Your FESTIVE Guide to Only the Very Best Christmas Events in Atlanta 2019

Christmas in Atlanta is our family’s favorite time of year. We love every light show, the chilly temps in front of a fire with the Christmas tree glowing, photos with Santa and working a holiday show (or three) into our schedule. Below you will find dozens upon dozens of options when you’re looking for “the best Christmas events near me.”

Celebrate an Antebellum Christmas in Milledgeville

Come to Milledgeville, Georgia for an Antebellum Christmas this year! Starting in November, you will be able to smell fresh cut Frasier trees and hear amazing choirs sing. Visit the Old Governor’s Mansion to see it transformed into a beautiful representation of what Christmas looked like in the time period before the Civil War. You can also enjoy fantastic Christmas decorations throughout historic downtown as well as Merry Main Street celebrations!

An Antebellum Christmas in Milledgeville includes the scent of freshly arranged pine décor as you tour the circa 1852 Greek Revival Home, Rose Hill. Georgia College hosts an annual performance of The Nutcracker, Santa comes to town for the annual Hometown Parade, And a golden ticket will take you on a magical ride on the Polar Express Trolley. Grab your favorite jacket and visit Milledgeville for the joy and wonder of the Christmas season!

Address:
Milledgeville, Georgia
Family-Friendly

Celebrate Noon Year’s Eve at The Avalon

Have little ones with early bedtimes? Kick off your New Year’s celebration early and come out to Avalon’s Noon Year’s Eve Party at The Hotel at Avalon! This family friendly event invites partygoers of all ages to ring in 2020 with live music, face painting, crafts, and countdown to Noon when a giant balloon drop will welcome in the New Year!

Address:
Alpharetta, Georgia

More Christmas Information:

Christmas Light DisplaysChristmas Tree FarmsPictures with SantaOutdoor Ice SkatingLive NativitiesFREE Christmas EventsBreakfast With Santa

The Classics of an Atlanta Christmas

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 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. 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. The marching bands, the balloons, and all the special performers are the best Christmas treat!

Garden Lights, Holiday Nights. Check out the new twist on “Nature’s Wonders” – the high-tech display of thousands of vertical strings of lights synchronized with music and sound effects to create the illusion of nature’s phenomena, such as outer space, a rainstorm, a fire, a tornado and snowfall. In addition, Garden Lights, Holiday Nights – presented nightly November 16 – January 11 – features several of the giant topiary-like plant sculptures from the recent Imaginary Worlds: Alice’s Wonderland exhibition lit as well, including the towering White Rabbit.

Macy’s Pink Pig. Hop aboard this 60-year Atlanta tradition and ride Priscilla the Pink Pig on train tracks through a life-sized storybook. It's one of my most memorable holiday events from when the boys were young!

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.”

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.

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 at Stone Mountain Park. 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. Snow Mountain runs November through February (weather permitting). Galactic Snow Tubing is a new immersive nighttime experience  with great music, laser beams overhead and high-powered LED lights dancing all around to the beat of the music.

Macy’s Tree Lighting. Join local celebrities and musicians as they light the great tree in style with a visit from Santa! The official tree lighting ceremony, a holiday tradition in Atlanta, will take place on Sunday, November 24, 2019 at 7 p.m., not on Thanksgiving night as in past years.

Other community tree lightings include:

  • The Battery. Nov 23, 2019; See Santa and his reindeer, a Braves player, and BLOOPER. Following the festivities, The Grinch, will be shown on the plaza screen.
  • Avalon. Nov 24, 2019; featuring live music by bands like Bogey and The Viceroy, family activities, ice skating performances, fireworks and more, this free community event attracted 15,000 revelers last year. At 7 p.m., Santa will lead a countdown to the lighting of Avalon’s 40-feet Christmas tree, officially welcoming the holiday season.
  • The Outlet Shoppes.  Nov 24, 2019; this Whoville-inspired winter wonderland, and will feature live entertainment, giveaways, activities for kids and free photo opportunities with Cindy Lou Who, the Grinch, and Santa.
  • Vinings Jubilee. December 5th, 2019; 6:00-8:00PM; Tower Stage – Vinings Jubilee
  • Mall of Georgia. Nov 9th, 2019; begins at 3pm; includes free family activities and screening of The Grinch at 7pm.

