With the holiday season in the rearview mirror, it’s time to embrace winter with some festive Southern events lined up for January. Whether you’re looking to enjoy jazz music in North Carolina or see manatees in Florida, we have some top events to check out around the South. For a New Year’s Resolution, how about venturing out to try a new dish or cocktail? Here are 20 events to inspire you in 2020. Enjoy!
January 1 – 4, 2020: Rock City’s 25th Annual Enchanted Garden Lights — Chattanooga, TN
See Rock City’s award-winning light show, which is on display for its 25th year! Stroll through the different light displays, starting with the North Pole Highway, and meandering through Yule Town, the Arctic Kingdom and more. Additionally, enjoy live music and cookie decorating throughout the evening. Select exhibits open at 4 p.m., and the rest open at 6 p.m. and close at 10:30 p.m. Tickets are $24.95 for adults and $13.95 for children on January 1 and 2, and tickets are $26.95 for adults and $14.95 for children on January 3 and 4. For more information, visit the See Rock City website.
January 1 – 4, 2020: Holiday Lights Safari — Spartanburg, SC
Drive through the holiday lights decorating the 100-acre Hollywild Animal Preserve! The Holiday Lights Safari Benefit raises money to support the animals of the animal preserve. Activities include roasting marshmallows by a bonfire and snapping selfies with the animals. Tickets are $6, and for $10 you can feed the animals in the “Deer Forest.” This event runs from every day from 6 p.m. until 9 p.m. For more information, check out the Hollywild Animal Preserve website.
January 1 – February 12, 2020: Mardi Gras Celebration tour — New Orleans, LA
Learn about the history and culture surrounding the Mardi Gras festival in the French Quarter of New Orleans. A walking tour follows the parade route through Canal Street and Jackson Square. Additionally, your ticket includes free admission to the State Museum Presbytere at Jackson Square, which shows a behind-the-scenes glimpse of floats, ballgowns, and other parade accessories. Tours will take place from Tuesday until Sunday at 2 p.m. from January 1 through February 12. Tickets are $31.35 each. For more information, visit their website.
January 4, 2020: Miami Beer Fest — Miami, FL
Enjoy brews from craft and international breweries at the 6th annual Miami Beer Fest! This event at Marlins Park features over 60 beers, as well as food trucks and live entertainment with a DJ. Proceeds from this 21+ event go towards 1 Lucky Dog Rescue, a non-profit, no-kill animal rescue organization. Tickets for general admission are $45, and VIP tickets are $60. The fest will run from 6 p.m. until 9 p.m. for general admission, and 5 p.m. until 9 p.m. for VIP tickets. For tickets and more information, check out the Miami Beer Fest website.
January 4 – 5, 2020: Freeze Your Half Off — Chattanooga, TN
Run or walk at the Freeze Your Half Off 5K, 10K, and half marathon event. This non-competitive event focuses solely on fun and personal goals in an easygoing environment. The various distances are all multiple loops on a 3-mile course around the Tennessee River and behind the Chickamauga Dam. The 5K is $60 to register, the 10k is $70, and the half marathon is $100. All take place on Saturday and Sunday at 9 a.m. Registration for this event includes a hat, access to the snack-filled aid station, and a mug “medal” to fill with chili or hot cocoa. For more information, check out the race website.
Jan 5, 12, 19, 26, 2020: Tiny Tails Petting Zoo — Austin, TX
Tiny Tails to You is coming to Austin! At this traveling petting zoo, pet and cuddle with tiny creatures such as rabbits, hedgehogs, turtles, iguanas and more! This zoo is an educational organization that teaches about the care, characteristics and handling of the various animal species it features. Additionally, part of the proceeds from the event is donated to local and national organizations. Admission to this event is free — just stop by the Texas Farmers Market between 11 a.m. and 1 p.m.! For more information on Tiny Tails to You, visit their website.
