Bright Lights, Big City: Holiday Light Shows in Atlanta

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For a mega-watt evening, bundle up and flip the switch on some electric lighting displays around Atlanta. If you’re looking for an evening outing that will amaze the entire family, you’re in the right place. Read on to find the best spots around town to be dazzled.

IllumiNights at the Zoo: A Chinese Lantern Festival

Check out one of Atlanta's newest and most noteworthy holiday events at Zoo Atlanta. IllumiNights is a nighttime lantern wonderland celebrating the beauty of the natural world. Stroll the Zoo after dark to be inspired by more than 80 animal lanterns – some up to 20 feet tall – depicting some of Earth’s most charismatic creatures. Each lantern is made and hand-painted by Chinese artisans. Wildlife lights the night at the all-NEW IllumiNights at the Zoo: A Chinese Lantern Festival, opening in November 2021 and running through mid-January.

Nightly at 5:30; Adult (12+) $20.99-$24.99, Child (3-11) $17.99-$19.99, Child 2 & Under free

800 Cherokee Ave. SE
Grant Park
Online: zooatlanta.org

 

Worlds of Illumination Drive-Through Light Display

Choose from two new Worlds of Illumination drive-through light experiences for the ultimate holiday activity for all ages—from tots to grandparents, and everyone, in between. At the Atlanta Motor Speedway in Hampton you'll have an Arctic Adventure, while at Six Flags White Water in Marietta you'll have a Rockin' Christmas. Both shows feature millions of colorful lights and animated displays synchronized to holiday music.

Attractions are about one mile in length and take approximately 25-30 minutes to drive through. World of Illumination’s shows will be open nightly, including holidays, from 6:00 PM to 10:00 PM. All ticket prices are per vehicle, so guests can load up their cars with family and friends to enjoy the show. Show addresses are:

Atlanta Motor Speedway
1500 Tara Pl.
Hampton, GA

and

Six Flags Whitewater
250 Cobb Pkwy. N
Marietta, GA

Lakeside Lights at Margaritaville Lanier Islands

Go on a magical walk through an amazing light show set to festive seasonal music. Unlike your typical drive-through light show, this one is a dazzling lighting extravaganza, and you can take a break along the way for cocktails, hot chocolate, and s'mores.

7541 Lanier Islands Pkwy.
Buford
Online: margaritavilleresorts.com

Garden Lights, Holiday Nights at Atlanta Botanical Garden

The million-light display at the Botanical Garden can't be beat. Family favorites include the orchestral orbs (glowing balls that blink in time with holiday classics), the tricked-out train display, and the fire pits for roasting s’mores (while mom and dad drink a cocktail from the cash adult bar). Be sure to bring a stroller for little legs, and don't miss the incredible laser light display in the orchid house. Guests can expect new twists, including a colorful Glowing Grove along the Flower Walk, oversized flowers leading to Ice Goddess and several lighted sculptures from the 2021 summer exhibition SUPERnatural: Glass Art by Jason Gamrath.

Details: November 13 to January 15 from 5 to 11 p.m., Ticket prices vary by peak dates and flexibility. Tickets available online or in person.

1345 Piedmont Avenue
Atlanta, Ga
404-876-5859
Online: atlantabg.org

Fantasy in Lights at Callaway Garden

With more than 15 displays and 8 million lights this year, the Fantasy in Lights drive-through experience is worth the hour and a half trek from Atlanta. Not sure your kiddos can bear a road trip where the destination is more time in the car? Opt to ride the Jolly Trolly (no car seats, but bring your coats - it’s open air!). Don’t forget to hit the Christmas Village before you head back home. Filled with ornaments, treats, and the Big Guy himself (photos available), the kids will love the chance to stretch their legs and marinate in the merriment.

Details: November 19 to January 3, from 6-9 p.m. Prices vary by peak night so check the website for accurate pricing, Free for ages 5 and under.  To order tickets, click here or call 1.800.CALLAWAY (800.225.5292).

17800 US Hwy 27
Pine Mountain, GA
800.852.3810
Online: callawaygardens.com

Holiday Lights at Brook Run Park

Holiday Lights are back at Brook Run Park. This year's theme is Hollywood Holidays. Starting December 1, enjoy sets from Dr. Seuss' The Grinch, National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation and A Christmas Story at Brook Run Park. On Wednesday, December 1 catch the lighting ceremony from 5-8 p.m., complete with hot cocoa and character appearances. Lights turn on at 6 p.m.
 
Free. Nightly from Dec. 1-25.
 
4770 N. Peachtree Rd.
Dunwoody
Online: facebook.com

ATL Holiday Lights at Atlantic Station

ATL Holiday Lights is back with a bigger, better and longer lights display than ever before! This year’s show features hand-crafted light displays from everyone’s favorite holiday movies, a mini neighborhood featuring some local Atlanta establishments and more.

For more information and FAQs, click here. When you’re done walking or driving through the display, grab dinner at Atlantic Station and don’t forget to catch Celebration at the Station every hour from 5 – 9 p.m.

Peak Nights: $35 per car advance, $40 at the gate; Thursday Walking Nights: $15 per adult advance, $20 at the gate, Kids 15 and under FREE (plus sales tax and ticket fees)

 

Lights of Life at Life University

Talk about some holiday spirit! This incredible light exhibit is a zero-profit event for Life University in Marietta that boasts the tallest Santa and his sleigh display in the Southeast. New displays are added yearly, and the entire arrangement is unique each year. Be sure to hit the petting zoo, train rides, pony rides, and visit with Santa before you leave, but you might want to wait until after driving-through the light exhibit to tell the littles. You won’t be able to keep them in the car, otherwise.

Details: November 26, 2015 to December 31, 2015 from 6 to 10 p.m. Friday to Sunday, $10 per car, Monday to Thursday, $5 per car, Train, pony rides, petting zoo, and Santa are additional, from $3 - $12.

1269 Barclay Circle
Marietta, GA
770-426-2600
Online: life.edu

Stone Mountain Christmas

Another pedestrian option for families with littles who just don’t love the car, Stone Mountain decks the halls with millions of lights, and offers plenty of options for keeping the kiddos entertained from taking a ride on the train (decorated for the holidays and rockin’ some jolly tunes) to taking in a visit with Santa, Rudolph, or the Bumble. Get there early and take a ride on Atlanta's only snow covered slope! Night owls in your family? Stick around for the flying Snow Angel and fireworks finale at 8:45 or 9:45 p.m., depending on the schedule.

Details: November 7th to January 3rd (select dates). Purchase tickets here.

1000 Robert E. Lee Blvd
Stone Mountain, GA
800-401-2407
Online: stonemountainpark.com

 

 

A Country Christmas at Pettit Creek Farms

Experience all the warmth and charm of a Southern Family Christmas at Pettit Creek Farms! Take a lovely drive or hayride through more than a mile of beautiful Christmas lights. You only need to pay for one option, either the hayride or the drive thru. Experience a nativity (animals on Saturday) and meet the animals at the petting zoo. Getting chilly? Warm up by the fire and enjoy s’mores, funnel cakes, hot chocolate and more from a convenient concession stands.

Nov. 25-Dec. 30. Tues.-Thur. 6-9 p.m.; Fri.-Sat. 6-10 p.m. and Sun. 6-9 p.m. $30-$45; hayride, $10.

337 Cassville Rd.
Cartersville
770-386-8688
Online: pettitcreekfarms.com

Featured image via iStock.

—Shelley Massey

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