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 | Christmas Around Georgia | Polar Express Trains | Outdoor Ice Skating | Live Nativities | Georgia State Park Christmas Celebrations | Overnight Christmas Getaways | FREE Christmas Events | Breakfast With Santa
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! (Discount tickets here.)
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! (Discount tickets here.)
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 or 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. Santa Claus will be on-site for family photo opportunities – doors open at 6:30pm.
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.
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.
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 55+ years, Atlanta Ballet’s Nutcracker continues to be a treasured holiday tradition shared by multiple generations. In 2016, we say goodbye to dancer John Welker after 22 years, and welcome a new artistic director, Gennadi Nedvigin. (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+. Madeline’s Christmas will run December 3-31. Performances are weekends at 10:30 a.m., 1 p.m. and 3:30 p.m., with additional school day matinee and holiday week show times. Tickets are $12 for children and $15 for adults.
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.)
Scrooge: The Musical. Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol comes alive in the heartwarming musical adaptation Scrooge: The Musical. Based on the 1970 film starring Albert Finney, Scrooge is chock-full of great songs, which earned an Oscar nomination for writer-composer-lyricist Leslie Bricusse (Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory). In this fresh take on the classic holiday tale of redemption, lonely miser Ebenezer Scrooge gets a second chance at life when he’s visited one Christmas Eve by four ghosts who show him the error of his ways. Don’t miss the OnStage Atlanta production of this holiday favorite. (Discount tickets here.)
Langston Hughes’ Black Nativity: A Gospel Holiday Celebration. Set in a modern African-American church on Christmas day, filled with testifying deacons, sanctified ladies and down-home preaching, Black Nativity takes us on a journey back to the Bethlehem of Mary and Joseph. Harlem Renaissance poet-playwright Langston Hughes authored this one-act musical retelling of the Christmas story from an Afro-centric perspective. Featuring African costumes, moving songs of worship, magnificent choreography and old-fashioned spirituals, the song-play explores the depths of cultural identity, pride and unity within the African-American community. Adapted by Robert John Connor with musical direction by Keith Wilson, Black Nativity brings the spirit of the season to Atlanta’s Southwest Arts Center. (Discount tickets here.)
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.
A Christmas Story, The Musical. This beloved holiday film is being brought to life live-on-stage as the award-winning Broadway show embarks on an eight-city National Tour this holiday season. Four leads from the 2015 tour will return to reprise their roles for the third season of Big League’s critically acclaimed production. A Christmas Story, The Musical will debut in Atlanta at the Fox Theatre from November 29 – December 4 as part of the 2016/2017 Fifth Third Bank Broadway in Atlanta season. (Discount tickets here.)
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. “Rodriguez’s powerful one-man performance of A Christmas Carol is something that never loses its magic, no matter how many times you’ve seen it over the past decade,” said Tony Brown, the shows adaptor and director. Not unlike what Charles Dickens himself did in the 1800’s, Anthony 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. (Discount tickets here.)
Rhythmic Circus’ New Holiday Experience: Red and Green. As the four world-renowned dancers of Rhythmic Circus and their swingin’ seven-piece band bring their signature sound and style of rapid-fire tap to the stage of the Cobb Energy Performing Arts Centre, you’re guaranteed to feel the holiday spirit. Filled with everything from a beatboxing rendition of “The Grinch” and a full-cast performance of A Charlie Brown Christmas‘ “Linus and Lucy” to five new originals and a mash-up medley called “Toy Soldier March,” your whole family will love the genre-hopping fun of Red and Green. Rediscover the wonder of the season when this song-and-dance-filled extravaganza comes to Atlanta. (Click for discount tickets.)
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.)
Gift of the Magi. Marietta’s Theatre in the Square re-imagines O. Henry’s holiday classic Gift of the Magi, setting the tale in Atlanta in the 1950’s. This adaptation centers around a local streetcar driver who’s struggling to stay afloat during the Atlanta Transit strike. Christmas is around the corner and the young man and his wife don’t have the money to buy each other gifts. Despite their financial hardships, they find a way to celebrate. Magi tells the story of love, sacrifice and the blessings that we take for granted. Treat the entire family to this treasured holiday play; kids will also enjoy pre-show snacks, crafts and holiday characters. (Click for discount tickets.)
