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Atlanta in December

The motto for December events in Atlanta is “it’s a marathon, not a sprint.” There is SO much to do in Atlanta you could have more than one planned activity every single day – and then some.

Even though it’s winter, the weather usually cooperates so even outdoor activities are enjoyable. From sports to holiday favorites, this month is a good one to check out a very diverse lineup of events.


Atlanta is full of great holiday events, from classic theatre products to amazing light displays. Almost every event is ticketed and are very popular, so plan accordingly and plan early! Here are my picks:

My very favorite holiday event – and one of my all-time favorite things to do in Atlanta – is Garden Lights in the Atlanta Botanical Gardens. The already beautiful gardens are decorated with literally millions of lights – in sculptures, decorations, and just all over. It nothing short of spectacular. There are cocktail stands, places to make s’mores, and other special events.

This is one of the best lights and holiday events ever, in my opinion. And in most peoples’ opinions – meaning it is VERY popular and VERY crowded. You need to buy a separate ticket for the lights – a regular Botanical Garden ticket does not work for the lights. Prices vary by day, too, so try to pick an off-peak time. 

The annual Georgia Festival of Trees supports Wellspring Living, an Atlanta nonprofit working to transform lives of victims of human trafficking. The five-day event features more than 300 custom Christmas trees, a silent auction, live music, kids’ activities, gift shops from local artisans and more. It runs from 11/30-12/4 and you need to buy tickets in advance.

Two favorite theatre productions are holiday favorites. A Christmas Carol shows at the Alliance Theatre 11/12-12/24.

The Atlanta Ballet performs The Nutcracker 12/4-12/29 at the Cobb Energy Performing Arts Center.

In addition, the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra will play Christmas with the ASO, its annual concert of carols and other holiday favorites. It is from 12/9-12/11.


You can have your (or your kids’) picture taken with Santa all over Atlanta. 

The best Santa – in my humble opinion – is the one at Rhodes Hall, a Victorian castle right on Peachtree in Midtown. I love this Santa the most because the setting is just gorgeous, he (and his merry elves) is on-point in dress and manner, there are all sorts of other activities for the kids and, as a bonus, it’s a fundraiser for the Georgia Trust for Historic Preservation. Santa arrives 11/20 and appointments fill up fast.

One of the most popular Santa experiences is at Phipps Plaza. This one really does fill up fast and it’s in a mall, so expect massive crowds. This also is the nicest mall in Atlanta, with everything from Tiffany to Neiman Marcus, so you can get some shopping – or at least window shopping – done. But don’t try to sign up on the spot – you must book early.

Full disclosure – I am NOT a fan of New Year’s Eve! I never, ever go out for it. Even when I was “young” and pretty hip I didn’t go out. My favorite thing to do is cook a very fancy meal and usually go to bed well before midnight. On January 1, I usually run a 5k Resolution Run.

That said, there are numerous NYE bashes all over Atlanta, in bars, in hotels and everywhere in between. Most require advance (and often very pricy) tickets and some even are costume parties, so planning is a must. Check out: 


Gatsby’s Penthouse at Ventanas, with gorgeous Atlanta Skyline views.

The Westin – Atlanta’s iconic round hotel – will host its New Year’s Eve Party Countdown

The Bonnie & Clyde New Year’s Eve Ball will be at the Renaissance Airport. 


Football, both pro and college, is at its best in December. The NFL Atlanta Falcons play several key games at home in December – 12/5 against Super Bowl Champion Tampa Bay Bucs and 12/26 against the Detroit Lions. 

As a college football fan - and as a Gator - I am biased. But I think it's fair to say one of the most important college games in the country happens in December: the SEC Championship Game. It will be held Dec. 4 at Mercedes-Benz Stadium. If history is any indication, the winner of this game will be in the NCAA Playoffs and is very likely to be the National Champion. 

In college football, Atlanta is home to the Chick-fil-a Peach Bowl, one of the New Year’s Six Bowl Games and a perennial favorite. This year it will be on 12/30. All football games – the Falcons and NCAA – will be played at Mercedes-Benz Stadium


Atlanta’s concert schedule is in full swing in December. The full lineup of artists and venues can be found here.

My picks for December concerts are:

  • Billy Strings – 12/9 and 12/10, The Eastern
  • Jason Isbell – 12/16-12/19, The Tabernacle 
  • Chelsea Handler – 12/17, Coca-Cola Roxy at The Battery Atlanta
  • Widespread Panic ALWAYS plays around New Year’s. They are not really my jam but for people who love them, this is a must-see show, 12/28 and 12/29, The Fox Theatre

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