Christmas in the South - Holiday Festivals and Christmas Lights

  • 01 of 10

    Christmas at Biltmore Estate

    Christmas at Biltmore Estate
    ••• CC / Flickr / anoldent

    Christmas at Biltmore
    November 7, 2014 – January 11, 2015
    Asheville, North Carolina

    America's largest house, Biltmore House on the magnificent Biltmore Estate, is even more magical than usual throughout the holidays, giving new meaning to the lyrics, Deck the halls with boughs of holly. Continuing the traditions that began when George W. Vanderbilt first welcomed his friends and family to Biltmore on Christmas Eve 1895, the estate features dozens of Christmas trees, miles of ribbon, garland and lights.

    The 2014 displays are inspired by the theme A Vanderbilt Christmas Celebration, featuring opulent décor reminiscent of the Gilded Age with elements that recall George Vanderbilt's legacy. To add to the sparkle on scheduled days, holiday music performed by ensembles fills the halls with seasonal cheer and festive holiday demonstrations are offered throughout the season.

    Daytime Visits
    Daytime guests may enjoy special complimentary seminars and activities on select days throughout the...MORE estate, including decorating ideas, complimentary wine tastings at the Winery, pictures with St. Nick and more.

    Candlelight Christmas Evenings
    November 7, 2014 - January 3, 2015

    Candlelight Christmas Evenings tickets include evening admission to Biltmore House, plus daytime access to Biltmore Gardens, Antler Hill Village and Biltmore Winery on the same or next day as your evening visit. Ticket price levels vary depending on the day of the week you choose for your visit. Hotel and ticket packages are offered at the Inn on Biltmore Estate and other Asheville hotels, subject to availability.

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    Next Destination: Fantasy in Lights - Callaway Gardens

    Continue to 2 of 10 below.
  • 02 of 10

    Christmas at Callaway Gardens - Fantasy in Lights

    Fantasy in Lights
    ••• CC/Flickr/Alkula's

    Callaway Gardens - Fantasy in Lights
    November 21 - December 30, 2014
    Pine Mountain, Georgia

    In its 23rd festive year, Fantasy in Lights at Callaway Gardens features 15 larger-than-life holiday scenes illuminated with eight million twinkling lights. Scenes include Snowflake Valley, a winter wonderland of snowflakes and white lights, a Magical Christmas Garden and Santa's Workshop, complete with animated versions of Santa's elves busy at work. Set apart from the drivable route, two spectacular scenes combine narration, music and choreographed lights to tell the stories of Twas the Night Before Christmas and The Nativity. Visitors may enjoy the magical tour in their own vehicles or by riding the Jolly Trolley. In addition to the annual March of Dimes Night Walk (Sunday, November 23, 2014), there are several Specialty Nights scheduled in 2013, including Pet Night, Bicycle Night and Motorcycle Night.

    The Christmas Village, an indoor shopping and dining area, features roaming Fantasy in...MORE Lights characters and the chance to visit Santa on scheduled days. Unique gifts, including specialty food items, nostalgic toys, holiday ornaments and more, will be available for purchase. Also, a selection of Georgia artisans will be on-site making and ​sell an array of interesting craft items.

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    Next Destination: Dollywood Smoky Mountain Christmas

    Continue to 3 of 10 below.
  • 03 of 10

    Christmas at Dollywood - Smoky Mountain Christmas Festival

    Carol of the Trees at Dollywood's Smoky Mountain Christmas Festival
    ••• Photo Credit: Courtesy of Dollywood

    Dollywood - Smoky Mountain Christmas Festival
    November 8, 2014 - January 3, 2015

    (Operating days vary throughout the Christmas season)
    Pigeon Forge, Tennessee

    For seasonal holiday fun, Dollywood offers an array of shows, activities and more for great family fun with something for all ages. Transformed into a winter wonderland, Dollywood's Smoky Mountain Christmas Festival features festive stage shows, festival foods, thrilling rides and sparking lights. A few highlights include:

