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We've got your weekend: Cathedral concerts, croissants, gingerbread competition

FQFI' sfree  holiday concert series, held in the St. Louis Cathedral at Jackson Square, returns this week.

FQFI' sfree holiday concert series, held in the St. Louis Cathedral at Jackson Square, returns this week.

Wednesday / Plantation talk and visit : Ibrahima Seck, a professor of history at Cheikh Anta Diop University in Dakar, Senegal, whose work focuses on Louisiana, will present his new book, Bouki Fait Gombo: A History of the Slave Community of Habitation Haydel (Whitney Plantation) Louisiana, 1750-1860, with a reading at 6 p.m. at Octavia Books (513 Octavia St.).

Bouki Fait Gombo, published by UNO Press, centers the narrative of the Whitney Plantation around the slaves who built and inhabited the still-standing Creole buildings, telling the story of their forced migration, work, and family life. This year, the Whitney Plantation opens its doors to the public for the first time in its 264-year history, as a Site of Memory dedicated to a fuller understanding of the facts of slavery. Through museum exhibits, slave narratives, memorial artwork, and the restored buildings in which the slaves lived and worked, Whitney Plantation visitors will be immersed in the world of an 1830′s sugar plantation and the world of the people whose labor made it one of the most successful in Louisiana.

The event is free and open to the public.

Wednesday, Thursday & Sunday / St. Louis Cathedral Concert Series : Through December 21, within its schedule of holiday events, the French Quarter Festivals Inc. offers its annual St. Louis Cathedral Christmas Concert Series. The series features a wide range of vocalists and gospel choirs -- from Ellis Marsalis to Helen Gillet to Leroy Jones -- all of whom will perform seasonal favorites. This weekend’s lineup includes Betty Wiin and One A-Chord (Wenesday), Ellis Marsalis (Thursday) and Shades of Praise (Sunday).

All concerts will be held inside the St. Louis Cathedral at Jackson Square, at 6 p.m (*the December 21 performance will begin at 5:30 p.m.). View the full lineup here.

Thursday / Gingerbread house building competition : In true holiday fashion, Build Now, Project Homecoming, Project Home Again and the New Orleans Area Habitat for Humanity have teamed up for an event that combines a time-old holiday tradition with a charitable cause. From 6 - 9 p.m., the trio invites New Orleanians to support local housing rehabilitation -- putting folks back into homes and simultaneously reducing the number of blighted properties -- by participating in a gingerbread house building competition.

Event highlights include a panel of celebrity judges, complimentary food and drinks and a $200 cash prize for the winner.

The event will be held at the New Orleans Healing Center (2372 St Claude). Tickets $10 - 20 (all proceeds will benefit the causes of the three host organizations); all gingerbread house materials will be provided.

Thursday - end of December / PhotoNOLA : New Orleans’ annual photography festival, PhotoNOLA, returns for its ninth run. Through the end of the month, several local galleries will feature the work of notable domestic and international photographers. Through the upcoming opening weekend, there will be a number of portfolio reviews, workshops, lectures and book signings. Highlights include a bookmaking workshop on Monday; a chemigram workshop on Saturday; and the annual PHOTOgala on Thursday, featuring live music, complimentary food and beverages and a silent auction.

View a full schedule of PhotoNOLA events and exhibitions here.

Friday / Repeal dinner : Repeal day is a notable day in many American cities. In boozy New Orleans, it’s near comparable to the Fourth of July.

The Grill Room (300 Gravier Street, at the Windsor Court Hotel) is celebrating repeal day with a five-course whiskey dinner. Menu highlights include roasted diver scallop with grilled parsnips, brown butter and sage;
meatloaf wellington with shaved asparagus salad; and crispy banana bread pudding with butterscotch and brûléed bananas. Each course will be served with an appropriately paired whiskey.

There will be only one seating, at 7 p.m. $95 per person (all-inclusive). Reservations 504-523-6000.

Friday and Saturday / Shane's shout out: Anders Osborne's 3rd Annual Holiday Spectacular at Tipitina's, 9 p.m., Tickets $25

Local legend-in-the-making Anders Osborne plays two shows this weekend at Tipitina's for the third installment of his annual holiday blowout. Musical guests include Galactic, The Radiators, Los Lobos and others, getting folks in the holiday spirit with the excellent southern-fried rock Osborne is known for. Hear a preview of Osborne's latest here.

Saturday / Councours de croissant : From 10 a.m. to 1 p.m., the Southern Food and Beverage Museum (1504 O.C. Haley Boulevard) and the Alliance Francaise have will co-host a special event that is, naturally, both food- and French-oriented -- Councours de croissant, a celebration entirely dedicated to croissants. The main attraction will be a croissant competition to determine which local person or organization produces the best croissant. Participants will compete in three categories: amateur bakers, professional pastry chefs and freestyle (open to the public -- entry form here); each category will have one winner, as determined by a panel of celebrity judges, and among the three categories, attendees will select one people’s choice winner. The event will, of course, feature croissant samples as well as complimentary Cool Brew coffee and discussions about New Orleans culinary traditions, cooking demonstrations, cooking demos and children’s activities.

The event is free with admission ($10 adults / $5 student and seniors / free for SOFAB and/or Alliance Francaise members).

Chelsea Lee is managing editor at NolaVie. Email comments to her at [email protected]