Jan 7 – 12, 2020: Free admission to the Lewis Ginter Botanical Gardens — Richmond, VA
For a limited time in January, visitors to the Lewis Ginter Botanical Gardens can enjoy free admission! Featured exhibits in the Conservatory include the Palm House, the East Wing full of orchids and other tropical plants, The West Wing with cacti and succulents, and the North Wing with a holiday light display. The January Blooms portion of the gardens features seasonal standouts, such as hybrid magnolia and winter jasmine, and Japanese winterberry. The botanical gardens are open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily. For more information, visit the event page.
January 11, 2020: 9th Annual Riverwalk Stone Crab & Seafood Festival — Fort Lauderdale, FL
Celebrate peak Florida stone crab season with the 9th Annual Riverwalk Stone Crab & Seafood Festival. All ages can enjoy this free festival of live music, food, drinks and a hermit crab race! Local Fort Lauderdale restaurants have food and samples for sale, and $20 pre-sale tickets grant admission to the beer garden. This event at Esplanade Park kicks off at 11 a.m. and runs until 4 p.m. Visit the event page for more information.
January 12, 2020: Colombia’s 2nd Mac & Cheese Festival — Columbia, NC
For the second year in a row, Ashley’s Yummy Tummy Catering is hosting the Colombia Mac & Cheese Festival! Join this family-friendly event at the Jamil Shrine Temple and taste an unlimited number of cheesy samples from local chefs. Enjoy the fest from 3:30 p.m. until 6:30 p.m. Kids ages 5 and under enjoy free admission, while a regular child’s admission is $10. Adult tickets are $25. For VIP ticket prices and more information, visit the event page.
January 16, 2020: Paint and Sip — Chattanooga, TN
Paint a creation while you enjoy a glass of wine at Paint and Sip. The Hunter Museum of American Art hosts an inclusive workshop, open to painters of all experience levels, who can tour the exhibition and paint a painting of their own. This class’s focus is “Abstracting the Still Life.” Tickets to this 21+ event are $25, or $20 with a museum membership. The class runs from 6 p.m. until 8 p.m. For more information, visit the Hunter Museum website.
January 18, 2020: Winter Wine Festival — Atlanta, GA
Cozy up to City Winery for the 2020 Atlanta Winter Wine Festival! Sample over 50 wines, mimosas, beers and ciders, while enjoying live music. Each entry ticket includes a souvenir acrylic wine glass and unlimited access to the tasting samples. For this 21+ event, feel free to get comfortable and bring chairs and blankets! There are two sessions: Session 1 is from noon until 4 p.m., and Session 2 is from 6 p.m. until 10 p.m. Tickets are $45 before January 10. For more information, check out the event page.
January 18 – 19, 2020: Florida Manatee Festival — Crystal River, FL
Join in the festivities of the 33rd Annual Florida Manatee Festival. An enormous celebration complete with on-stage music, seafood and BBQ, wine and a beer garden, a kid’s zone, the tours engage visitors and the community with the ocean’s gentle giants. Take a free bus tour to Three Sister Springs, where you see manatees gather for the winter. Additionally, for an extra $10, boat tours to coves such as Kings Bay provide visitors with up-close encounters with manatees. Adult tickets are $5, while children 12 years old and under are free admission. This festival runs from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Saturday, and from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Sunday. For more information, visit the festival website.
January 19, 2020: BourbonHam — Birmingham, AL
Birmingham’s 2020 Bourbon and BBQ fundraising event will be hosted at The Haven. BourbonHam features a diverse sampling of bourbon as well as bar-b-que, live music by local band LiveWire, and football. Over 75 samples of whiskey and bourbon are available to taste! This fundraising event raises money for the National MS Society. The event takes place from 2 p.m. to 6 p.m., and tickets are $60. For more information, visit their website.
