'Tis the Season
Georgia’s Spectacular Holiday Celebrations
By Anna Bentley
More than 8 million twinkling lights. A leaping, twirling Mouse King.Victorian homes beautifully decorated for the holidays. These are just some of the things you’ll find across metro Atlanta and Georgia this holiday season. Here’s a roundup of our best bets.
Garden Lights, Holiday Nights
The Atlanta Botanical Garden’s annual holiday event covers the attraction’s 30 acres with 1.5 million glittering lights. This year, explore new features like the massive Tunnel of Light. The Radiant Rainforest, Glittering Galaxy and Orchestral Orbs also return, offering a different take on animated holiday sound and light shows. Through Jan. 9. 404-876-5859, www.atlantabg.org.
Fantasy in Lights
Now in its 23rd year, Fantasy in Lights at Callaway Gardens has become a favorite attraction not just for Georgians, but for those across the Southeast as well. National Geographic Traveler even named it a Top 10 Place to See Holiday Lights. And for good reason: Fantasy in Lights features 8 million lights in a dozen dazzling scenes, all accompanied by festive music—some even with lively animation. Plus, in the resort’s Christmas Village, you can take pictures with Santa, have story time with Mrs. Claus, take a Christmas train ride or even hear a holiday organ concert. Through Jan. 2. 855-923-7580, www.callawaygardens.com.
Victorian Christmas in Thomasville
On Dec. 10 and 11, downtown Thomasville transforms into a Victorian winter wonderland. This annual celebration features carriage rides with sleigh bells, revelers that are dressed in period-appropriate finery,and joyous carolers singing holiday favorites throughout the downtown area. Other highlights include a live nativity scene, chestnut roasting and marshmallow toasting, and a special play area for the younger visitors. 229-228-7977, www.thomasvillega.com.
Christmas in Roswell
Each holiday season, Roswell’s trio of historic homes—Bulloch Hall, Barrington Hall and Smith Plantation—undergo a festive holiday transformation, celebrating both the holiday season and the homes’ unique histories. For instance, Bulloch Hall will host a reenactment of the prominent wedding of Theodore Roosevelt Sr. and Mittie Bulloch, which took place on Dec. 22, 1853. Other highlights include self-guided tours, breakfast with Santa, Christmas high teas and a concert by the Joe Gransden Big Band. For a complete list of activities, dates and times, call 770-640-3253 or visit www.visitroswellga.com.
Christmas 1886 with the Gordons
Savannah’s Juliette Gordon Low Birthplace—childhood home of the founder of the Girl Scouts of America—celebrates the season by decorating for the season in 1880s Victorian style with the dining room table set for Christmas dinner, a vintage “Game of Merry Christmas” on display and stockings hung on the mantle. Through Dec. 30. 912-233-4501, www.juliettegordonlowbirthplace.org.
Atlanta Ballet’s Nutcracker
A Christmas tradition for many Atlanta families, the Atlanta Ballet’s Nutcracker tells the story of young Clara and her grandfather’s magical Nutcracker each December at the Fox Theatre. The timeless tale of fighting mice, waltzing snowflakes and a leaping Sugar Plum Fairy is made all the more magical by live accompaniment courtesy of the Atlanta Ballet Orchestra. Dec.11–27, with two showings on Saturdays, Sundays and a variety of weeknights. 404-881-2100, www.atlantaballet.com.
Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer
The Claymation classic comes to life at the Center for Puppetry Arts through Dec. 27. Based on the 1964 television special and adapted and directed by Jon Ludwig, this puppet performance stays true to its source material, with a few unexpected surprises to keep it fresh. For information 404-873-3391, www.puppet.org.
Festive Parks and Other Attractions
Stone Mountain Christmas
It’s a busy holiday season at Stone Mountain Park. See one of the park’s four performances, including The Littlest Christmas Tree, Forever Christmas, Holly Jolly Cabaret and A Christmas Carol. Visit Santa at the Christmas Corner and hear Mrs. Claus tell her Mistletales at Candy Cane Corner. Board the Singalong Train to hear your favorite Christmas tunes, or catch Ice Age: A Mammoth Christmas 4-D movie. Have your picture taken with the Snow Angel, and enjoy a nightly Christmas parade and fireworks display to wrap up the night. Through Jan. 3. 800-401-2407, www.stonemountainpark.com.
Lanier Islands Winter Adventure
Lake Lanier Islands Resort combines favorites from its famous Magical Nights of Lights with new additions to create a new seasonal celebration. Enjoy watching your favorite holiday moments performed live at a state-of-the-art outdoor theater screen, carnival rides, holiday fare at the resort’s restaurants, and a new, extended walking tour of its dazzling light show—not to mention a visit with Santa and his elves. Through Jan. 3. 770-945-8787, www.lanierislands.com.