Christmas is in Atlanta is a time for family holiday traditions. Our family’s holiday traditions include building a fire in the fireplace, roasting marshmallows for s’mores, decorating the house, trimming the tree, and visiting several Atlanta Christmas events and attractions to celebrate the season.
I hope these 12 Christmas festivities in and around Atlanta bring your family as much joy as they have brought my family over the years.
Throw on a scarf and bundle up your kiddos, it’s time for an adventure as we celebrate 12 days of Christmas events in Atlanta! Updated for the 2023 holiday season.
Christmas in Atlanta 2023
1. Ride the Santa Express on the Blue Ridge Railway
Ninety minutes north of Atlanta in the Blue Ridge Mountains, Santa takes a break from his holiday duties to spend a little time with the kids on the Blue Ridge Scenic Railway.
Holiday Express rides are only one hour and ideal for younger kids. Listen to “The Night Before Christmas” while drinking hot chocolate and visiting with Santa himself. Each child receives a jingle bell, candy cane, and activity packet. Book tickets early because this is a sell-out event!
Holiday Express 2023 runs November 24 – December 24.
Want more train-based fun in Atlanta metro? Check out the Candy Cane Express Train Ride on the SAM Shortline Train December 1, 2 and 7, 2023. Santa will be aboard!
Looking for a place to stay while you are in town? Check out these luxury Atlanta rentals.
2. Enjoy Thousands of Lights at World of Illumination at Six Flags White Water
This year, World of Ilumination at Six Flags White Water invites you to grab your sled (aka:car) and head out on a trek through the Enchanted Safari. There are light displays featuring a variety of exotic animals and even dinosaurs. There are over a million lights and you tune your car radio to enjoy the audio portion of the experience.
Your journey ends at Santa’s Bazaar, where all your new animal friends will be decking the halls!
The event takes place November 15 – December 31, 2023 .
See more of the city. Here are the 10 best things to do in Atlanta with kids.
3. Enchanted Garden of Lights at Rock City
If you have been to Rocky City before then imagiine Rock City’s gorgeous gardens and rock formations lit with over a million lights during Enchanted Garden of Lights November 17, 2023 – January 6, 2024.
Walk through at 43-foot tree of light into glittering holiday scenes. It is the world’s tallest walk-through tree! You can also decorate cookies with Mrs. Claus. There are six different “holiday realms” to explore.
Also at Enchanted Garden of Lights, families get some holiday shopping done in North Pole Village or dine with Santa for dinner and enter the garden VIP style.
All guests must reserve an entry time in advance onlines.
4. Celebrate at the Festival of Trees
Head to the Georgia World Congress Center for the Georgia Festival of Trees November 18 – 26, 2023. In addition to all the magicificent trees there will be visits with Santa, games and crafts, holiday shopping, a Christmas-themed LEGO brick-building competition, and plenty of live entertainment.
This year there will once again have a Christmas-themed gingerbread house competition. There will be three winners- Best in Show, Most Creative, and People’s Choice.
Trees are donated and decorated and then auctioned off. The proceeds benefit Wellspring Living, which is committed to serving survivors of sex trafficking and those at risk.
5. Visit Snow Island at Lanier Islands
Lanier Islands take the Christmas and winter season seriously. If you are looking for a festive holiday getaway, look no further.
Hightlights include Margaritaville’s Lakeside Lights Spectacular, Reindeer Dash Scavenger Hunt, giingerbread house building, holiday crafts, Elf Story Time PJ party, a breakfast buffet with Santa, ice skating, carnival rides, and the only snow subing hill in Georgia.
Interested in finding the best ice skating rinks in Atlanta? Our friends at 365 Atlanta Traveler have the inside scoop!
Explore Georgia with our Top 10 Things to do in Georgia with kids.
6. Garden Lights Holiday Nights at Atlanta Botanical Gardens
One of the best destinations to visit to enjoy Christmas in Atlanta is the Atlanta Botanical Garden. During the day families can ride the Botanical Express holiday train around the grounds.
Kids will especially love the outdoor holiday model train, a magical display with seven tracks and a mountainside landscape.
Saint Nick stands in the garden with a green velvet robe and a botanical head wreath. His nature-inspired dress combined with the garden backdrop makes a magnificent family photo, so be sure to bring your camera.
