A guide to 12 of metro Atlanta’s merriest holiday events

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A guide to 12 of metro Atlanta’s merriest holiday events

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Bita Honarvar
“Garden Lights, Holiday Nights” at the Atlanta Botanical Garden.

We’ve all heard of the 12 days of Christmas. With the multitude of holiday events hitting metro Atlanta like a heavy snowfall, you need more than double that to experience just a sample. However, in an attempt at some seasonal focus, we’re gathering a dozen of the merriest and brightest for your consideration.

Garden Lights, Holiday Nights at Atlanta Botanical Garden

With the event now in its sixth year, the garden grounds glow with nearly 2 million bulbs, including the new Tunnel of Light and twinkling creations such as the Ice Goddess, the Orchestral Orbs and Santa Mantis.

5-10 p.m. daily Nov. 12, 2016 through Jan. 7, 2017. Mondays-Wednesdays through Dec. 14: $18 members; $23; $12 members ages 3-12; $17 ages 3-12; free ages 2 and younger. Thursdays-Sundays and all nights Dec. 17- Jan. 9: $21 members; $26; $15 members ages 3-12; $20 ages 3-12; free ages 2 and younger. Atlanta Botanical Garden, 1345 Piedmont Ave., Atlanta. 404-876-5859, atlantabg.org.

Mary Pat Matheson, CEO of the Atlanta Botanical Garden, talks about two of her favorite spots in the garden during the annual Garden Nights, Holiday Lights exhibit. The exhibit is from Nov. 12 through Jan. 7. (Erica A. Hernandez/AJC)

The Children’s Christmas Parade

Marching bands, massive helium balloons, and an array of floats and vehicles make a holiday procession down Peachtree Street in Midtown. Past years have found prancing pets, the Batmobile and the big guy in red making the march.

10:30 a.m.-noon. Dec. 3. Free. Begins at Peachtree Street and 16th Street, and ends at Peachtree Street and Fifth Street. choa.org/parade.

‘A Christmas Carol’ at Alliance Theatre

Through Dec. 24. 7:30 p.m. Nov. 30, Dec. 1, Dec. 6, Dec. 8, Dec. 13, Dec. 15 and Dec. 20; 2:30 and 8 p.m. Nov. 26, Dec. 3, Dec. 10, Dec. 17, and Dec. 23; 2:30 p.m. Nov. 27, Dec. 4, Dec. 11, and Dec. 24; 2:30 and 7:30 p.m. Dec. 18, and Dec. 21-228 p.m. Nov. 25. $14-$78. Woodruff Arts Center, 1280 Peachtree St. N.E., Atlanta. 404-733-5000, alliancetheatre.org/christmas.

‘Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer’

The beloved holiday TV special shines brightly as a perennial puppet show adapted by the center’s Jon Ludwig.

Multiple shows Tuesdays-Sundays Nov. 8 through Dec. 31. No shows Mondays or Nov. 24 and Dec. 25. $14.25-$24.50. Center for Puppetry Arts, 1404 Spring St. N.W., Atlanta. 404-873-3391, puppet.org.

‘The Santaland Diaries’

Crumpet, a Macy’s Department Store elf, skewers the holidays in this adults-only romp adapted from the David Sedaris book “Holidays on Ice.”

Nov. 18 through Dec. 31. 8 p.m. Tuesdays-Fridays; 8:30 p.m. Saturdays; 6 p.m. Sundays. No show Dec. 25. $25-$40; $15 VIP upgrade for reserved seating and one beverage. Horizon Theatre Company, 1083 Austin Ave., Atlanta. 404-584-7450, horizontheatre.com.

Stone Mountain Park Christmas and Snow Mountain

A quintet of live holiday shows, including the new “Skylights Spectacular,” and other activities — expect a 4-D flick, a Christmas train ride, a parade and more — help make up Stone Mountain Park Christmas. Snow Mountain takes over Laser Lawn with tubing runs and a snow-laden play area. Both can be visited separately or together with a combo pass ($44.95).

