Christmas in Atlanta is our family’s favorite time of year. We love the lights, the chilly temps in front of a fire with the Christmas tree glowing, photos with Santa and working a few dozen holiday shows into our schedule. Below you will find dozens upon dozens of Christmas events around Atlanta, and we promise to add more weekly as we learn about them.
Please note that we are currently updating this list for 2016. Items grayed out indicated that the event has not yet been confirmed for 2016, but we are still looking into it. We always want to update this list, so if you have a special event not listed, please email us.
Christmas in Atlanta
Christmas Classics | Christmas Light Displays | Christmas Tree Farms | Pictures with Santa | Atlanta Christmas Shows | Adults-Only Christmas Fun | Christmas Events | Polar Express Trains | Outdoor Ice Skating | Live Nativities | Georgia State Park Christmas Celebrations | Overnight Christmas Getaways
Stone Mountain Christmas. Millions of lights, Christmas shows and Rudolph create a night to remember at Stone Mountain Christmas. Don’t miss a five-mile excursion on the Singalong Christmas Train, featuring a satellite message from Santa’s elves and a track-side show about the first Christmas. Watch the nightly Christmas Parade featuring Santa and Mrs. Claus, and end your night with the magic of the Snow Angel flying high to create snow and fireworks. Six ways to save on tickets!
Children’s Christmas Parade. Watch as Midtown Atlanta transforms into Santa Claus Lane with the sights and sounds of the season at the largest holiday parade in the southeast. Children’s holds a special place in our heart, and this parade is one of our favorite. It recently moved to Midtown, but the quality is still superior. Bring blankets, a cooler of water or hot cocoa, chairs…whatever you need to enjoy the show! We splurged on bleacher seats one year…that was special. Great memories are made here, and all for a great cause.
Rudolph at Center for Puppetry Arts. Adapted and directed by Jon Ludwig; Based on the classic television special. Rudolph soars back into town for this faithful adaptation of the wonderful holiday tradition that speaks to the misfit in all of us. Based on the beloved 1964 stop-motion animated special, Rudolph and his friends (including Hermey the Elf, Yukon Cornelius and the Abominable Snow Monster) take the stage in what the AJC describes as a “holly-jolly holiday adventure for theater-goers of all ages.” You won’t want to miss it!
Lanier Islands Christmas. Combining all the things you love about Christmas with the best traditions from our Magical Nights of Lights years’ past, it’s a celebration you won’t want to miss! Drive past the animated carousel, iconic candelabra and many more holiday favorites!
Fantasy in Lights at Callaway Gardens. Bundle up for a Jolly Trolley ride, or drive your own car through more than 8 million lights at Fantasy In Lights at Callaway Gardens. Named one of the “Top 10 Places to See Holiday Lights” by National Geographic Traveler, Callaway Gardens glistens with custom-built scenes. Inside the Christmas Village, shop for gifts from Georgia crafters and specialty treats. (Discount tickets here.)
Rock City’s Enchanted Garden of Lights . This award-winning light extravaganza continues to be a favorite holiday tradition for tens of thousands of visitors every year. Guests can also enjoy the nightly concert series in the North Pole Lodge while sitting by the fire, drinking hot cocoa or apple cider.
Mighty Mo and More. This cherished celebration at the Fox Theatre is full of singing and holiday cheer. Tickets are free (all General Admission,) but there is a small processing fee for purchasing online. Snow will be falling… on Peachtree Street. The Christmas Carol Sing-A-Long is led the famous “Mighty Mo” organ, the largest working Mollër theatre organ in the world.
Snow Mountain. Atlanta’s official winter wonderland, just minutes from downtown. Here you’ll find a snow-packed mountainside and action-packed excitement. Have a ball on five football fields of frosty joy, including 20 lanes of tubing. See more here about the tubing.
Macy’s Tree Lighting. Experience the magic of the holiday season as so many generations of Atlantans have with the lighting of the Macy’s Great Tree. The lighting of Atlanta’s most beloved and recognized Christmas tree will take place at Macy’s at Lenox Square Mall BEFORE Thanksgiving festivities begin.
Christmas Light Displays
Atlanta Botanical Gardens Holiday Lights. Garden Lights at Atlanta Botanical Gardens is celebrating its 5th annual electrical extravaganza featuring spectacular light displays throughout the Garden. Come back to explore all new color schemes and the one-time-only appearance of giant Butterflies, a Unicorn, and Frogs from Imaginary Worlds. Favorites such as the Orchestral Orbs, Glittering Galaxy, Radiant Rainforest, and Model Trains continue to make the exhibition a must-see holiday tradition.
Lights of LIFE at Life University. This tradition dates back to 1989. It has grown to be the most affordable light show in the Southeast. Runs every night, rain or shine. As low as $5 per car (depending on the date you visit.) Fri – Sun you can also visit the petting zoo, take train and pony rides and visit Santa.
Holiday in the Park at Six Flags. More than one million LED lights and dozens of Christmas trees create the perfect magical atmosphere this holiday season. The holiday classic will include sparkling lights, festive shows, tasty culinary treats and of course, the Big Man: Santa Claus in all his glory.
Lighting of the Ruins at Barnsley Resort. The holiday lights at the Barnsley Resort ruins, gardens and village light Nov 25.
Country Christmas Nights at The Rock Ranch. Drive through more than a mile of magical Christmas lights on the farm. Also, get your tickets early for Santa’s Workshop, the Christmas Express, Breakfast with Santa and more.
Light Up Blue Ridge. Kids will enjoy the petting zoo, pony and train rides, and more. There’s a gingerbread house and window decorating contest, and the lighting of the Great Tree. Not free, but worth every penny, you can also ride the Santa Express or the Night Train to Santa’s Pavilion on the Blue Ridge Railway. I love the shops in Blue Ridge for Holiday presents, too!
