From drive-in movies to holiday lights and New Year’s Eve extravaganzas, there’s no excuse not to get in the holiday spirit this year. You don’t want to miss out on these top Southern events this December!

Southern events December: ornaments at Charlotte Christmas Village

There is plenty of holiday fun to be had around the South this month. Image: Charlotte Christmas Village

17 Southern Events & Happenings: December 2020

*And, as we are in a rise in COVID cases, these suggestions are all made with social distancing in mind and each is subject to change. Please look at websites and social media for updates.

Through December 6, 2020: Home for the Holidays Designer Showhouse – Atlanta, GA

Celebrate the start of the holiday season with Atlanta Homes & Lifestyles’ 2020 Home for the Holidays Designer Showhouse. The 6,500-square-foot Atlanta home features six bedrooms, six full baths and two half baths, with spaces designed by Anna-Louise Wolfe, Janie Wilburn, Valerie Garrett and more. Plus, don’t forget to visit Boxwoods Boutique on the terrace level and the “Well Set: Entertaining in Style” Tabletop Showcase in the garage. Tickets start at $40, and tours run through December 6. Hours are Tuesday through Sunday, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., and Sunday, 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. atlantaholidayhome.com

Through December 23, 2020: Charlotte Christmas Village – Charlotte, NC

The Charlotte Christmas Village returns for its fifth consecutive year, and this year, the event is partnering with the Charlotte Knights. Visit the European-inspired market for specialty food and drinks, and be sure to catch a glimpse of Truist Field decked out in holiday lights, too! Village-only tickets are $7, and tickets for both the village and lights are $10. cltchristmasvillage.com

Through December 24, 2020: Santa at The Summit – Birmingham, AL

The jolly man is back from the North Pole and ready to meet your family! Like most events this year, it looks a bit different, but this holiday event promises to still be as magical as ever. Located in Saks Plaza, this experience requires an appointment. Santa also asks that all visitors be masked and requires temperatures to be checked upon arrival. Hours are Monday through Saturday, 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. and Sunday, noon to 6 p.m. Photo packages start at $17.99. thesummitsanta.com

Through December 27, 2020: Holiday Wonders at the Garden – Memphis, TN

Memphis Botanic Garden’s most anticipated holiday event, Holiday Wonders, runs through December 27. The venue is outdoors, family-friendly and features three distinct venues with different themes, such as Snowy Nights and Trees Alight. Take a walk through this magical light show with your friends and family to get in the Christmas spirit! Parking is free, and general admission non-member tickets are $10 in advance and $12 at the door. Member tickets are $8. memphisbotanicgarden.com

Through December 31, 2020: Shining a Light: Women’s Fight for the Right – Louisville, KY

The Muhammad Ali Center hosts Shining a Light: Women’s Fight for the Right, an exhibit celebrating the 100th anniversary of the ratification of the 19th amendment and the 55th anniversary of the Voting Rights Act. The exhibit focuses on women’s suffrage on a global scale and highlights the women who fought for equal rights. The exhibit runs through December 31, and admission for adults is $14. alicenter.org

Through December 31, 2020: Holiday at the Arboretum – Dallas, TX

Get in the holiday spirit at the Dallas Arboretum. The annual event features Victorian-style gazebos that have been decorated to represent each of the 12 Days of Christmas. The event also includes visits with Santa, shopping, and food and beverages. Tickets are $17 for adults (ages 13 to 64), $14 for seniors (ages 65 and up) and $12 for children (ages 2 to 12). dallasarboretum.org

Through December 31, 2020: Holiday Festival of Lights – Charleston, SC

A Charleston favorite, the Holiday Festival of Lights is a unique experience that’s perfect to share with family and friends from the comfort of your vehicle. Take a driving tour through millions of twinkling lights, stop at concessions along the way, and partake in a holiday-themed scavenger hunt. Tickets start at $20 per vehicle, and gates open nightly at 5:30 p.m. ccprc.com

Through January 3, 2021: A Country Christmas – Nashville, TN

There is no better way to celebrate the holiday season than gathering your family for socially distant holiday fun during “A Country Christmas” at Gaylord Opryland Resort. Explore acres of twinkling lights and decorations and more than 17 hours of exciting holiday activities, shows and events — from ice tubing and ice skating to The Oak Ridge Boys’ “Christmas in Tennessee” dinner show. You can also walk through 13 movie scenes you know and love in the event’s new interactive experience, featuring Elf, The Polar Express, National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation, A Christmas Story, and The Year Without A Santa Claus. Hours vary based on the activity, and tickets start at $10. christmasatgaylordopryland.marriott.com