The highlight of the holiday festivities is Garden Lights Holiday Nights, a spectacular nighttime light show November 18, 2023 – January 14, 2024.
Millions of lights outline the trees, shrubs, and decor, turn the garden into a winter wonderland. You will definitely want to walk through the colorful Glowing Grove filled with oversized flowers which lead you to the Ice Goddess.
Grab a s’more kit for the kids and a holiday cocktail for yourself and don’t miss this stunning show. Tickets must be purchased online.
7. Experience a Stone Mountain Christmas
Visiting Stone Mountain Christmas, with its millions of twinkling lights, is a wonderful family holiday tradition. It runs November 11 through January 2, 2024.
This is the perfect backdrop for a night of exciting events including live holiday performances, stories from Mrs. Claus, and greetings from Rudolph, Bumble, and the dazzling Snow Angel. Be sure to make time for the Singalong Train, which circles the base of Stone Mountain.
There are plenty of shopping opportunities and fun places to eat. At evening’s end, grab a seat for the nightly Christmas Parade with festive floats, and Santa and Mrs. Claus.
You also won’t want to miss 20-minute “World’s Largest Christmas Light Show“, journeying through the Musical Frosted Forest, and catching Santa flying overhead in his sleigh during the tree lighting. This year, your favorite holiday songs are brought to life with unique videos, new special effects and a fireworks finale.
8. ATL Holiday Lights at Atlantic Station
If you are looking for a drive-thru holiday light experience, head to Atlantic Station for ATL Holiday Lights. There will be light displays from classic holiday movies and a miniature neighborhood with some of your favorite local Atlanta businesses featured.
This Atlanta Christmas event runs November 25, 2023 through January 1, 2024. Timed tickets must be purchased online for entry. There will be no walk-thru nights this year.
9. Watch the Atlanta Ballet’s Nutcracker
Older children will treasure a visit to the Fabulous Fox Theater for a memorable live performance of Nutcracker from Atlanta Ballet, a tradition that has been in Atlanta for over 55 years.
The Atlanta Ballet’s rendition of The Nutcracker is the only performance in the metro area with a live orchestra and choir. The Nutcracker will be performed December 8 – 26, 2023.
Here is a great guide to enjoying downtown Atlanta, no matter the season.
10. Enjoy the Happenings in Midtown
This year’s big attraction in Midtown will be the “A Miracle on 10th Street” pop-up tavern. This is a family-friendly with fire pits and fireplaces, ice skating, and 20+ flatscreen TVs perfect for watching your favorite football team. There will also be special seasonal cocktails and non-alcoholic beverages. It runs November 23, 2023 – January 15, 2024.
You will also want to visit the Square on December 1st (5-7pm) to enjoy the holiday tree lighting and evening entertainment.
11. Rudolph at the Center for Puppetry Arts
You’ve seen the TV classic, Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer; now you can watch it come to life. This puppet show adaptation mirrors the 1964 television classic. It is a special time to spend with your kids enjoying a beloved holiday tradition.
The Center for Puppetry Art’s theater is cozy and intimate and allows you to get lost in the story. After the show, head upstairs to make a Bumble Snow Monster hand puppet to take home.
This year’s shows will be performed November 8 -December 31, 2023.
12. Fantasy in Lights at Callaway Gardens
Whether by car or Jolly Trolley, this spectacular light show is nothing short of amazing. Ride through Callaway Gardens Fantasy in Lights to take in over 10 million lights in 17 Christmas scenes that National Geographic Traveler has called one of the top 10 light shows in the world.
This year’s event will take place November 17, 2023 – January 1, 2024.
Snowflake Valley is our family’s favorite display, with its twinkling lights raining down, offering a “White Christmas” rarely seen in Georgia. One of the highlights in this seven-mile journey is the popular Tunnel of Lights.
The Christmas Village offers shopping and snacking options including Christmas spirits for adults. Bed and Breakfast packages are available, which include admission to Fantasy in Lights as well as the Garden.
For even more holiday fun in Atlanta, check out 25 sparkling Christmas light displays near Atlanta.
Find more Christmas events near you! Trekaroo has guides for dozens of cities across the country.
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