In my 25+ years as a professional travel writer, I’ve been extremely fortunate to travel to some amazing destinations all around the world.
But, as a lifelong resident of the state, I always come back home in time to spend Christmas in Georgia.
I grew up in the city and spent most of my childhood celebrating Christmas in Atlanta.
From riding the Pink Pig and the Georgia Festival of Trees to Stone Mountain Christmas, these are some of my favorite boyhood memories.
Once I started exploring the Blue Ridge Mountains as an adult, I fell in love with North Georgia Christmas events such as Light Up Blue Ridge, Old Fashioned Christmas in Dahlonega, and the Bavarian-style Christmas in Helen.
One of the things I love most about Christmas in GA is the sheer diversity of options to choose from.
From incredible Christmas lights displays at the Atlanta Botanical Gardens and Callaway Gardens to Holly Jolly Jekyll on Jekyll Island and Victorian Christmas in Thomasville, every corner of the state has holiday spirit to spare.
Read on for our guide to 20 of the most fun and festive places to celebrate Christmas in Georgia, including info on the 2022 dates, ticket prices, and things to do at these beloved holiday attractions.
Places to Celebrate Christmas in Georgia Guide
- Celebration of Lights Rock & Roll Christmas in Albany GA
- Christmas in Helen GA
- A Country Christmas at Pettit Creek Farms in Cartersville GA
- December Nights & Holiday Lights in Savannah GA
- Enchanted Garden of Lights at Rock City in Lookout Mountain GA
- Fantasy in Lights at Callaway Gardens
- Garden Lights, Holiday Nights at Atlanta Botanical Gardens
- Holiday in the Park at Six Flags Over Georgia
- Holly Jolly Jekyll on Jekyll Island
- Illuminights at the Atlanta Zoo
- Lakeside Lights Spectacular at Lake Lanier Islands
- Lights of Life in Marietta GA
- Light Up Blue Ridge in Blue Ridge GA
- Main Street Christmas Light Extravaganza in Macon GA
- Mountain Country Christmas in Lights in Hiawassee GA
- Old Fashioned Christmas in Dahlonega GA
- Santa Claus, Georgia
- Stone Mountain Christmas at Stone Mountain Park
- Victorian Christmas in Thomasville
- Winter Wonderlights at the State Botanical Garden in Athens GA
READ MORE: The 15 Best Christmas Towns in Georgia to Visit
1. Celebration of Lights Rock & Roll Christmas
Pine Avenue, Albany GA • (229) 483-7665
If you’re familiar with Albany GA at all, it’s likely due to the fact that it gave birth to Ray Charles, one of the most influential music icons of the 20th century.
Located 105 miles southwest of Macon, the small town of around 70,000 residents really turns up at Christmastime with its annual Celebration of Lights in Downtown Albany.
Now in its 32nd year, the theme for this year’s Albany GA Christmas event will be “A Rock & Roll Christmas,” which was chosen by participants in the city’s 2022 Youth Summer Camp.
Held on December 3, the fun festival will feature colorful Christmas lights, vendors selling Christmas arts and crafts, food trucks, and a DJ to keep the holiday spirits bumping.
The live entertainment begins at 5PM, and the 6PM Albany Christmas Parade will feature an appearance by Jolly Ol’ St. Nick in the flesh!
READ MORE: The Best North Georgia Christmas Events
2. Christmas in Helen GA
Main Street, Helen GA • (800) 858-8027
Arguably the most unique town in the North Georgia mountains, Alpine Helen offers a truly one-of-a-kind Christmas in Georgia.
As always, this Bavarian-influenced town boasts an array of German restaurants, quaint shops, waterfalls, family-friendly tourist attractions, and rental cabins.
But Christmas in Helen, Georgia is especially whimsical, with the town’s alpine architecture draped in colorful lights and its streets filled with the joyous holiday spirit.
The 2022 festivities kick off with the annual Lighting of the Village on Friday, November 25.
The Christmas lights in downtown Helen are unveiled after sunset, and Santa and Mrs. Claus pose for pics in Riverside Park.
The Helen Christmas Market also opens Thanksgiving weekend, while the Downtown Helen Christmas Parade in early December features floats and costumed characters, with Santa Claus closing out the show.
READ MORE: 10 Fun, Festive Ways to Celebrate Christmas in Helen GA
3. A Country Christmas at Pettit Creek Farms
337 Cassville Rd, Cartersville GA • (770) 386-8688
One of the oldest family farms in the North Georgia mountains, the 80-acre Pettit Creek Farms has been in the Allen family since 1945 (around the same time nearby Lake Allatoona was created).