Through January 3, 2021: Winter Illuminations – Louisville, KY

Enjoy the holiday season with Louisville’s newest light attraction. The Winter Illuminations Trail Walk is a one-mile trail featuring over 10 different light installations. The event is sure to be fun for the whole family. Tickets start at $9.99 for children and $17.99 for adults. winterilluminationsky.com

December 1 – 24, 2020: Caroling for Kids – Nashville, TN

Fannie Battle Day Home for Children’s Caroling for Kids fundraiser has gone virtual. Participants can fundraise by campaigning alone or with a group, competing or voting in the teacher caroling competition on December 18, or giving directly on Fannie Battle’s website. Raise $50 to receive a reusable Caroling for Kids tote, raise $125 t0 receive a tote and t-shirt, and raise $250 or more to receive a tote, t-shirt and limited edition Hatch Show Print event poster. Registration takes place through November 30, and fundraising runs December 1 through 24. fanniebattle.org

December 2 – 6, 2020: The Nutcracker Drive-in Movie – Atlanta, GA

Head to Cobb Energy Performing Arts Centre’s parking lot December 2 through 6 to enjoy a filmed version of Atlanta Ballet’s newest production of The Nutcracker. General admission tickets for the drive-in movie are $125 per car, and premium front-row parking tickets are $185 per car. Spaces are limited and some nights are already sold out, so early purchases are encouraged. atlantaballet.com

December 3, 2020: One World, Many Journeys – Nashville, TN

In relation to the Frist Art Museum’s Rina Banerjee: Make Me a Summary of the World exhibit, Nashville’s Global Education Center performs dances from different cultures to tell stories of migration, identity and more. The production takes place over Zoom on December 3 at 5:30 p.m. The performance is free to view, but registration is required. fristartmuseum.org

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December 4, 2020: Sips Under Sea Lite: Tacky Sweater – Atlanta, GA

What better way to celebrate the holiday season than showing off your best ugly Christmas sweater? Join the Georgia Aquarium on December 4 at 8 p.m. for a one-of-a-kind event featuring specialty cocktails, dining options and a live DJ. Tickets for this 21-and-up event begin at $29.95 for members and $39.95 for non-members. georgiaaquarium.org

December 4, 2020: Shop, Sip and Stroll in English Village – Birmingham, AL

Join the merchants of English Village on December 4 as you shop, sip and stroll. Enjoy extended hours, pre-packaged snacks and a glass of wine as you peruse all the gorgeous items throughout the shops in beautiful English Village. Be sure to visit our friends at Henhouse Antiques and Tonya Jones SalonSpa while you’re there! mtnbrookchamber.org

December 5, 12 & 19, 2020: The Santa Special Train Ride – St. Mary’s, GA

All aboard St. Mary’s Railroad Express! This year, the famous train offers two holiday-themed train rides. The traditional open-air cars feature Santa himself as well as many other characters your family knows and loves. The newest excursion retells the story of The Nutcracker as you and your family travel through the Nutcracker Kingdom. Tickets for the open-air ride start at $15 for children (ages 3 to 12) and $18 for adults (ages 13 and up). Tickets for The Nutcracker experience are sold in groups of four and start at $118. thegeorgiatrain.com

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December 31, 2020: New Year’s Eve on Beale – Memphis, TN

Don’t you worry, New Year’s Eve on Beale — Memphis’ biggest New Year’s festivity — is still on for this year! The 21-and-up NYE celebration includes Memphis music and a big fireworks finale. Later in the evening, everyone puts on their metaphorical blue suede shoes and heads down to Beale for the Guitar Drop, where a giant guitar falls on the corner of Beale and 2nd outside Hard Rock Café. This year’s guitar is a D’angelico. bealestreet.com

December 31, 2020: New Year’s Eve Bash – Louisville, KY

Take a cruise down the Ohio River as your ring in the new year. The famous steamboat, Belle of Louisville, hosts a fun-filled night with champagne, hors d’oeuvres, swag bags and a DJ on December 31. Tickets for this 21+ event are $69.99. belleoflouisville.org

Here’s to a fun-filled holiday season!

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To see even more great events, visit our Happenings page.