24 wonderful wintry events for Atlanta families in December

Enjoy the holiday season with ice-skating, carols, real live reindeer, classic children’s plays, and more
Atlanta Ballet's Nutcracker
Atlanta Ballet's Nutcracker

Photograph by Charlie McCullers

Through 12/24
A Christmas Carol
Where: The Alliance Theatre
When: Various
Cost: $14 to $55
What: It’s the 26th annual production of this classic holiday tale at the Alliance, which includes live music and an all-Atlanta cast.

Through 12/27
Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer
Where: Center for Puppetry Arts
When: Various
Cost: $10.25 for members; $20.50 for nonmembers
What: Are you a fan of the 1964 stop-motion TV special? (Let’s be honest: Who isn’t?) Start a new holiday tradition with this live version at the Center for Puppetry Arts, featuring puppets that are the spitting image of the Rankin/Bass originals.

Through 1/2
Fantasy in Lights
Where: Callaway Gardens
When: 6 p.m.
Cost: $19 to $28 for adults; $9.50 to $14 for kids ages 6 to 12; free for kids 5 and under
What: About 70 miles from Atlanta is one of the Southeast’s biggest holiday lights displays. Eight million bulbs make up more than a dozen scenes like Snowflake Valley, Santa’s Workshop, and Christmas Tree Lane. Drive through yourself, or hop aboard the festive Jolly Trolley for a carriage ride through the grounds.

Through 1/2
Christmas in Roswell
Where: Various
When: Various
Cost: Various
What: Throughout December, historic Roswell hosts a slate of holiday-themed events, from breakfast with Santa, to candy cane hunts and storytelling, to cookie and gingerbread decorating.

Through 1/3
The Pink Pig
Where: Macy’s at Lenox Square
When: Various
Cost: $3 per ride (2 rides are $5.50; 3 rides are 7.50)
What: Priscilla’s porcine express made its debut in 1953 in the toy department at Rich’s downtown. More than 50 years later, families can still hop aboard outside Macy’s at Lenox Square. A portion of the ticket sales goes to Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta.

Through 1/4
Winter Wonderland Marietta Square
Where: Historic Marietta Square
When: 4:30 p.m. to 10 p.m. (Monday through Thursday); 4:30 p.m. to 11 p.m. (Friday); 10 a.m. to 11 p.m. (Saturday); and 12 p.m. to 10 p.m. (Sunday). Plus extended hours on holiday and school breaks.
Cost: $12 (includes skate rental)
What: This holiday season, an open-air ice-skating rink debuts in the midst of Marietta’s charming historic square. For extra cheer, stop by on December 3, when Santa will make an appearance prior to the lighting of the Christmas tree.

Through 1/9
Garden Lights, Holiday Nights
Where: Atlanta Botanical Garden
When: 5 p.m. to 10 p.m.
Cost: Thursday through Sunday: $26 for adults ($21 for members); $20 for kids ages 3 to 12 ($15 for members); free for kids 2 and under. Monday through Wednesday: $23 for adults ($18 for members); $17 for kids ages 3 to 12 ($12 for members); free for kids 2 and under.
What: For the fifth year, the midtown Garden is illuminated with more than two million lights. In addition to the crowd-pleasing botanical displays and interactive exhibits from previous seasons, you can stroll through the new nearly-100-foot-long Tunnel of Light.

Through 1/10
Winter Wonderland
Where: Fernbank Museum of Natural History
When: 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. (Monday through Saturday), 12 PM to 5 PM (Sunday)
Cost: $18 for adults; $17 for students; $16 for kids 3 to 16; free for kids 2 and under
What: Still mourning the defunct Atlanta Festival of Trees? Find solace at Fernbank, where more than 30 trees and holiday displays, each representing a different country’s culture, are displayed throughout two floors of the museum.

Through 2/28
Snow Mountain
Where: Stone Mountain Park
When: 10 a.m. to 7 p.m.
Cost: $28 for adults and kids ages 3 and up; free for kids 2 and under. Parking additional.
What: Hit the slopes without leaving town at Stone Mountain’s Snow Mountain, a man-made frosty playspace filled with tons of the white stuff for tubing, tobogganing, snowman-building, and more.

The Snow Queen
Where: Serenbe Playhouse
When: 8 p.m. (Wednesday through Sunday) and 6 p.m. (Saturday and Sunday only)
Cost: $20 for adults; $15 for kids under 12
What: Long before Frozen fever, there was the original Snow Queen story from Hans Christian Anderson. This 50-minute show is based on Anderson’s 1844 fairy tale. Bundle up—the play will take place in an open-air woodsy playground.

A Little Princess
Where: Theatrical Outfit
When: 7:30 p.m. and 2:30 p.m. (days vary)
Cost: $20 to $50
What: Broadway actor Emerson Steele (2014’s Violet) plays the famous Shirley Temple role in this staging of Frances Hodgsen Burnett’s classic story.