Pettit Creek Farms. Over a mile of Christmas Lights to drive thru in Cartersville Georgia. If you live in the Metro Atlanta area, come see our Christmas Light Display! Live Reindeer (Comet & Cupid) are there nightly for your viewing pleasure and enjoyment.
“Drive By” Light Displays. We love jumping into the car in our jammies, and driving around the neighborhoods looking at Christmas lights. Here are fun places …if you know of more, let us know!
Holiday Lights Spectacular by Christmas Décor at Atlanta Motor Speedway. The Holiday Light Spectacular Features a 2-mile route with 16 sections of lights. The route begins at the front of the speedway, passes through the grandstands and ends at Santa’s village (located within the infield). In the infield guests can enjoy visits with Santa, a Christmas tree village, food and drinks, carnival rides and two drive-in movie nights.
Christmas Tree Farms
Hunter’s Christmas Tree Farm. Hunter’s Christmas Tree Farm has been a family tradition for over 20 years. Choose and Cut your own Tree. Come start a new tradition and join us at Hunter’s Christmas Tree Farm this year. Leyland Cypress, Murray Cypress and Carolina Sapphire Trees are in the field Complimentary Hot Chocolate and cookies.
Southern Belle Farm. Come to the farm for Christmas in the Country. Sip a cup of hot-spiced apple cider, munch a few homemade cookies and listen to Christmas carols! This year, decorate a fresh cut Fraser Fir Christmas tree that you choose right from the farm, and bring the kids to visit Santa.
Ridgeway Christmas Tree Farm. U-Choose & Cut your own: Leyland Cypress (Also available Ball and Burlap), Eastern Red Cedar, Virginia Pine, Carolina Sapphire, Blue Ice. Precut: Fraser Fir, Red Cedar.
Spring Brook Farm. Choose and Cut your own Christmas Tree. Leyland Cypress, Carolina Sapphire, Blue Ice and Fresh Pre-Cut Fraser Fir displayed in WATER! Hayride!! Hot Cider, Coffee, Hot Chocolate and Snacks too.
Berry Patch Farms. They provide you with a saw to cut your own Leyland Cypress or you can choose one of their fresh pre-cut Frasier Fir trees from North Carolina.
Fourakre Christmas Tree Farm. Bring your hand saw, power saw, or use one of our bow saws. Free tree shacking and drilling machine if required. Netting is available cutting and hauling is also for a small fee. Family owned and operated. Est. 1977
Sleepy Hollow Tree Farm. Enjoy a wide selection of the highest quality trees including Leyland Cypress,Murry Cypress, Virginia Pines, Carolina Sapphires, Blue Ice, Naylors Blue, and Fraser Firs. Every year they trimmed and shaped the trees for perfection.
Kinsey Family Farm. Roast marshmallows, drink hot chocolate, and listen to holiday music at the barn. Once you have warmed your insides sufficiently you can take a wagon ride out to the fields to begin your quest for the perfect Christmas tree.
Yule Forest Hwy 155. Yule Forest offers the opportunity to browse among their rows of live Virginia Pine and Leyalnd Cypress trees to select and cut your own. They also have fresh cut Fraser Firs brought in weekly. They offer snow flocking and wreaths. The farm opens on Thanksgiving Day and is open from 9AM until dark.
Young Road Christmas Tree Farm. Christmas trees-you choose and you cut or Christmas trees you choose and they cut. Plus, Christmas wreaths. Trees tied, shaking provided and saws provided. Cash only. $5.00 per foot on any variety: Eastern Red Cedar, Leyland Cypress, Virginia Pine, White Pine. Sizes range: 4 feet up to 20 feet. They also have Fraser Fir Trees prices from 6 to 8 feet priced individually. Cartersville.
Pictures with Santa
Santa Phipps Plaza. Kids will love the life-like Santa that is an Atlanta tradition. I was most impressed with the quality of the final product. The lighting was warm and the paper was professional quality, unlike many other Santa photo experiences around town.
Santa Express on Blue Ridge Railway. Check the train schedule for various dates and times. On board, your family will hear a Christmas story, sing Christmas carols, and visit with the North Pole’s jolliest elf himself, Santa, as he walks through each train car visiting and posing with the kids for photos. Each passenger also receives the traditional Blue Ridge Scenic Railway Christmas Memento.
Santa at Rhodes Hall. This year, skip the malls, avoid the long lines and have a memorable Santa experience for the entire family at Santa at Rhodes Hall in Atlanta. Families can relax and delight in a winter wonderland at the gorgeous “Castle on Peachtree,” enjoying holiday music, delicious refreshments and exciting art activities, while the little ones whisper their wishlists to Santa during personal appointments. You won’t want to miss this heartwarming, unique opportunity to visit with Santa at Rhodes Hall! A $40 family admission covers entertainment, holiday treats from area caterers and a 5×7 photo with Santa. You may also bring your own camera or video recorder for an additional $20. Proceeds benefit The Georgia Trust for Historic Preservation.
Santa at SRM – Enjoy Breakfast or Lunch with Santa, or the Polar Express. Watch the “Polar Express” in an authentic train car, and while watching the movie families will experience some of what is happening on the screen! Tickets include cookies, hot chocolate and a special gift.
LEGOLAND Breakfast with Santa. This event features a kid-friendly breakfast sponsored by Sean O’Keefe Events and LEGOLAND activities. General Admission to tour the decorated estate of Callanwolde, as well as picture-perfect moments with Santa when children share their secret wish lists are included with the purchase of a ticket. All children receive a special gift bag from Santa to take home. See more Breakfast with Santa opportunities here.