Comfort and Joy Choral Performance. Start this holiday season on a magical note… make that several notes, courtesy of the Atlanta Gay Men’s Chorus. The first half of the chorus’ 36th season ushers in the holidays with yuletide favorites commissioned by GALA choruses over the last three decades. This seasonal treat for the whole family celebrates the best parts of winter, from the first signs of snow to the holidays around a crackling fire. Experience the multitude of voices and tidings of Comfort & Joy at The Cathedral of St. Philip in Atlanta. (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! (Discount tickets here.)
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.)
Cocktail-Making Classes at GRAIN. With the holidays right around the corner, it’s the perfect time to learn how to make cocktails like a professional. GRAIN is hosting three Cocktail-Making Classes for two. For $59 per couple, participants will learn how to make a speciality cocktail, receive one craft cocktail each, and nosh on a sampling of light, seasonal bites from the kitchen. As an added bonus, each class will include house-made gifts to take home. Classes are at 2 p.m. and begin on Saturday, November 19, 2016 and run through Saturday, January 21, 2017. Participants that stay after class will receive 20% off of a second cocktail. Classes can be purchased singularly or as a seasonal bundle.
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.
The 12 Dates of Christmas. November 25 –December 23; times vary Aurora Theatre’s annual holiday tradition The 12 Dates of Christmas will light up Lawrenceville! The spirited production will provide lots of laughter, as audiences are swept away on a whirlwind adventure into the mishaps of one woman’s attempt to get her jingle back in the wonderful world of dating. Written by American Shakespeare Center’s Ginna Hoben, the delicious one-woman show will make spirits bright with its festive bundle of laugh-out-loud entertainment! (Discount tickets here.)
Courtenay’s Cabaret: Home for the Holidays. Hertz Stage from December 2 – 24, 2016. Based on her popular one-woman cabaret show, Courtenay Collins, with director Susan V. Booth, has created a new holiday cabaret that will include music, stories, surprises, cookies, crafts, and Courtenay’s signature charm and good humor. Accompanied by a live band, Courtenay will sing holiday classics and new favorites with the wit and Southern charm that has won her fans from Atlanta to New York. She will also welcome and interview a mix of mystery guests each night including notable local celebrities, musicians, mascots, characters, and maybe even a politician or two. No two performances will be the same.
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.
Candlelight Nights at Atlanta History Center. The Atlanta History Center invites guests to step back in time and experience Christmases past during Candlelight Nights on the evenings of December 9 and 16. During these family-friendly events, visitors can stroll wooded trails illuminated by the sweet glow of candlelight, connecting to the spirit of simpler holiday pleasures.
Guests will be welcomed by Santa Claus and a lively Holiday Market filled with local crafts and artist creations. Then they can visit each of the three historic houses to experience how Southerners celebrated Christmas during the Civil War era (Smith Family Farm), the 1930s (Swan House) and pioneer days (Wood Family Cabin). Timeless holiday music will resonate, and interpreters will bring characters from the pages of history to life at these historic abodes, each handsomely dressed in period holiday decorations and featuring activities of the season.
Souper Jenny, which shares a welcoming space with the Atlanta History Center bookstore, will be open and have warm soups and other delectable dishes for purchase. Cash bars will offer special holiday-themed drinks. This special holiday program is $10 for members; $15 for nonmembers; $8 for children. Doors open at 5:30pm
Holiday Spectacular at Ponce City Market. Ponce City Market’s 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 beginning on Black Friday. Whoville is coming to Ponce City Market, and the “Mean One” himself will make sure it isn’t all dahoo dores! The Grinch will crash into Ponce City Market’s very own Whoville on his sleigh with Whos and Max the Dog in tow. Take your photo with The Grinch and help grow his small heart three sizes in time for the Roast Beast Feast.
