The 20 Best Places to Celebrate Christmas in Atlanta (2022)

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Celebrating Christmas in the Blue Ridge Mountains is truly magical, whether you’re visiting charming small towns like Dahlonega and Helen GA or exploring a burgeoning metropolis like Asheville

But if you’re looking for depth and diversity of holiday attractions, it’s difficult to beat Christmas in Atlanta. 

There’s such a vast array of things to do in Atlanta at Christmas time, you could easily do different Christmas activities every day from mid-November to New Years Eve and you still wouldn’t run out of options!

From festive Christmas tree lightings and Christmas light displays to shopping at the Atlanta Christmas market and watching Christmas parades, the extensive list of holiday events in Atlanta can be a little overwhelming. 

That’s why we’ve assembled this list of our 20 favorite places to celebrate Christmas in Atlanta, in hopes of helping you find some fun things to for Christmas that might become annual holiday traditions. 

READ MORE: The Best North Georgia Christmas Events (2022)

CHRISTMAS IN ATLANTA GUIDE

  1. Garden Nights, Holiday Lights at Atlanta Botanical Garden
  2. Holiday In The Park at Six Flags Over Georgia
  3. Illuminights At The Zoo: Chinese Lantern Festival 
  4. Lakeside Lights Spectacular at Lake Lanier Islands
  5. Stone Mountain Christmas
  6. Celebrations In Light at Children’s Museum of Atlanta 
  7. Season On The Square at Colony Square
  8. Light The Station at Atlantic Station
  9. Rudolph The Red-Nosed Reindeer at Center For Puppetry Arts
  10. Winter Wonderland at Fernbank Museum of Natural History
  11. Atlanta Ballet’s Nutcracker at the Cobb Energy Performing Arts Center
  12. A Christmas Carol at Alliance Theatre
  13. Christmas with the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra
  14. The Hip-Hop Nutcracker at the Fox Theater
  15. Atlanta Christkindl Market in the Buckhead Village District
  16. Callanwolde Winter House
  17. Georgia Festival of Trees at Georgia World Congress Center
  18. Victorian Holiday at Oakland Cemetery
  19. Marietta Square Winter Wonderland
  20. Holiday Happenings at Avalon

READ MORE: The 15 Best Christmas Towns in Georgia to Visit

 

CHRISTMAS LIGHTS IN ATLANTA

Christmas Ice Goddess at Garden Lights Holiday Nights
Christmas Ice Goddess at Atlanta Botanical Garden, photo by Bret Love & Mary Gabbett

1. Garden Nights, Holiday Lights at Atlanta Botanical Garden

1345 Piedmont Avenue, Atlanta GA • (404) 876-5859

Official Website

If you’re looking for the best Christmas lights in Atlanta, the ever-popular Garden Lights, Holiday Lights is a great place to start. 

For the past 12 years, the Atlanta Botanical Garden has been decorating and illuminating their 30-acre property with millions of low energy-consuming LED lights.

The pathways of the garden will be lit up alongside the hardwoods and crepe myrtles. On top of the beautiful lights, the Garden also decorates a 27-foot-tall tree with mesmerizing patterns.

Some of the best Atlanta Christmas Lights at this event include the Ice Goddess, the Tunnel of Light, and the glowing Orchestral Orbs, which dance along with light and color to festive holiday music. 

This event will begin November 12th and last until January 14th, with ticket prices ranging from $25 to $63 depending on which dates and ticket type you choose. Buy your tickets early, as they often sell out in advance!

READ MORE: The Best Christmas Lights in Atlanta and North Georgia

Atlanta Christmas -Six Flags over Georgia
Holiday in the Park at Six Flags, photo via Facebook

2. Holiday In The Park at Six Flags Over Georgia

275 Riverside Parkway, Austell GA • (770) 739-3400

Official Website

Returning for their 9th year in 2022 and running from November 19th to January 1st, Holiday In The Park brings a celebration of Christmas joy to the Six Flags Over Georgia theme park. 

You can stroll through 10 different “Holiday Neighborhoods,” where you can see over a million LED lights, themed Christmas decorations, and numerous festive Christmas trees that are sure to impress.

There will also be a dancing light show, and a fully decorated Riverview Carousel and Six Flags Railroad. 

In addition to some of the most beautiful Christmas lights in Atlanta, Six Flags will also put on a Christmas show with live music and a dancing Christmas tree light show. 

Visits with Santa and Mrs. Claus are included in the admission price, and holiday treats are also available for purchase.

