Get in the holiday spirit by sharing in some of Atlanta’s festivities. Whether you prefer the comforts of neighborhood caroling or the excitement of a citywide block party, events around town abound. Here’s our short list of hot holiday happenings.
Atlantic Station is abuzz with activities this season. Take a break from shopping at the Atlanta Holiday Village, an open-air market featuring an array of handcrafted holiday items, and experience the 50-ft. Christmas tree and magical “snowfall” at Central Park. Snow falls weeknights at 7:30 p.m., and Fridays and Saturdays, hourly from 6-9 p.m. through Dec. 31. Or, take a horse and carriage ride around the area (offered nightly through Dec. 27, from 6-8 p.m.). All carriage ride proceeds benefit the Make-A-Wish Foundation. Santa also will be on hand for family and pet photos at Dillard’s and during scheduled appearances in Central Park.
The 2009 Atlanta Holiday House, presented by Steven West Custom Homes, is an annual fundraiser for Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta, benefiting the Save a Smile Foundation. As the largest spec home ever built, the 22,000-sq. ft. Buckhead estate is decorated by some of the city’s premier interior designers. Tours run through Dec. 20; tickets are $20 in advance and $25 at the door.
As part of their Holidays in the Garden series, festivities for families and adults are in full bloom at the Atlanta Botanical Gardens. Every weekend in December, the Holiday High Tea in Mershon Hall offers hot tea and a host of trimmings. Tickets are $50 per person, $35 for members, and includes garden admission. Reservations are required, and seatings are at 1 p.m. and 3 p.m. Board the Botanical Express (through Jan. 3), for a scenic ride around the Great Lawn, and a stop at the Holiday Train Show. Tickets are $2 per ride (children three and under are free with a paid adult). The train operates on weekends and select weekdays. Afterwards, unwind in the garden with a leisurely evening stroll during Holiday Nights (Dec. 26-30; 5-10 p.m.), explore the Fuqua Orchid Center or simply enjoy the festive music and cash bar. Contact Sun in My Belly at 404-370-0856 to RSVP for Teas.
The 2009 Matzo Ball at Halo Lounge on Dec. 24 is a fun way to celebrate Hanukkah. Dubbed as the “Nation’s No. 1 Holiday Party” by USA Today, it is the largest Jewish mixer in the U.S., and features a night of high-energy networking and matchmaking. Created by the Society of Young Jewish Professionals 23 years ago, the ball is currently in more than a dozen cities, including New York, Washington, D.C., and Los Angeles. Tickets are $25 in advance and $30 at the door. All are welcome to attend.
The 42nd annual Chick-fil-A Bowl kicks off at 7:30 p.m. on New Year’s Eve, but there’s plenty to do beforehand. The Chick-fil-A Bowl Parade starts off the day (noon-2 p.m.) at the intersection of Peachtree Street and Ralph McGill Boulevard, and ends at the Georgia World Congress Center, where CokeZero’s FanFest (2-6 p.m.) picks up. Football lovers of all ages can take part in many activities, including obstacle courses and rock climbing walls, and cheer on their teams during the pep rally and team walks. The parade is free, but tickets for the FanFest are $15 per person; game ticket prices vary.
Usher in 2010 at FirstNight Atlanta, a family friendly, alcohol-free New Year’s Eve celebration that takes place throughout Midtown and Downtown Atlanta. Featuring theater, dance, art and live musical performances by local and well-known acts, FirstNight can be considered Atlanta’s official New Year’s Eve party. The fun starts in Midtown with a daytime concert, then moves to Downtown Peachtree Street for a block party. A “midnight fireworks spectacular” caps off the evening.
The Peach Drop at Underground Atlanta is the largest New Year’s Eve celebration in the Southeast. Broadcast live on local TV and hosted by on-air personalities and celebrities, the all-day event starts at noon and has activities for the entire family. Various musical acts take the mainstage around 6 p.m., and as the new year approaches, the countdown for the 800-pound peach begins. The event culminates at midnight with the peach drop, fireworks and tons of confetti.