccination card.
  • A photocopy or digital photograph of the front and back of the card.
  • A vaccine record.

Health officials also strongly recommended everyone, regardless of vaccination status, wear masks indoors and get frequent tests throughout the holidays, noting that the current COVID-19 data suggested the beginning of a fifth surge.

While COVID and its variants are still a threat, New Orleans officials said they are confident in the protocols they have mandated across the city to stop the spread of the viral threat.

Below are just some of the ways to celebrate the new year in New Orleans:

Allstate Sugar Bowl

For the 88th Annual Sugar Bowl, the University of Ole Miss Rebels and the Baylor University Bears will play on New Year’s Day, but festivities for the bowl game will start Friday.

The New Year’s Eve Parade will roll through the French Quarter starting at 2:30 p.m. The parade, featuring Mardi Gras-style floats and bands, will march up Decatur Street along the Mississippi River to Canal Street. WDSU-TV will also be broadcasting the procession.

The 88th annual Sugar Bowl will have the No. 7 Rebels and the No. 8 Bears play at 7:45 p.m. Saturday and will be televised by ESPN.

For those wishing to tailgate during the game, the Allstate Sugar Bowl Tailgate Town in Champions Square will begin three hours before kickoff and features food, games and performances from both schools’ bands and cheerleading squads. The event is free.

Dick Clark’s New Year’s Rockin’ Eve With Ryan Seacrest

New Orleans will be home to the Central Standard Time zone portion of the end-of-the-year celebration hosted on ABC Channel 26. It can also be streamed on ABC.com, the ABC app, Hulu+ or YouTube TV.

Billy Porter will be the host and performer of the New Orleans stage. The holiday staple will start at 8 p.m.

Celebration in the Oaks

While the drive-through holiday light show will be closed on New Year’s Eve, the experience will be available until Jan. 2 and has been available since late November.

The City Park tradition started in the 1980s, and proceeds from the show go back into parks maintenance and care. Attendees can drive through the park from 6 to 10 p.m. and experience the Carousel Gardens from 6 to 11 p.m. Both events extend their hours on Friday and Saturday by one hour.

CNN New Year’s Countdown

News junkies can celebrate with CNN anchors Don Lemon, Alisyn Camerota and Dulce Sloan as they count down the minutes to the new year at the Howlin Wolf. The event starts at 9 p.m. and features the Rebirth Brass Band plus Jon Cleary & the Absolute Monster Gentlemen.

Lots of live music

Just like any weekend in New Orleans, there are several chances to celebrate the new year with your favorite New Orleans musical artists.

The Revivalists will hit the Mardi Gras World stage at 10 p.m. New Year’s Eve with special guests the Preservation Hall Jazz Band. Rev Causes, a fund that supports organizations dedicated to investing in the community, will receive $1 of every ticket sold.

The Civic Theatre will host DJ Soul Sister for her 19th Annual New Year’s Eve Soul Train. The concert begins at 10 p.m.

Dumpstaphunk will ring in the new year with George Porter Jr. at the Joy Theater; the show starts at 9 p.m. New Years Eve.

Big Freedia, Tank & the Bangas and the Brass-A-Holics will be just some of the acts performing at Big Night New Orleans inside the Hyatt Regency. The event starts at 9 p.m on New Year’s Eve.

On New Year’s Day, local hip hop legends Mystikal and Juvenile will take the stage at the Howling Wolf, starting at 9 p.m.

Crescent City Countdown

Spend your first moments of the new year watching fireworks explode over the Mississippi River and a Fleur De Lis drop over Jackson Square.

The fireworks will start at midnight and can be seen all along the East and West Bank and are free to watch.

Cruise along the Mississippi

The historic Steamboat Natchez will float along the Mississippi River starting at 10:30 p.m. and leading up to the midnight celebration. The 2-hour cruise will feature live music, food and front-row streets to the fireworks.

Reservations are recommended.

A feast to celebrate

Many New Orleans restaurants have announced they will serve prix fixe menus in place of their standard menu to celebrate the evening. Some of those include:

French Quarter bars and restaurants have also announced they will be renting out their balconies to watch the midnight fireworks.

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