10 Christmas Things to Do in Atlanta

October 21, 2022

While the Peach State may rarely be graced with snow flurries, Atlanta never lacks in the holiday spirit. Come December, this Southern metropolis is transformed into a veritable winter wonderland of festive lights, towering trees, and cheery carolers.

Follow along to discover what things to do in Atlanta for Christmas.

From observing a twinkling light show at Illuminarium to spotting Santa at the North Pole, visitors of all ages will be delighted by the seasonal offerings of A-town.

Witness the charm of a float-filled Christmas parade, or uncover the artistry of an illuminated Celebration Lake at Callaway Gardens.

Cozy up to elephants, lemurs, and lions at the Zoo or commemorate the Happiest Season with turkey legs and jousting at Medieval Times. 

Ready to usher in Christmas in Atlanta 2022? Read on…

Christmas Things to Do in Atlanta

Brilliant lights, hot cocoa kits, and immersive laser experiences. Hotlanta is a mecca for families looking to inject their itinerary with some holiday fun:

Psst..why limit your ATL merrymaking to just one day? Extend your Georgia stay when you reserve any of our outstanding Atlanta Hotels

Zoo Atlanta

In addition to oodles of animals, the Zoo Atlanta is home to tons of Holiday festivities. After you spend an afternoon exploring the African Savanna or the amphibians at Scaly Slimy Spectacular, set your sights on some head-turning holiday traditions.

lit up lion shaped lanterns at night at IllumiNights at the Zoo Atlanta in Atlanta, Georgia, USA

photo credit: Zoo Atlanta via Facebook

IllumiNights at the Zoo

IllumiNights at the Zoo is a spectacular one-of-a-kind light experience that marries the beauty of the natural world with hand-painted Chinese lanterns. From 5:30 - 9:30 p.m., November 21st through January 15th,* visitors can immerse themselves in this separately ticketed event.

Observe vistas of illuminated wildlife as you are dazzled by more than 80 nature-inspired lanterns. From giant Pandas to grasshoppers to massive dragons, each lantern is a work of art. Handmade and painted by Chinese artisans, each piece requires thousands of hours of labor. After you’ve had your fill of glowing lights, be sure to fuel up on the many festival-inspired snacks and meals available at the Zoo.

*These are the general admission dates for the event. In addition, zoo Members can attend a member preview from November 17th through November 20th. 

Cookies with Santa

Ho, ho ho! We don’t mean to brag, but thanks to Zoo Atlanta, we have the inside scoop on where Santa will be in early December. Swing by the Zoo on December 3rd and 4th to partake in Cookies with Santa. Munch away on holiday cookies, snap photos with holiday mascot friends, and croon along with live carolers. This ticketed event requires advanced reservations and includes the following:

  • A photo with Santa
  • A to-go hot cocoa kit
  • Individually wrapped holiday cookies
  • Special craft kit to enjoy at home

Please note that all guests over three will be required to purchase a ticket to this family-friendly event. 

Escape rooms, SeaQuest, and Funspot, oh my! Round out your Hotlanta itinerary with the best of our Atlanta attractions

man dressed as santa on desk waving hand right hand with left hand resting on gift in room with christmas decorations and wooden walls at Cookies with Santa Zoo Atlanta in Atlanta, Georgia, USA

photo credit: Zoo Atlanta

Illuminarium Atlanta

Unravel a cinematic universe that spans from the stars above to the Kenyan Plains when you stop by Illuminarium Atlanta. This full sensory experience lets you travel the globe without ever leaving the Big Peach. Soar through a nebula, kick-off moon dust, or walk through the floral works of Georgia O’Keefe.

Every Illuminarium journey is unique and combines stunning visuals, moving floors, and realistic smells. Post your 4K thrills, but stay put for the magic of Winterland*. This snow-covered celebration is the ultimate way to welcome in the Happiest Season. Make your way through snowflakes, glowing polar bears, and villages of cozy cabins.

Conclude your night of mistletoe and cheer with an enticing cocktail at the Illuminarium cafe. 

*Winterland 2022 is still awaiting confirmation. Therefore, these descriptions are based on last year's events. 

mother and daughter looking at projection of flowers on walls at IIlluminarium Atlanta in Atlanta, Georgia, USA

photo credit: Illuminarium Atlanta via Facebook

Georgia Aquarium

Prime yourself for a Holly Jolly Christmas of coral reefs, sea lions, sharks, and more when celebrating with the Georgia Aquarium. Try to find Nemo as you work your way through one of the world’s largest aquariums. Spot milk white Beluga Whales, watch waddling African Penguins or reserve your seat for a riveting dolphin presentation.

Don’t forget to take on the apex predators of the ocean when you explore the brand-new SHARKS! Gallery. This dynamic exhibit is one of the largest of its kind in North America and features state-of-the-art, floor-to-ceiling acrylic viewing windows.

Combine dolphin encounters with first-rate accommodations when you purchase a Georgia Aquarium Hotel Package.


Medieval Times Dinner & Tournament Atlanta

Valiant knights atop noble steeds, a mouthwatering feast, and the thrill of a sword fight. For a dash of something different this Christmas, why not travel back in time? Dine like our ancestors past when you indulge in a Medieval Times Dinner & Tournament Atlanta.

Wee squires and princesses of all ages will be captivated by the spell of this exhilarating live dinner performance. Watch in awe as skilled knights joust, lances splinter, and a true champion emerges. Enjoy the pageantry of the castle as you savor roasted meats, herb-basted potatoes, and more. 

