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

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 in Atlanta and the surrounding areas.


In This Post:

Best Bets |Christmas ClassicsAtlanta Christmas ShowsAdults-Only Christmas FunChristmas Events | Christmas Around GeorgiaPolar Express TrainsGeorgia State Park Christmas Celebrations 

A Victorian Christmas In Beautiful Thomasville, Georgia

Step back in time with traditional Victorian entertainment, food vendors, and fun for the whole family! Event admission is free.

Thomasville, Georgia

Antebellum Christmas at the Mansion

The Mansion will be transformed into a Christmas wonderland. Take a step back in time and see how the elite of Georgia celebrated this holiday.

Old Governor's Mansion, 120 South Clark Street, Milledgeville, Georgia

Holiday Family Fun at the Rock Ranch

Make special Christmas memories at The Rock Ranch, a kid-friendly farm centrally located near Atlanta, Macon, and Columbus Ga. Drive through more than a mile of magical Christmas lights. Spend a memorable evening on the farm during Country Christmas. Hop on-board The Rock Ranch Christmas Express Train ride featuring falling bubble snow, snowflake light tunnel and a dancing Christmas lights show. Enjoy breakfast with Santa, and explore a bigger and better Santa’s workshop. It’s all happening at the Rock Ranch (but not all at the same time, so check the website for details)

5020 Barnesville Hwy., The Rock, Georgia 30285

Celebrate the Season at Fernbank Museum of Natural History

Prepare to ooh and aah over two floors of twinkling, beautifully decorated trees showcasing celebrations around the world in the enchanting Winter Wonderland exhibition. For something a little less, um classy… Grab your ugliest, silliest, tackiest holiday sweater and join the festive Ugly Sweater Party on Dec. 16! This special evening includes, cookie decorating, a seasonal craft, photo opps with the one-and-only Santasaurus and more.

767 Clifton Road NE, Atlanta, Georgia 30307

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!

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.

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. 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!

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. (NOTE: They were closed for 2017...waiting to hear about 2018!!)


Holiday Concerts and 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. This year's show will be at the Cobb Performing Arts Center.

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, the Gwinnett Young Singers and the Morehouse College Glee Club will perform beloved Christmas carols and hymns to celebrate the season.

Atlanta Ballet's NutcrackerAtlanta 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+.

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.

Irving Berlin's White Christmas. Based on the holiday film favorite, this stage adaptation of "White Christmas" tells the story of two successful song-and-dance men who fall in love with a pair of beautiful sisters while struggling to save the fading Vermont inn owned by their former commanding general. Fox Theatre. DISCOUNT TICKETS

A Very Grinchy Christmas. The Grinch meets "The Nutcracker" in Southern Ballet Theatre's "A Very Grinchy Christmas" at the Infinite Energy Center in Duluth. Inspired by Dr. Seuss' classic kids' story, this seasonal favorite tells the story of the ultimate holiday-hater, The Grinch, who sets out to steal the presents of everyone in Whoville. DISCOUNT TICKETS


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.

A Drag Queen Christmas. Enjoy an over-the-top holiday spectacular featuring music, dance, and some of the area’s hottest drag queens.

Santa After Hours. If you're on Santa's naughty list, then the adults-only holiday sketch show "Santa After Hours 2018: You Do You" will surely fill your stocking. Leave the kids at home while local playwrights and actors guide you through all things festive and inappropriate at Out of Box Theatre at the Artisan Resource Center in Marietta. DISCOUNT TICKETS

Tits for Toys for Tots. Replace visions of sugar plums dancing in your head with the gorgeous and talented burlesque performers of Atlanta's Syrens of the South, whose dancers are guaranteed to end up on Santa's naughty list this year. This fun, frisky show focuses on the art of the striptease and does not include full nudity, although performers occasionally strip to pasties. DISCOUNT TICKETS


Christmas Events

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 GirlStart 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. 

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.

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.


Christmas Around Georgia

Christmas in Thomasville. Celebrate the Christmas of Yesteryear at Thomasville's Victorian Christmas. 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 from food vendors dishing up scrumptious seasonal delicacies. Don't forget to toast marshmallows on the open fire., or chestnuts if you prefer.

Holidays on Broughton in Savannah, GA. This holiday season, Savannah is invited to experience the second annual Holidays on Broughton, presented by the City of Savannah, kicking off with a grand celebration on Friday, November 24, beginning at 5 p.m. with the lighting of the holiday tree, seasonal musical performances and Santa’s arrival.  Holidays on Broughton will welcome Savannah visitors to experience the wonder of the season in downtown Savannah, where amid magnificent historic architecture and festive decorations, guests will discover seasonal events for all ages and interests. From photos with Santa to musical performances, there will be plenty to do through December 31, 2017.


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!

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.


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"

  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?
    P.S. – Thanks for the great list.

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

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