    • Dollywood's Stage Shows - Several holiday themed shows feature hometown holiday favorites, Christmas gospel hymns and songs, Christmas story musicals and more.
    • Visits with Santa - Visit Santa's Workshop, a giant toy store with larger-than-life toys, interactive activities and a chance to have a visit with Santa.
    • Carol of the Trees - Enjoy nightly displays of thousands of lights and pyrotechnics synchronized with holiday music, transforming Rivertown Lake into a seasonal symphony for the senses.
    • Parade of...MORE Lights - This festive parade features holiday characters and twinkling Christmas floats decorated with brightly colored lights.

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    Next Destination: Winter at Graceland

    Continue to 4 of 10 below.
  • 04 of 10

    Winter at Graceland

    A replica of Elvis' Santa, sleigh and reindeer Christmas display on the front lawn of Graceland.
    ••• Elvis Presley Enterprises, Inc.

    Winter at Graceland - Memphis, Tennessee
    Graceland Annual Christmas Lighting Ceremony - November 21, 2014
    Tours of Graceland Decorated for the Holidays - November 21, 2014 – January 8, 2015

    The Holidays
    During the holidays, Graceland features many traditional decorations that Elvis enjoyed for Christmas at his beloved Memphis home. On the front lawn, a festive display welcomes visitors with a replica of the greeting from Elvis' first Christmas at Graceland in 1957, Merry Christmas to All, Elvis. Other outdoor decorations include a life size nativity scene, first displayed in the 1960s, and nostalgic blue lights lining the driveway, recalling the spirit of the popular Elvis hit, Blue Christmas.

    In the mansion, traditional Christmas decorations include Presley family Christmas gifts and artifacts, red draperies at the windows of the front rooms, changed from the usual blue draperies each year for the holidays. Seasonal events include a tree lighting ceremony complete with an Elvis-Santa,...MORE special tours and exhibits and more.

    The Elvis Presley Birthday Celebration
    January 7 - 10, 2014
    A full schedule of events celebrates Elvis' birthday (January 8, 1935) each year.

    For additional information about Graceland, visit

    Next Destination: Christmas in Colonial Williamsburg

    Continue to 5 of 10 below.
  • 05 of 10

    Christmas in Colonial Williamsburg

    The Colonial Williamsburg Fifes and Drums provide 18th-century seasonal music.
    ••• Colonial Williamsburg Foundation - All Rights Reserved
    Williamsburg, Virginia
    November 27, 2014 – January 3, 2015

    Fragrant handmade decorations, the glow of candlelight, seasonal music and festive fireworks bring the magic of Christmases past to Colonial Williamsburg. Hundreds of special programs and events offer memorable fun for all ages. Advance reservations are necessary for many of the popular events.Just a few of the many holiday highlights include:
    • The Grand Illumination - Heralding the holiday season, this festive celebration includes period entertainment, the lighting of candles throughout the Historic District and dazzling fireworks displays in three locations. (December 7, 2014)

    • Annual Christmas Homes Tour - Presented by the Green Spring Garden Club, this annual walking tour features private homes, not usually open to the public, decorated with holiday floral arrangements. (December 6, 2014)

    • Christmas Decorations Walking Tour - Enjoy a guided look at Colonial Williamsburg's picturesque buildings and streets, decorated for the...MORE holidays. (On scheduled days November 29 - December 31, 2014)

    • Holiday Dining Events - On scheduled days enjoy special seasonal dining events including several options for Thanksgiving day and evening feasts, Grand Illumination day dining, Dickens-themed banquets or holiday teas, Breakfast with Santa Claus, Christmas brunches and dinners, New Year's Eve dinner and more.
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    Next Destination: Christmas at Stone Mountain Park
    Continue to 6 of 10 below.
  • 06 of 10