Santa Buzz. Santa Buzz is back for 2015 and it’s the 10th Anniversary Year.
Santa on the Square. Join Santa Claus for the kick off to the holiday season in Marietta in Glover Park on the Marietta Square. Festivities include performances by local school choruses. Santa will make his grand entrance and light the giant Christmas tree.
Cookies with Santa. Be at Zoo Atlanta when Santa makes his first stop! Bring the little ones for a personal visit with Santa and a professional photo. Warm up with hot chocolate and cookies, and kick off the holiday season with plenty of fun!
Photos with Santa at Alpharetta Welcome Center. Stop in for an individual or family photo with Santa and have the photo printed and emailed to you to share with friends and family. This is a free event and refreshments will be served. No reservations required. No pets please. The photographer will be using a “green screen” so it is recommended that attendees not wear green.
Serenbe. Enjoy a magical moment in the serenity of Serenbe telling your holiday wish list to Santa. Your special moment will be captured by J.Ashley Photography and you will receive instructions on how to receive a digital image of your time with Santa to enjoy this holiday season.
Hot Cocoa and Photos with Santa. Santa Claus is coming to Mandarin Oriental, Atlanta! Families can have a memorable keepsake photo taken with Santa and then sip on hot cocoa and sample festive treats. The event takes place from 1pm to 4pm and is priced at $65 per family. Reservations are required.
Tea with Santa. Tea with Santa is a long-standing tradition in the Lobby Lounge. Perfect for adults and older children, this formal and traditional holiday tea service includes a visit from Santa and musical entertainment and caroling by the Dickens Singers.
Pajamas and Pancakes with Santa. Tutu Maniac is hosting “Pajama and Pancakes” kids breakfast for kids 13 & under. Bring you kids our for a morning filled with pancakes, music, games, and photo booth fun! This event is to show our appreciation to our customers. Come dress in your favorite holiday pajamas and enjoy pancakes and photo fun. There will be a photographer and photo booth on site for pictures!
Santa at Avalon. Bring the little ones – and the older ones who may need a dose of Christmas magic – for an unforgettable Santa experience. Remember to register your child for a personalized visit beforehand at Concierge or online. Special events include Story time with Santa, Breakfast with Santa, Sensory-free Santa and Pet Night. See the website for dates and times.
Atlanta Christmas Shows
Family Nights at A Christmas Carol at Alliance Theatre. Celebrate the beloved Dickens classic and the all-Atlanta cast you’ve come to treasure. On Christmas Eve, miserly Ebenezer Scrooge is visited by three ghosts – the spirits of Christmas Past, Present and Future, who help him see his life more clearly and teach him that it is never too late. A magical tradition for the whole family, and a great way to celebrate the season. (Click here for discount tickets.)
A Family Holiday Special. It’s time to sparkle and shine for the holidays! Dance along to music from Nutcracker, join in our sing-along, and have a holly jolly Christmas with the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra and the whole family! If you’re very good, maybe Santa will make an appearance!
Atlanta Ballet’s Nutcracker. Atlanta Ballet’s Nutcracker Returns to the Fox Theatre. The whimsical holiday tale takes 20 pounds of snow, eight tons of scenery, lighting, and props, and a 38-foot-tall Christmas tree to make the magic of Marya’s unbelievable story come to life. More than 200 of Atlanta’s young dancers will join the Atlanta Ballet professional company for this extravagant production live with the Atlanta Ballet Orchestra and the Georgia Youth Choir for all performances. After 56 years, Atlanta Ballet’s Nutcracker continues to be a treasured holiday tradition shared by multiple generations. (Click here for discount tickets.)
Madeline’s Christmas at Horizon . A musical play adapted from Ludwig Bemelmans’ delightful book and a holiday treat for the whole family! Madeline’s Christmas runs 1 hour with no intermission. The play is recommended for children 3+.
A Christmas Carol at Shakespeare Tavern. Witness storytelling come to life in a special adaptation of the classic Charles Dickens’ play about Scrooge, the three ghosts he meets and a little boy named Tiny Tim.
The Snow Queen at Serenbe. Returning after a solc-out world premier, and based on Original Story by Hans Christian Andersen. This winter, the classic tale of loyalty, redemption, and love comes to life with the story that brought us FROZEN, The Snow Queen at Serenbe Playhouse. Audiences will join brave Gerda on her epic quest to save her brother from the icy allure of the mysterious Snow Queen and the chill creeping into his own heart. A triumph of love over cynicism, this stunningly visual piece will be a holiday show like nothing you’ve ever seen before. Before there was FROZEN, there was The Snow Queen. (Click here for discount tickets.)
Roswell Winter Puppet Series. The Roswell Cultural Arts Centerwill host its first ever Roswell Winter Puppet Series this December, featuring two nationally-touring puppeteers and their puppets. The Summer Puppet Series has been a summer tradition since 1997 and a favorite of our family, and this new series will extend the family fun into the holiday season.
Cirque Dreams: Holidaze. A new cirque show at Fox Theatre…Broadway musical… and family Christmas spectacular all in one! Hailed by The New York Daily News as a “delicious confection of charm, sparkle and talent by the sleighload & so full of energy it could end our dependence on oil.” (Click here for discount tickets.)
The Hip Hop Nutcracker. A holiday mash-up for the entire family, The Hip Hop Nutcracker, a contemporary work set to Tchaikovsky’s timeless music, embarks on an international tour on the strength of last December’s sold-out performances of the world premiere at New Jersey Performing Arts Center (NJPAC) and United Palace of Cultural Arts (UPCA) in New York City. (Click here for discount tickets.)
