For many of us, nothing signals the beginning of the holiday season quite like a visit to a large scale holiday light display. The twinkling lights, festive holiday music and riding or walking in the fresh night air helps all of us, young and old, feel the magic and spirit of Christmas! Luckily there are several places either inside the city or a short drive away where you can take your family or a group of friends and experience the fun and magic yourself. We’ve compiled a list of some of our favorites to share with you. Some of these may require a day trip or even an overnight stay, but we think they are definitely worth it!
Pettit Creek Farms is a favorite fall farm destination for many residents of Atlanta’s northern suburbs, and the Christmas season is no different! You will be able to take a drive or hayride through beautiful Christmas lights, take as many pictures as you like while visiting with Santa and his reindeer, and meet the animals of the farm at the petting zoo. Afterwards enjoy hot cocoa and s’mores, and you can even add on a camel ride! Please note that Santa is only at the farm on Thursdays – Sundays.
Now thru Dec 30, Tue-Thu 6pm – 9pm, Fri-Sat 6pm – 10pm, Sun 6pm – 9pm
Pettit Creek Farms – 337 Cassville Rd, Cartersville, GA 30120
You’ll find a drive thru holiday wonderland just south of downtown, where the Lakewood Amphitheater parking lot has been transformed into a festive drive thru experience. Tickets are timed to allow for smooth traffic flow, and the drive should take about 45 minutes as you traverse the beautifully lit scenes.
Now thru Jan 1, timed entries Mon – Wed 6pm – 10pm, Fri – Sat 6pm – 11pm
Lakewood Amphitheater – 2002 Lakewood Way SW, Atlanta, GA 30315
Named one of the “Top 10 Places to See Holiday Lights” by National Geographic Traveler, Fantasy in Lights has been lighting up the night in Pine Mountain since 1992. One of it’s most iconic scenes was introduced in 2020, and features a field of lights nearly two football fields long and a 10 story tall Christmas tree, making it the tallest Christmas tree in the South! You can choose to drive through the lights yourself, or you can bundle up and take a ride on the Jolly Trolley. Be sure to visit the Christmas Village while you are there, featuring sweet treats, Christmas themed gifts made by Georgia artisans, and visits with Santa Claus himself. Book a room at the resort and turn your trip to see the lights into a weekend getaway, or enjoy it as an easy day trip – Callaway Resort & Gardens is only 1.5 hours drive from Atlanta.
Now thru Jan 2, daily with tickets times 6pm – 9:30pm
Callaway Resort & Gardens – 17617 US-27, Pine Mountain, GA 31822
The 12th annual Garden Lights, Holiday Nights adventure is going on now, and is one of Atlanta’s favorite holiday traditions. While guests can expect to see many of their favorite displays from previous seasons, there will also be new light scenes to enjoy, including an all-new exhibition in the Anne Cox Chambers Garden by French artist Cédric LeBorgne, and three massive sculptures that were originally part of the garden’s spring/summer Origami in the Garden exhibition. Named one of the top 10 holiday light shows in the country by USA Today, this event often sells out on weekend nights and on dates closely surrounding Christmas, so purchase your tickets soon!
Now thru Jan 14, 5pm – 10pm daily
Atlanta Botanical Garden – 1345 Piedmont Ave NE, Atlanta, GA 30309
IllumiNights at the Zoo is a Chinese Lantern Festival featuring beautiful illuminated lanterns hand-crafted and painted by Chinese artisans. Attendees will stroll through Zoo Atlanta after dark and see more than 80 nature-inspired lanterns – some of which are more than 20 feet tall – depicting creatures from around the globe. Because of Zoo Atlanta’s commitment to sustainability, all of the lanterns on display also feature environmentally-friendly LED lights. Keep in mind that most of the full-time residents of the zoo go indoors before dark, so you will need to pay a visit to them earlier in the day. However, some of the gift shops and food and beverage locations will be open, as well as the beloved Endangered Species Carousel. During the festival you’ll be able to purchase special lantern-themed items and snacks.
Now thru Jan 15, 5:30pm – 9:30pm daily, last entry at 8pm
Zoo Atlanta – 800 Cherokee Avenue SE, Atlanta, GA 30315
Perhaps the most impressive residential light display in north Georgia, Lights of Joy in Kennesaw is a favorite of Cobb County and surrounding residents who return year after year. Over 230 trees have been wrapped in lights, 40 of which are musical and synchronized to the Christmas carols that you’ll hear as you walk through the display. Visitors are encouraged to park at the church across the street and walk through the display, as much of it cannot be viewed from the road.
Now thru Jan 1, 6pm – 11pm daily
Lights of Joy – 1510 Ben King Road NW, Kennesaw, GA30144
The light show at Marietta Life University has been drawing huge local crowds for years, largely due to word-of-mouth rather than traditional advertising. The light show consists of a 1.5-mile drive through the Marietta college’s campus. It features one million LED lights with over 100 different elements, including a 65-foot-tall Santa and Sleigh display that is among the tallest of its kind in the Southeast. Additional activities include a petting zoo, train rides, pony rides, pictures with Santa, along with food vendors dishing out delicious treats.
Now thru Dec 31
Life University – 1269 Barclay Circle, Marietta, GA 30060
Margaritaville’s Lakeside Lights Spectacular at Lanier Islands
Head north to Lake Lanier Islands to walk through this lakeside lighting extravaganza, a favorite destination of many Atlantans year after year. You’ll see light displays that range from traditional holiday scenes, to high tech images and Margaritaville themed scenes as well. Before you start your stroll through the light display accompanied by festive seasonal music, grab a drink and a snack at Santa’s Tiki Bar. Serving cocktails and craft beer, along with popcorn, cotton candy and other sweet treats, the Tiki Bar is conveniently located at the beginning of the walking show so you can take your food and drink with you through the lights. In the middle of the light show you will find the Tipsy Elf, a refill station for cocktails, hot cocoa and various snacks. You can also arrive early to play Polar Mini Golf, or for a truly unique experience, arrive early for Margaritaville’s License to Chill Snow Island. With ice skating, a snow play area, fire pits (with s’mores!), carnival rides and more, Snow Island is ranked as one of the best snow attractions in the southeast.
Now thru Jan 16, daily beginning at 5pm
Margaritaville at Lanier Islands – 7650 Lanier Islands Pwky, Buford, GA 30518
Things will look a little different this Christmas at Stone Mountain. Instead of the Snow Mountain attraction that has been so popular in recent years, the park has something new lighting up the sky. This year marks the first presentation of Stone Mountain’s Magical Christmas Drone Show. Visitors to the park will be treated to large scale and festive aerial formations professionally choreographed with color-changing lights, and synced to popular holiday music. The park will also play host to the World’s Largest Christmas Light Show, which features custom lighting projected onto the mountain in sync with holiday carols, followed by a fireworks show. Each night you can also visit with Santa, stroll through the Musical Frosted Forest and catch Santa’s Big Flight as he arrives through the night sky.
Now thru Jan 1, daily 5pm – 9pm
Stone Mountain Park – 1000 Robert E. Lee Blvd, Stone Mountain, GA 30083
Take your family on a magical road trip through 2 million animated lights synchronized to a mix of holiday music and other tunes. Scenes will have you whizzing through mountainous terrain and traversing glacial peaks as you make your way to Santa’s workshop. Reindeer Road features the world’s largest animated toyshop! Tickets are priced by the carload, and discounts are available for weekday time slots.
Now thru Jan 1, daily 6pm – 10pm
Six Flags White Water – 250 Cobb Pkwy N, Marietta, GA 30062