    Christmas at Stone Mountain Park

    A Stone Mountain Christmas - The nightly Snow Angel Celebration
    ••• Courtesy of Stone Mountain Park
    A Stone Mountain Christmas
    Select Dates: November 8, 2014 - January 4, 2015 (On scheduled days)
    Stone Mountain, Georgia

    Stone Mountain Park, Georgia's most popular attraction, offers festive fun for all ages during the annual holiday celebration, A Stone Mountain Christmas. More than 2 million Christmas lights twinkle in the reproduction 1870s town of Crossroads, where most of the holiday fun takes place. Traditional favorites, along with a few new events this season include:
    • Snow Angel Palace – Follow the Wonderland Walkway to the Snow Angel Palace for photos with Stone Mountain Park's Snow Angel.

    • Ice Age: A Mammoth Christmas 4-D – This 4D experience features Ice Age friends in a holiday adventure for all ages.

    • Holiday Shows - Enjoy seasonal entertainment at one or more of the holiday shows: Forever Christmas, Toyrific!, Holly Jolly Cabaret and A Christmas Carol. On the Singalong Train, enjoy Christmas songs and the story of the first Christmas in The Gift.

    • Fireworks and Snowfall...MORE Celebration - The Snow Angel lights the winter sky with a spectacle of fireworks and snow.

    • Crossroads Christmas Parade - Santa and friends parade through Crossroads.

    • Visits with Santa - Kids can share their holiday wishes and have a photo taken with Santa Claus. (November 8 - December 24, 2014 on scheduled days)
    A Stone Mountain Christmas
    tickets are required to enter Crossroads and experience the Christmas event. For additional information about all events and to order tickets, visit the

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    Next Destination: Speedway in Lights - Bristol Motor Speedway
    Continue to 7 of 10 below.
  • 07 of 10

    Speedway in Lights - Bristol Motor Speedway

    A Tunnel of Holiday Lights
    ••• Courtesy of Bristol Motor Speedway
    Speedway in Lights - Bristol Motor Speedway
    November 14, 2014 – Saturday, January 3, 2015
    Bristol, Tennessee

    Special Note: Speedway in Lights introduced a new entrance location a few years ago. The new entrance is at the Bristol Dragway entrance, on Highway 394 - not at the South entrance of the Speedway on Volunteer Parkway as in previous years.
    The roar of the engines is replaced with the twinkling of millions of lights during Bristol Motor Speedway's annual Speedway in Lights. Along the route, including a drive around the World's Fastest Half-Mile , visitors delight in hundreds of displays.

    A sampling of highlights and annual favorites includes:

    • Symphony of Lights - The largest display to be added in Speedway in Lights's 14-year history, this light show features a large Christmas tree, dancing snowflakes, arches and fountains, consisting of more than 300,000 LED lights synchronized to music.

    • The Twelve Days of Christmas - A dozen scenes stretch for 180 feet, each approximately 10 feet...MORE tall and nearly 15 feet wide, depicting holiday scenes.

    • The Sea Of Illumination - Presented by Ripley's Aquarium of the Smokies, this popular display features almost 750 feet of sparkling fish, sharks and other sea creatures.

    • The Animated Snowman Attraction - Flying snowballs build a huge snowman.

    • Dinosaur Village - This display features six dinosaurs and an erupting volcano.
    Other attractions include an ice skating rink and 300-foot long tube slide, both open on scheduled days during the season. Also, visit the Christmas Village for photos with Santa, food vendors, carnival rides and crafts vendors.

    For additional information about the schedule and tickets, visit:

    Next Destination: 100 Miles of Lights - Richmond to Virginia Beach
    Continue to 8 of 10 below.
  • 08 of 10

    100 Miles of Lights - Richmond to Virginia Beach

    A "fantasea" of lights illuminates the Virginia Beach Boardwalk.
    ••• Courtesy of "100 Miles of Lights"

    Seven Virginia Cities from Richmond to Virginia Beach


    The award-winning annual 100 Miles of Lights takes place along the 100 or so miles from Richmond to Virginia Beach, featuring a festive array of holiday light shows, special events, decorated historic areas, musical performances, visits with Santa Claus and more.

