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Every holiday season, Memphis is decked out in Christmas splendor. Festive programs range from musical mansions lit up with Christmas lights to a variety of family-friendly events. Each year is unique, yet some of the most iconic traditions remain unchanged and reoccur annually. Check out Memphis' must-tries listed below.
Memphis Zoo Lights (November 20, 2020–January 3, 2021)
The city zoo, located in midtown, hosts a spectacular Christmas lights event, featuring a million lights. Festivities kick off with a tree lighting ceremony at 5:30 pm, and the zoo is aglow nightly from 6 pm to 9:30 pm. Besides enjoying holiday lights, you can also take a ride by horse-drawn carriage, do holiday shopping, and indulge in festive foods. Santa will be there for your kids as well.
Holiday Wonders at the Garden (November 27–December 27, 2020)
In East Memphis, you'll find another popular celebration full of holiday spirit. The Memphis Botanic Garden (MBG) in Audubon Park annually draws spectators to witness the Holiday Wonders at the Garden. The festival embraces various events, such as Trees Alight in the Conifer Garden, Sculptures Bright in the Sculpture Garden, or the kids' favorite Snowy Nights in My Big Backyard. Here they can play with "snow" even in a snowless Memphis winter. The patio's fire pits have long become the favorite gathering point where friends and families meet to chat and have some refreshments. The MBG is open on select nights from 5 pm through 8:30 pm. Admission is around $10, free for kids under two.
Starry Nights at Shelby Farms Park (November 27, 2020–January 3, 2021)
Christmas lights drive-thru fans will surely appreciate Starry Nights at Shelby Farms Park, nestled in Cordova, about 15 miles (24 km) east of downtown Memphis. Drive, walk, or bike among the dazzling 3.5 million lights on display. The show runs on select nights from 6 pm through 10 pm. Ticket prices vary by the day you're visiting, but general admission is $35 cash or $29.95 if purchased with a card. All funds raised support Shelby Farms Greenline. So with your visit, you're having holiday fun and doing good at the same time.
Christmas at Graceland (November 19, 2020–January 8, 2021) | Graceland Christmas Tours (December 1–20, 2020)
And finally, plan on visiting the mansion which Elvis called his home. The famed Graceland is located in the southern outskirts, west of Memphis International Airport. The city's top attraction is undoubtedly the most charming at Christmas. Holiday lights create magic starting from late November through early January. Only in December can you book a Christmas tour and imagine yourself celebrating the holidays with the King of Rock 'n' Roll. These tours are available from 2 pm to 4 pm. Tickets are $73 for adults, $42 for kids of five to ten, and free for anyone younger. For the ultimate Christmas experience at Graceland, book the Christmas package, complete with a night at The Guest House.
Now that you know the highlights of the season, mark your calendars, and head out to make the most beautiful Christmas memories in the city aptly nicknamed the Birthplace of Rock 'n' Roll.