Holiday time in Atlanta is special as white lights glisten on every street, businesses and museums go over the top to bring the holiday spirit to everyone with amazing decorations and the uplifting sound of music is everywhere. Here are some of our favorite ways to get into the holiday spirit around Atlanta.
Ice skating: We don’t have the extreme cold weather where you ice skate on a pond and sit by the fire. But, we have plenty of places to go ice skating outdoors. Let’s face it, nothing puts you in the holiday spirit more than putting on a scarf, hat, mittens and ice skates and zooming around the rink — or gingerly moving your feet slowly and griping onto the rink’s edge for dear life. Either way, get in the spirit by ice skating. Park Tavern, adjacent to Piedmont Park, puts up an ice skating rink that offers family fun as well as adult hours. Several developments put in seasonal ice skating rinks. Be sure to go skating at Avalon in Alpharetta, and on the roof at Ponce City Market. Of course, at Stone Mountain Park ice skating is always an important part of its holiday celebration.
Shopping: Atlanta has a wealth of shopping options, everything from major malls to neighborhood boutiques. To really put you in the holiday spirit, go to the Atlanta Christkindl Market, an open-air market that will transport you straight to Germany. Walk through Centennial Olympic Park and delight in German food and beverages, such as authentic bratwurst, glühwein and street foot, as well as shop for traditional handmade gifts from Germany, Austria and Switzerland.
Plays: As the Hallmark Channel proves, there is a holiday show for every person’s taste, and venues around the area offer a variety of heart-warming holiday plays.
- Go to the fabulous Fox Theatre and be enchanted by the Atlanta Ballet. Also at the Fox during the holiday season are “Disney Junior Holiday Party” and “Cirque Dreams: Holidaze”
- The Shakespeare Tavern in Midtown offers another not-to-be-missed classic, “Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol.”
- The Center for Puppetry Arts will present “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer,” the Out Front Theatre will perform “Christmas with the Crawfords”
- You can enjoy “Madeline’s Christmas,” and the “Waffle Palace Christmas,” at the Horizon Theatre Company in Little Five Points
- The Alliance Theatre at the Woodruff Arts Center will give performances of “The Christmas Carol”
- The Rialto Center for the Arts livens it up with a “Celtic Christmas”
- Georgia Tech’s Ferst Theater presents the “Moscow Ballet’s Great Russian Nutcracker”
- The Aurora Theatre presents a variety show, “Christmas Canteen”
- 7Stages Theatre presents “Curious Holiday Encounters”
- The Cobb Energy Centre has several holiday offerings including, “The Elf on the Shelf — A Christmas Musical,” the “Hip Hop Nutcracker,” “A Magical Cirque Christmas,” and “The Black Nativity”
- For one night only (Dec. 26), “A Drag Queen Christmas” will be performed at the Buckhead Theatre
Music: Atlanta is alive with the sound of holiday music and whether it’s being piped in at the mall or from performances from college choral groups, church choirs or professional singers, if you want the holiday music to help you get in the spirit, you’re in luck.
- Start with the award-winning Atlanta Symphony Orchestra that dedicates the month of December to holiday performances including “Home Free: Dive Bar Christmas,” Christmas with the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra,” Handel’s Messiah,” followed by “Celtic Woman: The Best of Christmas,” and “A Flicker of Light on a Winter’s Night.”
- Morehouse and Spelman College students present their annual “Christmas Carol Concert”
- Over at the Emory University Schwartz Center for the Performing Arts, there will be “Christmas with Atlanta Master Chorale”
- The Atlanta Gay Men’s Choir will perform its annual “Holiday Concert” at the Cathedral of St. Philip in Buckhead
- In Little Five Points, the Variety Playhouse is offering a “Holiday Hootenanny.”
Christmas Tree Lightings: The anticipation is unbearable. Any minute a park or building will be suddenly glowing with thousands upon thousands of lights. Then, with a flick of a switch, magic happens! Fortunately, there are several tree lighting ceremonies around Atlanta. Among the best are: Macy’s Great Tree Lighting Show at Lenox Square, Light Up Dunwoody, Holidays at The Battery Atlanta, Light the Station at Atlantic Station, the Jubilee Christmas Tree Lighting at Vinings Jubilee and at the Governor’s Mansion.
Museums/Attractions: Atlanta’s many fantastic museums really get into the holiday spirit. Here are some of the wonderful places that will awe you with lights, decorations and good holiday cheer. Head out to Lake Lanier Islands for License to Chill Snow Island, while the Atlanta History Center offers “Experience Christmas” where visitors stroll through the gardens and are welcomed by a lively Christmas Market while the three historic houses are decorated for an old-fashioned Southern Christmas. The Atlanta Botanical Garden presents Garden Lights, Holiday Nights with new music, Nature’s Wonders, the largest curtain of synchronized light and sound in the world as visits with Saint Nick and rides on the Botanical Express. The gardens knows that your favorite pooch wants to celebrate as well, so bring your best dog — in holiday costume, of course — to the Reindog Parade. Historic Callanwolde Fine Arts Center celebrates the holiday with a designer showhouse and holiday market. Fernbank Museum of Natural History celebrates all winter holidays with Winter Wonderland, while the Georgia Aquarium will host the Festival of the SEAson that features a light and music show and Santa & Scuba Claus. Go to Stone Mountain Park and delight in the two million lights, holiday shows, a snow-angel palace, and a nightly parade with Santa. Six Flags Over Georgia continues its lively holiday tradition with more than one million LED lights and dozens of Christmas trees. Enjoy the rides and take a picture with Santa.
Fun Activities: There are some ways that Atlanta celebrates the holidays that don’t fit into any category — but they’re all fun and will put you in the spirit. An Atlanta tradition for more than 50 years is riding the Pink Pig. Priscilla the Pink Pig takes young visitors on a 170-foot track in a 1950’s themed Pink Pig Tent at Macy’s in Lenox Square. The Festival of Trees is a long-standing holiday tradition where local nonprofit organization decorate the trees and raise money for charity. The trees will be on display at the Embassy Suites Atlanta Centennial Olympic Park. Have a “brick-tacular” time at LEGOLAND® Discovery Center at Phipps Plaza. Enjoy seasonal build activities in a holiday setting, meet Santa and build a LEGO snowflake. Another wonderful Atlanta tradition is the Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta Christmas Parade that marches down Peachtree Street. There are floats, giant helium-filled balloons and marching bands. The parade is the largest holiday parade in the Southeast.