READ MORE:15 Fun, Festive Ways to Celebrate Christmas in Helen GA

IllumiNights at the Atlanta Zoo
Photo courtesy of Zoo Atlanta

3. Illuminights At The Zoo: Chinese Lantern Festival 

800 Cherokee Avenue SE, Atlanta GA • (404) 624-9453

Official Website

This Chinese Lantern Festival at Zoo Atlanta features over 80 lanterns depicting some of the world’s cool and weird animals, and it has become one of the most unique Christmas activities in Atlanta. 

Each lantern featured at IllumiNights At The Zoo is made and hand-painted by Chinese artists, who put in thousands of hours of work. Some of these ginormous lanterns reach up to 20 feet tall!

IllumiNights at the Zoo will be open from November 21st to January 15th.

There will be warm beverages and food available for purchase, and you can also do some fun Christmas shopping in the Zoo’s gift shop.

READ MORE: The Best Places to Celebrate Christmas in North Carolina

Lakeside Lights Spectaculat at Lanier Islands
Lakeside Light Spectacular, photo via Lake Lanier Islands

4. Lakeside Lights Spectacular at Lake Lanier Islands

7650 Lanier Islands Pkwy, Buford GA • (470) 323-3440

Official Website

Lake Lanier Islands surrounds one of the biggest lakes in Georgia. For decades, their “Magical Nights of Lights” was considered one of the best drive thru Christmas light displays in Atlanta

Thought the name and many other aspects of this Atlanta Christmas event have changed (including a massive 575-foot-long snow tubing slide), Lanier Islands remains one of the area’s most popular things to do for Christmas. 

Returning for 2022 (from November 19th to January 16th), the Lakeside Lights Spectacular will once again feature walk-through holiday lights with a Margaritaville theme.

There will also be an assortment of mixed drinks, sweet treats, hot chocolate, and even s’mores available for roasting (for an additional charge). 

Santa Claus will be available to pose for photos, and there will be an array of carnival rides and holiday games to keep everyone entertained.

READ MORE: Georgia Christmas Tree Farms Where You Can Cut Your Own Christmas Tree

Snow Angel Christmas Parade at Stone Mountain Christmas in Stone Mountain GA
Snow Angel Christmas Parade at Stone Mountain Christmas in Stone Mountain GA by Bret Love & Mary Gabbett

5. Stone Mountain Christmas

1000 Robert E. Lee Blvd., Stone Mountain GA • (800) 401-2407

Official Website

One of the most family-friendly seasonal activities in Atlanta, Stone Mountain Christmas returns with some awesome new elements from November 12, 2022 to January 1st, 2023. 

As always, millions of lights will decorate the park, including the Musical Frosted Forest. There will be also nightly Christmas parades, visits with Santa, Christmas carolers, and two Polar Express-themed attractions.

There will also be all-new attractions, such as Santa’s Big Flight (during the nightly tree lighting ceremony) and the World’s Largest Christmas Light Show, a laser show with special effects and a huge fireworks finale.  

Normal Stone Mountain attractions will be open as well, including the Scenic Railroad (with sing-along caroling) and the Summit Skyride to the top of the North Georgia mountain.

READ MORE: The 15 Best Christmas Towns in North Carolina

 

FUN THINGS TO DO FOR CHRISTMAS IN ATLANTA

Fun Things to Do for Christmas in Atlanta - Children's Museum of Atlanta, celebration in lights
Photo via Children’s Museum of Atlanta

6. Celebrations In Light at Children’s Museum of Atlanta 

275 Centennial Olympic Park Dr NW, Atlanta GA • (404) 659-5437

Official Website

Although Christmas is celebrated in most countries around the world, Celebrations In Light at the Children’s Museum of Atlanta reminds us that there are other important holidays that occur during winter.

During the month of December, the museum will educate and excite visitors by celebrating Hanukkah, Las Posadas (a festival held during Christmas in Mexico), Kwanzaa, and Christmas on their respective dates.

In the process of learning about these holidays, visitors will be able to hear music, learn dances, and make crafts honoring each cultural celebration. 

Starting on November 17th, the museum will also have Sockefeller Plaza, a sock-skating rink where children can experience the feeling of ice skating without the hassle of skates (and slippery ice).

You can also visit on December 31st for one of the few kid-friendly Atlanta New Years Eve countdowns. There will be music, design-a-Peach Drop, bubble making, firework art, and the annual bubble-wrap-popping tradition!

READ MORE: The 20+ Best Western NC Christmas Events in Asheville, Bryson City & Beyond!

The Lighting at Colony Square
Photo courtesy Colony Square

7. Season On The Square at Colony Square

1197 Peachtree St NE Suite 780, Atlanta GA • (404) 785-5437

Official Website

A few years ago, Colony Square and Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta teamed up to create a new tradition to celebrate Christmas in Atlanta.