Cirque de la Symphonie Holiday Spectacular. Back by popular demand- it’s Cirque de la Symphonie in a brand new Holiday special with all new artists, including jugglers, clowns and acrobats flying high above the Orchestra – all set to an impressive score of classical hits. Fun and exciting for all ages! (Click here for discount tickets.)
Aurora Theatre’s A Christmas Carol. Not unlike what Charles Dickens himself did in the 1800’s, Mr. Rodriguez focuses on the classic art of storytelling, using his voice and mannerisms to bring to life Ebenezer Scrooge, Bob Cratchit, Jacob Marley and the remarkable ghosts found in the greatest Christmas story of all time. (Click here for discount tickets.)
Christmas with the ASO. Capture the spirit of the holidays with the Orchestra’s iconic story of Christmas, created by the legendary Robert Shaw. A majestic cast of over 400 musicians brings to life the Greatest Story Ever Told.
Santa’s Favorite Chamber Music at Michael C Carlos. Welcome back Old Saint Nick himself to introduce some of his favorite classical works and give treats to good listeners. Free–No Ticket Required
Very Merry Holiday Pops. Atlanta’s favorite holiday tradition! Principal Pops Conductor Michael Krajewski leads the ASO in the best holiday classics. Joined on stage by Artist-in-Residence bass Morris Robinson and the All City High-School Chorus, these concerts are sure to put you in the Holiday spirit. And if you’re on the nice list, Santa is sure to make a special appearance!
Nutcracker with The Georgia Ballet. Ring in the holiday season with The Georgia Ballet’s magical rendition of this time-honored seasonal favorite. You’re sure to be transported by the dueling soldiers, the enchanted fairies, exquisite dancing snowflakes and an absolutely magnificent growing Christmas tree, when this special production comes to life at the Cobb Civic Center. (Click here for discount tickets.)
Ballethnic Dance Company’s Urban Nutcracker. Ballethnic’s creative spin on the traditional ballet will leave you with visions of Spice Drops dancing in your head. Catch holiday magic in the making at the Riverside EpiCenter in Austell. (Click here for discount tickets.)
Atlanta Dance Theatre’s The Nutcracker. The Roswell Cultural Arts Center is the perfect place to experience this much-beloved ballet that always dazzles with its battling mice, dancing snowflakes, waltzing flowers and the delightful Sugar Plum Fairy. (Click here for discount tickets.)
A Christmas Carol. The Front Porch Players holiday show at Clayton County’s community theatre.
Bravo Dance Center’s Holiday Express. The show returns to the Earl Smith Strand Theatre as a young boy and girl embark on a magical adventure North on a train from the Marietta Square. First stop, New York City! Be ready to see some of your favorite Nutcracker variations at Lincoln Center! We then continue on our journey to spend some time in the North Pole with Holiday classics like Frosty the Snowman, Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer, and Santa Claus is Coming to Town! Our 100+ performers will enchant you with ballet, tap, hip-hop and Rockette inspired dances, and even live vocals! Keep your eye out for Santa to see if he brings the first gift of Christmas, a silver bell! Enjoy four shows in late November.
Christmas Canteen 2016. Home to Gwinnett County’s longest running theatrical, holiday tradition, this winter wonderland spectacular will commemorate two decades of Aurora Theatre and Christmas Canteen. Including laugh-out-loud comedy and jubilant musical numbers, this high-energy spirited revue promises to be a delightful outing for all!
Adults-Only Christmas Fun
Tits for Toys for Tots. A truly titillating way to usher in the season of giving, the ninth annual Tits for Toys for Tots is a joyous, adults-only evening of holiday-themed burlesque and entertainment that benefits Toys for Tots, a national nonprofit organization that donates gifts to needy children. This fun, frisky show focuses on the art of the striptease and does not include full nudity, although performers occasionally strip to pasties. (Click here for discount tickets.)
Tiger Mountain Vineyards. Enjoy pre-holiday event with hors d’oeuvres and suggestions for wine pairings for holiday parties. Jazz by Monica Spears and Derek Worth. In December come see Holiday Open House, with music by cellist Marie Dunkle and vocalist Margie Swink! Hot mulled wine and discounts on popular wine and food books by local authors.
Santaland Diaries. The outrageous holiday comedy, written by NPR comic genius David Sedaris, stars Crumpet, a rebel without a Clause who recounts the true-life tale of an out-of-work writer’s stint as a Macy’s Department Store elf. It runs 90 minutes with no intermission. The play contains mature content and is not recommended for children.
Festival of the Season at Georgia Aquarium. This winter season, gather the family and celebrate the holidays at the world’s most magical Aquarium! ‘Festival of the SEAson,’ Georgia Aquarium’s month-long celebration of the holidays, transforms the Aquarium’s galleries and exhibits into a winter wonderland. Festivities begin in late November with Wake Up Santa (new this year) when you can help the Elves wake Santa from his slumber with snowballs! Other activities include SCUBA Claus, the holiday tree lighting, Holidazzle light and music, a symphony of snow and an underwater Menorah. Don’t forget to make reservations from a Wolfgang Puck breakfast with Santa in December.
Holiday Spectacular at Ponce City Market. Ponce City Market’s inaugural Holiday Spectacular will officially usher in the holiday season. A family affair, the Holiday Spectacular is a playful celebration offering festive fun for all ages throughout the day. Images of original Sears Wish Books, a catalog filled with hundreds of pages of gifts for children and adults, will serve as the backdrop for these photo keepsakes. Additional activities include choral performances from local groups serenading guests throughout the Central Food Hall after 3 p.m., a gingerbread making competition display, a live chalk artist, reindeer face painting, elf sightings and more holiday surprises.