The Georgia farm is now run by the original owners’ grandchildren, and their annual Country Christmas celebration (held Nov 24-Dec 30, 2022) features over a mile of drive-thru Christmas lights.
The cost of admission is $30 per car, or $10 per person for an old-fashioned hayride to see the lights. The price also includes a visit to their petting zoo, where you can see live Reindeer!
With the exception of December 9, Santa will make appearances every Thursday through Sunday, and they’ll have a live nativity (including real animals) on Saturdays.
Hot cocoa, apple cider, marshmallows for roasting, and kits to make S’mores on the campfire will be available for purchase. They’ll also have fresh-cut Christmas trees for sale.
READ MORE: North Georgia Christmas Tree Farms Where You Can Cut Your Own Christmas Tree
4. December Nights & Holiday Lights at Coastal Georgia Botanical Gardens
2 Canebrake Rd., Savannah GA • (912) 921-5460
There are all sorts of great Christmas light displays in North Georgia, but December Nights & Holiday Lights is a rare gem for those who want to spend Christmas in Savannah GA.
The Coastal Georgia Botanical Gardens is artfully decorated with over a million dazzling lights. Their drive-thru Christmas Lights tour allows you to visit the illuminated garden areas without needing to walk the whole way.
But the lights aren’t the only noteworthy feature of this Savannah Christmas attraction.
Kids can get photos taken with Santa, visit the Coastal Rail Buff’s miniature train display, or stop in Mrs. Claus’ Kitchen for baked Christmas goodies. Every purchase supports local non-profit organizations!
Note that because rain can cause the lights to trip their circuit breakers, this Christmas light display is weather-dependent. Call before you go if you have concerns about incumbent weather.
READ MORE: The 20 Best Places to Celebrate Christmas in North Carolina
5. Enchanted Garden of Lights at Rock City
Rock City Gardens in Lookout Mountain GA (Nov 18-Jan 1; Closed Dec 24)
Now celebrating their 90th year, Rock City is a nationally known landmark in Lookout Mountain GA/TN. It’s also one of the best places to celebrate a Georgia Christmas.
Named a Top 20 Event by the Southeast Tourism Society, their Enchanted Garden of Lights celebration is widely regarded among the best Christmas lights in Georgia.
Held from November 18, 2022 to January 1, 2023, the event features nearly a million LED lights that transform Rock City Garden into a winter wonderland.
There are lots of seasonal activities to enjoy, including meeting Santa in his workshop and visiting the shops to buy personalized ornaments and festive Christmas decorations.
For an extra charge, kids can also enjoy Dinner with Santa, Jack Frost, Inara the ice queen, and the Dancing Forest. Check rates at the Chanticleer Inn Bed & Breakfast on Lookout Mountain via Booking.com.
READ MORE: The 20 Best Places to Live in the Georgia Mountains
6. Fantasy in Lights at Callaway Gardens
17617 US-27 Pine Mountain GA • (855) 885-3841
The largest Christmas celebration in the state of Georgia, Callaway Gardens’ annual Fantasy in Lights has been recognized by National Geographic as one of the Top 10 Christmas Light Displays in the World!
Their high-tech Christmas light display includes more than 8 million lights and 16 classic themes (including “Snowflake Valley” and “Santa’s Workshop”) stretched across their 2,500-acre property.
New scenes for 2022 include a decorated tree over 10 stories high, making it the tallest Christmas tree in the South! Visitors can enjoy the drive-thru Christmas lights from their own vehicle or take the “Jolly Trolley.”
The new Callaway Christmas Village is also filled with dazzling lights, massive nutcrackers, and huge snowflakes. You can visit the Christmas Market for shopping and get the chance to meet Rudolph, Bumble, and Santa Claus.
If you want to spend the night, Callaway Gardens offers special packages, with benefits such as a shuttle service to Christmas Village and daily garden admission. Check Rates for Callaway Resort & Gardens via Booking.com.
READ MORE: The 6 Best North Carolina Ski Resorts to Visit
7. Garden Nights, Holiday Lights at Atlanta Botanical Garden
1345 Piedmont Avenue, Atlanta GA • (404) 876-5859
Ranked among the best Christmas lights in Atlanta since its inception, the ever-popular Garden Lights, Holiday Lights is one of our favorite GA Christmas attractions.