Deck the Halls
Where: Cathedral of St. Philip
When: 8 p.m. and 2 p.m. (Saturday only)
Cost: $17 to $45
What: For decades, fans have flocked to St. Philip for annual holiday concert (now in its 35th year) by the Atlanta Gay Men’s Chorus. The program ranges from traditional carols to modern tunes, and—in another longstanding tradition—is followed by an ice-cream social.

Cirque de la Symphonie’s Holiday Spectacular
Where: Atlanta Symphony Hall
When: 8 p.m. (Friday and Saturday); 2 p.m. (Saturday only); 3 p.m. (Sunday only)
Cost: $20 to $60
What: In this popular touring show, a symphony plays classical hits while jugglers, clowns, and acrobats perform choreographed stunts in sync with the music. (FYI, Saturday’s 2 p.m. show is a special all-ages performance.)

Reindog Parade
Where: Atlanta Botanical Garden
When: 11 a.m. to 1 p.m.
Cost: $15 per dog, plus a $3 online fee. Free for humans with admission ($18.95 for adults; $12.95 for kids 3 to 12; free for kids 2 and under)
What: It’s time to dress up the family’s best friend in his holiday finest. One day a year, the Botanical Garden opens its doors to four-legged residents, who can compete in a holiday costume contest, enjoy refreshments in the Pup Tent, and even meet St. Nick.

Children’s Christmas Parade
Where: Midtown
When: 10:30 a.m.
Cost: Free (or $18 per seat if you want a view from the bleachers)
What: The largest holiday parade in the Southeast features marching bands, floats, and huge helium-filled balloons. The parade caps off with—you guessed it—an appearance from Santa.

Madeleine’s Christmas
Where: Horizon Theatre
When: Various
Cost: $15 for adults; $12 for kids under 12
What: Together, Horizon Theatre Company and Atlanta Children’s Theatre Company present this one-hour production, a holiday adventure featuring twelve little girls in two straight lines. For kids 3 and up.

12/6, 12/13
Teddy Bear Tea
Where: Callanwolde Fine Arts Center
When: 2 p.m.
Cost: $25
What: Kids can bring their furry friends for a special afternoon filled with hot cocoa, tea sandwiches, and sweets. Plus: check out the Christmas-decked mansion, participate in holiday sing-a-longs, and even enjoy a visit from the big guy in red.

Atlanta Ballet’s Nutcracker
Where: Fox Theatre
When: Various
Cost: $21.50 to $123.50
What: This year marks the 20th anniversary of the Atlanta Ballet’s production at the Fox, and the last season for retiring artistic director John McFall. It’s also a chance for budding ballerinas to show off their moves. Every year, the show features 80 students from the Ballet’s Center for Dance Education.

Children’s Museum of Atlanta Grand Re-Opening
Where: Children’s Museum of Atlanta
When: 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Cost: $14.95 (for a designated 3-hour block)
What: After closing in August for an $8 million renovation, the Children’s Museum reopens with play-based, hands-on educational exhibits. Your child can “dig up” archeological artifacts, build a rocket, go to work on a farm, and more.

Disney Live! Presents Three Classic Fairy Tales
Where: Cobb Energy Performing Arts Centre
When: 7 p.m. (Saturday); 11 a.m. and 2 p.m. (Sunday)
Cost: $20 to $80
What: For the child to whom princess equals A-list celeb on par with Santa himself. Disney standbys Mickey, Minnie, Donald and Goofy are on hand to bring the stories of Cinderella, Belle, and Snow White to life.

Reindeer Day
Where: Chattahoochee Nature Center
When: 12 p.m. to 4 p.m.
Cost: Free with admission ($10 for adults; $7 for students ages 13 to 18; $6 for kids ages 3 to 12; free for kids 2 and under)
What: Get into nature’s holiday spirit with this 5th annual festival, where kids can meet live reindeer, hike the CNC trails, participate in winter crafts and games, and roast marshmallows.

Jingle Ball
Where: Phillips Arena
When: 7 p.m.
Cost: $35 to $129
What: For pop-obsessed teens on the nice list, this concert from Power 96.1 features a roster of Top 40 talent, from Nick Jonas to Justin Bieber to Hailee Steinfeld.

A Very Merry Holiday Pops
Where: Atlanta Symphony Hall
When: 2 p.m.
Cost: $20 to $60
What: This afternoon performance will be a 75-minute, family-friendly affair, with all your favorite classic holiday tunes. Featuring artist-in-residence vocalist Morris Robinson, the All City High-School Chorus, and perhaps even a pop-in from Santa himself.

Noon Year’s Eve
Where: Fernbank Museum of Natural History
When: 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.
Cost: $18 for adults; $17 for students; $16 for kids 3 to 16; free for kids 2 and under
What: Little ones can ring in 2016 at noon rather than midnight with this early-bedtime-friendly event at Fernbank. The party atmosphere includes a kids’ DJ, New Year’s countdown, and balloon drop.