A Very Magical Nutcracker Party. Enjoy a fun-filled afternoon including a special meet and greet and photo opportunity with the Atlanta Ballet’s distinguished dancers. The Youth Ensemble will perform scenes from The Nutcracker and children will be able to participate in arts and crafts and Lego building. Holiday refreshments will be served and entrance is complimentary. Advanced reservations are required.
Reindeer Days at Chattahoochee Nature Center. CNC winter tradition returns for its fourth year! Come out for a day all about winter animals and holiday cheer including live Reindeer!
The Atlanta Symphony Orchestra Rings in the Holidays with Handel’s Messiah. This masterpiece from Handel tells the Christmas story like no other, and we’ve brought it back this year for a very special performance featuring the Orchestra and the Chamber Chorus. From the overture to the final bars of the famous “Hallelujah!” chorus, you’ll be swept up in the magic of the season.
A Family Holiday Special at KSU. It’s time to sparkle and shine for the holidays! Dance along at the Bailey Performance Center to music fromNutcracker, join in our sing-along, and have a holly jolly Christmas with the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra and the whole family! If you’re very good, maybe Santa will make an appearance!
Back to Nature Holiday Market. Explore more than 40 vendors who have unique handcrafted and/or eco-friendly gifts for the holiday season. Art, Jewelry, Candles, Children’s Gifts, Bath Products, Food, Nature Gifts, and more. In addition enjoy a beautiful hike, be a part of a wildlife encounter and enjoy all that CNC has to offer for FREE.
Fernbank’s Winter Wonderland. Twinkling with lights, glimmering with color and shining with a variety of cultural objects, more than 30 trees and other displays recognize the diversity of celebrations, holidays, traditions and events from around the world.
Christmas at Callanwolde. Visitors of all ages will enjoy touring the 27,000 square-foot historic mansion elaborately decorated with professional holiday displays, expansive artist market, and themed events for all ages. Every room inspires and captures the spirit of the season. Callanwolde holds something for every member of the family. (Discount tickets here.)
A Victorian Holiday at Oakland Cemetery. Indulge in the seasonal spirit by enjoying holiday festivities at Oakland’s Bell Tower. Warm up with a cup of hot cocoa (or wassail for adults over 21) while listening to holiday carols. Settle down for a reading of The Night Before Christmas or join Oakland’s youngest visitors in learning the art of the Victorian ornament. Don’t forget to get a photo with jolly Saint Nick!
Teddy Bear Tea. Guests will enjoy tea, hot cocoa, tea sandwiches, and charming desserts. Callanwolde teddy bears available for purchase as well. Holiday sing-a-longs, and admission to tour the decorated home are included with ticket purchase. Santa will make a special visit to deliver gift bags to all the children.
Atlantic Station Tree Lighting. Atlantic Station invites all to welcome the holiday season with live music, entertainment and children’s activities. The Holiday Parade kicks in the evening, followed by Santa’s arrival in Central Park where he will light the giant Christmas tree and create a magical snowfall followed by fireworks.
Atlantic Station Snow Shows. Starting near the end of November, guests can take a snowy walk through Central Park during Snow Shows. veryone’s favorite holiday music will bring the snowfall to life each weekend at select times.
Mistletoe Market. Find unique Georgia-made gifts for everyone on your list at the ongoing shopping experience at Arts Clayton Gallery.
Ornament Workshops. Focused on kids pre-school to middle school aged with four different themed workshops (Charlie Brown’s Christmas, Pete the Cat Saves Christmas, Minions and Inside Out) See calendar for dates.
Candlelight Tour of Stately Oaks Plantation. Enjoy a special tour at night as the house is decorated for a Victorian Christmas in early December.
Yule Log Celebration – Bonfire, storytelling and searching for the fabled Yule Log at Reynolds Nature Preserve, one of our favorite nature parks in the state. This free vent is mid December.
The Holiday Spirits Museum Mile Tour Participants can visit Christmases past. Holiday version of the Museum Mile tour will focus on holiday traditions spanning the 19th century. The tour includes live music, professional theatre, light refreshments and culminates with a glorious Victorian Christmas at the Ware-Lyndon House.
Blairsville, Ga Christmas Celebrations. Nov brings the Mistletoe Market and Annual Christmas Open House at Byron Herbert Reece Farm and Heritage Center with free admission to exhibits, door prizes, refreshments, author signings, seasonal music and decorations, and a well-stocked gift shop. Don’t miss the December festivities: Tour of Trees, Christmas Concert at the Courthouse, Kris Kringle Mountain Market, Christmas Parade and Tree Lighting on the Square, Union County Historical Society Open House and Live Nativity, Tree Lighting @ Vogel State Park, Holly Jolly Christmas with musical performances, children’s activities, refreshments & photo ops with Mr. & Mrs. Claus, and Old fashioned Christmas caroling on the square.
Christmas in Downtown Clayton, Ga. Thanksgiving weekend you can get Christmas shopping done in one evening! Santa is at the Rock House Park with Tree Lighting at the Rock House Park at 6 pm. Music, Victorian carolers, luminaries, hot chocolate and so much more. The next day, come talk to Santa in his antique sleigh at the Rock House Park on Main Street. And don’t miss the Christmas Parade in early December.
Christmas in Cleveland, Ga. Make reservations for breakfast with Santa at Babyland General Hospital in late Nov. (and again in Dec) followed by their Appalachian Christmas which includes decorations, carolers, prize drawings, Santa, costume characters, Milk and Cookies with Mrs. Claus and the lighting of BabyLand. Cleveland’s mountain celebration and parade is early Dec with Winter Wonderland Tours of the Zoo at various dates in December.
