The Ultimate Guide to Holiday Fun

THE SOUTH IS HOME TO SOME OF THE MOST PERFECT HOLIDAY EXPERIENCES IN THE COUNTRY, AND WE’RE EXCITED TO SHARE A FEW OF OUR FAVORITES! WHETHER YOU WANT TO CELEBRATE WITH LIGHTS, MUSIC, MODERN CHARM, OR PICTURESQUE CLASSIC CHEER,
YOUR IDEAL HOLIDAY IS SURE TO BE ON OUR LIST.

MILLEDGEVILLE

There’s nothing quite like the enchantment of Christmas in Milledgeville, Georgia. Immerse yourself in the spirit of the season as you tour our historic homes outfitted in their Christmas finery or hop aboard the Polar Express Trolley for a ride to 'believe.’

Take a step back in time and enjoy exploring how the Antebellum era celebrated the Christmas season. Discover holiday traditions passed down from our city's earliest families as Georgia’s Old Governor’s Mansion is transformed into an elegant Christmas residence beginning on Sunday, November 24. Evening tours of the Mansion at 6 pm and 7 pm on December 7, 14, and 17 come complete with softly glowing candles and live choirs singing in the gold domed rotunda.

The scent of freshly arranged pine décor will delight you as you tour the circa 1852 Greek Revival Home, Rose Hill. Beginning on December 7, the Garden Clubs of Milledgeville festively furnish the home for the holidays in period-appropriate style by using fresh greenery from the grounds of Lockerly Arboretum.

Every year, Milledgeville becomes a classic postcard-worthy location filled with the glow of twinkling lights, nutcrackers, and garland, as well as the best Christmas events to get you in the holiday spirit. Georgia College hosts an annual performance of The Nutcracker, Santa comes to town for the annual Hometown Parade, and a golden ticket will take you on a magical ride on the Polar Express Trolley. Grab your favorite jacket and scarf and join us for the joy and wonder of the Christmas season!

LAKE OCONEE

The holidays are a magical time at Lake Oconee, Georgia! The season kicks off on December 6th with the annual tree lighting in Downtown Greensboro. The tree is proudly lit and displayed on the courthouse lawn. There’s live music, crafts for the kids, and even a visit from Santa himself! 

After a fun night in downtown, bundle up in your mittens and scarves and head over to The Ritz-Carlton Reynolds, Lake Oconee for even more holiday cheer. You will be greeted in the lobby by the most delicious smells coming from the giant ginger- bread house. On December 14th and 21st you can even join Mrs. Claus and her elves in building your very own Gingerbread house as the perfect souvenir.

After craft time, you can head down to the forest and glide across the ice at the 6,000 square foot ice skating rink. No skate is complete without a hot cocoa. We know children of all ages are most excited to see Santa, and what better way than to enjoy breakfast with him! Come indulge in all the pancakes you could want while telling Santa what’s on your list. Breakfast takes place on November 30th, December 14th and December 21st. At night, The Ritz-Carlton elves offer an evening filled with Christmas games, a festive dinner, holiday snacks, and a special toy at the Ritz-Kids Night Out. Located just 75 miles from Atlanta, your winter getaway is closer than you think.

GATLINBURG

One of the South’s most cherished mountain towns, Gatlinburg’s holiday season is a great time to explore the area’s scenic wonders and celebrations. From snow play to dazzling holiday parades, Gatlinburg is filled with special activities and events that will in- spire the joy of the season.

Meander with a cup of cocoa in hand as you marvel at shimmering LED light displays lining Gatlinburg’s downtown Parkway and beyond, where fanciful scenes featuring reindeer and snowmen are as much a part of the tradition as the crisp winter air. Along the way, don’t miss the sounds of your favorite holiday carol with Winter Mag- ic Tunes and Tales, as musicians and storytellers portraying Appalachian characters of the past share classic holiday fables and tunes. When the weather gets too chilly, visit shopping meccas such as The Village Shoppes or the Great Smoky Arts and Crafts Community to polish off your Christmas list, or get lost in a forest of ornately dec- orated Christmas trees during the Festival of Trees at the Gatlinburg Convention Center, November 27-30.

The Christmas season officially begins when thousands gather to watch spectacular floats and marching bands glide through down- town for the annual Fantasy of Lights Christmas Parade.

Between the holiday celebrations, find time to discover snow-capped mountains and plenty of ways to play, sled, and slide with Ober Gatlinburg’s world-class skiing and snow tubing experiences. Gatlinburg’s storybook world is just hours from the Southeast’s greatest metropolitans, and the perfect place to immerse yourself in heart-warming traditions while creating a few of your own this holiday season.