Christmas and Holiday Events in Atlanta

Stone Mountain Christmas

Choo Choo! Ready to climb aboard the merriest train in all of the North Pole? Relish hours of holiday entertainment when you spend a day or three at Stone Mountain Christmas. This beloved ATL attraction is back for select days from November 12th through January 2st, 2023. Eke out tons of excitement on the park’s Summit Skyride and Scenic Railroad during the day, then stay put for enchanting experiences come evening.

Marvel at the World’s Largest Christmas Light Show, complete with special effects and a fireworks finale. Or, pay a visit to Mr. Claus himself at the North Pole. Clap along to a cheery Christmas Parade, grab a ticket to the Polar Express, or discover what dinosaurs do for Christmas!

The happiest time of year can also be the hardest on our budget. Keep your Christmas spending in check when you utilize any of our Atlanta deals. 

santa on sleigh float with crowd watching on side at parade at Stone Mountain Christmas in Atlanta, Georgia, USA

photo credit: Discover Atlanta via Facebook

Fantasy in Lights

Feeling a little bit like a Grinch? For a surefire way to amp up your holiday spirit, start your Christmas celebration with Fantasy Lights in Callaway Gardens. Fantasy in Lights celebrates 30 years of laughter, love, and Christmas cheer this year. From November 18th through January 1st, 2023, let yourself be swept away in the spectacle of 30 dancing trees, 10 million twinkling lights, and a jolly trolley ride.

Meander through 2,500 acres of decorations and lights as you snap photos with Santa and other cuddly characters. Then, take a moment to sip hot cocoa and munch on cookies before you complete the jaw-dropping seven-mile Fantasy in-lights scenic drive or stock up on stocking stuffers at the Christmas Village. 

tall structure covered in lights on field covered with lights at night surrounded by trees at Fantasy in Lights in Atlanta, Georgia, USA

photo credit: Explore Georgia

Georgia Festival of Trees

Spicy sweet gingerbread, masterful LEGO creations, and fridge-worthy snapshots with Santa. Surround yourself with the intoxicating scent of towering Evergreens and freshly baked cookies at the Georgia Festival of Trees. This unique holiday event will run for eight days, from December 19th through the 27th.

Little elves and their parents will be stunned by the diverse array of holiday trees, local products, vendors, and more. Hum along to live entertainment, purchase a perfectly decorated wreath, or compete in a Gingerbread House competition. LEGO lovers can show off their brick-laying skills as they battle it out to create the most arresting masterpieces. More active munchkins can try their hand at an Elf obstacle course.

The perfect complement to a night of lights? How about a romantic dinner for two? Wine and dine your better half when you visit any of the Most Romantic Restaurants in Atlanta.

photo credit: Georgia Festival of Trees via Facebook

Garden Lights, Holiday Nights

Fantastical light creations that illuminate the night sky, glowing orbs, fountains, and more. Escape reality and enter a wonderland of light and magic when you reserve your tickets to Garden Lights, Holiday Nights. Gaze upon miniature trains, light tunnels, and majestic forests at the Atlanta Botanical Garden.

Their signature Christmas event kicks off on November 12th, 2022, and will run through January 14th, 2023. Return for another season of poinsettia trees, radiant rainforest, and blooming bulbs. Pose for a selfie in front of the Kiss Me Arch, and don’t miss the all-new exhibition in the Anne Cox Chambers Garden by French artist Cédric LeBorgne.

people viewing lights hanging on trees at night at Garden Lights Holiday Nights in Atlanta, Georgia, USA

photo credit: Atlanta Botanical Garden

Holiday in the Park

Scream yourself silly on Batman and Blue Hawk before you take the adrenaline down a notch with Holiday in the Park at Six Flags. Keep your eyes peeled for Santa, Frosty, and Rudolph as you stroll through ten uniquely themed holiday neighborhoods. Whip out that camera, as you’ll want to document the over one million sparkling lights and lushly decorated Christmas trees.

Pause for a moment to appreciate the dancing light show on the Grand Fir Christmas Tree and Merry Lane. Or, admire the festive appearance of favorite attractions such as the Riverview Carousel and The Six Flags Railroad. Give Santa a hug at the North Pole, or refuel for more Looney Tunes adventure with roasted marshmallows. 

people posing for photo with lit up chirstmas tree and christmas decorations background at Holiday in the Park Six Flags in Atlanta, Georgia, USA

photo credit: Connie Hannah via Facebook

Staying past Christmas into the New Year? Pop that bubbly and learn about where the party starts with our Guide to Atlanta at Night

Tons of tinsel, mistletoe, and resplendent Fir and Evergreen trees. It must be the Holiday Season in Atlanta.

Watch in wonder as this hub of BBQ and Southern charm is transformed into a fantasy land of glowing lights, color, and decoration.

Chuckle along to hilarious interpretations of Dickens's Christmas Carol at Stone Mountain, or unleash your creativity with a gingerbread house competition at the Festival of Trees.

Create unforgettable memories with Mr. Claus, or indulge in aquatic adventures at the Georgia Aquarium.

From ingenious illuminated creations that pepper the Botanical Gardens to breathtaking drops on Six Flags’ Superman ride, it’s impossible not to be swept away in the cheer of this time of year. 

Tell us, How Will You Celebrate Christmas in Atlanta?

Did we miss any of your favorite Atlanta Holiday events?

Leave us a comment below!

isis with mural in background

Written By Isis Maya

A New York native, Isis-Maya spent most of her professional life working in TV production until a vacation whisked her away to Central America and her love o ...

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