Christmas in Athens: 7+ Best Ways To ‘Sleigh’ the Holiday in the Classic City

The most wonderful time of the year is approaching fast. Families are sorting through sparkling lights in the attic, sipping on hot cocoa and beginning to prepare for everything that the holiday season has in store. Christmas in Athens includes several ways to keep the kids (and kinds-at-heart) entertained.

CATCH SANTA AT THE DOWNTOWN PARADE OF LIGHTS

Christmas in Athens: 7+ Ways To ‘Sleigh’ the Holiday in the Classic City

The Downtown Parade of Lights begins at 7 p.m. in Downtown Athens on Thursday, Dec 7, 2023. It’s the perfect kick-start to start the holiday season. Spectators line the streets and watch homemade floats drive by. These uniquely creative floats will be competing for various awards while following this year’s theme, “An Art-Filled Holiday.” The parade ends with a traditional tree lighting at City Hall hosted by Santa Clause himself!

LACE UP YOUR SKATES AND HIT THE ICE

Christmas in Athens: 7+ Best Ways To ‘Sleigh’ the Holiday in the Classic City

Athens on Ice returns November 25, 2023, to the 440 Foundry Pavilion at The Classic Center.

Skate rental is available (don’t forget your socks!) and for the younger crowd there are “helpers.” See that blue seal behind Cooper? Kids can grab ahold and push themselves around the rink.

Please note there are not concessions here, but you’re close to all of Athens’ great restaurants so just plan to make a stop before or afterward to grab some grub.

Read More: Ice Skating Atlanta 2023: The Best Rinks for Kids, Teens & Adults

SANTA, RUDOLPH AND BEARS! OH MY!

Christmas in Athens: 7+ Best Ways To ‘Sleigh’ the Holiday in the Classic City
Courtesy of Bear Hollow Zoo

We love Bear Hollow Zoo in Spring and Summer… but you don’t want to skip it in Winter either. Select days before Christmas their Deck the Hollow event features larger-than-life Christmas inflatables, animal interactions and visits with Santa.

My kids absolutely loved this event when they were younger, and so did I! It’s a low-key, fun, and festive experience.

The event is 5:30pm – 7:30pm, December 1-3 and 8-10, 2023. Tickets are $5 at the gate.

STROLL THE WINTER WONDERLIGHTS

Christmas in Athens: 7+ Best Ways To ‘Sleigh’ the Holiday in the Classic City

The State Botanical Garden of Georgia has transformed into an array of twinkling lights and light displays for the third annual Winter WonderLights.

The half-mile fully accessible trail allows guests to walk through a Winter Wondercave, along Jingle Bell Lane, into the Northern Lights and through a Cone Tree Forest, among other dazzling features. At specific locations along the trail, visitors can purchase hot coffee, cocoa and even marshmallows for roasting.

Select evenings Nov. 22 through Dec. 30, 2023, 5:30pm – 9:00pm. $15 per person and VIP options available. Children 3 and under are free.

Read More: 37+ Sparkling Christmas Light Displays Near Me (+ 2023 Residential Lights Shows)

SHOP TIL YOU DROP AT ONE OF THESE ATHENS HOLIDAY MARKETS

Christmas in Athens: 7+ Best Ways To ‘Sleigh’ the Holiday in the Classic City
Courtesy of Visit Athens

The holiday markets in Athens, Georgia are a favorite for locals and visitors every year. Each unique one hosts multiple vendors’ and artists’ works, creating the perfect opportunity for everyone, including kids, to find a special gift for everyone on their list. At each market, visitors can participate in the spirit of giving and enjoy the festive atmosphere all while supporting the local community.

SIP A FESTIVE DRINK AT THE EXPAT

Christmas in Athens: 7+ Best Ways To ‘Sleigh’ the Holiday in the Classic City
Courtesy of Miracle

Miracle at The Expat in Athens will feature a holiday oasis with over-the-top kitschy, festive decor and a themed cocktail menu with fan favorites such as the Christmapolitan and Christmas Cricket. New this year is Rudolph’s Replacement, The Krampus, and Marshmallows & Unicorns. Additionally, there will be special holiday food menu items such as White Chocolate Budino, S’mores Tart, and Panforte Scuro.

I’ve been to The Expat during the holiday season and it cannot be missed! Such a fun and unique atmosphere and the food is divine.

The Expat is also offering Tacky Sweater night every Tuesday in December! Wear your most festive, funky attire! Miracle at The Expat will be held November 24-December 30, 2023.

