Let this sink in: You’ll never experience Christmas with your kids at this age again…ever. For me, with kids who are growing up before my very eyes, that hits home. These are the special years, when Santa and lights and falling snow are still magical.
Stone Mountain Christmas is the perfect place to unplug from your phone, forget about the laundry, put the stress of work behind you and simply enjoy Christmas in the city together. And Stone Mountain Christmas is an opportunity to make every moment one to remember – plus this year they have some cool new surprises!
Our favorite things to do at Stone Mountain Christmas
Ride the Singalong Train. My boys adore trains, so there is no doubt that this is our favorite. A secret? Watch the parade near the Marketplace. It offers a great vantage of the parade and allows you to scoot over to the Singalong Train as soon as Santa passes, getting you to the front of the line. You’ll also want to throw sweatshirts or an extra blanket in your backpack, as the open-air train can get chilly at night- though it is more than worth it!
This is a popular attraction and even though it’s a big train, it can still be at capacity during very busy times. We were advised to come to the last show directly from the fireworks (if you situate yourself by the Toy Store, you’re a short walk to the train station).
You want to sit on the left side of the train, so you have the best view of the lights and the show. The only bad part of going on the last train is that it’s dark out. Great for the lights displayed along the way, but there are a lot of sections without lights and it can be cold, so pull out that extra scarf again. My son loved the sing-a-long portion the best. A fun holiday themed video gets you started and gives you all the words to the songs so you can sing along.
The Enchanted Tree Lighting. New for 2018 is a tree lighting ceremony you won’t want to miss. It happens nightly at 6 pm. Angelina the Snow Angel will spin tails and spread holiday cheer from the balcony above the candy store. As she does, the building seems to come to life in a CG spectacular. But that’s not the biggest news. Spoiler Alert: Santa flies in on his sleigh for a truly ‘Wow’ moment for the little ones. All the guest appearances almost make the 36 foot tall sparkling video Christmas tree an afterthought, at least up until the point where it starts telling stories.
For the best viewing of Angelina and the tree lighting, stand in front on Cookie Corner. If Santa is the big draw, step a little farther down the way toward Marketplace Grill.
The Christmas Parade. One of the best parts of the Stone Mountain Christmas experience is the nightly Christmas parade, featuring festive music, Bumble and Rudolph, dancers and singers from the various shows, the bubble man and of course, Santa and Mrs. Claus. It all happens right after the Enchanted Tree Lighting. Grab some hot cocoa before the show begins and line up along the street’s edge for a spectacular parade of dancing, singing and more.
The Snow Angel Snowfall Celebration. Each evening it snows at Stone Mountain following the flight of the beautiful Snow Angel who descends like Tinkerbell from the castle. This part of the evening is a bit campy, but the snow fall and fireworks display is fantastic. I don’t think I’ve ever seen fireworks through snow. The best place to be for this show is in front of the Toy Store or the Candy Store.
The Snow Angel comes from Memorial Hall, so you may want to be on the side across from the stores (in front of Cookie Corner) to see her. The Fireworks are in front of the Mountain, so the best place to be is in front of the Candy or Toy store. There is a snow machine next to the Toy Store, so for maximum snow, situate yourself underneath it.
Photos with Santa. Visit Christmas Corner to see the Big Guy himself. Kids can bring their wish lists or make and mail a list while there. Santa was so soft-spoken and gentle that my boys (who typically are not lovers of the Santa experience) really enjoyed their time with him. Bring your camera or purchase a Kodak photo with Santa onsite.
You can also get your photo taken with Rudolph or the Abominable Snowman, two of my favorite holiday characters. This opportunity is tucked behind the glass blowing shop, so be sure to to look for it or you could miss it.
Dinner at Campfire Grill. Campfire Grill is always a must-do when we visit Stone Mountain Park. The boys love a hunt, following the animal tracks we find on the floor and tables. Great salads and hearty meals are plenty. My favorite is the pot roast with potatoes and carrots. The boys pick the hand dipped chicken strips and french fries every time. And who can resist the Campfire S’mores Skillet- a warm and gooey mix of brownies and marshmallows.
The Littlest Christmas Tree. This sweet puppet show is about a small Christmas tree passed over for the holidays. Good thing her new friends Betty the Bunny, Sammy the Skunk and Nutty the Squirrel are there to help her see her inner worth! The tale of The Littlest Christmas Tree is sure to be a family favorite! My little guys were enthralled during every moment of this show. I highly recommend it, especially for younger kids (though older ones will love it, too.) It’s probably Atlanta’s most heartwarming show.
Decorating Christmas Cookies. We decorated Christmas cookies in Memorial Hall. Kids can pick a sugar cookie or chocolate chip cookie, a cup of icing and a few toppers. (My guys went for gummy bears and M&Ms.) It was a great way for them to get creative between shows.
Singing along with Forever Christmas. This is one of my personal favorites, with festive holiday music and singing reminiscent of the 1950s. The costumes and songs are wonderful, and their rendition of Jingle Bells is lovely!
Snacking on cinnamon bread. For the first time this year we got two loaves of Stone Mountain Park’s cinnamon bread. They are ooey-gooey and delicious! We ate an entire loaf that night (yes, along with the sugar cookies!) and had the second loaf for breakfast the next morning. It’s delicious and amazing (and addictive…so get two loaves!)
Crossroads Christmas Carol. This ragtag band performs a funny rendition of Dicken’s A Christmas Carol in just thirty minutes! This program is done outside, so if it’s cold, bring an extra scarf.