Love this amazing list of the best Christmas events around the US from Trekaroo

Holiday Concerts and Shows

A Christmas Carol at Alliance Theatre. After two seasons at the Cobb Energy Performing Arts Centre, the Alliance’s production will return home to the newly renovated Coca-Cola Stage at Alliance Theatre on the campus of the Woodruff Arts Center. Celebrate the beloved Dickens classic and the all-Atlanta cast you’ve come to treasure. Ebenezer Scrooge is again played by acclaimed Atlanta actor David de Vries, and 11-year-old Karah Adams in the role of Tiny Tim – the first female actor to play the role in over a decade.

Discounts on other showings of A Christmas Carol:

Christmas with the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra. Begun many years ago by the beloved Music Director Robert Shaw, this concert has become a staple for Atlanta families during the holiday season. The Orchestra, Chorus and special guests, and the Gwinnett Young Singers will perform beloved Christmas carols and hymns to celebrate the season.

Atlanta Ballet's Nutcracker. Atlanta Ballet's first new Nutcracker in 20 years marks a milestone in dance history — with world-class choreography by Yuri Possokhov, awe-inspiring set designs by Tony Award nominee Tom Pye, groundbreaking projection design by Tony Award winner Finn Ross, stunning costume design by Sandra Woodall, and imaginative lighting design by David Finn Be among the first to experience the magic of The Nutcracker for The Next Generation at the Fox Theatre!

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+.

The Hip Hop Nutcracker. This contemporary dance spectacle set to Tchaikovsky’s timeless music, returns to the road this holiday season for a 30-city national tour including a stop at Cobb Energy Performing Arts Centre on Friday, November 29, 2019.   This year, PBS has exclusively partnered with the production to air ALL ARTS Presents The Hip Hop Nutcracker at NJPAC on the ALL ARTS broadcast and streaming channels starting Friday, September 27 at 8 p.m.

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 Strand Theatre Christmas Events. This winter, The Strand will be bringing back holiday favorites like A Christmas Tradition, Christmas Royal Tea and Grand Yuletide Ball, It’s A Wonderful Life movie marathon, as well as the return of last year’s sell out special Strand Ole Opry’s Country Christmas. All shows run in December and are on sale now.

Adults-Only Christmas Fun

Waffle Palace Christmas. The Little Five Points theater is serving up a new holiday tradition. A sequel to the smash-hit show inspired by real events at Waffle House restaurants, the anticipated world premiere will include familiar faces as well as new, charming cast members dishing up heartfelt southern humor—scattered, smothered and covered in a spicy holiday sauce.

More adult-only events to come!

Christmas Events

A Snowland Extravaganza at Great Wolf Lodge.Nov 24, 2019 to Jan 5, 2020 features dashing décor and fun activities for both kids and adults alike – from daily snow showers and a Frosty Fest Family Dance Party to a special visit with Santa and a customizable Hot Cocoa Bar. This year, kids can also enjoy limited-edition Santa Hat Wolf Ears that will benefit the Make-A-Wish® foundation. The festivities continue to the 84-degree indoor waterpark which will surely warm you up no matter how chilly it is outside!

Want to go all out?  Book one of the limited number of holiday themed Snowland Suites during the Snowland celebration. With giant snowflakes hanging from the ceiling, an in-room Christmas tree and other seasonal accents, these special suites bring to the life the magic of Snowland and immerse families in the spirit of the holidays. To book a Snowland Suite, use code SNOWFLAKE.

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!

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 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. 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.

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. 

