A guide to 12 of metro Atlanta’s merriest holiday events

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.


8 of America’s most dazzling holiday parades 

7 of Atlanta’s best places to ice skate

5 reasons Atlantans love Macy’s Pink Pig

7 best holiday light shows in Atlanta and beyond

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

Garden Lights, Holiday Nights at Atlanta Botanical Garden

With the event now in its seventh year, the garden grounds glow with nearly 2 million bulbs, including the new Nature’s Wonders in Storza Woods along with the Tunnel of Light and twinkling creations such as the Ice Goddess, the Orchestral Orbs and Botanical Bears.

5-11 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays, 5-10 p.m. Sunday-Thursday. Nov. 11, 2017 through Jan. 7, 2018. Adults $19.95-39.95, kids age 3-12 $14.95-$34.95, members $5 off all tickets, Night Light tickets (after 9 p.m.) $13.95; free ages 2 and younger. Buy your tickets in advance folks, it’s $5 more when you buy them after 4 p.m. on the day of the show, except Night Lights. Atlanta Botanical Garden, 1345 Piedmont Ave., Atlanta. 404-876-5859, atlantabg.org.

The Children’s Christmas Parade

Marching bands, massive helium balloons, and an array of floats and vehicles make a holiday procession down Peachtree Street in Midtown. Past years have found prancing pets, the Batmobile and the big guy in red making the march.

10:30 a.m.-noon. Dec. 2. Free. Begins at Peachtree Street and 16th Street, and ends at Peachtree Street and Fifth Street. choa.org/parade.

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

Dec. 8-24. Times vary, 2:30 p.m. matinees on Sundays and last two Saturdays$14-$75. Cobb Energy Centre, 2800 Cobb Galleria Pkwy, Atlanta. 404-733-5000, 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 Nov. 7 through Dec. 31. No shows Mondays or Nov. 23 and Dec. 25. $19.50-$24.50. Center for Puppetry Arts, 1404 Spring St. N.W., Atlanta. 404-873-3391, puppet.org.

“The Santaland Diaries”

Crumpet, a Macy’s Department Store elf, skewers the holidays in this adults-only romp adapted from the David Sedaris book “Holidays on Ice.” This year, Atlanta’s Topher Payne takes on the role of Crumpet.

 Nov. 17 through Dec. 31. 8 p.m. Tuesdays-Fridays; 8:30 p.m. Saturdays; 6 p.m. Sundays. No shows Nov. 23 and Dec. 25. $25-$35; $15 VIP upgrade for reserved seating and one beverage. Platinum VIP seating with lots of extras, $100. Horizon Theatre Company, 1083 Austin Ave., Atlanta. 404-584-7450, horizontheatre.com.

Stone Mountain Christmas and Snow Mountain

Stone Mountain throws a lot at you during the holidays. There’s the “Skylights Spectacular,” six live performances, 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 Nov. 11 through Jan. 3. Lots of deals ranging from 29.95 to $54.95; free ages 2 and younger. Snow Mountain: Select dates Nov 18 through Feb. 25. $31.95-$41.95. $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. Nov. 17 through Jan. 7. $18; $17 seniors; $16 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. Highlights include an artisan market, and Legoland- and Coca-Cola-themed rooms. Breakfast with Santa and Teddy Bear Tea events take place on select dates.

Christmas at Callanwolde, Nov. 24 through Dec. 12, noon-8 p.m.; $20 online, $25 at the door. After the end of the Designer Show House on Dec. 12, self-guided tours of the Candler mansion will run Dec. 17-29, noon-8 p.m. Sun.-Fri. (closed Saturdays) $5-8, under 11 free. Callanwolde Fine Arts Center, 980 Briarcliff Road N.E., Atlanta. 404-872-5338, callanwolde.org.

Atlanta Ballet’s “Nutcracker”

With drifts of snow, 8 tons of scenery, lighting and props, and a giant Christmas tree. 11 performances materialize on the Fabulous Fox stage.