This year, Season On The Square begins on December 3rd. 

It starts with the 2nd annual Lighting at Colony Square, a day full of fun activities including street performers on Peachtree Street, live music, and of course the tree lighting at 5:30PM.

Parts of this Christmas event will also be broadcast on Atlanta News First and Peachtree TV (in case you can’t make it in person). 

Season On The Square will also include the return of ice skating to the Colony Square outdoor plaza, a breakfast with Santa (benefitting Children’s Healthcare), and a speakeasy-style North Pole pop-up bar for grownups. 

READ MORE: The 25 Best Western NC Christmas Tree Farms Near Asheville, Boone & Beyond

Light the Station in Atlanta GA
Photo courtesy of Atlantic Station Holiday

8. Light The Station

1380 Atlantic Dr. NW, Atlanta GA • (404) 410-4010 

Official Website

This year Atlantic Station will be lighting their gigantic 50-foot Christmas tree in Midtown Atlanta on November 19th. 

To keep little ones entertained, there will be Christmas crafts, live music, a book reading, and visits from Santa. 

Light the Station is a completely free event, and it will feature an amazing firework show. But if you’re unable to make it in person, just tune in to 11Alive at 7PM to watch it on TV. 

Immediately following the tree lighting, there will be a Holiday Disco Parade to kick off the festive season.

And of course Atlantic Station also has plenty of great restaurants and Christmas shopping options. 

READ MORE: The Best Boone NC Christmas Tree Farms

Atlanta Christmas Performances -Rudolph Center for Puppetry Arts
Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer, photo via Facebook

9. Rudolph The Red-Nosed Reindeer at Center For Puppetry Arts

1404 Spring St NW at 18th, Atlanta GA • (404) 873-3089

Official Website

The annual Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer production at the Center for Puppetry Arts is one of our favorite Atlanta Christmas traditions. 

It’s a festive and faithful adaptation of the Rankin/Bass Christmas stop-motion animated classic, which was originally released in 1964. 

The timeless tale and colorful characters like Sam the Snowman, Yukon Cornelius, and the Abominable Snow Monster truly come to life via puppetry, with all the classic songs you love.

Running on select dates from November 9th to December 3rd, this fun and funny Christmas show will charm audiences old and young alike with its infectious music and message of self-acceptance. 

Stick around afterwards to make your own Spotted Elephant tabletop puppet in their Create-A-Puppet Workshop!

READ MORE: 10 Great Places to Celebrate Christmas in Virginia

Winter Wonderland at Fernbank Museum of Natural History
Winter Wonderland photo via Fernbank Museum of Natural History

10. Winter Wonderland at Fernbank Museum of Natural History

767 Clifton Rd Atlanta, GA • (404) 929-6300

Official Website

One of the best family-friendly Atlanta Christmas events is back for its 13th year this holiday season.

Taking up two floors of the massive Fernbank Museum of Natural History, the 2022 holiday event will run from November 19th to January 6th. General admission tickets are $25.

Winter Wonderland is a great opportunity to learn about Christmas traditions around the world from 25 different countries, including Switzerland, Mexico, Argentina, and India. 

There will also be arts and crafts, a scavenger hunt, and beautiful ornament displays throughout the museum.

READ MORE: The 12 Best Places to See Christmas Lights in North Carolina

 

CHRISTMAS SHOWS IN ATLANTA

Christmas Atlanta Events -Atlanta Ballet
The Nutcracker, photo via Atlanta Ballet

11. Atlanta Ballet’s Nutcracker at the Cobb Energy Performing Arts Center

1695 Marietta Boulevard, Atlanta GA • (404) 892-3303

Official Website

Adapted from E. T. A. Hoffmann’s 1816 short story, “The Nutcracker and the Mouse King,” this timeless ballet was created in 1892, with a score by Pyotr Tchaikovsky.

The Atlanta Ballet has been performing The Nutcracker for decades, but the production they’ll be performing at the Cobb Energy Performing Arts Center in 2022 dates back to 2018. 

With choreography by Yuri Possokhov, beautiful costumes, amazing sets, and innovative projections created by Tony award-winning designers, this show runs December 9 to 26th.

This is one of the most popular December events in Atlanta, and tickets are on sale now. Check the Atlanta Ballet website for more information on show times and ticket prices.