Enchanted Woodland Wonders. This winter Family Fun Day includes reindeer games, story time, winter crafts, face painting, and hot coco around a campfire with Camp Kingfisher. Live reindeer will also make an appearance for part of the day.

Bring a picnic to enjoy at one of the many picnic tables and meadows on site, or they can purchase food from local food trucks that will be at the event.

Winter Wonderland. From November through January at Fernbank Museum of Natural History, 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.

Don't miss the teddy Bear Tea, also. 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.

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!

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.

Alpharetta Christmas Market. Browse the local vendor booths for locally-made, Georgia grown products for all you holiday treasures and gifts.

Naughty or Nice Holiday Tea at Ritz-Carlton, Atlanta. Santa is making a list, and checking it twice, to see if you’ve been naughty or nice. The Naughty or Nice Tea encourages guests to indulge in a little of both.  For those looking to be nice, sip seasonal teas and apple cider paired with classic afternoon tea offerings like traditional Egg Salad with Truffle and tea cookies with warmed scones.  Indulge your naughty side with champagne, strawberries, whipped cream and Grand Marnier.  Set in the unconventional setting of Lumen the Naughty or Nice Tea will enliven guest’ senses through sight, smell and taste of this unique offering.

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 in November and rides throughout December.

Garden Lights, Holiday Nights. Holiday cheer continues is available in the daytime at the Atlanta Botanical Garden, 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.

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! 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

Holiday Open House at Amicalola Falls Lodge. During the event, the Lodge will have crafts, music and the opportunity for children to meet Santa. It’s the perfect opportunity to gather up the kids or grandkids and head to the mountains with cameras in hand.

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!

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Lesli Peterson

Lesli Peterson

Lesli made her way to Atlanta over 20 years ago, after living in Germany, Japan and six U.S. states. She relishes the discovery of obscure, offbeat and unwonted places, and she will chat up any willing stranger to uncover a new secret locale.

After 18 years in software development, Lesli bailed on the corporate scene. When she’s not traveling, she’s hiking in the mountains or checking out Atlanta’s culinary scene, whiskey in hand.

Lesli has two kiddos -Cooper and Elliot- plus two bonus kids currently at UGA, and she’s happily married to her soul mate.
Lesli Peterson

13 Comments on "Your FESTIVE Guide to Only the Very Best Christmas Events in Atlanta 2019"

  1. M. J. Jones | 11/09/2015 at 10:00 pm | Reply

    No performances of Handel’s Messiah?

  2. How do I get my Christmas show listed? There’s actually a bunch happening that aren’t on here.

  3. What a fantastic way to start your holidays, with having such great information just dropped in your hands!:) If there are any type of holiday guides, I would love to get
    a few. Thanks, for sharing this info, and have the best “Holidays Ever”:)

    Serving with a humble spirit…

    Head Concierge
    Leotis Watson
    Emory Conference Center Hotel
    1615 Clifton rd ne
    Atlanta Ga. 30329

  4. Wonderful information about Christmas 2015! Thank you !!! When will this type of information about Christmas activities for 2016 be available?

  5. What you are doing is wonderful and I personally appreciate it and thank you a lot. Every year I rack my brain on how to give my kids the best Christmas experience. You are indeed a blessing.
    Thanks so much.

    • Lesli Peterson Lesli Peterson | 11/14/2016 at 9:36 am | Reply

      Aww Doris, that makes me cry a little. I appreciate you leaving a comment. Thank you!

  6. Marnie Copeland | 11/13/2016 at 1:04 pm | Reply

    Are there any madrigal concerts at churches in the region?

  7. Carroll Pellegrinelli | 12/03/2016 at 8:27 am | Reply

    You should add the Atlanta Christkindl Market to the Atlantic Station listing. It’s like the Christmas markets in Germany. Who would want to miss all of the shopping along with German beers and food?
    christkindlmarket.org
    P.S. – Thanks for the great list.

  8. very Great post, i actually love this web site, carry on it

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