Christmas in Dahlonega, Ga. Holiday events begin in late November and include the Downtown Merchants Open House, a Visit with Santa on Visitor Center Plaza and Downtown, Extended Downtown Merchant Shopping Hours, Holiday Tree Lighting Ceremony at Montaluce, an Old Fashioned Christmas Parade and Lighting of the Tree, as well as “The Night Before Christmas” at the Historic Holly Theater during December.
Christmas in Gainesville, Ga. Festivities kick off with Jingle Mingle, Santa arrives, lighting of the Big Chicken, carriage rides and lots more. Other events include Voices of North Georgia Annual Holiday Concert at St. Paul’s United Methodist Church, Gainesville Ballet Company’s Nutcracker, Mingle with Kringle at Main Street Market, Christmas on Green Street, Family Day- Victorian Christmas with Northeast Georgia History Center, John Berry Christmas Concert and the Polar Bear Swim at the Lake Lanier Olympic Venue.
Christmas in Habersham County. FREE Drive Through the Park- Spectacular Light Display at Cornelia City Park, “A Country Christmas” parade in downtown Cornelia, with a visit with Santa at the Big Red Apple after parade, and A Downtown Clarkesville Christmas with tree lighting, photos with Santa, live music, and more.
Brasstown/Hiawasee Christmas Events. Brasstown Holiday Arts & Crafts Show at Brasstown Valley Resort, Six beautiful homes decorated for the holidays in and around Hiawassee and Young Harris, GA through the Mountain Country Christmas Tour of Homes, Holiday Open House at Hightower Creek Vineyards with music by Raven & Red and special mulled wine. The Berrong’s and Crew, Mountain Home Music Theatre Christmas show and Three Dog Night at Anderson Music Hall.
Christmas with Coca-Cola. Savor the season with signature beverages like Gingerbread Coke and Mistletoe Flow starting the Friday after Thanksgiving, snap and share selfies with the Coca‑Cola Polar Bear and Santa Claus using #WOCCHoliday , ooh and ahh over the thousands of holiday lights and larger-than-life ornaments in Pemberton Place, learn the real story behind the Santa Claus image we know and love, originally commissioned by Coca-Cola in the 1930s.
Christmas on Green Street at The Quinlan. The Quinlan celebrates Christmas in style. The festivities include a holiday festival, parade and tour of historic homes. Handcrafted for the Holidays features local artists and artisans handmade ornaments, fused glass, wood turns, handmade dolls, jewelry and more. FREE holiday gift bags for all purchases, giftwrap services available. See the parade from the lawn and visit the Live Nativity afterward. Enjoy free holiday projects for kids in the evening, and catch one of two free Magic Shows with the Magical Mr. McClure.
Root City Market Holiday Pop Up. returning to Stove Works, near Krog Street Market, on Saturday, December 12. They will showcase the work of more than 50 local makers, including a bunch of Root City newcomers. You’ll also find a giant coloring book and activity by Bearings Bike Shop for kids. And all visitors can share their joyful Atlanta memories on a collaborative map installation. The first 50 guests will get a swag bag filled with local goodies. And all attendees can enter to win a $500 giveaway of goods from our makers.
Augusta Christmas Spectacular. Head to downtown Augusta for live music, Augusta’s Christmas Parade, family fun in the Common and Augusta’s Christmas Tree lighting and fireworks show. Augusta Common Park
Lights of the South. Experience one of Augusta’s favorite holiday traditions – Lights of the South. Take a hayride through over 4 million lights, stroll through a lighted Christmas tree maze, roast marshmallows over an open fire, visit Mrs. Clause’s kitchen, pictures with Santa and so much more!
Christmas with College Football Hall of Fame. Spend the later half of December at The Hall with plenty of holiday-themed lights and decorations, including an ornament-filled 14-foot tree. Fumbles “Claus” will make special appearances throughout the day and be available for photo opportunities with young fans. Fumbles will serve cookies and hot cocoa daily at 3 p.m. ll guests will receive a Chick-fil-A Digital Offer Card for a free Chick-fil-A Chicken Sandwich as well as a mini plush Chick-fil-A Cow.
Holiday Events with Young Chef’s Academy. This holiday season, warm and comforting aromas of cinnamon, gingerbread and peppermint will fill the air at Young Chefs Academy (three locations nearby in North Druid Hills, Marietta and Sandy Springs) as children and their parents visit for festive camps and workshops. Throughout December, Young Chefs Academy will host a selection of exciting holiday events, such as gingerbread house workshops, winter “Fireside Meal” camps, Christmas cookie workshops, holiday brunch workshops and more. Additionally, as the curriculum at Young Chefs Academy is updated regularly with fresh monthly themes, December’s theme of “It’s Breakfast Time Somewhere” will also allow children to experience cultural holiday dishes. Each week will feature courses for preparing traditional breakfast foods from different regions of the world, and will highlight holiday dishes throughout.
Holiday at the High Artisan Market. Meet local artists and shop for the unique gift items including jewelry, textiles, home goods, accessories, and more. You’ll be sure to find the best gifts on your Christmas and holiday list at the High Museum of Art. FREE entrance to Museum Shop and Market; admission tickets required for exhibitions.
Polar Express Trains and more
Blue Ridge Scenic Railway. A daytime ride is best for young children, lasting only an hour. It includes storytelling, caroling and a visit from Santa. Older kids (and adults) will enjoy the four-hour nighttime adventure to Santa’s Pavilion.
Garden Lights, Holiday Nights. Holiday cheer continues is available in the daytime, even when the lights are taking a rest. Enjoy a G-scale train and trolley winding through a mountain village town. The miniature metropolis is not the only train show; kids can enjoy a turn on The Botanical Express.
