As the holidays approach I am excited to share some of the best ways to spend the holidays in Atlanta with kids. Since I work as a contributor to Atlanta’s Visitor’s Bureau site and blog, I am privy to a lot of unique and fun family friendly events that come to the Metro area each year. Here are some of our favorite holiday events in Atlanta.
Holiday Favorites at the Fabulous Fox Theatre
The fabulous Fox Theatre is a former movie palace turned performing arts center in Midtown housed in an incredible historical building that creates a beautiful showcase for live performances including these holiday favorites. Book your tickets to create some amazing holiday memories right at home in Atlanta.
The Elf on the Shelf: A Christmas Musical
This original Christmas story is brought to the live stage as a thrilling spectacle of music and dance that transports audiences to the North Pole to glimpse the magical lives of Santa’s Scout Elves. All ages will enjoy this delightful performance.
How the Grinch Stole Christmas The Musical
A much loved and delightful holiday classic is reimagined for the live stage as a musical with music, dance and beautiful costumes. Families of all ages will love this imaginative Broadway hit.
Hip Hop Nutcracker
A holiday mash-up of modern dance with the classic Christmas ballet, this family friendly production will delight audiences of all ages. Don’t miss this unique production in its 7th touring year. (We went in 2019, when it was in Cobb, and had such a fun date night!)
Cirque Dreams Holidaze
This holiday spectacular mixes Broadway-style musical combined with contemporary circus artistry to create a memorable family event.
Holiday Events in Atlanta
Winter Wonderland at Fernbank
One of our favorite traditions at Fernbank Museum of Natural History is Winter Wonderland. This holiday inspired exhibition runs from early November through early January each year and showcases celebrations and traditions from around the world. See holiday trees and other displays decorated by local cultural partners that recognize celebrations including Christmas and Hanukkah, as well as traditions and practices like origami, indigenous art and national symbols.
Stone Mountain Christmas
Holiday magic abounds at Stone Mountain Christmas with festive music, dazzling lights, spectacular shows, holiday characters and more during their annual Christmas celebration. Don’t miss the NEW World’s Largest Christmas Light Show or Snow Angel’s Christmas Parade. In addition, drop off your letter to Santa directly at Santa’s North Pole office window or journey the Musical Frosted Forest. There are many festive events to experience at Stone Mountain.
The Chinese Lantern Festival has joined forces with one of our favorite places, Zoo Atlanta, to present IllumiNights. IllumiNights features more than 80 animal lanterns, some reaching 20’ tall. You can view these amazing, individually handcrafted and painted lanterns, scattered thoughout the zoo. This is a unique and festive way to enjoy the zoo after dark.
World of Illumination
World of Illumination is the producer of the world’s largest drive-through animated light shows. This year they are offering up TWO spectacular experiences in the Atlanta area. Visit Arctic Adventure, held at Atlanta Motor Speedway in Hampton and features Sunny the 32’ snowman and all of his arctic friends. In addition, Rockin’ Christmas returns to Marietta at Six Flags White Water as a symphony of sights and sounds. Both offer millions of colorful lights, hundreds of animated displays, music and magic. The whole family will love this magical experience.
Outdoor Ice Skating in Atlanta
Even in the South, ice rinks mark the arrival of winter and the holiday season. This year the Atlanta area welcomes back several favorite outdoor skating venues allowing for a fun, family friendly activity. Be sure to check venue websites for ticketing, hours, closures and safety protocols.
- Skate the Station featured the largest outdoor ice rink in the Southeast. You can join in the fun at Atlantic Station where the rink is back at street level this year allowing skaters to skim along the one way track around buildings and trees. Skate the Station is open Nov. 19 through Jan. 17, 2022
- Avalon on Ice is back in Alpharetta. Skate at this beautiful outdoor rink which is modeled after the iconic Rockefeller Plaza rink and adorned with twinkling lights and decor just waiting to welcome guests. Book tickets online for timed blocks. Avalon is open Nov. 21 through Jan. 17, 2022.
- Skate on the Square as Colony Square turns their Plaza into an ice rink this season. Join the fun as you lace up your skates from Nov. 19 through Jan. 17, 2022
Covered Outdoor Ice Skating Rinks
- Skate the Sky is a perennial favorite, located at Ponce City Market’s Skyline Park and protected by a tent. Additionally, you can book a cozy igloo for drinks and food, and the views are pretty incredible. Holiday events at Skyline Park begin Nov. 26 and run through Jan 9, 2022.
- The Ice Rink at Sugar Hill is a Rockefeller sized rink and is covered by a large tent which allows for all weather skating. This rink is located roughly an hour from the Metro area which is good for two reasons, smaller crowds and cheaper pricing. In addition they offer a discount if you bring your own skates. Open Nov. 11 through Feb. 20, 2022.