Listen to festive tracksuit-wearing b-boys, who will entertain with old-school hip-hop tunes; and get a photo with Santa in his Village. The holiday fun doesn’t stop there – attend a holiday concert, sign up for pomander-making classes, and more. This month-long celebration takes place from November 25th through Christmas Eve, December 24th. Stay tuned as more details are released.
Grinch Party. We got an idea…an awful idea…a wonderful awful idea! We’re having a very Grinchy party for kids 5-10 yo! ‘Tis no better reason to celebrate the season than to decorate it Red, White, and Grinch. Enjoy good eats, make things that are neat, and celebrate Grinch-mas! December 17, 2016; 5:30pm-8:30pm; $5 Resident; $7.50 Non-Resident. Wills Park Recreation Center.
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!
Holiday Tea with American Girl. Start the holiday season with a special teatime together and a crafty project to decorate your celebrations! Holiday Tea events include a deliciously different menu of teatime treats, a sparkly snowflake craft, and fun conversation and laughter at every table—plus memories that are certain to make the holidays extra merry. November 27, 2016; 2:00 pm – 3:30 pm at American Girl at North Point Mall. $21.50 per person, Reservations required, For girls ages 8 and up.
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.
Fernbank’s Holly Jolly Film Festival. Saturdays. Enjoy this festive series presented in celebration of Winter Wonderland and featuring holiday favorites such as Frozen, How the Grinch Stole Christmas, and A Charlie Brown Christmas. Additional special activities include cultural performances, hands-on activities and more. More details to be announced soon!
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.
German Christmas Market. Experience Atlanta’s first and largest German Christmas Market in Central Park daily, during December. More details to come.
Candlelight Tour of Stately Oaks Plantation. Enjoy a special tour at night as the house is decorated for a Victorian Christmas in early December.
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.
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.
Christmas Around Georgia
Christmas in Helen. Santa’s sleigh will overflow after a trip to this slice of Bavaria found in the North Georgia Mountains, about 90 minutes north of Atlanta. Fill up your shopping bags at Helen’s annual Christkindlmarkt, a German tradition where the center of town is filled with booths offering specialty gift items, decorations, assorted savory food, drinks and candied treats, December 3-4 and December 10-11. Don’t miss out on the Annual Helen Christmas Parade that rolls through downtown on December 10.
Christmas in Columbus. The Christmas spirit takes hold of Columbus, Georgia before the leaves even begin to fall. This inviting Southern town is located 100 miles Southwest of Atlanta, borders the state of Alabama and is the home of The Ludy Christmas Spectacular. The Ludy family starts decorating in August and mesmerizes guests from both near and far with their 155,000 lights. The show stopping home was featured on ABC’s “The Great Christmas Light Fight.” Also, be sure to stop by the Annual Bi-City Christmas Parade.
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 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.
Jefferson Holiday Market. The Annual Jefferson Holiday Market is a 3 day-one stop holiday shop. ” It will be Friday, November 4th through Sunday, November 6th. Over the past 12 years, the market has grown from 20 vendors the first year to over 90 vendors scheduled for 2016. The items range from homemade jellies and jams to hand crafted wood items and jewelry, from soaps and lotions and crochet items to LuLaRoe clothing. A local church will be selling great “fall weather” baked goods. Mr. and Mrs. Claus will be available throughout the market for photo opportunities. Local musicians will also be performing during the weekend event.
Christmas in Dahlonega, Ga. Dahlonega, Georgia dresses up for a Victorian holiday experience. This national historic register town, with its 1800s storefronts and restaurants, is beautiful anytime, but sparkles from the day after Thanksgiving through the end of December. (from November 25 through December 31, 2016) The festivities start with the Lighting of the Square. A real home-town parade officially brings Santa to town Saturday December 3. From Christmas trees and mistletoe to thousands of twinkling lights, the town looks and feels like a holiday wonderland. Throughout the season, enjoy carolers in period costumes, live entertainment, wine tastings, Christmas performances at The Historic Holly Theater and Santa visits in the Public Square. You can also tour Dahlonega’s Historic District by horse-drawn carriage, daily; narrated old fashioned trolley tours weekends, nominal fees for both.
