Garden Lights, Holiday Nights

The Atlanta Botanical Garden in Midtown transforms into a glowing wonderland every night with millions of lights now through Jan. 7, from 5 to 10 p.m. Explore the new Walk of Flames and an expanded Tunnel of Light along with favorites such as the Orchestral Orbs, Glittering Galaxy, Radiant Rainforest and Model Trains that continue to make the exhibition a must-see holiday tradition.

Ticket prices vary; discounts available for Botanical Garden Members. Atlanta Botanical Garden, 1345 Piedmont Ave. NE, Atlanta, 30309. 404-876-5859;

Candlelight Nights

The Atlanta History Center invites visitors to stroll through the decorated gardens and grounds on during Candlelight Nights, held on two successive Fridays, Dec. 9 & 16, from 5:30 to 9:30 p.m. Guests enjoy a lively Christmas Market, then visit historic homes where they can experience how Southerners celebrated Christmas in three eras—pioneer days at the Wood Family Cabin, the Civil War era at Smith Family Farm, and the Jazz Age at Swan House.

Tickets are $10 for members, $15 for non-members and $8 for children. Atlanta History Center, 130 West Paces Ferry Rd. NW, Atlanta, 30305. 404-814-4000;, click on Programs.

Holiday in Lights at Centennial Olympic Park

Throughout December, the Downtown Park is lit with thousands of lights. Bring your skates and take a whirl on the 115-by-64-foot ice rink. Along with carnival foods like funnel cakes, hot chocolate and apple cider will be available for purchase. The rink is open afternoon to evening Monday-Thursday and all day Saturday and Sunday. Check the website for specific hours. Tickets are $12 per person and group rates are available.
The new Chinese Lantern Festival features colorful lanterns, a three-story pagoda and a 200-foot-long Chinese dragon. It’s ongoing from Dec. 9 to Jan. 15, with evening hours through the week. Centennial Olympic Park, 265 Park Ave. NW, Atlanta, 30313. 404-223-4412;

Christmas at Callanwolde Light Show

Now until Dec. 29, the grounds and gardens of the historic Candler Estate are a spectacular festival of lights from 6 to 10 p.m., thanks to Callanwolde Center’s partnering with Illuminating Design Inc. Marvel at the 23-foot tall LED tree with 37 billion color combinations choreographed to holiday music. This year’s Christmas at Callanwolde tour’s final day is Dec. 13, so hurry. The 27,000-square-foot, Candler Mansion is professionally decorated by interior and floral designers.

Light show and tour tickets are $20, adults and children, for each event. Combination Tour Tickets of $35 are available for both events. Callanwolde Fine Art Center, 980 Briarcliff Rd., NE, Atlanta, 30306. 404-872-5338;

Fernbank Winter Wonderland

More than 30 twinkling, decorated Christmas trees create a Winter Wonderland at Fernbank Museum of Natural History until Jan. 8. The trees each display the diversity of celebrations, holidays, traditions and events from around the world.

Museum admission is $18 for adults, $17 for seniors 65 and up, $16 for children 3-12, and free for Fernbank members. There are additional costs for IMAX theater shows and special exhibits. Fernbank Museum of Natural History, 767 Clifton Rd. NE, Atlanta, 30307. 404-929-6300;

Images of Christmas at Smith Plantation

Exquisite floral displays by the Roswell Garden Club decorate the plantations 10 rooms and outside areas for the holiday, now through Jan. 2. The downstairs evokes memories of the mid-1800s to 1940s, and upstairs represents the 1950s to current times. Smith Plantation is open Monday-Saturday, 10 a.m.-3 p.m. and Sunday, 1-3 p.m.

Admission is $8 for adults, $7 for seniors and $6 for children (6-18). Smith Plantation, 935 Alpharetta St., Roswell, 30075. 770-641-3978;

Winter Wonderland, Ice Skating & New Year’s Eve Celebration

Marietta Square presents a Winter Wonderland, featuring a huge Christmas tree, Santa’s Workshop and an open-air ice skating rink, now until Mar. 5. New Year’s Eve festivities include live music on the bandstand in Glover Park, ice sculpting and a one-of-a-kind Surprise Midnite Drop.

Skating rink admission and skate rental is $12. Marietta Square, 50 N Park Square, Marietta, 30060.

