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Celebration in the Oaks driving tour is now $39 per car; Carousel Gardens back open

This year's celebration will be different than last year's. Here's what is offered and why the cost has gone up.

NEW ORLEANS — Last year, a 2.25-mile driving tour for City Park's Celebration in the Oaks started at $18.99 and maxed out at $32.99, depending on the time, date and car size. This year, all vehicles will be charged a flat fee of $39.

So what's driving the increase?

The fluctuating ticket prices became "a lot to manage," a City Park representative said. By offering one standard price, City Park officials hope to streamline the admission process and generate direly needed revenue for the 1,300-acre urban public park, which is 90% self-funded.

It took a major hit due to the coronavirus pandemic, which canceled major fundraisers in 2020, and Hurricane Ida, which caused more than $2 million in damage to the park's infrastructure.

“This event is our largest annual fundraiser. This year, the revenue generated by Celebration in the Oaks is especially important, and we have made the decision to standardize the price of the driving tour admission to $39 on all days, to make it predictable for both guests and the Park," said Cara Lambright, CEO of New Orleans City Park.

The $39 ticket price includes admission to the driving tour for up to eight people. People who buy the driving tour also get $25 admission to the Botanical Gardens and Carousel Gardens Amusement Park portion of Celebration in the Oaks, which returns after being shuttered in 2020 due to coronavirus safety protocols. Tickets are $25 per person when purchased with a driving tour and $35 per person on their own. 

The Botanical Garden, too, features a newly standardized, inclusive ticket price. In the past, admission cost $10 but did not include amusement park rides, hot chocolate and marshmallows or train tickets.

This year, the cost of admission includes unlimited rides and hot chocolate and marshmallows. Also new this year: a bar in the Botanical Garden, a snow area and Bike Nights from 5 p.m. to 6 p.m. every Monday, when admission costs $5 for cyclists.

“Our community has been through a lot in the past 19 months, and making cherished memories with loved ones is deeply valued,” Lambright said in a press release. “It is truly an honor that Celebration in the Oaks continues to serve such a beloved role in our holiday season.” 

Visit www.celebrationintheoaks.com to buy tickets to Celebration in the Oaks, which is open daily through Jan. 2, with the exception of Christmas Eve and New Year's Eve. Hours are 5 p.m. to 11 p.m. Friday and Saturday and 6 p.m. to 10 p.m. Sunday through Thursday.

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