Stone Mountain Christmas Train. If you ask me, though, the highlight to Stone Mountain Christmas is a ride on the Singalong Train. Carol with the other passengers along this five-mile route around the mountain. There is no extra charge; it’s included with admission!
Southeastern Railway Museum.When Santa’s reindeer are taking a breather, you’ll find him at the Southeastern Railway Museum where he can pick from more than 90 pieces of railway equipment, all perfect for delivering presents. Mingle with Santa and his elves, make holiday crafts and take a ride with Santa at the museum. On select days in December, families can dine with Santa for breakfast or lunch and watch a unique showing of Polar Express. SOLD OUT FOR 2016.
Snowball Express. Kids of all ages will enjoy this special holiday train ride throughout the streets of Atlantic Station. Board the Snowball Express at select times every day of the week. See the website for special days to ride in Santa’s Sleigh.
Holiday at the Museum. Kick start your holiday season at the Southern Museum! Bring the whole family to enjoy popcorn and the movie The Polar Express as well as a fun, interactive winter themed train layout at the Museum on Saturday, December 5th! Sit back, relax and enjoy the show in the Museum’s theater. Kids- feel free to come in your pajamas!
Outdoor Ice Skating Atlanta
Avalon. During the holiday season, Avalon will turn the Plaza into an ice-skating rink that will be the size of the intimate Rockefeller Plaza. Open from end of Nov. to mid-February, the rink will be surrounded by twinkling lights, a gingerbread house, and other holiday decorations, creating a magical experience for kids of all ages.
Skate Atlantic Station. From November February, visitors can lace up and Skate Atlantic Station style! This unique, 10,000-square-foot, open-air track-style rink will offer a magical winter atmosphere to skaters. Dazzling lights and holiday décor will have skaters dreaming of a white Christmas.
Jekyll Island Skating Village. Thanks to a tourism grant from the Governor’s office, the Jekyll Island Authority is purchasing a synthetic ice skating rink. The Jekyll Island Skating Village will be located in the oceanfront parking lot located north of Great Dunes Park and will be open from Nov. through January.
Skating on the Marietta Square. With the holidays only a few months away, Marietta Square will get its own ice skating rink in November. The ice skating rink is being brought to Glover Park. More details to come.
The Rink at Park Tavern. The Southwest Rink at Park Tavern offers all-day skate for $15 – $20 for all ages until 8pm. At 8:30pm the SW Rink is a 21+ venue until Midnight. We love skating here because, well, it’s a Tavern! Great food, and tons of fun. Opens Thanksgiving Day.
Ice Skating Rink at Centennial Olympic Park. Skate among the lights of Centennial Park, this rink is located near the Georgia Aquarium and World of Cocoa Cola.
The Polar Rink at Lake Lanier. There’s exciting news for Lake Lanier fans: Ice Skating is now included with admission to Lanier Islands Christmas. Skate rental and ice skating are free after 5pm.
Olde Town Conyers Pavilion. Experience an indoor/outdoor rink for the family in a botanical setting.
Astor Holiday Rink at St Regis. The St. Regis Atlanta invites guests and locals to celebrate the holiday season with its timeless winter events and experiences. Enjoy the Astor Holiday Ice Rink, which offers visitors a unique experience of skating in the magical outdoor setting of the hotel’s 40,000-square-foot Pool Piazza.
Atlanta Nativity Festival. This two-day Sandy Springs event features live Christmas music, an exhibit of nativity sets from around the world, a display of children’s nativity art, hands-on crafts for kids, and a live nativity.
Clairmont Hills Baptist Church. Clairmont Hills offers the public a free “drive-thru” living nativity for the entire family. They are still looking for participants, as well. Three days only.
Mountain View United Methodist Church. Walk through the streets of Bethlehem and haggle with the shopkeepers, sign the census and pay your taxes to Caesar Augustus’s tax collector. The end of your journey depicts the live nativity scene. Two weekends in December.
Sardis Church. See a live nativity, with live animals, refreshments, and carolers at this church on Powers Ferry. Two nights only.
Starry Night Tours. Celebrate the season with North Georgia Zoo in Cleveland. Walk through the zoo under the stars, then take a hayride past the camels to the live nativity. Finish up at the bonfire, with marshmallows and hot cocoa.
Old Fashioned Christmas. Enjoy the lighting of downtown Dahlonega, with visits from Santa, luminaries, Christmas movies in the park, and an evening live nativity with animals. Activities extend for a month, but the live nativity is one weekend only.
Walk Through Bethlehem at Simpsonwood UMC. Hundreds of candles light the path. Roman guards, shopkeepers and merchants in costume will be in the streets. See live farm animals and a camel during your visit. You will also see shepherds, angels and Wise Men, as well as the live nativity.
Live Nativity & Holiday Celebration. FREE Nativity with Live animals, marshmallow roast, hay rides, caroling and more! Nativity open to public from 5-7 pm. Try the Starry Night Guided Zoo Tour, also.
Georgia State Park Christmas Celebrations
Christmas at the Cabin – Pickett’s Mill Battlefield Historic Site. Civil War soldiers will be home for the holidays. The cabin will be the setting as period re-enactors demonstrate farm life, chores, toys and games.
Christmas at the Cabin – Red Top Mountain. Yuletide celebrations of the 1800s come to life as demonstrators take you back in time to Christmas at the Vaughn cabin. Santa will be available for photos and Christmas wishes.
Christmas at the Gorge – Tallulah Gorge. Come and see Santa, make crafts, enjoy Christmas music and have a snack here at the park. If you have a camera you can take your own photos with Santa.