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 in Thomasville. Celebrate the Christmas of Yesteryear at Thomasville’s Victorian Christmas Festival December 8-9. This darling city is snuggled in the Red Hills region, located 35 miles northeast of Tallahassee and 45 miles west of Valdosta, Georgia. Each night, 15,000 visitors stroll the streets each night while listening to live music and stopping in storefronts dressed for the season. Enjoy carriage rides with jingle bells, stilt walkers, carolers and performers dressed in Victorian clothing. Aromas fill the air with while food vendors dish up scrumptious seasonal delicacies. Catch a ride on the full-size Ferris wheel and carousel. Don’t forget to toast marshmallows on the open fire.
Christmas in LaGrange. Eight million lights and 15 spectacular scenes make for one magical Christmas season in LaGrange, Georgia an hour south of Atlanta and right along I-85. Visitors will immediately know why National Geographic named Callaway Gardens’ Fantasy in Lights as one of the top 10 Christmas light displays in the world. Or celebrate the season in a big way at Hills And Dales. Explore the festively decked halls of this 1916 Callaway family manor that is 13,000 square feet and hosts 30 rooms. Lagrange is also where you can step back in time to the very first Christmas. “Follow the Shepard’s Walk” explores Mary and Joseph’s journey as they travel from Nazareth to Bethlehem at the Biblical History Center.
Polar Express Trains and more
Blue Ridge Scenic Railway.Climb on board the Santa Express Train and be whisked away to the winter wonderland that is the Blue Ridge Scenic Railway. Just 90 minutes north of Atlanta, off of 575, this Southern mountain town will charm guests as they chug along to lasting Christmas memories. While on board, hear “Twas’ The Night Before Christmas,” sing Christmas carols and, of course, enjoy a meet and greet with Jolly Ol’ St. Nick! The train takes off November 27 and rides throughout December.
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.
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 10th! Sit back, relax and enjoy the show in the Museum’s theater. Kids- feel free to come in your pajamas!
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.
Holiday Elf Hike – Panola Mountain. Elf tired of sitting on a shelf? Fresh air is good for our magical friends too. Bring your elf, doll or favorite stuffed friend for a hike and craft. Get a goody bag and hot cocoa for you, and a special gift for your elf. Must register in advance.
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
Holiday on the Hill – James H. Floyd State Park. Enjoy a drive through a winter wonderland at the picnic area by the lake. Several lit scenes will grace the roadside as we welcome the coming of the holiday season. If you would rather walk, park at the office and cross the boardwalk into the festivity of lights.
Caroling Through the Park – Victoria Bryant State Park. What’s better than Christmas parties? How about caroling hayrides, homemade ornaments, hot chocolate and pictures with Santa?
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
Christmas at Biltmore. There is no better location in the Southeast to view and be inspired by modern-day interior and exterior holiday decorations – with miles of garden, hundred of poinsettias, dozens of Christmas trees and an elaborately decorated 35-foot Christmas tree, in the towering banquet hall. Candlelight Christmas evenings with live entertainment and free demonstrations with decor experts on how to create wreaths and tabletop topiaries make Biltmore an unforgettable holiday stop.
There are several overnight stay options that are designed to satisfy every type of traveler. Those seeking a retreat with personalized service, The Inn on Biltmore Estate offers four-star accommodations with sweeping views in a private hilltop setting. Biltmore’s newest lodging offering, Village Hotel on Biltmore Estate, is designed for the guest looking for a casual overnight stay. Village Hotel is located in the lively setting of Antler Hill Village. It offers a convenient home base steps away from shopping, dining, the Winery, live music in Antler Hill Village and outdoor activities. Special holiday packages are available during Christmas at Biltmore.
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.
