Ultimate Kid-Friendly Guide to Holiday Events in Atlanta and Beyond
Our city has so much to offer during the holidays from festive shows to events and Santa appearances. Also check out our list of 20+ Places to Meet Santa Around Atlanta, Best Ice Skating Rinks Around Atlanta, Best Christmas Light and Tree Displays as well as Best Neighborhood Lights Around Atlanta.
These top-notch events and attractions will get your family in the cheerful spirit:
Celebrate 25 years this holiday season from Nov. 17 to Jan. 3 at Lanier Islands’ Magical Nights of Lights. Gaze at impressive displays throughout the resort with millions of twinkling holiday lights. Don’t miss the 65-foot Universal Christmas tree set atop a giant drum. Visit the Holiday Village inside LanierWorld for Santa visits, marshmallow roasting and carnival rides.
Prepare for a season decked out in silver and gold when Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer™ takes the stage at the Center for Puppetry Arts from Nov. 7-Dec. 31. Based on the 1964 television special, this magical show has become a holiday tradition for Atlanta families for over 10 years. After the show, all-inclusive tickets include access to the Create-A-Puppet Workshop™ and admission to the Worlds of Puppetry Museum.
Practice your jumps and twirls this season by visiting one of two Ice Days Ice Skating Rinks. The family-owned and operated rinks are made of real ice for a fun and authentic ice skating experience. Locations in Conyers and LaGrange offer low prices and birthday party packages, and have covered areas to block from rain. Two-hour skating sessions are available for $10, with skate rental included.
Jingle all the way to Children’s Museum of Atlanta for festive fun. Start with Celebrations in Light, a month-long exploration of holidays from around the world. Families can dance, sing, and create make-and-take projects focused on Las Posadas, Christmas, Hanukkah and Kwanzaa. New this year, the Museum will have an Ice (aka: Carpet) Skating Rink (no skates needed) built especially for littles. To send out 2017 in style, don’t miss the New Year’s Bubble Bash.
Meet Fumbles the Elf and Santa this holiday season at College Football Hall of Fame and Chick-fil-A Fan Experience. December 9 through New Year’s Day, Deck the Hall will be in full swing with treats and bright holiday decorations. Don’t miss fun daily activities and Fumbles the Elf, as well as appearances by Santa each Saturday and Sunday.
Stroll through Atlanta’s only authentic German market, feel snow fall from above, meet Santa Claus and experience SKATE Atlantic Station’s outdoor ice rink. Festivities begin Nov. 18 with Light Up Atlantic Station, complete with musical entertainment, kids’ activities, live reindeer, Santa’s Parade and lighting of the 50’ Christmas tree in Central Park.
Don’t miss the delightful and charming Roswell Winter Puppet Series at the Roswell Cultural Arts Center this winter, and even meet Santa Claus in the lobby following each performance. Kids and parents alike will enjoy two shows featuring puppet characters from the North Pole and the mouse from ‘Twas the Night Before Christmas.
Experience the joy of Christmas with The First Noel at Ferst Center for the Arts. Set in 1980s Harlem, The First Noel follows three generations of a family in search of Christmas joy many years after the tragic loss of a loved one. The First Noel runs from Dec. 8-24 at Ferst Center for Arts. The music includes a delightful reimaging of traditional holiday favorites in jazz, gospel and pop styles.
Celebrate the most wonderful time of year in Historic Downtown Roswell. The season begins on December 2, with Breakfast with Santa at Roswell Area Park, kids can eat, take photos with Santa, make crafts and have their face painted. Gingerbread Christmas at Smith Plantation includes gingerbread baking over an open hearth and holiday ornament making. Holiday Celebration on the Square includes lighting, choral performances Santa appearance and Santa’s Secret Gift Shop.
Join Alliance Theatre for one of Atlanta’s most treasured holiday shows, A Christmas Carol. Celebrate the holidays by attending this Broadway-scale production with beautiful live music and an all-Atlanta cast. Experience Alliance’s adaptation staged for the first time at the Cobb Energy Performing Arts Centre.
Macy’s Pink Pig. Lenox Square Mall. Atlanta’s famous pig train takes families for a life-sized storybook ride. Open through Dec. 31. Nov. hours: Mon.-Fri. 10 a.m.-8 p.m. Sat. 10 a.m.-9 p.m. Sun., noon-6 p.m. Closed Nov. 19 and 23. Nov. 26, 11 a.m.-7 p.m. Upper Level Parking Deck. 3393 Peachtree Rd., Atlanta. 404-231-2800. $3 per ride.
