A comprehensive guide to finding Santa, seeing lights and celebrating the season. Plus, the best ways to give back.
By Tracy Brown
HOME FOR THE HOLIDAYS | SMYRNA VILLAGE GREEN | NOVEMBER 28
Childlike wonder awaits! Holiday crafts start at 5 p.m. with musical performances by local choirs and a parade at 7 p.m. Santa himself will light the tree at 7:15 and be available for pictures inside the Community Center until 8 p.m.
INFO | smyrnacity.com
SANTA ARRIVES ON THE SQUARE | MARIETTA SQUARE | NOVEMBER 30
Help welcome Old St. Nick to Glover Park! The holiday festivities, which include Santa’s arrival to light the tree, begin on November 30 at 3 p.m. Pictures with Santa begin December 1.
INFO | 770-794-5601, mariettacalendar.com
SANTA ARRIVAL CELEBRATION | HISTORIC DOWNTOWN ACWORTH | DECEMBER 1
Come to Frana Brown Park to celebrate the arrival of Santa amidst a beautiful festival of trees. Mayor Tommy Allgood will kick off the festivities by reading The Night Before Christmas. Enjoy a live nativity, face-painting and hot chocolate.
INFO | 770-917-1234
A STORYBOOK CHRISTMAS | POWDER SPRINGS TOWN SQUARE | DECEMBER 1
The holidays kick off with a parade down Marietta Street at 5:30 p.m. Then,
head to the Town Square for the Annual Tree Lighting with hot chocolate,
cookies and pictures with Santa. INFO | cityofpowdersprings.org
SANTA PARADE AND DAY WITH SANTA | DOWNTOWN KENNESAW | DECEMBER 2
Santa will make his grand entrance at noon with a Main Street parade featuring marching bands, decorated floats, vintage cars and costumed characters. Ensuing activities include FREE snow tubing and inflatables, kids’ crafts, visits with Santa, stage entertainment, and a holiday gift market until 6 p.m.
INFO | adaywithsanta.com
LIGHTS OF LIFE | LIFE UNIVERSITY | NOVEMBER 23 – DECEMBER 31
A tradition since 1989, the spectacular Life campus lights display kicks off Thanksgiving night and goes through New Year’s Eve (rain or shine). Experience pony and train rides, a petting zoo and concession stand. Monday- Thursday, 6-9 p.m.; Friday-Sunday, 6-10 p.m. Tickets $5-$10 per car.
INFO | 678-331-4342
CHRISTMAS AT CALLANWOLDE | CALLANWOLDE FINE ARTS CENTER | NOVEMBER 24 – DECEMBER 12
Step into an enchanting world as the Candler Mansion is transformed by professional interior and floral designers. The museum is open for self-guided tours 12-8 p.m. daily. Tickets start at $20. Please bring a donation for Toys for Tots.
INFO | callanwolde.org/christmas-at-callanwolde
LUMINARY AT MARKAY GALLERY | MARIETTA SQUARE | DECEMBER 1
For the final show in their First Friday series, Markay Gallery will illuminate the gallery in a holiday display of gold, silver and sparkling works of art. From 6-10 p.m. FREE admission.
INFO | markaygallery.com
MARIETTA PILGRIMAGE CHRISTMAS HOME TOUR | HISTORIC MARIETTA | DECEMBER 2 & DECEMBER 3
The 31st Annual Marietta Pilgrimage will feature six elegantly trimmed homes in the Whitlock Avenue district, along with many historic public buildings adorned for the season. Tours are Saturday, 9 a.m.-6 p.m. (day tour) and 7-9:30 p.m. (candlelight tour); Sunday, 10 a.m.-6 p.m. Tickets start at $25.
INFO | mariettapilgrimage.com
THE 3RD ANNUAL JLCM GINGERBREAD GALA | HYATT REGENCY ATLANTA-NORTHWEST | NOVEMBER 18
The perfect excuse to break out that LBD, hosted by the Junior League of Cobb-Marietta! Enjoy a plated dinner, music, silent auction and the judging of the Gingerbread House Competition. Tickets $70. INFO | JLCM.org/gingerbreadhouse
OPEN-AIR ICE SKATING RINK | GLOVER PARK | NOVEMBER 17 – JANUARY 3, 2018
Ice skate in the center of the Marietta Square! Open every day, plus Thanksgiving and Christmas! Cost $12, includes skate rental.
INFO + HOURS | winterwonderlandmariettasquare.com
A CHRISTMAS CAROL | COBB ENERGY PERFORMING ARTS CENTER | DECEMBER 8 – 24
Dickens’ beloved tale is brought to life in this adaptation by David H. Bell. Expect a Broadway-scale production with beautiful live music and an all-star Atlanta cast.
