Atlanta is putting Who-ville to shame this weekend! With over 25 holiday and winter events in store – from hanging out with reindeer to free family photos with Santa to hayrides and s’mores – even Cindy Lou Who would need a can of Red Bull with an expresso chaser to make it through this marathon weekend of family fun. So read on for our picks for the best places to make merry, and don’t forget to pace yourself.
Photo: Jonas Tana via flickr
Madeline’s Christmas at The Horizon Theatre
“In an old house in Paris that was covered with vines lived twelve little girls in two straight lines,” begins the story of Madeline. Take your favorite kiddo to The Horizon Theatre for a musical rendition of this beloved classic. Held at Horizon Theatre Company, 1083 Austin Ave. NE. $15 for adults, $12 for children (12 & under). Performances are weekends at 1 and 3:30 p.m. with additional school day matinee and holiday week show times. Ages 3 & up. Event details.
The Pink Pig at Macy’s Lenox Square
It wouldn’t be the holidays in Atlanta if there wasn’t a giant, pink, 1950’s-themed pig ride in the parking lot of Macy’s at Lenox Square. Housed in a tent on the upper deck of the Macy’s lot, this iconic Atlanta ride is guaranteed to delight the kiddos and leave out-of-towners scratching their heads. Held at Macy’s at Lenox Square, 3393 Peachtree Street. $3/ person. Through Jan. 3, times vary by month. All ages. Event details.
Ice Skate at The St. Regis Atlanta
If your brood is in the mood for some ice skating, and you’re in the mood for some fashionable rink-side cocktails and gourmet hot chocolate, skip the crowds and head to the rooftop rink at St. Regis Atlanta. Held at Astor Holiday Rink at St. Regis Atlanta, 88 West Paces Ferry Rd. $30/ hour, adults and $18/ hour, ages 15 and under. Call The St. Regis Atlanta Holiday Desk at 404.563.7797 for reservations. Weekends from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. All ages. Event details.
Barnes & Noble Story Time
With cool weather blowing in, nothing beats a cozy story time and craft to cure cabin fever. Head to Atlanta area Barnes & Noble stores to get your fix of fun, with a reading of How the Grinch Stole Christmas this Saturday. The Buckhead Barnes & Noble offers story times on Wednesdays and Saturdays at 11. Held at Buckhead Barnes & Noble, 2900 Peachtree Road NE Suite 310. Free. Sat. at 11 a.m. All ages. Event details.
Festival of the SEAson at Georgia Aquarium
As if the Georgia Aquarium weren’t exciting enough, they jazz things up even more during the holidays with their annual Festival of the SEAson events, including a light show every hour, appearances by Santa and SCUBA Claus, mermaids, a giant underwater Menorah, and live music. Held at Georgia Aquarium, 225 Baker Street NW. Free with admission ($26/ child, $32/ adult). All ages. Event details.
Grand Re-Opening of The Children’s Museum
Welcome back, old friend! The Children’s Museum is finally finished with the $8.2 million dollar renovation, and you’re invited to celebrate with them at the Grand Re-Opening which will include a welcome “play procession” parade, ribbon-cutting ceremony, photo opportunities and other engaging activities to make the day a festival-like celebration. Held at Imagine It! Children’s Museum of Atlanta, 275 Centennial Olympic Park Dr NW. Sat. from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. or from 2 to 5 p.m. Tickets must be purchased in advance. $14.95/ person. All ages. Event details.
Hands On Atlanta Family Volunteer Day
Join other families as you prepare food boxes, help set up, cook and clean for the Fountain of HOPE community pantry. Location information emailed upon volunteer registration. Sat. from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. Free. Ages 5 & older. Event details.
Complementary Family Photos with Santa in Westside Provisions District During Tinsel and Twine
Forget registering in September for a pricey photo with Santa. On Saturday, December 12, Santa Claus himself will visit Westside Provisions during Tinsel & Twine. From 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., snow will be falling outside of Seed Factory where Santa will be available for complimentary 4” x 6” family photos. JCT. Kitchen will also offer s’mores and hot toddies for guests to snack on and sip as they stroll around the District. Held at Westside Provisions District, 1170 Howell Mill Road. Sat. Free. All ages. Event details.