Stone Mountain Christmas. Stone Mountain Park. More than two million lights and an abundance of performances and activities. Nov. 11-Jan. 3. Visit stonemountainpark.com for schedule and prices. 1000 Robert E. Lee Blvd., Stone Mountain. 800-401-2407.
Winter Wonderland. Fernbank Museum of Natural History. An exhibit showcasing different holiday displays from cultures across the globe. Nov. 17-Jan. 7. Daily 9 a.m.-5 p.m. 767 Clifton Rd., Atlanta. 404-929-6300. Included with museum admission. Adults, $18; ages 3-12, $16; ages 2 and younger, free.
Snow Shows. Atlantic Station. Take a walk through Central Park and watch snow fall from above. Begins Nov. 18. Sun.-Thurs. 7 p.m. Fri. and Sat. every hour from 6-9 p.m. 1380 Atlantic Dr., Atlanta. 404-410-4010. Free.
Festival of the SEAson. Georgia Aquarium. Galleries and exhibits turn into a winter wonderland, incorporating light and music shows, appearances by Santa and SCUBA Claus, holiday entertainment, daily tree-lighting ceremonies and more. Nov. 18-Dec. 31. Daily. 225 Baker St., Atlanta. 404-581- 4000. Adults, $39.95; ages 3-12, $33.95; ages 2 and younger, free.
Holly Jolly Film Fest. Fernbank Museum of Natural History. Holiday movies, crafts and cultural programs. Nov. 18, 25 and Dec. 2, 9 and 16. 10 a.m.-2 p.m. 767 Clifton Rd., Atlanta. 404-929-6300. Included with museum admission. Adults, $18; ages 3-12, $16; ages 2 and younger, free.
Holiday in the Park. Six Flags. More than one million LED lights, tons of Christmas trees and live shows with holiday themed attractions. Nov. 19-Jan 3. Visit sixflags.com for schedule. 275 Riverside Pkwy., Austell. $68.99; children under 48″, $48.99; ages 2 and younger, free.
Holiday Celebration & Live Nativity. North Georgia Zoo. Nativity animals, Stary Night tours, hot chocolate and Christmas carols. Nov. 24-26. 5-7 p.m. 2912 Paradise Valley Rd., Cleveland. 706-348-7279. Free; Stary Night tours and zoo admission, extra.
Santa and Grinch Appearance. Ponce City Market. Come visit the second floor and meet these iconic characters. Parade and Santa’s workshops with gift-wrapping and stocking-stuffing stations. Nov. 24-Dec. 23. Daily. 675 Ponce de Leon Ave., Atlanta. 404-900-7900. Free.
A Christmas at Callanwolde Designer Show House. Callanwolde Fine Arts Center. Tour the historic mansion decorated for the holidays. Enjoy the artists’ market and themed events. Nov. 24-Dec.12. Daily, noon-8 p.m. 980 Briarcliff Rd., Atlanta. 404-872-5338. $25; ages 3 and younger, free.
Holiday Crafts and Markets
Elegant Elf Marketplace. Lake Forest Elementary School. More than 70 vendors with crafts, home decor, children’s goods, artistic creations, food and more. Nov. 4 and 5. Sat. 9 a.m.-5 p.m.; Sun. 10 a.m.-5 p.m. 5920 Sandy Springs Cir., Sandy Springs. sandyspringssociety.org. Adults, $5; ages 10 and younger, free.
Holiday Craft Classes. Area Michaels Stores. Make a different craft weekly during the holiday season. Nov. 4, 11, 18. 30-minute sessions, every half hour. Visit michaels.com for times and locations. Ages 3 and older, $2; includes supplies.
Holiday Market. Due West United Methodist Church. More than 40 vendors sell holiday creations, children’s gifts, jewelry and gift baskets. Nov. 4. 9 a.m.-2 p.m. 3956 Due West Rd., Marietta. 770-427-3835. Free.
Holiday Gift Show. Northside Methodist Preschool. More than 75 vendors with holiday items for all ages. Ladies preview: Nov. 9, 5:30-8 p.m. Show: Nov. 10 and 11, 9 a.m.- 4 p.m. 2799 Northside Dr., Atlanta. 404-355-6475. $5; 13 and younger, free.
Shoppe Holiday Market. Cobb Galleria Centre. Handmade and boutique goods, crafts, jewelry, home décor and gourmet foods. Nov. 10-12. Fri. Noon-7 p.m. ; Sat.-Sun. 10 a.m.-6 p.m. 2 Galleria Pkwy. SE, Atlanta. 770-955-8000. Adults, $10; ages 11 and younger, free.