The Atlanta Botanical Garden has been illuminating their 30-acre property with millions of LED lights for 12 years, with timed tickets to ensure an easy flow of visitors throughout.
Some of their best Atlanta Christmas Light displays include the Ice Goddess, the Tunnel of Light, and the glowing Orchestral Orbs, which dance along with light and color to festive holiday music.
New elements for their 2022 event include an exhibit from French artist Cédric LeBorgne in the Anne Cox Chambers Garden and three huge sculptures held over from the summer exhibition, Origami in the Garden.
The event runs from November 12, 2022 to January 14, 2023. Ticket prices range from $25 to $63, depending on the dates and ticket type you choose. Note that they often sell out in advance, especially on weekends!
READ MORE: The Best Christmas Lights in Atlanta and North Georgia
8. Holiday In The Park at Six Flags Over Georgia
275 Riverside Parkway, Austell GA • (770) 739-3400
Another one of the most popular places to celebrate Christmas in GA, Six Flags Over Georgia presents their 9th annual Holiday In The Park celebration from November 19, 2022 to January 1, 2023.
The theme park is arranged into 10 different “Holiday Neighborhoods,” which collectively boast over a million LED Christmas lights, themed Christmas decorations, and festive Christmas trees that are sure to impress.
The park will also feature a dancing light show, and the Riverview Carousel and Six Flags Railroad (one of several cool Christmas train rides in Georgia) will be fully decorated.
In addition to some of the most beautiful Christmas lights in Atlanta, Six Flags will put on a Christmas show with live music and dancing.
Visits with Santa and Mrs. Claus are also included, and delicious holiday treats are available for purchase.
READ MORE: The 20 Best Places to Celebrate Christmas in Atlanta
9. Holly Jolly Jekyll
901 Downing Musgrove Causeway, Jekyll Island GA • (912) 635-3636
When you think of the best Christmas towns in Georgia, the barrier islands known as the Golden Isles are probably not the first thing that comes to mind.
But Jekyll Island’s Holly Jolly Jekyll celebration is one of the coolest Christmas events in Georgia, lighting up the beach destination with over 1 million lights that can be viewed by foot or on Holly Jolly Light Tour trolleys.
The 40-minute tour runs from costs $25 for adults, $17 for children ages 4-12, and is free for kids ages 3 and under.
The island is home to other festive holiday events, including the Holly Jolly Jekyll Light Parade on Dec 10, Holiday Fireworks on Dec 22 and 29, and drive-in movie screenings of How the Grinch Stole Christmas on Dec 20 and 27.
Kids will also enjoy sending a letter to Santa via the North Pole Express mailbox at Mailbox On Main, having Breakfast With Santa at the Days Inn & Suites in Dec 17, or playing holiday-themed mini-golf at Peppermint Land.
READ MORE: The 15 Best Christmas Towns in North Carolina
10. 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 coolest animals, and it has become one of the most unique celebrations of Christmas in Atlanta GA.
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 massive lanterns reach up to 20 feet tall!
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.
IllumiNights at the Zoo will be open to the public from November 21 to January 15, from 5:30 to 9:30PM.
Non-member ticket prices are $17.99-$19.99 for children ages 3 to 11, $17.99 –$21.99 for Seniors (65+), and $20.99 – $24.99 for adults ages 12 and up. Children ages 2 & under get in free, and group rates are also available.
READ MORE: The 20+ Best Western NC Christmas Events in Asheville, Bryson City & Beyond
11. Lakeside Lights Spectacular at Lake Lanier Islands
7650 Lanier Islands Pkwy, Buford GA • (470) 323-3440
Surrounding one of the biggest lakes in Georgia, Lake Lanier Islands was formerly home to “Magical Nights of Lights,” which was widely considered to be among the best drive-thru Christmas light shows in Georgia.
Since being purchased by Margaritaville Hotels & Resorts, the name of this Georgia Christmas event has changed.
Lakeside Lights Spectacular is now a walk-through display, and they’ve added a 575-foot-long snow tubing slide as part of “License to Chill Snow Island.”
Open from November 19, 2022 to January 16, 2023, the Lakeside Lights Spectacular will include an assortment of mixed drinks, sweet treats, hot chocolate, and s’mores for roasting on the bonfire (for an additional charge).
As always, Santa Claus will be available to pose for photos, and there will be lots of different carnival rides and holiday games to keep families entertained.