Hyatt Regency Coconut Point Resort & Spa. Want to escape the cold for Christmas? This TripAdvisor Hall of Fame resort, located on Florida’s west coast, just opened its much-anticipated $7.1 million dollar waterpark! Experience three, three-story waterslides with two speed slides and one inner-tube slide all totaling 900 feet of winding, thrilling fun. The waterpark also includes a 1,095-foot heated lazy river. Adding one acre to the hotel’s existing two-acre pool area makes Hyatt Regency Coconut Point’s complex one of the largest resort poolscapes in Florida.
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 Ritz-Carlton Buckhead. Throughout the week, guests of The Ritz-Carlton, Buckhead will be regaled with entertainment in the first floor lobby area, where talented musicians and carolers enliven the holiday spirit. A life-sized Advent calendar created by the hotel’s pastry chef, Troman Felizmenio, will offer treats for 24 days. For families spending the night, Saint Nicholas himself makes a personal appearance. Children will be thrilled to greet Santa at the door and discuss their wish lists as he tucks them in before bedtime. December 2, 3, 9, 10, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20, 21, 22 and 23 from 6:30-8:30 p.m. and December 24 from 7:10-8:30 p.m. The cost is $60 per child, $20 each additional child. Don’t miss Christmas Eve Dinner or Christmas Day Brunch, as well. Reservations recommended.
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.
Legoland Resort Florida. Beginning Saturday, Dec. 17 this year, Christmas Bricktacular provides lots of hands-on experiences where kids can enjoy the holiday festivities in playful ways only LEGOLAND Florida Resort could imagine…From a sparkling fireworks show over Lake Eloise to meet-and-greet opportunities with LEGO Santa and LEGO Toy Soldier! From a holiday-themed scavenger hunt through the streets of MINILAND USA to dazzling photo backdrops including a giant Christmas tree and a life-size Santa Claus, both made out of thousands of ordinary LEGO and DUPLO® bricks! Adding to the merriment are several brand-new entertainment offerings this year: A live, holiday-themed stage show starring the LEGO Friends, storytime with Mrs. Claus, and live performances of classic Christmas music by the LEGO Brickettes. Other returning activities include LEGO builds with Master Model Builders and a station where — through Saturday, Dec. 24 — kids can write and send a letter to Santa at the North Pole.
Beginning Nov. 26, LEGOLAND Florida Resort guests can make the holidays a whole lot merrier with several premium upgrades: LEGO Santa’s Breakfast includes exclusive time with LEGO Santa and LEGO Toy Soldier (including a family photo), a LEGO gift for each party and a delicious, all-you-care-to-enjoy breakfast featuring waffles, French toast, biscuits and gravy, bacon, scrambled eggs, sausages, frittatas, a seasonal bread pudding and orange juice, milk, chocolate milk or coffee. The cost is $35 per person plus tax. LEGO Santa’s Breakfast is a one-hour experience at the historic Magnolia Mansion that starts at 9 a.m. every Saturday and Sunday from Nov. 26 through Dec. 18 and daily from Dec. 24-31. At LEGO Santa’s Christmas Workshop, guests will visit with LEGO Santa and LEGO Toy Soldier before creating an exclusive LEGO Christmas model under the guidance of a Master Model Builder. Guests also will receive a family photo with the characters. The cost is $35 per person plus tax. LEGO Santa’s Christmas Workshop is a 90-minute experience at Magnolia Mansion starting at 1 p.m. every Saturday and Sunday from Nov. 26 through Dec. 24, and daily from Dec. 26-31.
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.
Sheraton Atlanta Hotel. Superbly located in the heart of Atlanta and showcasing comprehensive renovations, the Sheraton Atlanta Hotel provides the perfect backdrop for your family staycation. Spacious, pet-friendly suites and the gorgeous heated indoor pool provides the perfect setting for winter family fun. How about spending the holidays together with the Family Movie Night In package? Stay in a Poolside room, enjoy a complimentary movie with a large pizza, popcorn, and 6 cans of Coke! Self-parking and WiFi are included. Also – Starwood is now a Marriott hotel, so use your Marriott points if you have them!
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.
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