 Dec. 8-28. 7:30 p.m. Dec. 8, 14-15; 2 and 7:30 p.m. Dec. 9, 16; 2 and 7 p.m. Dec. 10, 17. $25-$129. Fox Theatre, 660 Peachtree St. N.E., Atlanta. 855-285-8499, foxtheatre.org

»RELATED: Every ‘Nutcracker’ performance to catch this holiday season in Atlanta

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.

2 and 8 p.m. Dec. 9; 3 p.m. Dec. 10. $20-$122. 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, concessions, pony rides and a petting zoo.

6-10 p.m. Nov. 23-Dec. 31. $10 per car Fridays-Sundays and Nov. 23-26 and Dec. 15-31; $5 per car Mondays-Thursdays except for the above dates; $20 per bus on all dates. 1269 Barclay Circle, Marietta. 770-426-2600, www.life.edu.

Lanier Islands Magical Nights of Lights

It’s the 25th anniversary of decking the roads and trees and overpasses and lots of other things at Lanier Islands so it’s going to be a big one this year. The 12 days of Christmas, in 13 displays is back after taking a couple of years off. There’s a 65 foot Christmas Tree, a carnival in Holiday Village and much more. 

Magical Nights of Lights: Nov. 17 through Jan. 3. $45 per car, $35 if you buy in advance online. Lanier Islands, 7000 Lanier Islands Parkway, Buford. 770-945-8787, lanierislands.com.

One bit of bad news: No lights at Centennial Olympic Park. 

We must pause from our presentation of Christmas Cheer to let you know that there won’t be an ice rink or holiday lights at Centennial Olympic Park this season.

The park is undergoing a major expansion and renovation that should be completed by January 2019. Different parts of the park will be closed at different times. Be sure and check out the park’s web site if you plan to go there between now and then.

Reader Comments ...

Next Up in Living

Blue Ivy Carter, Tyler Perry get into $20K bidding war over painting at art auction
Blue Ivy Carter, Tyler Perry get into $20K bidding war over painting at art auction

Blue Ivy Carter may only be 6 years old, but she's already an art connoisseur. According to USA Today, the daughter of Beyoncé and Jay-Z got into a high-priced bidding war with media mogul Tyler Perry on Saturday at the Wearable Art Gala in Los Angeles.  >> Read more trending news  Blue Ivy reportedly bid $17,000 on a piece, ...
CBS’s ‘Hunted,’ shot in Atlanta, isn’t coming back
CBS’s ‘Hunted,’ shot in Atlanta, isn’t coming back

Angela Brinson of Douglasville trying to escape hunters in “Hunted” on CBS, which aired in 2017 Posted Sunday, March 18, 2018 by RODNEY HO/rho@ajc.com on his AJC Radio & TV Talk blog A year ago, CBS aired a reality competition show called “Hunted” where real fugitive hunters tried to track down...
Lion Gate Estate: Bizarre $550K home with carpeted ceilings, vintage cars takes internet by storm
Lion Gate Estate: Bizarre $550K home with carpeted ceilings, vintage cars takes internet by storm

In the market for a whimsical $550,000 home with carpeted ceilings, vintage cars and statues lurking around every corner? No? You'll still want to check out the now-viral listing for Detroit's Lion Gate Estate. Trust us. "Unique barely begins to describe this one of a kind Grixdale Farms estate," reads the listing by Real Estate One's...
Concert review and photos: David Bowie’s music expertly revisited live with former band, special guest singers
Concert review and photos: David Bowie’s music expertly revisited live with former band, special guest singers

BY MELISSA RUGGIERI/AJC Music Scene Even before David Bowie’s surprising 2016 death from the cancer he kept concealed from most everyone in his inner circle, there weren’t regular opportunities to hear his music live. Mike Garson (foreground) studies his sheet music while Joe Sumner sings backup. Photo: Melissa Ruggieri/AJC...
Laid-back luxury at Pursell Farms, a storied resort Atlanta’s going to love
Laid-back luxury at Pursell Farms, a storied resort Atlanta’s going to love

Talladega County, Ala. – It does not take long to get from metro Atlanta to Pursell Farms , but getting there feels transformational. Point your car west and in a little over two hours, the angry sea of metal and asphalt you endure on your daily commute has vanished from the rearview mirror...
More Stories