20 free things to do in metro Atlanta in December

The Chick-fil-A float heads down Peachtree Street during the Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl parade Saturday, December 31, 2016, in Atlanta Ga. STEVE SCHAEFER / SPECIAL TO THE AJC
Steve Schaefer

‘Tis the season for holiday cheer and vibrant celebrations throughout Atlanta! As December unfolds, the city transforms into a magical wonderland, offering a variety of free activities to revel in the festive spirit. From enchanting Christmas events and menorah lightings to lively New Year’s Eve celebrations, Atlanta welcomes you to immerse yourself in the joy of the season.

Discover the warmth of Atlanta’s holiday spirit through holiday-themed yoga, picturesque photo ops, and the gift of free live music events. This guide unveils 20 delightful and cost-free activities to ensure your December is brimming with merriment, memories and the unmistakable charm of Atlanta during the holidays. Let the festivities begin!

Atlanta Christkindl Market - Buckhead

Experience the excitement of Atlanta’s 7th annual Christkindl Market, where German traditions merge with the city’s energy. Enjoy festive treats and handcrafted treasures!

Location: Buckhead - 290 East Paces Ferry Rd. NE; Website: christkindlmarket.org; Date: Until Saturday, Dec. 24

Swing into the Holidays - Tucker Brewing Company (Tucker)

Kick off the holidays with the MetroGnomes, as they’re dressed in festive attire and spread holiday cheer through music. Don your holiday sweater and join in the merry sing-along!

Location: Tucker - 2003 S Bibb Dr.; Website: atlantafreedombands.com; Dates: Friday, Dec. 1; Time: 7 p.m.

Allatoona Jazz Band Holiday Performances - The Battery Atlanta

Experience the joy of the season with the Allatoona High School Jazz Band. Catch their festive performances at the Georgia Power Pavilion Stage throughout the month.

Location: Cumberland - 800 Battery Ave. SE; Website: batteryatl.com; Dates: Dec. 1, 8, 14 and 15

Carriage Rides - Downtown Norcross

Embark on a stylish holiday journey in Downtown Norcross with complimentary carriage rides through Dec. 22. Enjoy the festive spirit with magical lights and joyful jingles.

Location: Norcross - 45 S Peachtree St.; Website: norcrossga.net; Dates: Friday, Dec. 1 - Friday, Dec. 22; Time: 6:30 - 8:30 p.m.

Nightly Tree Shows - Colony Square (Midtown)

Immerse in the festive spirit at Midtown’s Living Room with nightly complimentary tree lighting shows. Witness the spectacular transformation of the magnificent tree, as it illuminates with vibrant lights and resonates with festive holiday music.

Location: Midtown - 1197 Peachtree St. NE; Website: colonysquare.com; Dates: Saturday, Dec. 2 - Monday, Dec. 25

Holiday Spirit - Oakland Cemetery

Celebrate the holiday magic at Oakland Cemetery’s Holiday Spirit. Enjoy festive activities like photos with Santa, decorated mausoleums, live music, family crafts and more.

Location: East Atlanta - 248 Oakland Ave. SE; Website: oaklandcemetery.com; Date: Saturday, Dec. 2 - Sunday, Dec. 3; Time: 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Saturdays with Santa - Ponce City Market

Take the kids to see Santa on The Yard for selfies, faux snowball fights, and complimentary candy canes.

Location: East Atlanta - 675 Ponce De Leon Ave. NE; Website: poncecitymarket.com; Date: Saturday, Dec. 2; Time: Noon to 4 p.m.

Hot Cocoa and Cider Pop Up - The Works

Wrap up in your coziest attire and savor complimentary hot cocoa and cider. Keep an eye out for Snoopy during this first-come, first-served event.

Location: Northeast - 1295 Chattahoochee Ave. NW; Website: theworksatl.com; Date: Saturdays, Dec. 2, 9 and 16

Sports on the Screen - Peachtree Corners

College football enthusiasts are invited to join fellow fans for “Sports on the Screen” to catch Georgia vs. Alabama at the Town Green for the SEC Championship game.

Location: Peachtree Corners - 5140 Town Center Blvd.; Website: ptreecornerstowncenter.com; Date: Saturday, Dec. 2; Time: 4 p.m.

The December Show: Opening Reception - Whitespace Gallery

The December Show makes a comeback, featuring new artwork from different artists. Join the celebration with cocktails and good cheer as they reflect on the past and look toward the future.

Location: East Atlanta - 814 Edgewood Ave. NE; Website: whitespace814.com; Date: Saturday, Dec. 2; Time: 7 - 10 p.m.

