Slideshow: Where to plan a party in New Orleans
Degas House Historic Home, Courtyard & Inn — Built in 1854 and home to painter Edgar Degas from 1872 to 1873, the Degas House is in its 21st year as a venue and inn. This romantic mansion can be booked for parties (dinners, receptions, corporate events, weddings, etc.) of up to 500 guests. The flexible layout (two houses linked by a center courtyard), the romance of the oak-canopied neighborhood, and the cachet of the Degas name have made it popular for destination weddings, both as a venue and as lodging for the wedding party and family. A Creole breakfast is served daily and there's an in-house wedding coordinator and a butler who tends to brides on the wedding day. The "dressing of the bride" is a regular event, complete with Champagne and other amenities. Degas House was named the No. 1 wedding venue in Louisiana by Frommer's for 2016 and is in wedding website The Knot's Best of Weddings Hall of Fame.
The Elms Mansion — With its period decor and St. Charles Avenue address, this 19th-century Italianate mansion epitomizes Southern charm and hospitality. Since 1968, it's been a venue for private and corporate events, including dinners, cocktail receptions, Mardi Gras celebrations and weddings. It features imported, hand-carved mantels, ornamental cornices, stained glass window-lined rooms, a courtyard and gardens. In addition to providing cocktail and dinner menus, The Elms' staff can coordinate entertainment, flowers, transportation and other services.
Longue Vue House & Gardens — This National Historic Landmark encompasses a classical revival house and 8 acres of gardens. It was built between 1939 and 1942 as the home of philanthropists Edith and Edgar Stern evokes the era of country estates. There are seven spaces for rent: the Pan Garden, Gatehouse, Playhouse, Forecourt, Front Lawn, East Lawn and Spanish Court, making this "retreat with a view" a versatile venue for showers, luncheons, teas, business meetings, lectures and more. Limited parking is available.
Eiffel Society — Before it was a recognizable New Orleans landmark, this 1930s glass and steel structure was a restaurant located atop Paris' Eiffel Tower. Taken apart and shipped to New Orleans, where it was reassembled in the 1980s, the structure now overlooks St. Charles Avenue in the Lower Garden District. With 6,000 square feet of space, it's a prime location for events large and small. The Eiffel Society offers in-house catering with custom-designed menus and specialty cocktails, as well as valet parking and an audio-visual system.
Fair Grounds Race Course and Slots — The Fair Grounds is the third oldest racetrack in the nation. It also boasts a wealth of party venues. With more than 12 spaces that can be rented — the spacious clubhouse, the grandstand area, the partially outdoor paddock mezzanine, the easily accessible derby building and the recently opened 1872 Room — it lends itself to small or large events from meetings, receptions and birthday parties to reunions, holiday parties, weddings and more. The Fair Grounds also has on-site parking.
The Jaxson — Housed inside the building that originally was the Jax beer brewery, this year-old venue has a gleaming, open interior with arched windows overlooking Decatur Street and the French Quarter and a glass-enclosed back and flagstone terrace overlooking the Mississippi River. The sophisti- cated, polished look makes it especially suited to glamorous night- time events. The terrace holds up to 200 guests. Amenities include a sound system, screens, LED lighting, a restaurant kitchen and custom menus.
Lighthouse NOLA — Built as the Lighthouse for The Blind in 1923, this unusual downtown building makes an offbeat, eclectic venue for rehearsal dinners, wedding brunches, engagement parties, corporate events, birthday parties and other events. There's a gallery space, a tower room, two exterior courtyards, a rooftop deck with modern furnishings and a warehouse that can be used for catering. An artist's studio soon will be added to the available spaces, increasing the venue's guest capacity from 200 to 500. At night, the rooftop deck provides views of the uplit tower and surrounding city lights. There are two commercial parking lots next door.
New Orleans Lakefront Airport — The restored art deco Lakefront Airport is a unique party venue for everything from gatherings of 25 to large events for as many as 900 guests. There are three party spaces: the stunning two-story atrium, the observation deck (which overlooks the airport runway and Lake Pontchartrain) and the Walnut Room, a wood-paneled aviation-themed bar that overlooks the airport outside. Drafted by the same architectural firm that constructed the Louisiana State Capitol building, the airport was built in 1934 and is home to murals by Xavier Gonzalez, detailed stone walls and floors and expansive views.
Orpheum Theater — First opened in 1921, the luxurious interior of this Beaux Arts theater features a ceiling with a baroque floating dome, ornate gilded moldings and a mezzanine with a terrazzo floor. Shuttered for a decade after Hurricane Katrina, it was meticulously restored by new owners and reopened in 2015. The Orpheum combines historic character with modern amenities such as state-of-the-art lighting, a movable floor and projection and surround sound for film-related events. The stage area has been used for gatherings of as few as 35, but the theater also is suited to large affairs such as balls, fundraisers and galas.