Holiday Festival. Dunwoody United Methodist Church. More than 120 artisans, kids’ zone and photos with Santa. Nov. 11. 9 a.m.-4 p.m. 1548 Mt. Vernon Rd., Dunwoody. 770-394-0675. Free admission; activities extra.
UMW Craft Show. Mt. Zion United Methodist Church. Over 50 arts and crafts vendors, silent auction, door prize, bake sale and meet and greet with Santa. Nov. 10, 9 a.m.-5 p.m. and Nov. 11, 9-4 p.m. 1770 Johnson Ferry Road, Marietta. 770-971-1465. Free.
Holiday Craft Market. Pinckneyville Park Community Rec Center. Handmade gifts, pottery and décor, plus activities for kids and raffle prizes. Nov. 11. 10 a.m.-3 p.m. 4650 Peachtree Industrial Blvd., Norcross. 678-277-0920. Free.
Holiday Fair. Waldorf School of Atlanta. Shop in the artist market, candle dipping, jump rope making and face painting. Nov. 11. 10 a.m.-4 p.m. 827 Kirk Rd., Decatur. 404-377-1315. Free admission; activities extra.
Holiday Artists Market. Spruill Gallery. Locally-crafted gifts and holiday decor. Nov. 14-Dec. 23. Mon.-Sat. 10 a.m.-7 p.m. Sun. noon-5 p.m. Closed Thanksgiving. 4681 Ashford Dunwoody Rd., Atlanta. 770-394-3447. Products for purchase.
Holiday Marketplace. St. Pius X High School. More than 150 artisans featuring jewelry, pottery, paintings and other handmade items. Nov. 18. 9 a.m.-4 p.m. 2674 Johnson Rd., Atlanta. 404-636- 3023. Admission, $3.
Ice Holiday Shopping Spectacular. Georgia Freight Depot. 175 craft and vintage vendors, food for purchase and swag bag for the first 250 attendees. Nov. 18-19, 11 a.m.-6 p.m. 65 Martin Luther King Jr. Dr. SE, Atlanta. ice-atlanta.com. $5 cash only; 12 and younger, free.
Christkindl Market. Atlantic Station. Walk through and shop in a traditional German market. Music, live entertainment and more. Nov. 24-Dec. 23. Mon.-Thurs. 11 a.m.-9 p.m. Fri. and Sat. 11 a.m.-10 p.m. Sun. 1-8 p.m. 1380 Atlantic Dr., Atlanta. 404-410-4010. Free admission; products for purchase.
Holidays at the High Artisan Market. High Museum of Art. Meet local artists and shop for unique gift items including jewelry, textiles, home goods, accessories and more. Nov. 24-25, 11 a.m.-5 p.m. 1280 Peachtree St., Atlanta. 404-733-4400. Free entrance to museum shop and market.
Dance and Theater
Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer. Center for Puppetry Arts. Rudolph is back with this faithful adaptation of the holiday story. Nov. 7-Dec. 31. See puppet.org for showtimes. 1404 Spring St., Atlanta. 404-873-3391. Ages 2 and older, $19.50.
Elf Jr. the Musical. Elm Street Cultural Arts Village. Based on the holiday film, this hilarious musical comedy follows Buddy the Elf in his quest to find his true identity. Nov. 10-12. Fri. and Sat. 7:30 p.m. Sun. 2 p.m. 8534 Main St. Woodstock. 678-494-4251. $15
The Nutcracker. Infinite Energy Center. North Atlanta Dance Theatre performs the classic story. Nov. 10-12. Fri. 7:30 p.m. Sat. 2:30 and 7:30 p.m. Sun. 2:30 p.m. 6400 Sugarloaf Pkwy., Duluth. 770-626-2464. $18-$28.
Madeline’s Christmas. A musical holiday adventure with Madeline and friends. Horizon Theatre, Little 5 Points, Atlanta.
Gift of the Magi. Marietta Theatre in the Square. This adaptation centers around a local streetcar driver who doesn’t have the money for Christmas presents. Magi tells the story of love and sacrifice. Kids will also enjoy snacks, crafts and holiday characters. Nov. 16-19; 25-26 and 30; Dec. 1-3. See theatreinthesquare.net for showtimes. 11 Whitlock Ave., Marietta. 770-426-4800. $10-$35.