Story Time with Santa at Ponce City Market
Don’t miss Story Time with Santa, featuring live readings of everyone’s favorite holiday tales, every Saturday in December from 3 to 3:30 p.m. Held at Ponce City Market, 675 Ponce de Leon Ave. NE. Free. All ages. Event details.
Rudolph at Center for Puppetry Arts
This faithful adaptation of the 1964 stop-motion animated special, Rudolph and his friends (including Hermey the Elf, Yukon Cornelius and the Abominable Snow Monster) takes the stage in what the Atlanta Journal-Constitution describes as a “holly-jolly holiday adventure for theater-goers of all ages.” Held at Center for Puppetry Arts, 1404 Spring St. NW at 18th. $20.50 (includes create-a-puppet workshop), free under 2. Showtimes vary weekly; see website for schedule. All ages. Event details.
Meet St. Nick at the Botanical Garden
Head to Atlanta Botanical Garden to meet a holly jolly St. Nick, decked out in his dark green robe and botanical head wreath just for the occasion. Be sure to bring your camera for a free photo! Held at Atlanta Botanical Garden, 1345 Piedmont Ave. Sat. from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Free with admission ($18.95/ adults, $12.95/ ages 3-12, Free under 3). All ages. Event details.
Ride on Train at the Botanical Garden
Woot-woot! The annual ride-on train at the Garden is chugging full steam ahead during the holiday season on weekends and select weekdays, and don’t forget to stop at the Holiday Model Train Show to watch G-scale trains and a holiday trolley chug through an imaginary, beautifully planted landscape. Held at Atlanta Botanical Garden, 1345 Piedmont Ave. Weekends and select weekdays, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. $3 per passenger; Tickets sold in the Hardin Visitor Center, Price does not include admission. All ages. Event details.
Garden Lights, Holiday Nights at Atlanta Botanical Garden
Don’t miss the 5th annual dazzling display of twinkling lights at the Atlanta Botanical Garden. In addition to the millions of lights, there will be s’mores, hot cocoa, and adult beverages for purchase. Held at Atlanta Botanical Garden, 1345 Piedmont Ave. Thurs. to Sun. $26/ adult, $20/ ages 3 – 12, Free under 3, Mon. to Wed. $23/ adult, $17/ ages 3 – 12, Free under 3. All ages. Event details.
A Christmas Carol at The Alliance Theatre
Celebrate Atlanta’s finest actors in this magnificent staging of Charles Dickens’s classic Christmas tale. Held at The Alliance Theatre, 1280 Peachtree Street. Price varies from $21-65; see website for details. Through Dec. 27. Ages 5 & up. Event details.
Holiday Model Train Show
This one’s going to knock their socks off. Don’t miss the G-scale model train display that runs through incredibly decorated town and countryscapes at the Atlanta Botanical Garden. Held at Atlanta Botanical Garden, 1345 Piedmont Ave. Free with admission ($18.95/ adults, $12.95/ ages 3-12, Free under 3). Through Jan. 9. All ages. Event details.
Disney Live! Three Classic Fairy Tales
Disney Live! Three Classic Fairy Tales, presented by Stonyfield YoKids Organic Yogurt, is coming to delight audiences in December. Watch Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, Cinderella, and Beauty and the Beast. Mickey, Minnie and more than 25 of their Disney pals will also make appearances throughout the production. Held at Cobb Energy Performing Arts Centre, 2800 Cobb Galleria Parkway. $20 & up. Sat. at 7 p.m., Sun. at 11:30 a.m. and 2 p.m. All ages. Event details.
Reindeer Day at Chattahoochee Nature Center
Head to the Chattahoochee Nature Center to get real with some reindeer during their annual Reindeer Day. Not only will they have the live critters for your little critters’ viewing pleasure, but they’ll also have crafts, campfire treats, and plenty of space to romp around in. Held at Chattahoochee Nature Center, 9135 Willeo Rd. Free with admission. Sun. from 12 to 4 p.m. All ages. Event details.
Drive Through the Lights of Life Display
An annual tradition in Atlanta, Life University strings up thousands of lights and welcomes carloads to its zero-profit event, every night, rain or shine. Stretch your legs at the petting zoo, pony ride, train ride, or visit with Santa (weather permitting, and $5-$12/ event). Held at Life University, 1269 Barclay Cir. $10/ car Friday through Sunday and after 12/18, $5/ car Monday through Thursday until 12/18. Nov 26 – Dec 31 at 6 p.m. All ages. Event details.