READ MORE: The 12 Best Places to See Christmas Lights in North Carolina
12. Lights of Life at Life University
1269 Barclay Circle, Marietta GA • (800) 543-3202
One of our favorite places to see Christmas lights in Georgia, Lights of Life is hosted at an unusual location– Life University, a private chiropractic college in Marietta.
But the event is hugely popular in the northern suburbs of Atlanta and, at just $10 per car (or $20 for a bus), it’s also one of the most affordable drive-through Christmas lights in Georgia!.
Especially when you consider the fact that their expansive assortment of 1 million+ LED lights includes over 100 displays (including a 65-foot Santa/sleigh display, the tallest in the Southeast) on a 1.5 mile drive through the campus.
Lights of Life also has concession stands selling food and drinks, a petting zoo, pony rides, train rides. and photo opps with Santa available for an additional fee.
READ MORE: 10 Great Places to Celebrate Christmas in Virginia
13. Light Up Blue Ridge
East Main St., Blue Ridge, GA • (706) 258-2432
Another of our favorite things to do for Christmas in Georgia, Light Up Blue Ridge is a great way to celebrate the holiday season in one of North Georgia’s most beloved mountain towns.
The 2022 action begins with Blue Friday (their small town twist on Black Friday) on November 25, when you’ll find killer Downtown Blue Ridge shopping deals, live entertainment, and caroling in the streets.
But the main event begins on November 26, with live entertainment, food vendors, and a Blue Ridge Christmas Parade starting at 5:30 PM. The Lighting of the Great Tree will happen around 7PM, right after the parade ends.
Other Blue Ridge Christmas attractions include taking pics with Santa in the gazebo, riding the Blue Ridge Scenic Railroad’s Holiday Express train, and seeing the Gingerbread Village (including 90+ houses!) at the Arts Center.
If you want to make a whole weekend of it, check out our guide to the Best Blue Ridge GA Cabins to Rent.
READ MORE: The 20 Best Things to Do in Blue Ridge, GA
14. Main Street Christmas Light Extravaganza
Poplar Street & Third Street, Macon GA
Located about 85 miles south of Atlanta, Macon GA is best-known for musical icons such as Little Richard, Otis Redding, and the Allman Brothers (who moved there in 1969 to work with local label Capricorn Records).
The town is also known as “the Heart of Georgia” due to its location at the state’s geographic center. And this Christmas light display in Macon certainly shows plenty of heart and holiday spirit.
Now in its 5th year, the Main Street Christmas Light Extravaganza finds downtown Macon drenched in some 500,000+ Christmas lights, with festive decorations on practically every shop and shrub.
Running from November 25, 2022 to January 1, 2023, the hourly light shows (which go from 6 to 10PM) move in time to original music composed by the Macon Pops, with various Macon artists providing the vocals.
In addition to the drive-through Christmas light displays, you can also stroll streets lined with candy canes and twinkling trees as you explore the 80+ shops and restaurants downtown Macon has to offer.
READ MORE: The 10 Most Festive Christmas Towns in Virginia to Visit
15. Mountain Country Christmas in Lights
1311 Music Hall Rd., Hiawassee GA • (706) 896-4191
Located in Hiawassee GA along the scenic shores of Lake Chatuge (one of the state’s most beautiful lakes), the Georgia Mountain Fairgrounds is home to the Georgia Mountain Fair and concerts by big-name artists.
Their Mountain Country Christmas In Lights celebration is an Appalachian-influenced holiday affair that transforms the venue with a spectacular light show.
Attendees can also enjoy Christmas performances by local church groups, shopping for folksy arts and crafts, festive holiday food from local restaurants, and taking family photos with Santa Claus.
Also returning for 2022 is “Cow Town,” which allows attendees a chance to milk a cow to make butter, ice cream, and soap the old-fashioned way.
Mountain Country Christmas in Lights runs from November 24 to December 23, 2022. Tickets are just $7 for ages 12 and up, while children under 12 get in free!
READ MORE: The 25 Best Western NC Christmas Tree Farms Near Asheville, Boone & Beyond
16. Dahlonega’s Old-Fashioned Christmas
Downtown Dahlonega Square • (800) 231-5543
Dahlonega GA is one of our favorite Blue Ridge Mountain towns, with an amazing array of historic sites, shops, restaurants, and wineries.
It was recently referred to by Southern Living as a “perfect Christmas Town,” because the charming 19th century buildings on the historic square dazzle with festive Christmas spirit during the holiday season.
