Our last story about Christmas in Atlanta discussed memories of Christmases past as well as some new opportunities to enjoy celebrations that can become new family traditions. In this one, we’ll explore Atlanta holiday lights and how they can help create new memories.
The first holiday lights display we’ll visit is at the Atlanta Botanical Gardens, which adjoins Piedmont Park. This is a wonderful addition to what has been called Atlanta’s Central Park – a 189-acre sprawling green space located in the heart of the central city.
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Originally designed by Joseph F. Johnson to host two major expositions, the park was home to the Piedmont Exposition in October 1887 and the Cotton States and International Exposition in 1895. In the early 20th century, the sons of New York Central Park architect Frederick Law Olmstead redesigned the park, adding scenic paths and joining it with the Ansley park system.
Through the years, Piedmont Park has also been home to many athletic events including the Atlanta Crackers, Atlanta’s first professional baseball team, from 1902-1904. Other events included the original UGA vs. Georgia Tech baseball competitions and UGA vs. Auburn football’s early games.
The Atlanta Botanical Gardens is a 30-acre botanical garden located adjacent to Piedmont Park. It’s actually a private non-profit, incorporated in 1976, to “develop and maintain plant collections for the purpose of display, education, research and enjoyment.” Throughout the year, the Gardens hosts a variety of activities and exhibits including glass art by Dale Chihuly as well as concerts featuring world-class entertainers.
by Helen Spitler
November and December programs include the Holiday Model Train Show, Art of Food, Garden Tours, and their fabulous “Garden Lights, Holiday Nights,” one of the most popular of all Atlanta holiday lights displays. Other activities include a visit with Saint Nick and the Ride-On-Train. Most events require advance tickets.
Another family-friendly destination to experience Atlanta holiday lights might be Six Flags Over Georgia, located about 10 miles west of Atlanta’s downtown area, off of I-20. This year they have special winter hours, featuring “Holiday in the Park” through the first weekend in January. Most rides and shows include special holiday references and displays.
Callaway Gardens, in Pine Mountain, about an hour south of the airport on I-85, offers its annual “Fantasy in Lights” spectacular with five miles of displays you can drive through in your own car or enjoy a ride on the Jolly Trolley. There are also shows presented on Robin Lake Beach. Other events include shopping in the Christmas Village (no admission charge), dining at various venues, holiday floral and topiary displays, organ concerts, story time with Mrs. Claus, train rides, and pictures with Santa. Special hotel rates include admission to many of the activities.
If you’d rather just do a drive-through, check out the Atlanta Motor Speedway’s “Holiday Light Spectacular Gift of Lights,” located about 20 miles south of Atlanta, on US highways 19 and 41. Another option is Life University’s “Lights of Life” displays. It’s located in Marietta, about 16 miles north on I-75.
So whatever your holiday pleasure, Atlanta has many options for your family to enjoy!