The Nutcracker. Infinite Energy Center. Southern Ballet Theatre performs the story of Clara and her prince. Nov. 18 and 19. Sat. 10:30 a.m., 2:30 and 7 p.m. Sun. 2:30 p.m. 6400 Sugarloaf Pkwy., Duluth. 770-626-2464. $16.50-$20.50.
A Christmas Carol-The Musical. Infinite Energy Center. Susan Chambers Dance Company performs the full-length Broadway musical version of the classic story. Nov. 21. 11 a.m. and 7 p.m. 6400 Sugarloaf Pkwy., Duluth. 770-626-2464. $19-$27.
The Nutcracker. Infinite Energy Center. Northeast Atlanta Ballet Performs this version of the classic. Nov. 24-26. Fri. 2 and 7:30 p.m. Sat. 10 a.m., 2 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. Sun. 2 and 6 p.m. 6400 Sugarloaf Pkwy., Duluth. 770-626-2464. $18.50-$24.50.
The Nutcracker. Roswell Cultural Arts Center. Follow Clara through a dream world of battling mice and dancing sugarplums in this production presented by Tolbert Yilmaz School of Dance and the Roswell Dance Theatre. Nov. 24 and 25; Dec. 1-3. See tysod.com for showtimes and special events. 950 Forrest St., Roswell. 770-998-0259. $20-$55.
The Nutcracker. Jennie T. Anderson Theatre. Georgia Metropolitan Dance Theatre presents the beloved story. Nov. 24-26. Fri. 7:30 p.m. Sat. 2 and 7:30 p.m. Sun. 2 p.m. 548 S Marietta Pkwy., Marietta. 678-287-9020. $10-$30.
A Christmas Story. OnStage Atlanta. For Ralphie, there is no greater Christmas gift than a genuine Red Ryder, unfortunately, his mom, teacher and even Santa don’t agree. Watch the hilarious story re-told through musical form. Nov. 24-Dec. 17. Possible extension through Dec. 23. See onstageatlanta.com for schedule. 2969 East Ponce de Leon Ave., Decatur. 404-897-1802. $17 and up.
The Hip Hop Nutcracker. Fox Theatre. A new spin on a classic includes a cast of hip-hop dancers, a DJ and a violinist. Nov. 26. 6:30 p.m. 660 Peachtree St., Atlanta. 855-285-8499. $39.70-$97.25.
Black Nativity Atlanta. Southwest Arts Center. Retelling of the Nativity story from an African- American perspective. Dance, anthems, and gospel numbers. Nov. 29-Dec. 17. See blacknativityatlanta.com for schedule. 915 New Hope Rd., Atlanta. 404-613-3220. Adults, $40- $50; ages 12 and younger, $15.
Miss Bennet: Christmas at Pemberley. Theatrical Outfit. The Christmas-themed sequel to “Pride and Prejudice” will delight Jane Austen fans. Nov. 30-Dec. 24. See theatricaloutfit.org for schedule. 84 Luckie St., Atlanta. 678-528-1500. Prices vary by date $20.50-51.
The Snow Queen. Serenbe Playhouse. From the classic tale that inspired “Frozen,” this version lights up the wintry woods with a story of love’s sovereign power over evil. Nov. 30-Dec. 30. Wed.-Sun. 8 p.m. Early shows Sat. and Sun. 6 p.m. 10640 Serenbe Ln., Chattahoochee Hills. 770-463-1110. $20; ages 12 and younger, $10.
Christmas with Amy Grant and Michael W. Smith. Infinite Energy Center. Hear Amy Grant, Michael W. Smith and guests Jordan Smith and the Georgia Symphony Orchestra perform Christmas classics. Nov. 25. 7 p.m. 6400 Sugarloaf Pkwy., Duluth. 770- 626-2464. $39.50 and up.
98 Degrees at Christmas. Atlanta Symphony Hall. The vocal quartet performs a new Christmas album full of classics such as “Let it Snow” and “Run Rudolph Run.” Nov. 29. 7:30 p.m. 1280 Peachtree St., Atlanta. 404- 733-5000. $39 and up.
Fun with Santa
Santa Arrival Celebration. Town Center at Cobb. Santa parade, activities and holidayinspired offerings. Nov. 3. 5:30-7:30 p.m. 400 Ernest Barrett Pkwy., Kennesaw. 770-424- 0742. Free.