Dahlonega’s Old Fashioned Christmas starts on Nov 25 with the Lighting of the Square, followed by the annual Christmas Art Market in Hancock Park on Nov 26.
Santa will be available for photos in front of the Christmas tree on the Dahlonega Square from Nov 25 to Dec 18, and on Dec 10 he’ll be the star attraction of the Dahlonega Christmas Parade.
You can also visit the Christmas Market at the Community House to do some shopping, see the Festival of Trees at Hancock Park, see a Christmas show at the Holly Theater, or take a romantic horse-drawn carriage ride.
READ MORE: 10 Ways to Celebrate Old Fashioned Christmas in Dahlonega GA
17. Visit Santa Claus, Georgia
25 December Dr, Lyons, GA • (912) 526-6949
Why yes, Virginia, there is a city of Santa Claus, Georgia!
Known as “The City That Loves Children,” the tiny town of Santa Claus GA (population: 204) is located about 100 miles southeast of Macon. It was founded by a local pecan farmer in the 1930s in hopes of luring tourists.
Incorporated in 1941, the town has Christmas-themed streets such as Candy Cane Road, December Drive, Rudolph Way, Dancer Street, Prancer Street, and Sleigh Street.
Their small, but festive Christmas celebration includes the annual Tree Lighting Ceremony at the City of Santa Claus Gift Shop on Nov 17, and the 1st Annual Front Door Decorating Contest, which starts on Dec 1.
All local residents are encouraged to decorate their homes and show their Christmas spirit. Prizes will be awarded to winners at their annual Christmas Dinner. For more info, contact City Hall at (912)526-6949.
READ MORE: The 15 Best Places To See Christmas Lights in Virginia
18. Stone Mountain Christmas
1000 Robert E. Lee Blvd., Stone Mountain GA • (800) 401-2407
One of the most family-friendly Atlanta Christmas Events, 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 nightly Christmas parades (featuring the Snow Angel), visits with Santa, Christmas carolers, a Polar Express 4D film, and a clever comedic take on A Christmas Carol.
There will also be all-new attractions, such as “Santa’s Big Flight” during The World’s Largest Christmas Show, a laser show with special effects and a huge fireworks finale.
Some of the regular 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 20 Best Hiking Trails In Atlanta GA (& Hikes Near Atlanta)
19. Victorian Christmas in Thomasville
Downtown Thomasville GA • (229) 228-7977
The second largest city in southwest Georgia (after Albany), with a population of over 18,000, Thomasville GA is known as the “City of Roses.”
The Thomasville Rose Show & Festival, which dates back 100 years, is the town’s most popular annual event. But the Victorian Christmas in Thomasville has also become a beloved south Georgia Christmas tradition.
Held in Downtown Thomasville on December 8 & 9, the celebration includes something for everyone. Kids will enjoy visits with Santa, roasting marshmallows, Christmas crafts, live reindeer, and performances by local school bands.
Adults will love live entertainment on the Ritz Amphitheater Stage, horse-drawn carriage rides through downtown, a live Nativity, and delicious food from local restaurants.
There will also be strolling carolers, street musicians, and holiday-themed selfie spots that include larger-than-life snowflakes, wreaths, and Santa’s sleigh.
READ MORE: 15 Festive Ways to Celebrate an Asheville NC Christmas
20. Winter Wonder Lights at the State Botanical Garden of Georgia
2450 S. Milledge Ave, Athens GA • (706)542-1244
One of the newer North Georgia Christmas traditions, Winter Wonderlights is presented by the UGA Office of the President at the State Botanical Garden of Georgia in Athens.
Running on select nights from Nov 23, 2022 to Jan 8, 2023, the Christmas light show transforms the garden with more than a half-million twinkling lights along a 1/2-mile ADA-accessible trail (a.k.a. Candy Cane Lane).
These dazzling Athens GA Christmas lights include shimmering snowflakes, a pine tree forest, and a tunnel of multicolored lights, all leading visitors to a festive Christmas market.
You can roast marshmallows for s’mores, savor hot cocoa or cold drinks, and shop for Christmas gifts (such as the Condor Chocolates Winter WonderBar, with a portion of proceeds going toward education/conservation programs).
Winder Wonderlights tickets can be purchased at wonderlights.uga.edu, with prices ranging from $13.50 for Friends of the Garden to $15 for guests ages 4 and up. Children ages 3 and under get in free. –by Bret Love; lead image by Bret Love & Mary Gabbett