- Olde Town on Ice is also a little bit of a drive from the Metro area. It is located in Conyers and is the longest running outdoor rink in the state, ringing in their 22nd season this year! The rink is partially covered which allows for all skating regardless of the weather and you can skate in 2 hour blocks. Old Town on Ice opens Nov. 19, 2021 and will remain open through Feb. 21, 2022.
- Ice Days is back for a second year at Legion Field Fair Grounds in Covington, GA with a 5500 sq. ft. covered rink. The rink, spectator area and snack bar are fully covered allowing for skating regardless of weather. Like Old Town, you can skate in 2 hour blocks with no scheduled time. Open Nov. 19 through Feb. 21, 2022.
- The Rink at Park Tavern is back for 2021 with a covered, outdoor 40 x 80’ skating rink. The rink lies next to their park side dining area at Piedmont Park. The Rink is open Nov. 25 through Jan. 21, 2022.
Holiday Activities for Little Kids
During the hustle and bustle of the holiday season, families with littler kids may want to seek out some activities just for them. In addition to the iconic visit with Santa Claus, check out one of these fun activities just for younger kids.
Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer
The Center for Puppetry Arts presents a faithful adaptation of the beloved 1964 stop-motion special Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer. In addition, visitors can take part in the companion Create-A-Puppet Workshop and tour the museum.
Celebrations in Light at Children’s Museum of Atlanta
The Children’s Museum of Atlanta will be showcasing several holidays during their Celebrations in Light exhibits during the month of December. This is a great opportunity to expose younger kids to different cultural celebrations like Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, Christmas and Las Posadas through music, dance and other traditions.
In addition, CMA brings back their child friendly New Year’s Bubble Bash with two New Year’s countdowns earlier in the day. Join the celebration which will include crafts, music, dancing, bubble blowing and popping bubble wrap for the kids as the new year is rung in.
Sockefeller Plaza is also making its debut at Children’s Museum of Atlanta on Nov. 18. This is the perfect alternative to ice skating for the wee ones in an “ice” rink adorned with decorations and lights. A perfect way to celebrate the holiday season.
Santa Claus Experiences
Many families choose to celebrate the holidays in Atlanta with the iconic “photo with Santa” and we love that. Some venues up the Santa visit a notch with special experiences. Here are some of our favorites.
Tea with Santa and Mrs Claus is an Atlanta tradition for many. Visitors will have the opportunity to experience an afternoon tea at the beautifully decorated Astor Court at the St Regis. Tea is accompanied by sweet treats and special visits from Santa and Mrs Claus and one of his impish elves. A truly memorable way to celebrate the season.
The Hotel Avalon offers a unique and delightful experience for children of all ages. The magic begins with a knock-knock-knock on the door and the sound of reindeer bells fill the room as Santa and Mrs. Claus arrive. Youngsters will delight in excitedly sharing their Christmas wishlist and a bedtime snack with the jolly man in red.
November & December 2021. *The “Tuck-in” experience first requires a guest room reservation at The Hotel at Avalon. Reserve “Tuck-ins with Santa” at least 24 hours in advance.
Santa Tuck-ins are also available through the Hilton Alpharetta Atlanta. Santa and Mrs. Claus will come tuck your children in at night with a Christmas Bedtime Story. Santa Tuck In package, complete with milk and cookies, a keepsake teddy bear, and breakfast for two. Participants must be registered hotel guests at time of appointment. DATES: Nov. 26-28, Dec. 3-5 and Dec. 10-12, 2021.
Free Events to Celebrate the Holidays in Atlanta
Winter House at Callanwolde
Visit this historic estate at Callanwolde for Winter House and revel in all its holiday glory. Explore the beautiful decorations, decorated trees and twinkling lights. Families can enjoy playing board games and there will be free holiday bags that include a fun scavenger hunt, coloring, and lots of activities. In addition, you can enjoy s’mores by one of our fire pits.
*Music performances, workshops, food and drinks and more available for purchase. Nov. 26 through Dec. 11.
Carriage Rides in Downtown Norcross
Ride through the charming downtown on a horse-drawn carriage and take in holiday lights. Cozy up with family, enjoy a cup of hot chocolate and enjoy the holidays. Dec. 1 through 24. Tues., Wed. and Fri. 6:30-8:30 p.m. Free.
Sugar Plum Fairy Forest
Spend a day shopping and stop to take beautiful family photos in Buckhead Village’s Sugar Plum Fairy Forest. The area will be decked out with floral canopies, paper trees and flowers and visit with the Sugar Plum ballerinas each Saturday. Nov. 26 through Dec. 31.
I hope these events will help you plan a fantastic holiday season for your family! If you’re looking for more of our favorite things to do in Atlanta, don’t miss my Ultimate Atlanta Bucket List. In addition, if you’ve got youngsters at home, you might want to check out Free & Cheap Things to Do with Kids at Home for the Holidays.