Mercedes-Benz Superdome/Champions Square — The iconic home of the New Orleans Saints is a backdrop for a variety of special events venues, from the 90,000-square-foot Champions Square outdoor venue — great for staging live music — and its accompanying Opening Act indoor space (it can only be rented in conjunction with Champions Square), which offers catering. Club XLIV is an indoor lounge with an illuminated bar, audio/video technology, chandeliers and more. Encore, separated from Club XLIV by a sliding door, has a plush interior and can be customized. When rented together, Encore and Club XLIV can accommodate up to 1,000 guests.
The Cannery — Originally built in the 1960s as the warehouse for the American Can Company in Mid-City, The Cannery was renovated and opened as an events venue in 2012. With 12,000 square feet of available space that can be used together or subdivided for smaller events, the open floor plan offers flexibility for filling a customer's needs and a range of functions: business meetings, corporate events, ceremonies, receptions, showers, proms, fundraisers, fashion shows and more. Design features include a bar area, a private bridal suite, an outdoor terrace, modern and contemporary furnishings, on-site AV equipment and secured parking.
The Chicory — Built in 1852 as a coffee warehouse, this space has hosted weddings, debutante parties, corporate events, launch parties and more since 2008. The main building has exposed brick walls, brass gas lanterns, hardwood floors and exposed-beam ceilings. There's 10,000 square feet of space, including a large balcony overlooking Lafayette and Fulton streets. A second building opened two years ago, bringing the available rental space to 25,000 square feet and making The Chicory one of the largest privately owned venues in the city. Theknot.com has named The Chicory best wedding venue for four years running, and the complex also has been spotlighted by Martha Stewart Weddings.
Generations Hall — This Warehouse District site was refurbished as part of the 1984 World's Fair and later became a nightclub. In the early '90s, it became Generations Hall and two years ago, it was renovated to make the space more open. With three large rooms available, the hall can accommodate as many as 2,500 people. It's got the expansive size and weathered exposed brick associated with former warehouses. As a large empty shell, it also has the potential to be whatever the client envisions. The hall can provide soft seating, high boys and high chairs.
Il Mercato — Spanish for "the market," Il Mercato was built in the 1930s as a neighborhood food market with a variety of vendors. Today, the recently restored and renovated Mediterranean Revival property is operated by Joel Catering and is a venue for parties, weddings, debutante balls, corporate functions, fundraisers and more. The space features interior and exterior arches, brass doors, tile detail, ornamental crests, herringbone wood floors, built-in banquettes, built-in bar, indoor library, exposed ceiling beams, an outdoor fireplace and a 3,500-square-foot courtyard made with reclaimed bricks. The interior event space can accommodate 5,000 people, while interior and exterior spaces combined can handle 8,500 guests.
Chateau Golf & Country Club — Located in the heart of Kenner, Chateau Golf & Country Club can accommodate indoor and outdoor gatherings. The clubhouse has three ground-level rooms and two large ballrooms overlooking the pool and golf course. An outdoor gazebo near the pool is ideal for wedding ceremonies, and the club provides in-house catering.
English Turn Golf & Country Club — English Turn is a semi-private country club and its party facilities are available to the public for rental. The 55,000-square-foot clubhouse includes a second-level ballroom, an atrium with a fountain and a main dining room with views of the 18th green and its water features. The club hosts events for as few as 40 guests or as many as 600. All catering is done in-house by the club's chefs, who offer packages as well as custom menus.
Timberlane Country Club — First opened in 1959, Timberlane Country Club was the first private golf club on the West Bank. Its venues, which are available for rent by the public, include a clubhouse with a restaurant that was renovated two years ago, a full bar, an outside patio and a ballroom overlooking the golf course and a fountain. The country club hosts all kinds of events — balls, showers, weddings, fundraisers, birthday and holiday parties and meetings — for as many as 400 guests.
Popp Fountain — Built in 1937 and renovated recently, New Orleans City Park's Popp Fountain is popular as a setting for cocktail parties, fundraisers, wedding ceremonies and more. The classically elegant site features a 30-foot spray of water from a cast bronze sculpture by artist Enrique Alferez and is framed by Corinthian columns draped in wisteria. The park's newest event venue, the Arbor Room, offers a spacious interior with views of the fountain and surrounding grounds.
Press Street Gardens — Located on Press Street in the Marigny, this urban green space was opened in 2015 and serves as both a farm and an outdoor classroom for New Orleans Center for the Creative Arts (NOCCA) students and the community. The garden grows vegetables, flowers and herbs, so it's a colorful environment for parties, receptions and other events year round. The venue offers farm-to-table experiences for people who purchase flowers and catering from Press Street Station. Renting the venue also supports the NOCCA Institute.
Crescent Park — This 1.4-mile linear space along the Mississippi River just two blocks from the historic French Market can be rented for small social gatherings, showers, birthdays, weddings, large corporate events — and even small to mid-size festivals. The French Market Corp. operates Crescent Park and has three venues for rent: the Mandeville Shed and Piety Wharf — both repurposed wharf areas — and the Ellipse Lawn, a raised lawn overlooking the river. The park bills its Piety Gardens — three gardens around the Piety Street Footbridge — as a "perfect" location for a pop-up wedding.