“Garden Lights, Holiday Nights” at the Atlanta Botanical Garden.
Photo: Bita Honarvar
Photo: Bita Honarvar

A guide to Atlanta’s merriest holiday events in December

We’ve all heard of the 12 days of Christmas. 

With the multitude of holiday events hitting metro Atlanta like a heavy snowfall, you need more than double that to experience just a sample.

More to do this holiday:

9 of the best family-friendly New Year’s celebrations in Georgia

7 of Atlanta’s best places to ice skate

10 ways to spot Santa Claus in metro Atlanta this holiday season

9 of the most delightful holiday light displays in Georgia

However, in an attempt at some seasonal focus, we’re gathering a dozen of the merriest and brightest for your consideration.

The Atlanta Botanical Garden’s Garden Lights, Holiday Nights has a new twist on last year’s popular towering three-dimensional light curtain.
Photo: The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Garden Lights, Holiday Nights at Atlanta Botanical Garden

With the event now in its eighth year, the garden grounds glow with nearly 2 million bulbs, including the new Skylights Lounge in the Skyline Garden  along with the Tunnel of Light and twinkling creations such as the Ice Goddess, the Orchestral Orbs and Radian Rainforest.

Through Jan. 6. Tickets start at $19.95 for adults, $16.95 for children (but can vary by date). Discounts are available for members. Buying online saves you some bucks and there’s a $14.95 after 9 p.m. deal for adults and children. It’s open til 11 p.m.. Atlanta Botanical Garden, 1345 Piedmont Ave., Atlanta. 404-876-5859, atlantabg.org.

College Park’s 43rd annual Christmas Parade

College Park has been filling its streets with Christmas cheer every season since 1975. This year’s theme is  “There’s No Place Like Home for the Holidays.” If that reminds you of Dorothy and Toto, you’re right. There will be marching bands accompanied by marchers in at least two different uniforms along with floats including the Department of Public Works’ float featuring the Grinch. Santa will ride in a fire truck.

10:30 a.m.-1 p.m. Dec. 8. Free. Begins at 3872 Main St. (Suntrust Bank) and 16th Street, and ends at 1662 Vesta Ave, College Park. www.collegepark.com.

Alliance Theatre’s ‘A Christmas Carol’ at Cobb Energy Centre

Dec. 12-24. Times vary, 2:30 p.m. matinees on weekends and Mon., Dec. 24$14-$115. Cobb Energy Centre, 2800 Cobb Galleria Pkwy, Atlanta. 404-733-4650, alliancetheatre.org/christmas.

“Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer”

The beloved holiday TV special shines brightly as a perennial puppet show adapted by the center’s Jon Ludwig.

Multiple shows Tuesdays-Sundays through Dec. 30. No shows Mondays and Dec. 25. $15-$35. Center for Puppetry Arts, 1404 Spring St. N.W., Atlanta. 404-873-3391, puppet.org.

The Center for Puppetry Arts continues its tradition of performing its original puppet show adaptation of the TV classic “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer.” CONTRIBUTED BY CLAY WALKER

“Waffle Palace Christmas”

The Waffle Palace and its regulars return for more scattered and smothered humor, this time with a Christmas theme.

Through Dec. 30. 8 p.m. Wednesdays-Sundays plus Tuesdays Dec. 4, 11 and 18; Matinees, Dec. 6, 13 and 19 at 11 a.m. No shows Dec. 25. $30-$35; Horizon Theatre Company, 1083 Austin Ave., Atlanta. 404-584-7450, horizontheatre.com.

Stone Mountain Park celebrates Christmas with more than two million lights, holiday music and more.
Photo: For the AJC

Stone Mountain Christmas and Snow Mountain

Stone Mountain throws a lot at you during the holidays. There’s Santa Claus, live performances, caroling and other activities — expect a 4-D flick, a Christmas train ride, a parade and more. Snow Mountain takes over Memorial Lawn with tubing runs and a snow-laden play area. Both can be visited separately or together with a combo pass ($49.95).

Stone Mountain Christmas: Select dates through Jan. 6. Lots of deals ranging from 29.95 to $79.95; free ages 2 and younger. Snow Mountain: Select dates through Feb. 24. $34.95-$59.95. $15 parking; $40 annual permit. Stone Mountain Park, 1000 Robert E. Lee Blvd., Stone Mountain. 800-401-2407, stonemountainpark.com.

Winter Wonderland: Celebrations & Traditions Around the World

Fernbank Museum of Natural History gleams with its tribute to seasonal celebrations across the globe. Explore two floors lined with trees and displays each designed as nods to respective cultures and traditions. 

10 a.m.-5 p.m. Through Jan. 6. $20; $19 seniors; $18 ages 3-12; free for museum members and ages 2 and younger. Fernbank Museum of Natural History, 767 Clifton Road N.E., Atlanta. 404-929-6300, fernbankmuseum.org.

Christmas at Callanwolde

For more than 40 years, Callanwolde Fine Arts Center has been ringing in this tradition. There's an outdoor tour of lights, a magic Christmas tree and more kid-friendly features. Meanwhile, inside, decorators drape the 27,000-square-foot Candler Mansion in holiday cheer. Breakfast with Santa and Teddy Bear Tea and other events take place on select dates.

Christmas at Callanwolde, Through Dec. 9, noon-8 p.m.; $20 online, $25 at the door. Callanwolde Fine Arts Center, 980 Briarcliff Road N.E., Atlanta. 404-872-5338, callanwolde.org.

Atlanta Ballet’s “Nutcracker”

You may have seen the “Nutcracker” before but you haven’t see this “Nutcracker.” It’s the Ballet’s first new production in 20 years and everything is new: Choreography, set design, costumes, lighting, even the music will sound new (it’s the same music). 

Dec. 8-24. Times vary. $35-$140. Fox Theatre, 660 Peachtree St. N.E., Atlanta. 855-285-8499, foxtheatre.org

ASO Kid’s Christmas: The Atlanta Symphony Youth Orchestra in the annual “ASO Kid’s Christmas.” (credit: )
Photo: Jeff Roffman

Christmas with the ASO

The ASO and three choruses take the stage at Atlanta Symphony Hall to tell the Christmas story through music and song.

3 and 8 p.m. Dec.8-9; $20-$79. Woodruff Arts Center, 1280 Peachtree St. N.E., Atlanta. 404-733-4900, atlantasymphony.org.

Lights of Life at Life University

Introduced in 1989, Life University’s annual holiday light show is a dazzler and a great value. In addition to lights, lights, lights there will be train rides ($3), concessions, pony rides ($5 )and a petting zoo ($3).

Through Dec.  31. Admission is $10 per car on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays and from November 22 to 25 and December 14 to 31; rates drop to $5 per car Monday through Thursday (except for the dates previously listed). www.life.edu/lights-of-life.

»RELATED: The Nutcracker, Rudolph and friends: Best Atlanta shows for families

Lanier Islands Magical Nights of Lights

They’ve been decking the roads and trees and overpasses and lots of other things at Lanier Islands for more than 25 years. It’s seven miles of lights!. 

Through Feb. 24. Admission is $43 per car. You can also visit License to Chill Snow Island and purchase tickets for more attractions. You’ll need a reservation for snow tubing. Lanier Islands, 7000 Lanier Islands Parkway, Buford. 770-945-8787, lanierislands.com.

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