The Polar Express in 4-D. I always get a little misty when I read the Polar Express. Maybe it’s because sometimes, when all the hustle and bustle gets too much, it’s hard to hear the bell. This 4-D experience is a condensed version of the movie, and leaves you with the same warm feeling at the end.
MistleTales with Mrs. Claus. Mrs. Claus will answer questions and tell holiday tales in front of the Gingerbread House. This program is also outside.
Holiday Lights. The entire Crossroads area is adorn in lights. It’s a beautiful site and there are lots of great photos opportunities. I love how this is one Christmas Light display that you can walk through vs. drive. See even more lights on the Sing-a-long train.
SkyHike and Camp Highland Lights. New for 2018, Sky Hike, the high ropes adventure course, is decked out for the holidays too. The millions of lights twinkle to a festive soundtrack. Even the river that in the summer is the place for toddlers to splash around now flows with blue lights. Be sure to walk all the way through, the trees toward the back of Sky Hike are also alight.
The Great Barn. This attraction isn’t specific to the holiday season, so you can really go here anytime. The Great Barn is a four story interactive playground with lots of foam balls, air cannons, slides, and climbing structures. It’s a great place to burn off holiday treats and since it’s my youngest’s favorite, I included it here.
Great Locomotive Chase Adventure Golf. We love mini-golf and this is a great course. As the evening wears on, it gets more crowded. If you have little ones, best to go here early.
Holly Jolly Cabaret. This program is at Memorial Hall, which is a short walk from the central Crossroads area. This indoor musical revue is a heartwarming and funny show of holiday tunes that make you want to sing-a-long.
Snow Angel Meet and Greet. My boys didn’t want to wait in the line to meet the Snow Angel, but I thought she was beautiful and her dress was fabulous. The Snow Angel is Stone Mountain Park’s answer to the Disney Princess.
When To Go to Stone Mountain Christmas
Saturdays and holidays are the most crowded at the park. If you want to go on the weekend, consider Sunday and get there early. Shows are limited seating and the Park recommends you get there 15 minutes before each show to ensure a spot. The earlier shows are less crowded and you can likely walk up a little later.
Make it a weekend with Atlanta Evergreen Marriott
If you live a ways from Stone Mountain Park like we do, consider making your Christmas experience a special weekend. We stayed at Atlanta Evergreen Marriott after our Christmas excitement.
The rooms were cozy, and we enjoyed a gorgeous view of the lake. Our room included two queen beds (which were VERY comfy!) a mini fridge and a desk. Because the weather was nice, we also enjoyed sitting on the patio that looks over the lake.
When we were not enjoying Stone Mountain Christmas, we were playing at the hotel. We played at both the indoor and outdoor pools (both are heated!) and hot tubs. The boys also enjoyed a round of over-sized chess next to the pool.
While we were at the pool in the evening, hubby and I enjoyed a few drinks from Stonewall’s Lounge (which also includes light snacks and a pool table.) For breakfast we indulged on our cinnamon bread, but picked up Latte’s from Mountain Brew Café (featuring Starbucks coffee.) If you’re not eating at SMP, then consider breakfast, lunch or dinner at Waterside Restaurant. This casual buffet also offers weekend specials of crab legs and prime rib – yum!)
The hotel is inside Stone Mountain Park, so you will be required to pay the one-time entrance fee into the park. Once there, you will receive a guest pass, allowing you to come and go from the park as necessary. There is no shuttle to the Crossroads area where the Christmas events are located, but it is a short 5-minute drive with ample parking space.
Discount Opportunities for Stone Mountain Christmas
Looking for discounts to Stone Mountain Christmas? Here are a few you are sure to love.
Snow Mountain & Christmas Combo Pass. Snow Mountain, the snow tubing hill with real show and a kids play area opens on Nov. 17. This is a separate ticket from Stone Mountain Christmas, but you can combine the two with a combo pass that includes two-hours at Snow Mountain, plus all the celebrations of Stone Mountain Christmas. You can do both in the same day, or spread the fun of a tubing session and holiday shows over the season.
Free meal and unlimited drinks. Purchase your Christmas Adventure Pass online and get a free meal from Marketplace and unlimited drink refills in addition to the attractions pass.
Save on an Adventure Pass. If you want to save $3 per ticket (meal not included) then click here.
Snow Mountain Pass. Just excited about playing in the snow? Get your pass here.
More Ways to save money at Stone Mountain Park Christmas
- Take your camera and try to snag some pictures with the characters. Cameras are not allowed in Santa’s workshop and you must purchase that one at the photo kiosk.
- Bring all the makings for S’more and take advantage of the fire pits.
- Bring a thermos full of hot chocolate and a few disposable cups.
- Pack a meal and bring it with you. You can bring your food into the park…or you can eat it in your car.
- Check Facebook for specials. In the past Stone Mountain Christmas tickets have gone on sale for $19.99 plus tax through the social media outlet.
- Join the fun during Scout Days. Girl and Boy Scout troops are invited to Stone Mountain Christmas and Snow Mountain for a special discount.
- Don’t miss Educator Appreciation Week. All active and certified K-12 teachers and principals will receive a complimentary Adventure Pass (includes Stone Mountain Christmas activities0 and the opportunity to purchase additional Adventure Passes at a discounted rate of $21 plus tax. Be sure to tell your children’s teachers about this offer!
Looking for more Atlanta Christmas fun? Don’t miss our Definitive Guide To Holiday Happenings Around The City
Disclosure: Thank you to SMP for inviting us to the Christmas celebrations, and to Marriott for the complimentary overnight. The opinions here are still all my own!
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.