[Updated October 24, 2023] 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 Year’s 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 do for Christmas that might become annual holiday traditions.
READ MORE: The Best North Georgia Christmas Events
CHRISTMAS IN ATLANTA GUIDE
(Arranged by category: Christmas Lights, Fun Things to Do for Christmas, Christmas Shows & other Atlanta Christmas Events)
- Garden Nights, Holiday Lights at Atlanta Botanical Garden
- Holiday In The Park at Six Flags Over Georgia
- Holiday Lights of Hope at Hobgoood Park
- Illuminights At The Zoo: Chinese Lantern Festival
- Lakeside Lights Spectacular at Lake Lanier Islands
- Lights of Life at Life University
- Light The Station at Atlantic Station
- Stone Mountain Christmas
- Snow Days at Children’s Museum of Atlanta
- Christmas at The Battery Atlanta
- Season On The Square at Colony Square
- Winter Waterland at the Georgia Aquarium
- Winter Wonderland at Fernbank Museum of Natural History
- Atlanta Ballet’s Nutcracker at the Cobb Energy Performing Arts Center
- A Christmas Carol at Alliance Theatre
- Christmas with the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra
- The Hip-Hop Nutcracker at the Fox Theater
- Invasion: Christmas Carol
- Rudolph The Red-Nosed Reindeer at Center For Puppetry Arts
- Atlanta Christkindl Market in the Buckhead Village District
- Callanwolde Winter House
- Georgia Festival of Trees at Georgia World Congress Center
- Victorian Holiday at Oakland Cemetery
- Marietta Square Winter Wonderland
- Holiday Happenings at Avalon
CHRISTMAS LIGHTS IN ATLANTA
1. Garden Nights, Holiday Lights at Atlanta Botanical Garden
1345 Piedmont Avenue, Atlanta GA • (404) 876-5859
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 over a decade, the Atlanta Botanical Garden has been decorating and illuminating its 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 18th and last until January 14th, with ticket prices ranging from $28 to $149 depending on which dates and ticket type you choose. Buy your tickets early, as they often sell out in advance!
2. Holiday In The Park at Six Flags Over Georgia
275 Riverside Parkway, Austell GA • (770) 739-3400
Running from November 18th to January 3rd, Holiday In The Park brings a celebration of Christmas joy to the Six Flags Over Georgia theme park.
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.
3. Holiday Lights of Hope
Hobgood Park, 6688 Bells Ferry Rd, Woodstock GA • (770) 695-7879
Another one of our favorite Christmas events in Georgia, this annual attraction in Woodstock GA was created by Holiday Lights of Georgia (which also owns Christmas light displays in Canton, Ellijay, and Rome).
Their walk-through display at Holiday Lights of Hope is HUGE, with 2 million+ LED lights, traditional and animated Christmas light displays, and a mile-long Christmas maze!
This year’s event is open nightly from Nov 24 through Dec 30 but closed on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day.
Kids will love getting their pictures taken with Santa, while grown-ups can enjoy shopping at Santa Village, listening to Christmas carolers, and watching live music performances.
General admission tickets are $10, while all children ages 12 and under get in free. All ticket sales benefit the Anna Crawford Children’s Center.
4. Illuminights At The Zoo: Chinese Lantern Festival
800 Cherokee Avenue SE, Atlanta GA • (404) 624-9453
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 Holiday 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 16th to January 14th.
There will be warm beverages and food available for purchase, and you can also do some fun Holiday shopping in the Zoo’s gift shop.
5. Margaritaville’s Lakeside Lights Spectacular at Lake Lanier Islands
7650 Lanier Islands Pkwy, Buford GA • (470) 323-3440
Though 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 2023 (from November 22nd to January 15th), 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).
There will be a great array of carnival rides and holiday games to keep everyone entertained.
6. Lights of Life at Life University
1269 Barclay Circle, Marietta GA • (800) 543-3202
Hosted annually at the Life University campus (a private chiropractic college in Marietta GA), Lights of Life is one of our family’s favorite December events in Atlanta.
We love it because it’s relatively close to our home in the northern suburbs (about 14 miles south), and it’s also one of the most budget-friendly drive-through Christmas light displays in Georgia (just $10 per car).