Wake up Santa. Georgia Aquarium. Help wake up Santa Claus to ring in the holidays. Interactive activities, holiday snacks and Santa meet and greet. Nov. 18. 9-10:30 a.m. 225 Baker St., Atlanta. 404-581-4000. $12.95 per person, does not include aquarium admission: Adults, $39.95; ages 3-12, $33.95; ages 2 and younger, free.
Santa’s Arrival. Southeastern Railway Museum. Santa arrives at the museum by train. Take photos with Santa and enjoy refreshments and entertainment. Nov. 18. 1 p.m. 3595 Buford Hwy., Duluth. 770-476- 2013. Free with admission to the museum. Adults, $10; ages 2-12, $7; ages 1 and younger, free.
Storytime with Santa. Avalon. Visit with St. Nick as he reads holiday classics. Preregister. Nov. 20-Dec. 18. Mondays 6 and 6:45 p.m. Third St., Alpharetta. 770-765- 1000. $15 per child.
Santa on the Square. Downtown Newnan. See Santa light the Christmas tree. Kids bring your wish list and parents bring a camera for photos. Nov. 24. 6-8 p.m. N. Court Sq., Newnan. 770-253-8283. Free.
Botanical St. Nick. Atlanta Botanical Garden. Bring your camera and come tell all of your holiday wishes to St. Nick in his botanical head wreath. Nov. 25; Dec. 2, 9 and 16. 10 a.m.-2 p.m. 1345 Piedmont Ave., Atlanta. 404-876-5859. Included with admission. Adults, $21.95; ages 3-12, $15.95; ages 2 and younger, free.
Polar Express Experience. Southeastern Railway Museum. Watch the “Polar Express” in an authentic train car, and enjoy cookies and hot chocolate. Nov. 25; Dec. 2, 9 and 16. 1, 1:45, 3:30, 4:15 and 6 p.m. 3595 Buford Hwy., Duluth. 770-476-2013. $28; ages 1 and younger, free.
Christmas at Biltmore. Biltmore Estate. Holiday décor, live music, storytelling, gingerbread house and cookie-making workshops and evening candlelight tours. Nov. 3-Jan. 7. 1 Lodge St., Asheville N.C. Dates and pricing vary. Visit biltmore.com for details.
The Polar Express Train Ride. Great Smoky Mountains Railroad. A round-trip train ride with a Santa visit. Includes warm cocoa, carols and a treat while the story is narrated. Select dates Nov. 10-Dec. 31. Departure times at gsmr.com. 45 Mitchell St. Bryson City, N.C. 800-872-4681. Prices vary: Adults, $42-88; ages 2-12, $28-$64; ages 23 months and younger, complimentary-$21.
A Country Christmas. Gaylord Opryland Resort. Enjoy lavish holiday displays, snow tubing, performances and more. Nov. 10-Jan. 1. 2800 Opryland Dr., Nashville, Tenn. 615-889-1000. Schedule and prices vary.
Fantasy in Lights. Callaway Gardens. Drive through more than eight million twinkling lights and a garden decorated for the season. Nov. 17-Jan. 6. Opens at 6 p.m. 17800 US Hwy. 27, Pine Mountain. 800-852-3810. Adults, $21-$28; ages 6-12, $10.50-$14; ages 5 and younger, free.
Enchanted Garden of Lights. Rock City. Make your way through one million holiday lights with over 30 different scenes from the North Pole to Magic Forest and Yule Town. Decorate cookies and meet Santa. Nov. 17-Jan. 6. Daily 6-9 p.m. Closed Dec. 24. 1400 Patten Rd., Lookout Mountain. 706-820-2531. Adults, $19.95- $22.95; ages 3-12, $11.95-$12.95.
Appalachian Christmas Celebration. BabyLand General Hospital. Santa visits, holiday decorations, costumed characters, carolers and milk and cookies with Mrs. Claus. Nov. 18. 9 a.m.-5 p.m. 300 N.O.K. Dr., Cleveland. 706- 865-2171. Free.
United Way Festival of Trees. Unicoi Lodge. Beautifully-decorated trees and wreaths throughout Unicoi Lodge. Trees and wreaths available for bid. Nov. 19-Dec. 9. 1788 Hwy. 356, Helen. 706-878-2201. Free.
North Pole Limited. Tennessee Valley Railroad. A round-trip journey to the “North Pole”, featuring storytelling, light refreshments and an appearance by Santa. Select dates Nov. 24- Dec. 30. See tvrail.com for departure times and prices. 4119 Cromwell Rd, Chattanooga, Tenn. 423-894-8028. Prices vary by trip.