Outdoor Yoga and Hot Toddies - Shops Around Lenox (Buckhead)

Indulge in a festive Yoga & Hot Toddies event led by CorePower Yoga instructors, and savor complimentary hot toddies to kick off the holiday season. Beginners are welcome, so dress comfortably and unroll your mat for a mindful experience.

Location: Buckhead - 3400 Around Lenox Rd. NE; Website: eventbrite.com; Date: Sunday, Dec. 3; Time: 10:30 - 11:15 a.m.

Tree Lighting on the Square - Downtown Decatur Square

Kick off the festivities with Decatur’s annual tradition of holiday carols and hot cocoa by the tree on Decatur Square. Then, at 7 pm, witness Santa personally flipping the switch to illuminate the tree, followed by a delightful “snow” experience!

Location: Decatur - 509 N McDonough St.; Website: facebook.com/event; Date: Thursday, Dec. 7; Time: 6 p.m.

Noche de Velas - Aurora Theatre (Lawrenceville)

Join Aurora Theatre in celebrating Colombian holiday traditions with Hermanos Calero, featuring food, music and candlelight.

Location: Lawrenceville - 128 E Pike St.; Website: auroratheatre.com; Date: Thursday, Dec. 7; Time: 7 - 9 p.m.

Grand Menorah Lighting - Atlantic Station

Join the Chanukah celebration at Atlantic Station with treats and activities presented by Chabad Intown, culminating in a special grand Menorah lighting with the Atlanta Jewish community. RSVP here.

Location: Midtown - 1380 Atlantic Dr. NW; Website: atlanticstation.com; Date: Wednesday, Dec. 13; Time: 6 - 7:30 p.m.

Creative Kids: Opening Night Reception - The Reeves House Visual Arts Center (Woodstock)

Save the date for the Creative Kids Opening Night Reception, featuring the incredible talents of K–12 artists. Don’t miss the chance to celebrate the creativity of the next generation and enjoy the unique perspectives of young artists in the community.

Location: Woodstock - 734 Reeves St.; Website: woodstockarts.org; Date: Thursday, Dec. 14; Time: 6 - 8 p.m.

Holiday Movie on Camp Street - The Works

Cozy up with blankets on Camp Street for a free showing of Christmas with The Kranks at 2 and 3:30 p.m. Enjoy laughter as the Kranks scramble to plan a last-minute Christmas for their daughter, with complimentary hot beverages from La Dolce Vita Mobile Bar.

Location: Northeast - 1295 Chattahoochee Ave. NW; Website: theworksatl.com; Date: Saturdays, Dec. 16; Time: 2 and 3:30 p.m.

History Lecture on Asa Candler, Jr. - Hapeville Depot Museum

Discover the history of Asa Candler Jr. and early Hapeville at a captivating lecture hosted at the Hapeville Depot Museum, featuring insights into the Atlanta Speedway, Emory’s almost-established campus in Hapeville and more. Enjoy light refreshments, and a book signing by author Sara A. H. Butler.

Location: Hapeville - 620 S Central Ave.; Website: hapevilledepot.org; Date: Saturday, Dec. 16; Time: 5 p.m.

A Christmas Festival of Lessons and Carols - The Cathedral of St. Philip (Buckhead)

Join in the joy of a beloved carol service inspired by King’s College, Cambridge, celebrating the birth of Jesus with anthems and carols. A meaningful way to embrace the season’s spirit, all are welcome to share this joyous celebration with family and friends.

Location: Buckhead -  2744 Peachtree Rd.; Website: cathedralatl.org; Date: Sunday, Dec. 17; Time: 4 p.m.

Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl Parade - Downtown Atlanta

Gather your family for a fun-filled kickoff to game day at the Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl Parade in Downtown Atlanta. The event promises joy with a FanFest, floats, award-winning marching bands, classic cars, mascots, and more.

Location: Downtown Atlanta; Website: chick-fil-apeachbowl.com; Date: Saturday, Dec. 30; Time: 8 - 9:30 a.m.

New Year’s Eve Bash - The Battery Atlanta

Bid farewell to 2023 and welcome 2024 at The Battery Atlanta’s seventh annual New Year’s Eve Bash! Enjoy Early Inning festivities at 6 p.m. with Brady Rymer’s music and a kids’ countdown, followed by Late Innings at 9 p.m. featuring the 12 South Band. The night concludes at midnight with fireworks and a confetti display over Truist Park.

Location: Cumberland - 800 Battery Ave. SE; Website: batteryatl.com; Dates: Sunday, Dec. 31; Time: 6 p.m. to midnight

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