READ MORE: The 20 Best Places to Celebrate Christmas in NC

A Christmas Carol with the Aliance Theatre
Image via Alliance Theatre

12. A Christmas Carol at Alliance Theatre

1280 Peachtree Street NE, Atlanta GA • (404) 733-4600

Official Website

Although Charles Dickens wrote numerous classics (including Oliver Twist and Great Expectations), his 1842 novella A Christmas Carol has emerged as his most timeless masterpiece.

The enduring story about the miserly Ebenezer Scrooge’s spiritual awakening on Christmas Eve has been remade into more than 40 films and countless stage adaptations.

From November 12th through December 24th, the Alliance Theatre will be bringing back its new production for the second year, with stunning costumes, innovative puppetry, and a totally reimagined set design.

This show will feature an all-Atlanta cast, including critically acclaimed actor Andrew Benator as Scrooge, with 6-year-old Emberlynn Wood making her professional debut in the role of Tiny Tim. 

Check the Alliance Theatre website for a full list of showtimes and ticket info. 

READ MORE: The 10 Most Festive Christmas Towns in Virginia to Visit

Atlanta Christmas Shows - Christmas with the ASO
Christmas with the ASO, photo via Facebook

 13. Christmas with the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra

1280 Peachtree Street NE, Atlanta GA • (404) 733-4900

Official Website

The late, great Robert Shaw (who passed away in 1999) was a titan in the classical music scene. He was the first conductor ever awarded the Guggenheim Fellowship, and won 14 Grammys. 

In the state of Georgia he’s best known for his 21-year stint as music director and conductor of the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra. He also founded the ASO Chorus in 1970, and created the “Christmas With the ASO” concept.

With some 400+ singers and musicians working together, Shaw’s 4-part musical take on the story of Christmas still remains a popular way to celebrate Christmas in Atlanta, Georgia. 

Conductor Norman Mackenzie will lead the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra’s production this year, with performances  scheduled from December 15th to 18th. Tickets start at just $20. 

READ MORE: The 10 Best Christmas Tree Farms in Virginia

The Hip-Hop Nutcracker in Atlanta GA
Photo by Tim Norris via hiphopnutcracker.com

14. The Hip-Hop Nutcracker at The Fox Theater

660 Peachtree Street NE, Atlanta GA • (855) 285-8499

Official Website

With a uniquely urban take on the ultimate Christmas ballet, The Hip-Hop Nutcracker brings a contemporary twist to the beloved Tchaikovsky classic. 

The show will still follow the story of Clara, her beloved nutcracker,  and their tense battle with the evil Mouse King. But here the story is set in contemporary New York City, with the addition of digital graffiti and visual graphics. 

Directed and choreographed by Jennifer Weber, the unique production will be performed by a dozen dancers, a DJ, a violinist, and MC Kurtis Blow, one of the founding fathers of hip-hop music.

Their only 2022 Atlanta performance will be at the Fox Theater on December 13th, and tickets are available now, with prices starting at $49. 

READ MORE: 20 Awesome Things to Do for Winter in North Carolina

 

OTHER ATLANTA CHRISTMAS EVENTS

Atlanta Christkindl Market
Atlanta Christkindl Market by Bret Love & Mary Gabbett

15. Atlanta Christkindl Market in The Buckhead Village District

290 East Paces Ferry Road NE / Peachtree Road NE, Atlanta GA 

Official Website

The Christkindl Market is a festive Christmas market in Atlanta that’s sure to delight visitors of all ages, with its jubilant atmosphere and great Christmas shopping opportunities. 

You can enjoy authentic German food and beverages, get your photos taken with Santa, and browse the traditional European-style market for unique items to check off your holiday gift list.

Details about the 50+ vendors and other elements will be released soon, so check their website for more details. 

This Buckhead Christmas event will run from November 25th to December 24th, with hours from Mon to Thu 3-8:30PM, Fri & Sat 11:30AM-9PM, and Sun 11:30AM-8:30PM. Admission is free. 

READ MORE: The Best Places for Snow Skiing in North Carolina

Christmas at Callanwolde -Winter House
Christmas at Callanwolde Winter House, photo via callanwolde.org

16. Callanwolde Winter House

 980 Briarcliff Road NE Atlanta, GA • (404) 872-5338

Official Website

Widely regarded as one of the most upscale places to see Christmas lights in Atlanta GA, Callanwolde Fine Arts Center’s Winter House welcomes guests to get creative during this artsy experience. 

Formerly known as “Christmas at Callanwolde,” the event finds their 27,000-square foot mansion’s halls decked with thousands of glittering Christmas lights, evergreen wreaths and trees, and stylish Xmas decor.

From November 25th to December 10th, guests can learn how to make their own gingerbread houses, decorate a ceramic mug, and hear live performances from the Atlanta Youth Singers, Karla Harris, David Berkley, and more!