CALLAWAY GARDENS

This year, make this Christmas magical and treat your family to a fun Southern tradition that’s filled with holiday cheer! It’s Christmas season at Callaway Gardens, featuring Fantasy In Lights—one of National Geographic’s Top 10 Light Displays in the world. Go make merry in the Christmas Village, meet holiday characters up close, and ride through Callaway Gardens’ dazzling illuminated forest of over eight million lights.

With so much to see and do in Callaway Gardens in Pine Mountain, Georgia, extend the celebration with an overnight stay in one of Callaway’s many resort accommodations. From secluded woodland cottages with cozy fireplaces to beautiful lakeside guest rooms in the Lodge & Spa, there’s something for every taste and budget. Overnight packages include such perks as shuttle services, a trolley ride through Fantasy in Lights, daily Gardens admissions, commemorative ornaments, and even character breakfasts or golf.

Pro Tip: When planning your visit, be sure to make time for quality time in nature. All Fantasy In Lights tickets include Call- away Gardens admission! Take a hike or bike ride through 2,500 acres of beautiful natural scenery, enjoy a wildlife encounter with tropical butterflies and birds of prey, or simply unwind with a cup of hot cocoa. With mouthwatering dining options, a world-class spa, and the most spectacular light display in the South, Christmas at Callaway is pure magic.

Showtimes run nightly from November 15 through January 4. Buy Tickets and Overnight Packages in advance and save at CallawayGardens.com/FIL.

OPELIKA

The holiday season has always been a special time in the quaint little railroad town of Opelika, Alabama, but over the past two years, the City of Opelika made it a priority to invest in new Christmas decorations for the Downtown Historic District. Opelika added thousands of lights and decor to bring to life a magi- cal Christmas destination for all to enjoy.

The decorations and spectacular lights aren’t all that make Opelika the premier Christmas destination of the South. The town offers some 15 events throughout December, putting citizens and visitors in the holiday spirit.

Our newest Christmas kickoff event, Sno-pelika, will include an inflatable snowglobe for pictures, a giant inflatable slide, a Rein- dog Parade for dogs and their pet owners, a Choir Competition, a Giving Back Sleigh, and an official tree lighting.

Now in its 25th year, our Victorian Front Porch Tour is a self-directed driving tour. However, on Saturday night, December 8, North 8th and 9th Streets will be closed to traffic to encourage visitors, friends, and neighbors to stroll through the neighbor- hood, leisurely enjoy the homes up-close, listen to the carolers, and talk with residents dressed in Victorian costumes.

Visitors and locals alike also enjoy Christmas in a Railroad Town, Reindeer Express Train Rides, Fa-la-la Festival, and horse-drawn carriage rides through the historic district. There is truly no place like Opelika, where it’s a Very Merry Christmas year after year.

For a full listing of events visit opelikachristmas.com.

OXFORD

Discover your perfect type of holiday in Oxford, Mississippi.

Light up the holiday season December 2 at the Oxford Christmas Parade, then dazzle your kids with the Elf Scavenger Hunt downtown, December 2-31. Experience a winter wonderland at the Ford Center’s Holiday Village on the Ole Miss campus, which opens on December 5.

On December 7, Doors of Hope will host the annual Holiday House Tours, where you can tour antebellum homes decked with brilliant holiday decor throughout Oxford’s historic district. Groove to the joyous sounds of the season that night with the Mid-Town Men Holiday Hits concert at the Ford Center at 7:30 p.m.

Grab a one-of-a-kind gift crafted by a local artist at the Holiday Ornament Auction on December 13 at the Powerhouse on University Avenue. See Santa December 7, 14, and 21 at Visit Oxford, located at 1013 Jackson Avenue East. Dash through the Historic Downtown Square for a beautiful spectacle of holiday lights and endless shopping and dining.

The fun continues with Pop Up Oxford, January 18-26, 2020, celebrating culinary, visual, and performing arts. The event features Square Books’ community reading, the Yoknapatawpha Arts Council competition, and historic property tours. On Martin Luther King Jr. Day, enjoy a hearty breakfast at Second Baptist Church and view Yazoo Revisited, a film in the Oxford Film Festival. For the artsy type, attend the Art Crawl, the Fiber Arts Festival, and the Thacker Mountain Radio Hour show. End your trip with a slam dunk at an Ole Miss basketball game.