This year’s event runs from Thanksgiving Day (Nov 23) through New Year’s Eve.
Their Christmas lights have grown considerably over the last 20 years. They now have more than a million LED lights and over 100 displays (including the tallest Santa/Sleigh light display in the Southeast) on a 1.5-mile route.
Visitors can also explore a walk-through section that includes concession stands selling food and drinks, a petting zoo, train rides, and photo ops with Santa Claus himself!
7. Light The Station
1380 Atlantic Dr. NW, Atlanta GA • (404) 410-4010
This year Atlantic Station will be lighting their gigantic 50-foot Christmas tree in Midtown Atlanta on Nov 18, 2023, from 5 PM to 9:30 PM.
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 fireworks show.
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.
8. Stone Mountain Christmas
1000 Robert E. Lee Blvd., Stone Mountain GA • (800) 401-2407
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 drone show with special effects and a huge fireworks finale.
FUN THINGS TO DO FOR CHRISTMAS IN ATLANTA
9. Snow Days at Children’s Museum of Atlanta
275 Centennial Olympic Park Dr. NW, Atlanta GA • (404) 659-5437
Although Christmas is celebrated in most countries around the world, Snow Days 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 December 1st, 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). The Museum also has Hot Cocoa Mondays, and Snow Ball Fights
You can also visit on December 31st for one of the few kid-friendly Atlanta New Year’s Eve countdowns, called The Bubble Bash. There will be music, bubble making, Sockefeller Plaza, and the annual bubble-wrap-popping tradition!
10. Christmas at The Battery Atlanta
800 Battery Ave SE, Atlanta, GA • (404) 494-1150
One of the newer Christmas events in GA, Christmas at The Battery finds the massive mixed-use development surrounding Truist Park (home to the Atlanta Braves) transformed into a holiday wonderland.
It all starts with the 7th annual Tree Lighting Ceremony on Saturday, November 25.
This popular Atlanta Christmas event begins at 5:30 PM with a performance by A-Town A-List on the Georgia Power Pavilion Stage and will include appearances by Braves players and their mascot, Blooper.
Jolly ol’ St. Nick will arrive in time to light The Battery Christmas tree at 8 PM, and there will be a screening of Abominable on the massive screen immediately after.
Santa will be available for photo ops at the Battery’s Community Corner every Friday, Saturday, and Sunday through Christmas Eve. You can also drop off the kids’ letters at Santa’s Post Office!
11. Season on The Square at Colony Square
1197 Peachtree St NE Suite 780, Atlanta GA • (404) 785-5437
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 TBD.
It starts with the 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 5:30 PM.
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.
12. Winter Waterland
Georgia Aquarium, 225 Baker St NW, Atlanta GA • (404) 581-4000
One of the largest (10 million gallons) and most popular (around 3 million annual visitors) aquariums in the world, the Georgia Aquarium is one of the state’s most visited tourist attractions.
Their annual Christmas event, “Winter Waterland,” is TBD in 2023, but it will transform the venue with holiday lights and special events for visitors of all ages.
The celebration typically starts in mid-November with the lighting of their 40-foot live Christmas tree, with Santa on hand to wish everyone a happy holiday season.
A special Christmas-themed dolphin show will start TBD, and the ever-popular “Scuba Claus” will also be coming back this year.
There will also be holiday music, strolling carolers, and 4D screenings of Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer and The Polar Express.
13. Winter Wonderland at Fernbank Museum of Natural History
767 Clifton Rd Atlanta, GA • (404) 929-6300
One of the best family-friendly Atlanta Holiday events is back for its 14th year this winter season.
Taking up two floors of the massive Fernbank Museum of Natural History, the 2023 holiday event will run from November 18th to January 7th. General admission tickets range from $23.95 to $25.95.
Winter Wonderland is a great opportunity to learn about different cultural traditions from several different countries around the world. Guests can view beautifully decorated trees and dazzling displays throughout the museum.
CHRISTMAS SHOWS IN ATLANTA
14. Atlanta Ballet’s Nutcracker at the Cobb Energy Performing Arts Center
1695 Marietta Boulevard, Atlanta GA • (404) 892-3303
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 2023 is especially splendid.