Christmas by Candlelight – Chief Vann House Historic Site. In 1805, Cherokee Chief James Vann opened his new brick mansion to the Moravian missionaries to hold one of the first Christmas celebrations in the Cherokee Nation. To honor this tradition, visitors are invited to enjoy the sights and sounds of a 19th century Christmas in one of America’s best-preserved Cherokee Indian homes.
Annual Christmas Tree Lighting – Vogel State Park. Join us for the 12th annual tree lighting of a 35-foot live Blue Spruce. There will be caroling, hayrides, Santa Claus visit, bonfires, and refreshments. Please bring an unwrapped gift for a child 0-12 years of age; no toy guns or knives. The donations will help the Union County Sheriff’s Office toy drive.
Candy Cane Express Train Ride – SAM Shortline Train. Enjoy a popular excursion with layover in Plains. The town will be all dressed in its Christmas wrapping and ready for your visit. Free candy canes for every passenger. Santa will be aboard for the ride!
Christmas in Plains Train Ride – SAM Shortline Train. Get your tickets today to enjoy Christmas in Plains. There will be a Christmas parade and music to put you in the spirit of Christmas. You’ll be riding in air-conditioned, 1949 vintage train cars, so sit back, relax and enjoy the ride.
The North Pole Express Train – SAM Shortline Train. Join us for a special nighttime ride from Georgia Veterans State Park to the Downtown Cordele Depot to visit with Santa Claus at the North Pole.
Overnight Christmas Getaways
Jekyll Island Club Hotel. Discover your dream Georgia beach Christmas vacation. Spend Christmas at the Historic Jekyll Island Club. Packages include Traditional or Clubhouse Accommodations with Queen, King, or two Double Beds, Breakfast Buffet in the Grand Dining Room and a Christmas Stocking filled with goodies and a special Jekyll Island Club Hotel commemorative Christmas ornament. Prices start at $219.
Mandarin Oriental, Atlanta. Couples and families are invited to enjoy a hallmark of Atlanta’s holiday season with Mandarin Oriental, Atlanta’s Magical Nutcracker package. Guests will experience the time-honored classic, Atlanta Ballet’s The Nutcracker, celebrating its 20th Anniversary at the Fox Theatre, while enjoying luxurious accommodations at Mandarin Oriental, Atlanta. Additionally, try the Mandarin Oriental, Atlanta’s Holiday Shopping Made Easy package. Situated on Peachtree Road in Buckhead puts the best shopping in the city at guest’s fingertips. A short walk to Phipps Plaza, Lenox Square or The Shops Buckhead Atlanta, guests will find an exciting variety of shops and restaurants to make holiday shopping a breeze.
Breakfast with Santa at RC Reynolds, Lake Oconee. Overnight accommodations in a resort view room or lake view room , featuring a Pajama Breakfast with Santa for a family of four on Sunday morning (2 adults & 2 children) Breakfast includes server gratuity and tax. Breakfast reservations must be made upon booking hotel reservation. Please call (706) 467-7059. Find all the holiday events here.
Family Holiday Dreams at Ritz-Carlton Downtown. Available mid-November until early January. Guests will enjoy overnight, deluxe accommodations at The Ritz-Carlton, Atlanta with the Holiday Dreams package. This festive package includes ice skating and skate rentals for two at Centennial Olympic Park, housemade hot chocolate in a Ritz-Carlton travel mug, four tickets to the SkyView Ferris Wheel and overnight valet parking.
Christmas Celebrations at Ritz-Carlton, Buckhead. Santa Tuck In. For those spending the night at The Ritz-Carlton, Buckhead, Santa himself makes a personal appearance and comes to your family’s guestroom to tuck children in before bed. Holiday Brunch. Enjoy the holiday season with a festive Sunday Brunch display. Christmas Even Dinner. The most elegant Christmas Eve celebration in the city is a delight for all. An a la carte menu is available for guests spending the holiday with at RC Bukhead, in The Café. Christmas Day Brunch. Finally, celebrate this joyous holiday featuring seasonal décor, live musical entertainment, caroling by the Dickens Singers and an appearance by Santa. The display features more than 100 brunch selections and a separate children’s buffet is available for those who were good this year.
The Lodge and Spa at Callaway Gardens. A great place to stay after seeing the Callaway Lights. Stepping into a winter wonderland upon arrival, holiday visitors enjoy a magnificent Christmas tree decorated with white, sparkling lights. Oversized chairs placed next to a crackling fireplace are the ideal location to sip complimentary hot apple cider and hear holiday classic tunes beckoning the halls. On the weekends, children have the pleasure of decorating Christmas cookies and gingerbread men with green and red frosting, sprinkles, chewy gumdrops, peppermints and more, while emailing Santa Claus a holiday wish list and making yummy reindeer food for Santa’s flight crew. Additionally, on select nights during December, guests will have the opportunity to meet Santa himself as he stops by The Lodge and Spa’s lobby to spread holiday cheer.
Atlanta Evergreen Marriott at Stone Mountain Park. Stone Mountain Christmas Packages includes overnight accommodations, breakfast for two or four in the hotel restaurant, two or four two-day Stone Mountain Park Christmas Adventure passes and heated indoor/outdoor swimming pools at Atlanta Evergreen Marriott Conference Resort.
Chateau Elan. Special December event calendar “Saison Festive” in mid to late December with special room rates including a bottle of wine and breakfast for two starting at $155.
Disclosure and photo credits: Many of the events listed here have offered us complimentary tickets this year or in the past. As always, we only include the best of the best in our lists. Thank you to Stone Mountain Park, Atlanta Botanical, Garden, Alliance Theatre, Blue Ridge Scenic Railway, Avalon and Jekyll Island Club Hotel for use of their photos. This post might also include affiliate links, which do not add a cost to you, but do help me keep the lights on.