Dine and Ride with Santa at Southeastern Railway Museum
If you haven’t already been to the SRM’s 35 acres of locomotive nirvana, there’s no better time than this Saturday, when Santa will arrive to eat breakfast or lunch with the kiddos. In addition to the meals, Santa will make an appearance for the Polar Express Experience, which is also a ticketed event that includes a short ride with Santa followed by the movie on board a stationary box car. Note: Breakfast, Lunch, and the Polar Express Experience are three separate ticketed events. Held at Southeastern Railway Museum, 3595 Buford Hwy. $18/ person for meals, kids under 2 free, and $25/ person for the Polar Express Experience. Breakfast at 9 a.m., lunch at 12 p.m., Polar Express Experiences at 3:30 and 6 p.m. on Sat. All ages. Event details.
Hit the Slopes at Snow Mountain
Who says Atlantans don’t know how to handle a few inches of snow? Head to Snow Mountain at Stone Mountain Park to prove just how much fun we know how to have in the white stuff. SnoBoggans, sledding, and s’mores, oh my! Held at Stone Mountain Park, 1000 Robert E. Lee Blvd. Price varies by date. Open select dates from 11/21/15 to 2/28/16; See website for details. All ages. Event details.
Hayride and S’mores at Sweetwater Creek State Park
Hop on a tractor-pulled hayride up to Jack’s Hill for a campfire and s’mores. Park Rangers and local historians lead these programs, sharing history and stories from the park. Reservations are required. 770-732-5871. Held at Sweetwater Creek State Park, 1750 Mt. Vernon Road. $5/ person plus $5 parking. 4:30 to 6 p.m. on 12/ 12, 12/19, and 12/ 27. All ages. Event details.
Worth the Drive: The Rock
Country Christmas Nights at The Rock Ranch
Families can hop on-board The Rock Ranch Christmas Express Train ride featuring falling snow, snowflake tunnel and a dancing Christmas lights show! Other activities include a wagon ride through more than a mile of lights, Santa’s workshop, visits with Santa, dinner, hot chocolate, and shopping for unique gifts and Georgia grown goodies. Held at The Rock Ranch, 5020 Barnesville Hwy. $5 general admission; rides on wagons, train, and other activities are additional – see website for pricing. Open from 5:30 to 9:30 p.m. (Exception: Opens at 7 p.m. on Saturday, December 12). All ages. Event details.
Worth the Drive: Stockbridge
Elf Hike at Panola Mountain State Park
Elf tired of siting on a shelf? Fresh air is good for our magical friends too. Take your elf, doll, or favorite stuffed friend to Panola Mountain for a hike. There will be a fun craft followed by a short hike on the Rock Outcrop Loop. Get a goody bag and hot cocoa for you, and a special souvenir for your elf. Must register for event in advance. Held in Panola Mountain State Park, 2620 Highway 155. $10/ person, $5 to park. Sat. at 10 a.m. All ages. Event details.
Worth the Drive: Gainesville
Nature Connects: LEGO® in the Garden
Worth the drive to Gainesville, the Gainesville extension of the Atlanta Botanical Garden features 14 larger-than-life installations built from nearly 400,000 LEGO bricks including a giant praying mantis, butterfly, hummingbird, flowers and more. Held in Atlanta Botanical Garden Gainesville, 1911 Sweetbay Dr. Free with admission (Adult $18.95, Child $12.95, Under 3 free). Sep 19 – Jan 3. All ages. Event details.
Worth the Drive: Pine Mountain
Fantasy in Lights at Callaway Gardens
8 million lights. 15 dazzling scenes. 1 magical night. Fantasy In Lights is not only the South’s most spectacular holiday light and sound show, it is one of the world’s “Top 10 Places to See Holiday Lights,” as named by National Geographic Traveler. Ride the “Jolly Trolley” or keep cozy in the warm comfort of your own car as you and the fam cruise through this seasonal spectacular. Held at Callaway Gardens, 17800 US Hwy 27. $19-28 for adults, $9.50-14 for children (ages 6-12), children 5 and under are free. Through Jan. 2 from 6-9 p.m. All ages. Event details.
What’s on your agenda? Tell us in the comments section below!