Explore Atlanta

Here's How to Have a Happy, Jolly Holiday in Atlanta

The holiday season in Atlanta is a beautiful thing. Despite the additional stress it brings on—traffic is thicker and our calendars are packed—it’s hard not to be smitten with the twinkling lights and the catchy seasonal tunes. Atlanta gives us plenty of festive activities to enjoy this time of year. 

Holiday Fun

Sugar plums and snowflake fairies dance and spin magical moments of sheer delight for children and adults in the Atlanta Ballet’s performance of “The Nutcracker,” Dec. 7-24. After 25 years and more than 500 performances, this is the final year “The Nutcracker” will be performed at the stunning Fox Theatre. Next year, it moves to the Cobb Energy Performing Arts Centre.

'The Nutcracker' by the Atlanta Ballet (Courtesy Atlanta Ballet)

For family fun, Garden Lights, Holiday Nights through Jan. 11 at the Atlanta Botanical Garden is the place to be. Walk through the elevated forest trail and take in the twinkling lights from above, or walk through the light tunnel and feel immersed in the brightness. There are also orchestral orbs that dance in synchronization to holiday music while changing colors. Kids especially get a kick out of the model train exhibit. When it’s time to warm up, toast some marshmallows and make s’mores whilst sipping a hot cocoa.

For a holly, jolly Christmas, strike out on a quest to visit Rudolph, Hermey, Yukon Cornelius and all the gang when the Center for Puppetry Arts stages “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer.” A charming and faithful rendition of the beloved Christmas show is put on by a small cast who voice every character and don each puppet in the theater’s showroom. Make it a new tradition. Through Dec. 29 (closed Mondays, no show Dec. 25). 

'Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer' at the Center for Puppetry Arts (©Clay Walker)

Get your cheeks glowing and toes tingling when you lace up your skates and share the holiday cheer at the ice-skating rink at Avalon on Ice in Alpharetta. This Rockefeller-style rink has a towering tree and holiday adornments, putting guests in the mood for the festive season through Jan. 26. 

Festive Feasts

At Poncey-Highland’s Sweet Auburn Barbecue, you can spend Christmas in Hawaii, vicariously of course, with a Hawaiian luau menu through Dec. 31.

For more delicious festivities, visit Hampton + Hudson in Inman Park for Bo Ling’s Chop Suey Palace pop-up. Inspired by the cult Christmas film “A Christmas Story,” the pop-up features holiday decor, a Chinese menu, cocktails, and beer. The pop-up will be held 6-11 pm, Dec. 11-23 and Christmas Day, and is available on a first come, first served basis.

Bo Ling's Chop Suey Palace Pop-Up at Hampton + Hudson (Courtesy Hampton + Hudson)

Our favorite ski lodge is back in Buckhead, thanks to the pop-up restaurant Yebo Ski Haus. The cozy ski lodge ambience comes with comfort food (curry pot pie, lamb chops, bolognese with ostrich meat), cocktails, an interior that invites you to sink in, and an outdoor setting that includes fire pits. It’s a winter retreat right here in the city.

If you’re looking to drink a little holiday cheer, you’ll want to visit Miracle on Monroe, open Wednesday-Sunday through Dec. 31, closed Dec. 25-26. The pop-up bar is kitschy in the most fabulous way: nearly every inch of the bar is covered in Christmas decorations, making it a stunning visual feast. Grab a seat and try one of their cheekily named tipples, like the Bad Santa, a warm milk punch with rum. Miracle has two other locations to drink in some holiday cheer: Miracle on Highland (in Parish) and Sippin’ Santa (in Bon Ton).