Stone Mountain Park Christmas: Select dates Nov. 12 through Jan. 4. Lots of deals ranging from 25.95 to $49.95; free ages 2 and younger. Snow Mountain: Select dates Nov 19 through Feb. 26. $28. $15 parking; $40 annual permit. Stone Mountain Park, 1000 Robert E. Lee Blvd., Stone Mountain. 800-401-2407, stonemountainpark.com.

‘Winter Wonderland: Celebrations & Traditions Around the World’

Fernbank Museum of Natural History gleams with its tribute to seasonal celebrations across the globe. Explore two floors lined with trees and displays each designed as nods to respective cultures and traditions. 

10 a.m.-5 p.m. Mondays-Saturdays; noon-5 p.m. Sundays Nov. 18 through Jan. 8. $18; $17 seniors; $16 ages 3-12; free for museum members and ages 2 and younger. Fernbank Museum of Natural History, 767 Clifton Road N.E., Atlanta. 404-929-6300, fernbankmuseum.org.

Christmas at Callanwolde

For more than 40 years, Callanwolde Fine Arts Center has been ringing in this tradition. There's an outdoor tour of lights, a magic Christmas tree and more kid-friendly features. Meanwhile, inside, decorators drape the 27,000-square-foot Candler Mansion in holiday cheer. Highlights include an artisan market, and Legoland- and Coca-Cola-themed rooms. Breakfast with Santa and Teddy Bear Tea events take place on select dates.

Christmas at Callanwolde, Nov. 21 through Dec. 29, 6 p.m.-10 p.m.; Designer Show House, Nov. 28-Dec. 13, 11 a.m.-6 p.m. $20 for each, $35 combo ticket. Light show closed Nov. 25, Dec. 1 and 24-25, Dec. 17 hours 8-11 p.m. Callanwolde Fine Arts Center, 980 Briarcliff Road N.E., Atlanta. 404-872-5338, callanwolde.org.

‘Atlanta Ballet’s Nutcracker’

With drifts of snow, 8 tons of scenery, lighting and props, and a giant Christmas tree. Nearly 20 performances materialize on the Fabulous Fox stage. Dec. 9-24. 7:30 p.m. Dec. 9, 15-16, 20; 2 and 7:30 p.m. Dec. 10, 17, 21-23; 2 and 7 p.m. Dec. 11, 18; 1 p.m. Dec. 24. $25-$128. Fox Theatre, 660 Peachtree St. N.E., Atlanta. 855-285-8499, foxtheatre.org

Christmas with the ASO

More than 400 musicians take the stage at Atlanta Symphony Hall to tell the Christmas story through music and song.

8 p.m. Dec. 9; 2 and 8 p.m. Dec. 10. $21.60-$70.20. Woodruff Arts Center, 1280 Peachtree St. N.E., Atlanta. 404-733-4900, atlantasymphony.org.

Holiday in Lights at Centennial Olympic Park

Bask in the more than 150,000 lights sparkling in the night throughout Centennial Olympic Park, including those found on a colossal Christmas tree. Did we mention that it's free? It's free, not counting parking or MARTA.

Free. Nov. 19 through Jan. 1. Centennial Olympic Park, 265 Park Ave. W. N.W., Atlanta. 404-222-7275, centennialpark.com.

Lanier Islands Magical Nights of Lights and Winter Adventure

An avalanche of new additions help trim this annual event’s tree. This includes triple zip lines, a mammoth screen atop Big Beach featuring holiday entertainment, a bubble-filled ice skating rink, interactive games, a live Nativity scene and more. The Magical Nights of Lights offers a mobile app, which makes the drive-through experience interactive. Lanier World water park transforms into the snow-packed Winter Adventure. Play in the white stuff, and ride snow tubes and sleds. 

Magical Nights of Lights: Nov. 18 through Jan. 3. $45 per car. Winter Adventure: Same dates. Adults, $29.99 online, $35.99 at the gate, seniors (62 and older) and kids (36 inches and under), $19.99 online, $23.99 at the gate. Lanier Islands, 7000 Lanier Islands Parkway, Buford. 770-945-8787, lanierislands.com.

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