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Georgia may not offer much snow for Christmas, but it does compensate quite wonderfully with spectacular holiday light displays that illuminate the skies. Beginning at the famous Centennial Olympic Park, light shows in the greater Atlanta area are simply amazing. Add some Southern winter comfort foods, and you have a recipe for a perfect Christmas.
Centennial Olympic Park: International Winter Wonderland (late November–January, dates TBA)
Famous Centennial Olympic Park in Atlanta glows with thousands of lights, creating a city's festive atmosphere. The 21-ac (8,5-ha) park, which hosted the 1996 summer Olympics, features ice skating and cheerful festivities. International Winter Wonderland takes over the park with the Chinese Lantern Festival from late November to early January and the Atlanta Christkindl Market until Christmas Eve. The traditional German Christkindl Market offers authentic holiday food and beverages. There is also a great variety of gifts, performances, snow shows, and other free daily entertainment. Centennial Olympic Park is the epicenter of the winter extravaganza in Atlanta.
Garden Lights, Holiday Nights at Atlanta Botanical Gardens (November 14, 2020– January 16, 2021)
One of Atlanta’s favorite Christmas attractions—Garden Lights, Holiday Nights—runs from mid-November through mid-January every year. Its major highlight is Nature’s Wonders, the unique curtain of synchronized light and sound. Other impressive displays that will leave you in awe are the Walk of Flames, the Ice Goddess, Tunnel of Light, and Orchestral Orbs. Make sure to drop by the Skylights Lounge in the Skyline Garden and check out decorated larger-than-life plant giants glowing with countless colorful lights. Visitors can roast some s’mores by an open fire and sip warm drinks. Garden Lights, Holiday Nights at the Atlanta Botanical Garden spans 30 ac (12 ha) and entertains all ages.
Stone Mountain Christmas at Stone Mountain Park (November 14, 2020–January 3, 2021)
Stone Mountain, which hosted some of the 1996 summer Olympics events, creates holiday magic at its scenic Christmas village. Visitors can enjoy the cheerful glow of over two million colorful lights, sip a hot beverage, listen to festive tunes while meeting their favorite holiday characters. Enjoy major attractions like Summit Skyride, Scenic Railroad, watch spectacular shows, meet Santa, Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer, Bumble, and Clarice. Kids will enjoy the Snow Angel Christmas Parade and A Wish For Snow, telling a fascinating story of Angelina. Stop by the nightly Enchanted Tree Lighting Ceremony and watch the Snowfall Celebration Finale.
Holiday in the Park at Six Flags Over Georgia (November 21, 2020–January 3, 2021)
Six Flags Over Georgia is fun for the whole family at any time of year, but it's especially magical during the holiday season. First, its annual holiday festival Holiday in the Park features more than one million LED lights. With dozens of Christmas trees, you will not find a more magical atmosphere elsewhere in Georgia. Each night, there are performances and shows, tasty culinary treats, and a meeting with Santa Claus—something for everyone in your family. Enjoy the park's most popular rides like Goliath, as well as the historic Riverview Carousel, and the swinging Pandemonium, the tallest in the Southeast. Main Street Christmas experience features a beautiful canopy with 100,000 lights, snow machines, and a giant Christmas tree in front of the main gates.
Lights of Life, Life University (November 26–December 31, 2020)
Georgia's leading chiropractic and wellness university sparkles with thousands of lights every night from Thanksgiving to New Year's Eve. The holiday display called “Lights of Life” at Life University illuminates the area with over a million LEDs spanning across one mile. These fantastic displays feature different religious symbols—a menorah, Christmas trees, nativity scenes, and others. There are also stationary and animated light displays and a 20-m (65-ft) tall Santa, the biggest Santa in the Southeastern United States.
A Country Christmas at Pettit Creek Farms (November 26–December 29, 2020)
Pettit Creek Farms is a popular getaway in Cartersville, North Georgia. Every winter, it offers a unique country Christmas experience bearing the authentic charm of a Southern Family Christmas. Kids will enjoy taking pictures with Santa and his reindeer, but there are also many things for the adults. You can take a hayride through more than a mile of beautiful Christmas lights, sip a hot beverage next to patio heaters and campfires, see a live nativity scene and visit a petting zoo. Also, select a perfect fresh-cut tree to take home with you.
Callaway Gardens Fantasy in Lights (November 20, 2020 –January 4, 2021)
Callaway Gardens in Pine Mountain, Georgia, is a perfect winter destination for a fun-filled holiday experience. The main attraction of Christmas at Callaway is the Fantasy in Lights, listed in Top 10 Light Displays in the world by National Geographic. Christmas Village is an enchanting place with holiday characters up close, delicious foods, and hot cups of cocoa. Explore 2,500 ac (1,011 ha) of the park's stunning landscape and stroll through the enchanted dazzling Christmas forest.
Magical Nights of Lights: Margaritaville at Lanier Islands (November–January, dates TBA)
If you miss real winter and snow, head to Margaritaville at Lanier Islands, providing one of the best snow experiences in the Southeast. Winter festivities, activities and a dazzling Magical Nights of Lights festival begin in late November. License to Chill Snow Island offers fun activities for everyone! Enjoy carnival rides and roasting s'mores by an open fire while strolling through hundreds of impressive light displays spread throughout the 11-km (7-mi) drive. Complete your day with a visit to Santa's Residence for a full Margaritaville holiday experience.
Rock City Enchanted Garden of Lights (November 20, 2020–January 2, 2021)
One of Chattanooga's best Christmas attractions, Rock City Garden of Lights, is a true winter wonderland that will warm your heart and boost your holiday spirit. An award-winning holiday lighting extravaganza, live music, gingerbread, and hot cocoa, and plenty of magical decorations contribute to the festive atmosphere. Experience all of the holiday realms at Rock City—The Magic Forest, Arctic Kingdom, North Pole Village, and Yule Town. Visit Santa at the North Pole Village or join Mrs. Claus for cookie decorating in the North Pole Lodge. At 6 pm, Santa arrives on his sleigh, while Inara, the Ice Queen, gets into the Arctic Kingdom!