The Callanwolde Winter House is open November 25-27, December 1-4, and December 8-10.

READ MORE: The 11 Best Places for Snow Tubing in North Carolina

Festival of Trees in Atlanta GA
photo via @gafestivaloftrees

17. Georgia Festival of Trees at Georgia World Congress Center

285 Andrew Young International Blvd NW, Atlanta GA • (678) 783-4455

Official Website

The GA Festival of Trees is a volunteer-driven event that features a forest of holiday trees, local vendors, seasonal shopping, and entertainment, all for a good cause.

Proceeds from the event and holiday tree sales will benefit Wellspring Living, a local non-profit organization that supports survivors of human trafficking in the metro Atlanta area.

New for 2022, the festival will feature a Christmas Gingerbread Competition, a Christmas Brick Challenge for LEGO masters, plus children’s activities and photos with Santa. 

General admission tickets for November 19th through 27th are $19.46 for adults, $14.30 for children ages 4-12, and children ages 3 and under get in free.

Note that they will be closed for Thanksgiving on November 23-24, but the festivities continue on the 25th.

READ MORE: The 25 Best Day Trips From Atlanta GA

Oakland Cemetary Christmas celebration in Atlanta GA
Oakland Cemetery Holiday, photo by John Meeks

18. Victorian Holiday at Oakland Cemetery

248 Oakland Avenue Southeast, Atlanta GA • (404) 688-2107

Official Website

Returning for their 7th year in 2022, this unique Christmas celebration is one of the most interesting things to do in Atlanta for Christmas.

Historic Oakland Cemetery is known for its eclectic mixture of art and architectural styles, including Egyptian, Exotic Revival, Gothic, Greek Revival, Neo-classical, and Victorian.

The cemetery itself is filled with some of the city’s most famous people, including 3,000 Civil War soldiers, author Margaret Mitchell, golf legend Bobby Jones, and Mayors Ivan Allen Jr. and Maynard Jackson.

Their seasonal open house is free, with fun activities that can be enjoyed by the whole family. There are mini tours of the cemetery, plus shopping for homemade holiday goods at the Victorian Holiday Artist Market. 

This one-of-a-kind Atlanta Christmas event will take place on December 3rd and 4th, from 10AM to 4PM. 

READ MORE: The 20 Best Hiking Trails In Atlanta GA (& Hikes Near Atlanta)

Marietta Square Christmas tree
Marietta Christmas Tree Lighting, photo via City of Marietta 

19. Marietta Square Winter Wonderland

1 Depot Street, Marietta GA 

Official Website

The Marietta Square Winter Wonderland is so full of things to do at Christmas time, there’s something for everyone to enjoy. 

Don’t miss the City of Marietta’s annual Christmas Tree Lighting with Santa’s arrival to the Square on December 1st.

The Square will be filled with colorful Christmas lights, joyous holiday music, and visits with Santa at his workshop. 

There will be numerous activities for the kids, like writing letters to Santa and exploring a magical forest, plus myriad shopping opportunities and restaurants for adults to enjoy.

Pictures with Santa at the Marietta Museum of History begin on December 2nd.  They will also offer “Santa’s Magical Moments” on December 7, 14, and 21, where your family can have a private half-hour with Santa and his elves!

READ MORE: The 15 Best Breweries in Georgia

Things to do for Christmas in Atlanta
Photo courtesy of the Alpharetta Convention & Visitors Bureau

20. Holiday Happenings at Avalon

400 Avalon Blvd., Alpharetta GA

Official Website

The Avalon shopping center is getting in on the Atlanta Christmas action with an array of fun-filled holiday events the whole family can enjoy. 

The season starts with the Lighting of Avalon on November 20. That’s when they’ll open the ice skating rink, offer holiday entertainment and activities, with highlight being a magical visit by Santa Claus! 

Photos with Santa start the next day at The Palmer Place (950 3rd. St). To secure your spot, you’ll want to schedule your 10-minute photo session appointment here.

For more grown-up holiday cheer, check out their “Up On The Rooftop” happy hour event, which is held on December 1, 8 & 15. Tickets are $50 per person, and the proceeds benefit Northside Hospital.

Admission to the 3-venue stroll includes a frozen eggnog cocktail and popcorn at The Cape, a glass of wine and wagyu meatballs at Cru Food + Wine Bar, and a coffee date cocktail and pretzel bites with beer cheese at Barleygarden Kitchen + Craft Bar.  -by Samantha Dickens; lead image by Bret Love & Mary Gabbett

 

 
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