INFO | cobbenergycentre.com
REINDEER DAY | CHATTAHOOCHEE NATURE CENTER | DECEMBER 10
Festivities begin at noon for the 7th Annual Reindeer Day, including crafts, face painting, marshmallow roasting and, of course, live reindeer! Tickets $6-$10. Children under 2 are free.
INFO | chattnaturecenter.org
A CHRISTMAS TRADITION | THE STRAND THEATRE | DECEMBER 15 – DECEMBER 23
The Strand’s most elaborate show of the year is back! A Christmas Tradition is a song and dance revue showcasing the historical theater’s awe-inspiring sets and effects. Evening performances 8 p.m. or matinees 3 p.m. Tickets $30.
INFO | earlsmithstrand.org
NYE BALL DROP | EXTRAVAGANZA MARIETTA SQUARE | DECEMBER 31
The bash kicks off with music, carnival games, an escape room competition, ice sculptures and demonstrations for children! Children’s ball drop is 7 p.m.; at midnight, anticipate a one-of-a-kind Square Drop.
INFO | winterwonderlandmariettasquare.com
Hands & Heart
THANKS FOR GIVING | THE CENTER FOR FAMILY RESOURCES | STARTING OCTOBER 2
The Center for Family Resources in Marietta is a nonprofit organization that works to stabilize and empower families toward self-sufficiency. Sign up to volunteer to provide a Thanksgiving meal to a family in need.
INFO | thecfr.org
HOLIDAY TOY SHOP | MUST MINISTRIES | OCTOBER 16 – DECEMBER 21
Help serve meals, work at the store or donate items to the MUST Donation Center (Chastain Place Office Park, 55 Chastain Road NW, Ste. 110, in Kennesaw). For a list of accepted items, visit mustministries.org. Volunteers and donations are also needed for MUST’s Holiday Toy Shop where families receive toys, fleece blankets, winter clothing, school supplies, underwear and a family game.
INFO | 770-427-9862, email@example.com, mustministries.org/givehelp
ANNUAL MILITARY TOY DRIVE | THINK MELISSA TEAM | DONATIONS THROUGH DECEMBER 13
Accepting new, unwrapped toys and gift cards to support local military families through The Georgia National Guard Family Program. Drop | off through December 13 at the Think Melissa Team real estate office (3405 Dallas Hwy., Ste. 720, Marietta), BounceU Kennesaw, Aqua-Tots Kennesaw or CrossFit Allatoona.
INFO | 770-310-3269, Melissa@ThinkMelissa.com, ThinkMelissa.com
CHRISTMAS AT BRAWNER HOLIDAY EVENT & COAT DRIVE | SMYRNA | DECEMBER 15
The fun kicks off at 5 p.m. with games, crafts, hayrides, cookie decorating, balloon creatures, face painting, s’mores, Santa and more! Admission is new / gently used coats for MUST Ministries of Smyrna.
INFO | smyrnacity.com
CHRISTMAS TOY GIVEAWAY | THE ATLANTA DREAM CENTER | DECEMBER 16
The Atlanta Dream Center impacts the homeless, commercially sexually exploited, and at-risk and underprivileged children. On December 16, the center will host the biggest single-day toy giveaway in Atlanta. Donations are needed, as well as event-day volunteers to deliver toys, pray for individuals and share the Christmas story.
INFO | To volunteer: atldreamcenter.com/event/christmas-toy-giveaway. Toy drop-off locations: christmastoygiveaway.com. 404-817-3502
FREE LUNCH PROGRAM | YMCA EAST AND WEST COBB | ONGOING
The YMCA free lunch program, along with the Walmart Foundation, provides a nutritious lunch to children around Cobb during school breaks and holidays.
INFO | To drop food donations or volunteer: East Cobb Family YMCA 678-569-9622 or Northwest Family YMCA 770-423-9622
Places of Peace
MENORAH LIGHTING | DOWNTOWN ACWORTH | TBD
Everyone is invited to experience the Festival of Lights in historic Acworth! The event begins at 6 p.m. at Cowan Road and Main Street, with a local rabbi lighting the first Hanukkah candle. A reception follows at Dogwood Forest, featuring traditional Hanukkah dishes.
INFO | 770-917-1234
BETHLEHEM WALK MOUNTAIN VIEW UMC | MARIETTA | DECEMBER 2 – 3, 8 – 9
Take a stroll through historic Bethlehem as you haggle with shopkeepers, sign the census and pay your taxes to Caesar Augustus’s tax collector. Plus, sample fine dried fruits, homemade bread and hot apple cider. Finish the night by glimpsing the reason for the season at the nativity.
INFO | mvumc.org/ministries/bethlehem-walk/