January 21 – January 31, 2020: Happy Hug Day — Charlotte, NC
Celebrate National Hug Day with a great cause. Sign up to complete a run or walk any time during January, and at least 15% of your registration will go towards HUGS (Help Us Give Smiles) Foundation, Inc. Choose between a 1-mile, 5K, 10K, 13.1-mile, or 26.2-mile race, and select your own running location. Running bibs and medals are shipped via mail, upon registration. The racing fee is $22. To register for the Happy Hug Day Race, check out their website. T-shirts and hoodies can be purchased for a limited time here!
January 23 – 25, 2020: 40th Annual North Carolina Jazz Festival — Wilmington, NC
The North Carolina Jazz Festival is back at Hotel Ballast for its 40th year of celebrating music! The three-day event will feature different styles of jazz played by a variety of musicians from the U.S., Australia and Italy, including Veronica Swift, the Thursday Evening All-stars, Houston Person and many more. Concerts begin at 7:30 each night of the festival. Tickets are $40 for the Thursday concert and $60 for the Friday and Saturday concerts. Each night, tickets are $15 for students and $25 for the military. For more information, visit their website.
January 23, 2020: Stories of the South — Nashville, TN
The Local Palate and the Southern Food and Beverage Museum host the first installment of “Stories of the South,” a supper series focused on Southern food and cocktails. A handful of restaurants feature their most popular and classic dishes. Some of these tasty bites, recreated by top chefs, include Loveless Cafe’s biscuits as well as Prince’s Hot Chicken. Adult tickets are $85, and the event runs from 6:30 p.m. until 9:30 p.m. at Nelson’s Green Brier Distillery. For more information on this event, check out The Local Palate website.
January 25 – February 8, 2020: Parade of Lanterns — San Antonio, TX
Enjoy a colorful show of the Parade of Lanterns in San Antonio. Watch as ten 26-foot-long boats carry elaborate lantern displays throughout the downtown section of the San Antonio River Walk. If you saw the parade last year, check out the new lanterns on display this year! Admission for this event is free, and it takes place from 6 p.m. until 9 p.m. every day. For more information, look at the event page.
January 26, 2020: Low Country Oyster Festival — Charleston, SC
Named one of the top 20 events in the southeast by Southeastern Tourism Society, the largest oyster festival in the world is back at Boone Hall Plantation. The Low Country Oyster Festival features oyster shucking and eating competitions, as well as food trucks, music and drinks. Advanced tickets are $17.50, day-of tickets are $25, and children 10 and under are free admission. This all-day event lasts from 10 a.m. until 5 p.m. For more information on the festival, check out the Lowcountry Hospitality Association website.
January 31 – February 2, 2020: Antiques and Garden Show — Nashville, TN
This event, located in Music City, has a lineup of designers, gardeners and architects that are coming in from around the world. In addition to lectures, there will be over 150 antique dealers and beautiful gardens that attendees will get to enjoy. Each day holds a new experience such as book signings, bourbon parties, shopping and music. All proceeds benefit two charities in the southern community: Cheekwood Estate and the charities of Economic Club of Nashville. General admission starts at $20, lecture tickets start at $50 and special event tickets start at $75. To see all of the details and schedule for each day, click the link! antiquesandgardenshow.
January 31 – February 2, 2020: Athens Wine Weekend — Athens, GA
Athens Wine Weekend is back, with food and tastings of a wide selection of wines! The weekend schedule offers a well-rounded wine experience. Friday kicks off the festivities from 6 p.m. until 9 p.m. in the Classic Center Arena with an “Amuse-Bouche” of food samples created by chefs, along with perfectly paired wine samples. On Saturday, guests enjoy a “Grand Tasting,” from 1 p.m. until 4 p.m., of wines from around the world. Finally, Sunday’s wine brunch concludes the weekend. Tickets for Friday are $50, tickets for Saturday’s grand tasting are $40, and single seats to the Sunday brunch are $35. For more details on tickets and the event, visit the event website.
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