    The seven host cities for this delightful seasonal event are: Richmond, Williamsburg, Newport News, Hampton, Portsmouth, Norfolk and Virginia Beach. Some of the highlights include:

    See the Holiday Lights - A few of the Light Display highlights include: Holiday Lights at the Beach along the Virginia Beach Boardwalk, featuring 250 mostly nautical displays; Christmas Town: A Busch Gardens Celebration, transforming the popular theme park into a Christmas wonderland; GardenFest of Lights at Richmond's Lewis Ginter Garden with over 500,000 lights in botanical themes; and Celebration in Lights, Virginia's oldest drive-through light show, featuring 800,000 lights in over 300...MORE fanciful display pieces.

    Visit Santa - A number of uniquely festive opportunities to visit Santa include singing, sailing and brunch with Santa, a legendary Santa, Victorian Santa and more, each at various locations throughout the season.

    Special Events - The events calendar is chocked full of wonderful special events including:


    • Holiday parades
    • Seasonal marketplaces and bazaars
    • Planetarium and aquarium shows
    • Ice skating, carriage rides and caroling
    • Special events for Thanksgiving, Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, and New Year’s Eve
    • World class holiday entertainment
    • Special holiday themed tours and many more fun events

    Hotel Packages - Several area hotels feature special packages and rates during the holidays.
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    Next Destination: Magical Nights of Lights - Lake Lanier

    Continue to 9 of 10 below.
  • 09 of 10

    Lanier Islands Christmas - Lake Lanier Islands Resort, Georgia

    Roasting marshmallows at the Holiday Village bonfire
    ••• Lake Lanier Islands Resort
    Lanier Islands Christmas
    November 21 - December 31, 2014
    Lake Lanier Islands Resort

    More than seven miles of illuminated giant characters are created with millions of twinkling lights at this annual holiday spectacle.A few highlights include:
    • Live Nativity Scene
    • The Twelve Days of Christmas
    • The Animated Carousel
    • Santa's Elves at Work
    • The North Pole Express
    • The Animated Sliding Penguin
    • Jack and The Beanstalk
    • Icicle Tunnel
    • Candy Cane Lane
    Holiday Village - Following the dazzling driving tour, plan to spend some time at Holiday Village, featuring a bonfire for roasting marshmallows, holiday fare, pony and amusement rides, holiday shopping and more. Visits and pictures and with Santa take place at the Santa Shop on scheduled days.
    Ice Skating - An ice skating rink adds to the festive spirit of the Holiday Village.
    Additional Information - For details about scheduled dates and hours, admission rates, directions, Magical Nights of Lights Legacy Lodge Packages, the popular Magical Nights of Lights buffet,...MORE Breakfast with Santa and more, visit the

    Next Destination: Lights Before Christmas - Columbia, SC
    Continue to 10 of 10 below.
  • 10 of 10

    Lights Before Christmas - Riverbanks Zoo and Garden

    The holidays are happenin' at the zoo.
    ••• Riverbanks Zoo and Garden

    Lights Before Christmas - Riverbanks Zoo and Garden
    Columbia, South Carolina
    November 21 – December 30, 2014

    Closed November 27, December 24 and 25 - Schedule subject to change.South Carolina's longest running holiday tradition, Lights Before Christmas presents dazzling light displays of almost one million lights, featuring everything from splashing elephants to a dancing tree and more. A few highlights include:

    • Music in Motion Lights Spectacular
    • Nightly visits with Santa through December 23
    • Roasted marshmallows at the cozy Jingle Bell Bonfire and warming hot chocolate or coffee to top off the experience available for purchase

    Parents, remember to pack a camera to take photographs of your children with Santa.
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    Next Destination - Return to Page 1: Christmas at...MORE Biltmore Estate - Asheville, North Carolina