Avalon on Ice

Through December to Jan. 22, Alpharetta’s ice-skating rink reappears with holiday lights, thanks to Northside Hospital. Hours are Monday through Friday, 3-10 p.m., Saturday & holidays, 10 a.m.-10 p.m., Sunday 12-7 p.m. The cost is $18 for adults, $14 for children, and that includes skate rental. There is a seasonal pass for $175 and lessons are available. The rink is at 2200 Avalon Blvd., Alpharetta, 30009. 770-765-2000;

Fantasy in Lights

Callaway Gardens’ magical holiday light-and-sound show, open now through Jan. 7, has been named one of the world’s “Top 10 Places to See Holiday Lights” by National Geographic Traveler. Eight million lights and 15 dazzling scenes make it unforgettable. It’s a drive, 80 miles down I-85 from Atlanta, but well worth it.
Tickets range from $21-$28 for adults and $10.50-$14 for children 6-12. No ticket is required to visit the Christmas Village, featuring shops and boutiques dedicated to the holiday. Various overnight stay packages are available, which include Fantasy in Lights tickets. Callaway Gardens, 17800 US Hwy. 27, Pine Mountain, 31822. 1-800-852-3810;

Stone Mountain Christmas

More than two million lights light up Stone Mountain Park on select dates in December to Jan. 4. Live performances, holiday characters and music add to the magical experience. Don’t miss the Skylights Spectacular or Wonderland Walkway, a light-filled tunnel that leads to the Snow Angel® Palace. The evening wraps up with a snowfall and fireworks display.

Tickets vary in price, package deals are available and advance reservations are required. Stone Mountain Park, 1000 Robert E. Lee Blvd., Stone Mountain, 30083. 1-800-401-2407;


Celebrate Hanukkah at several locations in Atlanta. There’ll be music, doughnut decorating, raffles, games and prizes, as well as hot drinks, sufganiyot (deep-fried jelly doughnuts) and latkes (potato pancakes). Sunday, Dec. 25, 3:30 p.m. in Virginia Highlands, 1017 N. Highland Ave., Atlanta, 30306, at the corner of Virginia and Highland Avenues.

There will also be celebrations and menorah lightings Monday, Dec. 26, 6 p.m. on the square in Decatur and Tuesday, Dec. 27, time to be determined (TBD) on the Green at Atlanta Station. On Wednesday, Dec. 28, 6 p.m. the celebration continues at Dewey Brown Plaza, 21 S. Avondale Plaza Avondale Estates, 30002, across from Avondale Estates City Hall; details at For more information about Hanukkah and the specific events, visit

Hanukkah Candle Lighting in Marietta

Every evening from Sunday, Dec. 25 through to Sunday, Jan. 1, from 7-7:15 p.m., Hanukkah candles will be lit in the parking lot of Temple Kol Emeth, 1415 Old Canton Rd., Marietta, 30062. Get additional info at

Shows & Plays

Everyone’s favorite holiday stories are being told all around the Atlanta area this season.

Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer

The faithful recreation of the classic animated TV special returns to the Center for Puppetry Arts through the month of December, excluding holidays.

Ticket prices vary according to the date, but are generally $20 to $25. The Center for Puppetry Arts, 1404 Spring St. NW, Atlanta, 30309. 404-873-3391; visit

A Christmas Carol
Several area theaters are staging the classic tale by Charles Dickens. The Alliance Theatre stages it through Dec. 24. Tickets start at $20 for adults and $14 for children. Alliance Theatre, 1280 Peachtree St. NE, Atlanta, 30309. 404-733-5000;

Elm Street Arts’ production of A Christmas Carol runs from Dec. 9 to Dec. 24. Tickets are $15 in advance and $18 at the door. Elm Street Cultural Arts Village Auditorium, 8534 Main St. Woodstock, 30188. 678-494-4251;

A Christmas Tradition

From Dec. 9 to Dec. 18, Marietta’s Earl Smith Strand presents “A Christmas Tradition,” a song and dance review that spotlights Christmas and holiday classics. Tickets are $25 for adults and $20 for seniors, students and military. Earl Smith Strand Theatre, 117 North Park Square, Marietta, 30060. 770-293-0080;

Miracle on 34th Street, the Musical

A Christmas classic, this time with music, is offered by Act 1 Theater on weekends through Dec. 18. Friday and Saturday shows at 8 p.m.; Sunday shows at 2 p.m.
Tickets are $20 for adults, $17 for seniors and children. Special “Dinner & a Show” and “Lunch & a Show” tickets are available. Act 1 Theatre’s stage is at Alpharetta Presbyterian Church, 180 Academy Street, Alpharetta, 30004. 770-663-8989;

A Charlie Brown Christmas

Lionheart Theatre’s “Live on Stage” version of the beloved Christmas special includes cookies and punch with the cast. The show runs Dec. 8 to Dec. 18, Thursday through Saturday at 7:30 p.m. and Sunday at 2 p.m. All seats are $10. Lionheart Theatre, 10 College St. NW, Norcross, 30071. Go to

Collin Kelley

Collin Kelley has been the editor of Atlanta Intown for two decades and has been a journalist and freelance writer for 35 years. He’s also an award-winning poet and novelist.