Read More: 13+ Festive Christmas Bars Atlanta Loves to Imbibe In for Holiday ‘Spirit’ in 2023

EAT MORE CHICKEN UNDER THE CHRISTMAS LIGHTS

Christmas in Athens: 7+ Best Ways To ‘Sleigh’ the Holiday in the Classic City

This is not your average business light display, y’all!

Locals have known for awhile that the Atlanta Highway Chick-fil-A’s lights are something special, and now people are coming from neighboring towns just to see the thousands of lights that literally cover the restaurant! It really is amazing. When we go, we always get our food and eat it from the back of the pick-up truck in the parking lot — that way we can really enjoy eating under the lights!

This is the perfect stop during the Christmas season. Don’t forget to get a peppermint shake! The lights will be on display from November 1 – December 31, 2023.

PLAY MUSIC DURING THE UNSILENT NIGHT PARADE

Christmas in Athens: 7+ Best Ways To ‘Sleigh’ the Holiday in the Classic City
Courtesy of Phil Kline’s Unsilent Night

A public-art display and musical performance takes over the city of Athens for the holidays with the annual Unsilent Night parade. As people parade down the streets of downtown Athens and the University of Georgia’s historic North Campus, attendees are assigned one of four musical tracks to play to create a unique concert and symphony of holiday sounds through the city.

Gather at Little Kings Shuffle Club (223 W Hancock Ave.) at 7:30 PM Saturday, December 23. This family-friendly event lasts about an hour. Most participants use a phone and an external Bluetooth speaker for maximum volume. Participation instructions are here.

CELEBRATE THE SEASON AT ATHENS RESTAURANTS

Christmas in Athens: 7+ Best Ways To ‘Sleigh’ the Holiday in the Classic City
Courtesy of Paloma Park

Paloma Park’s holiday cocktail bar “The North Pole” will be transformed into a festive wonderland with holiday decorations, a specialty themed cocktail menu and music to match. You can’t miss “The Blitzen Spritzen” or “Clark Griswold’s Egg Nog,” a made-from-scratch recipe that features the best eggnog in Athens.

Plus, The National – best known as award-winning Chef Hugh Acheson’s flagship restaurant in Athens – will serve a Hanukkah Dinner with a special prix fixe menu for two nights.

Read More: 15 Best Restaurants in Athens GA: An Insider’s Guide

SATISFY YOUR SWEET TOOTH AT CONDOR CHOCOLATES

Christmas in Athens: 7+ Best Ways To ‘Sleigh’ the Holiday in the Classic City
Courtesy of Condor Chocolates

Sipping a hot cup of Condor’s hot chocolate is a must-try experience and perfect for a chilly day. At Condor, Athens born-and-raised brothers Nick and Peter Dale produce bean-to-bar chocolate bars, truffles and a variety of other confections to pay homage to their mother’s Ecuadorian roots.

After you are warm and toasty, don’t forget to grab a few items for your holiday dessert table… or gifts for the most special people on your list.

BE AN ANGEL THIS CHRISTMAS IN ATHENS

Christmas in Athens: 7+ Best Ways To ‘Sleigh’ the Holiday in the Classic City

Our final recommendation doesn’t require a trip into Athens, but it’s the opportunity to make Christmas special for a child in Athens. Before moving West, we did this every year…encouraged by our oldest daughter who worked with these special families for a long, long time.

The Clarke/Oconee DFCS Angel Project Sponsorship project allows you to sponsor a child (or children!) by making a magical gifting experience for them.

After you register, you’ll be paired with a child. The DFCS will send you a wish list and further instructions. It’s such a fantastic way to really get into the spirit of the Season.

MORE HOLIDAY FUN:

Follow us here: Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | Pinterest | YouTube | MSN | TripAdvisor | Flipboard

All articles belong to 365 Atlanta Family LLC, and all photos belong to us as well, unless otherwise noted. It’s all copyrighted. Please don’t repost anything elsewhere without asking me first. All rights reserved. This site uses cookies to enhance your experience.

We make no guarantees of any price listed on our site. We are not responsible for content on external web sites linked from ours, including linked resources, an external blog post, any partner site, hotel property sites, or affiliate sites. We only write about places we love in an attempt to help you in your adventures, but we can’t guarantee you will love them, too.

Posts may contain affiliate links at no cost to you. Several of our trips are also compensated by the respective tourism boards for the city or state we are visiting. This never impacts how we share the destination with you – opinions are always our own and we pride ourselves on that. We do not sell links or accept unsolicited guest posts under any circumstances. Don’t even ask.

United States Copyright, 365 Atlanta Family, LLC

View our Privacy Policy | Subscribe to our Newsletter | Contact Site Owner | View Terms & Conditions | About Us

Christmas in Athens: 7+ Best Ways To ‘Sleigh’ the Holiday in the Classic City