From stunning light displays to New Year’s Eve blowouts, December is always jam-packed with events — so there’s no excuse not to make a little time for holiday fun. We’ve rounded up some of our favorite December events happening around the South this month. Enjoy!
Through December 3, 2023: Light Up BGKY — Bowling Green, KY
Make plans to visit Bowling Green, KY, this holiday season to attend the inaugural Light Up BGKY event. Offering 15 seasonal events over the course of one week, you can enjoy everything from dazzling light displays to ice skating, live reindeer encounters, and so much more. lightupbgky.org
Through December 10, 2023: Home for the Holidays Showhouse — Atlanta, GA
Atlanta Homes & Lifestyles Magazine once again hosts the Home for the Holidays Designer Showhouse benefiting Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta. The 2023 house features over 12,500 square feet of space that has been meticulously built and designed by Kit Castaldo of Kit Castaldo Design and Pradera Group. General admission is $45, and event hours are Thursday through Saturday, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., and Sunday, 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. atlantaholidayhome.com
Through December 17, 2023: Holiday Spectacular — Birmingham, AL
Looking for a holiday event that the whole family can enjoy? Prepare to be enthralled by Red Mountain Theatre Company’s annual Holiday Spectacular. This Birmingham Christmas tradition includes some of the city’s best singers and dancers, hilarious comedy skits, all of your favorite music of the season, and more. Showtimes vary based on the day, and tickets start at $39 with discounts for children ages 2-12. redmountaintheatre.org
Through December 31, 2023: Enchanted Forest Festival of Trees — Memphis, TN
Benefiting Le Bonheur Children’s Hospital, the Enchanted Forest Festival of Trees is a winter wonderland that brings the holiday season to life with awe-inspiring Christmas trees, penguins at play, and even visits with Santa Claus himself. Event hours are Wednesday, Thursday, Saturday, and Sunday, 10:30 a.m. to 5 p.m., and Friday, 10:30 a.m. to 9 p.m. Tickets are $7 for adults and $6 for children and seniors. moshmemphis.com
Through December 31, 2023: Holiday Festival of Lights — Charleston, SC
You can enjoy miles of holiday lights, delicious s’mores, train rides, and an old-fashioned carousel at Charleston’s annual Holiday Festival of Lights. Taking place at James Island County Park, this beloved event is visited by thousands of people every year. The festival is open every night from 5:30 p.m. to 10 p.m.; tickets begin at $15 if purchased online. ccprc.com
Through January 1, 2024: Christmas at Gaylord Opryland — Nashville, TN
Get into the holiday spirit early by visiting the dazzling displays at Gaylord Opryland. This year’s event includes ice sculptures in ICE! featuring The Polar Express, frozen slides, bumper cars, and more. To see a complete list of events and activities, visit christmasatgaylordopryland.marriott.com.
Through January 2, 2023: Fête de Noël Winter Festival — Paristown, KY
Head to the heart of Paristown to enjoy the annual Fête De Noël festival. The event includes Louisville’s only authentic outdoor ice skating rink, the Brent Street Holiday Market, train rides, photos with Santa Claus, and delicious food and drinks. Prices and hours vary based on each event. paristown.com
December 1, 2023: Fantasy of Lights Christmas Parade — Gatlinburg, TN
Back for its 48th year, Gatlinburg’s Fantasy of Lights Christmas Parade offers fun for the entire family. The award-winning parade includes decorated floats, lively marching bands, an appearance by Santa Claus, and more. The fun starts at 7:30 p.m., and the parade departs from Baskins Creek Bypass and East Parkway. gatlinburg.com
December 1, 2, 8 – 10, 15 & 16, 2023: Victorian Christmas — Nacoochee, GA
Experience a traditional Victorian Christmas at Hardman Farm Historic Site in Nacoochee, GA. Attendees can enjoy everything from horse-drawn wagon rides to holiday decor and delicious Christmas cookies. The event takes place on select nights in December from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. Adult tickets are $20 (ages 18+), and youth tickets are $15 (ages 6-17). Children 5 and younger receive free admission. eventbrite.com
December 1 – 31, 2023: Fantasy of Lights — Sumter, SC
Fantasy of Lights is South Carolina’s largest free Christmas light display! Taking place at Swan Lake Iris Gardens, walk or drive through the grounds to enjoy over-the-top holiday light displays. The event is open until 9 p.m. Sunday through Thursday and until 10 p.m. on Friday and Saturday. sumtersc.gov
December 2, 2023: McAllen Holiday Parade — Houston, TX
The largest illuminated holiday and helium balloon parade returns to Texas! The McAllen Holiday Parade includes fun for the whole family, offering beautiful floats, balloons, marching bands, and more. This year’s celebrity hosts include Mario Lopez, Linda Tovar, and Julian Gil. The parade begins at 6 p.m., but be sure to arrive early to enjoy a carnival, free concert, and fireworks. exploremcallen.com
December 2, 9 & 16, 2023: Christmas at the Station — Birmingham, AL
Climb aboard the train at the Heart of Dixie Railroad Museum to celebrate the holiday season. Tickets to Christmas at the Station include a ride on the Calera & Shelby train, a ride along the Shelby & Southern Railroad, and a photo opportunity with Santa Claus. Offering games and activities, hot chocolate, food trucks, and more, this event creates memories for years to come. Trains depart at 10 a.m. and 1 p.m.; tickets are $20. hodrrm.org
December 9, 2023: Tour de Lights — Knoxville, TN
This annual bike ride is free and open to bikers of all skill levels. Tour de Lights not only offers stunning light displays, but participants can also enjoy a holiday market and expo, a costume contest, and visits with Santa. The event begins at 3:30 p.m. at Mary Costa Plaza. bwknox.org
December 21 – 30, 2023: NOLA ChristmasFest — New Orleans, LA
Celebrate the holidays New Orleans-style at NOLA ChristmasFest! Now in its 10th year, the event includes ice skating, ice slides, carnival rides, visits with Santa, a gingerbread village, and more. Tickets are $25 on weekdays and $30 on weekends, and the festival takes place at the New Orleans Ernest N. Morial Convention Center. To see a complete schedule of events, visit nolachristmasfest.com.
December 31, 2023: Tupelo’s New Year’s Eve Party — Tupelo, MS
Tupelo’s New Year’s Eve Party is set to return with a diverse lineup of bands on two different stages in downtown Tupelo. Offering fun for all ages to celebrate the start of 2024, BankPlus KidsFest kicks off the night, and the fun continues with live music, fireworks, and a countdown to midnight from the BNA Bank Fairpark Stage. The complete schedule of events can be found at tupelo.net
Here’s to a fun-filled holiday season!
To see more great Southern events, visit our Happenings calendar!