With choreography by Yuri Possokhov, beautiful costumes, amazing sets, and innovative projections created by Tony award-winning designers, this show runs from December 8 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.
15. A Christmas Carol at Alliance Theatre
1280 Peachtree Street NE, Atlanta GA • (404) 733-4600
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 11th through December 24th, the Alliance Theatre will be bringing back its new production for the third 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 Best Boone NC Christmas Tree Farms
16. Christmas with the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra
1280 Peachtree Street NE, Atlanta GA • (404) 733-4900
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 9th to 10th. Tickets start at just $25.
17. The Hip-Hop Nutcracker at The Fox Theater
660 Peachtree Street NE, Atlanta GA • (855) 285-8499
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 2023 Atlanta performance will be at the Fox Theater on December 3rd, and tickets are available now, with prices starting at $40.
18. Invasion: Christmas Carol
Dad’s Garage Theatre, 569 Ezzard St SE, Atlanta GA • (404) 523-3141
Improv comedy is one of our favorite forms of live entertainment, and Invasion: Christmas Carol is arguably one of the best Christmas shows in Atlanta.
Directed by Maged Roushdi, the improv legends at Dad’s Garage offer an irreverent twist on Charles Dickens’ timeless Christmas classic.
The cast rehearses a faithful version of the cautionary tale about Ebenezer Scrooge being visited by 3 ghosts on Christmas Eve. But every night they’re joined by a surprise “invader,” forcing the cast to improvise while staying in character.
Adding these unexpected elements (which are kept secret from both the cast and the audience) inevitably leads to laughter. Last year’s run included “invasions” by incongruous characters such as Ted Lasso, Thanos, and Ursula the Sea Witch.
No matter which wacky weirdos wind up wreaking havoc and hilarity, we guarantee you’ll never see A Christmas Carol in quite the same way again.
19. Rudolph The Red-Nosed Reindeer at Center For Puppetry Arts
1404 Spring St NW at 18th, Atlanta GA • (404) 873-3089
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 8th to December 31st, this fun and funny Christmas show will charm audiences old and young alike with its infectious music and message of self-acceptance.
Stick around afterward to make your own Spotted Elephant tabletop puppet in their Create-A-Puppet Workshop!
OTHER ATLANTA CHRISTMAS EVENTS
20. Atlanta Christkindl Market in The Buckhead Village District
290 East Paces Ferry Road NE / Peachtree Road NE, Atlanta GA
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.
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 24th to December 24th, with hours from Mon to Thu 3-8 PM, Fri – Sun 11 AM-9 PM. There will also be a pre-weekend running from November 17th – 19th. Admission is free.
21. Callanwolde Winter House
980 Briarcliff Road NE Atlanta, GA • (404) 872-5338
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.
22. Georgia Festival of Trees at Georgia World Congress Center
285 Andrew Young International Blvd NW, Atlanta GA • (678) 783-4455
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 Street Grace and Atlanta Redemption Ink, local non-profit organizations that support survivors of human trafficking and work towards ending human trafficking altogether.
General admission tickets for November 18th through 26th are $13.95 for children ages 3-12 and seniors ages 62 and up, and $18.95 for adults. Additionally, a wristband for the children’s activities can be purchased for $9.95.
Note that they will be closed for Thanksgiving on November 22-23, but the festivities continue on the 24th.
23. Victorian Holiday at Oakland Cemetery
248 Oakland Avenue Southeast, Atlanta GA • (404) 688-2107
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 TBD.
24. Marietta Square Winter Wonderland
1 Depot Street, Marietta GA
The Marietta Square Winter Wonderland is so full of fun 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 at the Square on November 30.
The Square will be filled with colorful Christmas lights, joyous holiday music, and visits with Santa at his workshop.
Pictures with Santa at the Marietta Museum of History begin on December 1st. They will also offer “Santa’s Magical Moments” TBD, where your family can have a private half-hour with Santa and his elves!
READ MORE: The 10 Best Weekend Getaways in Georgia
25. Holiday Happenings at Avalon
400 Avalon Blvd., Alpharetta GA
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 19. That’s when they’ll open the ice skating rink, and offer holiday entertainment and activities. The highlight of the event will be a magical visit from 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 2, 9 & 16. 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