Holiday Time

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Published: December 2015
Spark Your Holiday Spirit with the Many Events Happening Around the South  

If you feel as if your holiday spirit is lagging, put some spark back into it with these events happening around the South.

 

Enchanted Airlie small - Copy

Lights

  • West 7th Starlight Symphony in Fort Worth, Texas, is a five-minute music and light show on the hour between 6 - 10 p.m., through January 6, 2016. Other activities include holiday caroling featuring local groups on Friday and Saturday night in December, and horse and carriage rides from Crockett Square Fridays and Saturdays, 7 -  10 p.m., through January 2, 2016.



  • In its 14th year, Santa’s Ranch in Braunfels, Texas, continues to add to the overall holiday experience. Through January 2, 2016, take in the various lights and lighted displays along the over a mile drive. Round out the visit with hot cocoa and other treats.



  • Through December 23, Noel Acadien Au Village in Lafayette, La., offers a half a million lights, numerous lighted displays, themed Acadian home porches and much more. There’s also live entertainment, carnival rides and plenty of food for all to enjoy.



  • 17th annual Southern Lights in Southaven, Miss., offers 116-acres of 500,000 twinkling lights at Central Park through December 31. Take it all in as you drive through while listening to one of the five FM stations playing Christmas music.



  • See the story of Christmas told through an interactive outdoor light show with Lazy Acres in Lights at Lazy Acres in Chunky, Miss. Accessible by walking or riding along in the wagons, the show takes place December 17-19, and December 21-23 and 25.



  • The Chehaw Park's Festival of Lights in Albany, Ga., features more 1,000 sparkling holiday light fixtures. Every glowing piece is handcrafted in the park's welding shop. Experience the lights aboard the train.



  • The 40th Annual Holiday Nights at the Edison & Ford Winter Estates in Fort Myers, Fla., runs through January 3, 2016. During the event, the historic buildings and acres of gardens are decorated with lights and traditional decorations. The holiday estates offer a behind the scenes tour, Children's Holiday Tree Trail, Santa visits on select nights, refreshments and shopping in the Holiday Cottage Shoppe, Museum Store and Garden Shoppe.



  • Situated at James Island County Park in Charleston, S.C., through January 3, 2016, is the 26th annual Holiday Festival of Lights with over 700 lighted displays. Take the holiday train for an up-close experience. Afterward, take a spin on the Victorian carousel, view the sand sculptures and more.



  • See Aiken, S.C.’s beloved garden illuminated with over 100,000 lights during the 24th Annual Christmas in Hopelands. The gardens are open through December 23, and again December 26 and 27.



  • Enchanted Airlie at Airlie Gardens in Wilmington, N.C., features a forest of lighted oaks and dazzling displays in a coastal garden setting through December 22. The 67-acres include exhibits, a Poinsettia Paradise with more than 400 holiday plants, live musical entertainment and visits with Santa  Holiday refreshments are available for purchase, and the Airlie gift shop is open with one-of-a-kind gifts.



  • Stroll along garden paths filled with holiday lights, sights and sounds during Winterlights at Elizabethan Gardens in Manteo, N.C. Festive trees grace the Gatehouse and Reception Hall, and a crackling open-air fire warms the Great Lawn. Through January 23, 2016, the 16th-century inspired gardens is transformed into an illuminated winter wonderland.



  • Illuminate Light Show and Santa's Village at Meadow Event Park in Richmond, Va., features hundreds of thousands of LED lights synchronized to music from the Radio. There’s also an eight-foot tunnel of lights, 50-foot Christmas trees, dancing snowmen, singing trees and Santas and more. Don’t forget to visit Santa's Village, filled with all types of activities including Santa and an indoor ice skating rink.



  • The Ruley Holiday Light Show in Loretto, Ky., is spread over two acres with lights, dozens of holiday displays and more. Warm up inside with a cup of hot cocoa. Relax by the fireplace among a collection of hundreds of cookie jars and all of the Holiday Edition Barbie dolls dating back to the 1980s, through January 1, 2016.



  • Through January 1, 2106, Yuletide in the Park at Valley Park in Hurricane, WVa., features a drive-through animated lights display, with new animation added yearly. This year’s newest display depicts the 12 Days of Christmas. Be sure to check out the additional activities taking place throughout December, like horse-drawn carriage rides, Victorian Christmas and more.



  • In its 45th year, Lacy’s Lights and Maples Display in Beckwith, WVa., is one of the area’s longest-running celebrations of the holiday season. Taking place at Fayette County Park through December 30, it includes 300,000 lights covering the majority of the park.


Arch Snowman 738A~1-2

Celebrations

  • Experience an old-fashioned Christmas at the Museum of Appalachia in Norris, Tenn., through December 24. Highlights include seasonal music, pioneer-style decorated cabins, Christmas trees draped with paper chains, popcorn strings, sweet gum and sycamore balls and more.



  • Climb aboard the Copper Creek Polar Express at Copper Creek Farm in Calhoun, Ga., and receive your own bell for believing, cookies & chocolate milk. Scheduled for December 18, 19, 21, 22 and 23, visit with Santa and decorate Christmas cookies for him, ride the reindeer cow train and Christmas ponies. And don’t forget to enjoy the Christmas lights.



  • Daytona Beach (Fla.) Oceanfront Bandshell and Ocean Walk Shoppes brings you the “December to Remember” on Saturdays and Sundays through January 2, 2016. The holiday festival extends along the Daytona Beach Boardwalk and includes a sand sculpture trail, Saturday night tribute bands, arts & crafts vendors and much more.



  • Enjoy a “Holiday in Paradise” in West Palm Beach, Fla., during Sandi Land. From creating a life-sized tropical snowman to enjoying mini-golf along the Intracoastal Waterway, there’s plenty to keep everyone engaged. There’s also scheduled live entertainment and the Greenmarket. Don't miss “Sandi,” the 600-ton sand tree as well as the other 25-ton themed sand sculptures along the Waterfront.



  • Families are invited to visit South Seas Island Resort on Captiva Island, Fla., December 18, 19, 25 or 26 to enjoy the display of holiday lights and take part in family activities during Holiday Stroll. Make gingerbread, create ornaments, eat smores and visit with Santa.



  • Kennedy Space Center’s “Holiday in Space” goes high-tech this year. In addition to the holiday decor throughout the Central Florida Visitors Complex including the International Space Station-themed Christmas tree and the Rocket Garden Light Show beginning on December 19, is the “Spirit of Exploration” show. Kicking off on December 19 as well, it’s a holiday projection mapping set against the side of a Saturn 1B rocket. “Holiday in Space” ends on January 3, 2016.



  • Make some holiday memories during Christmas at The Library at The Billy Graham Library in Charlotte, N.C. Activities through December 23 include a live nativity, horse-drawn carriage rides, story time and much more.



  • Through January 3, 2016, “A Colonial Christmas” at Jamestown Settlement and Yorktown Victory Center celebrates 17th- and 18th-century holiday traditions. Learn about this period and how the holiday were recognized through special tours and programs. On December 26-31, musical entertainment of the time will be highlighted.


Tours

  • Through January 3, 2016, tour Oaklawn Manor in Franklin, La. The residence of Louisiana’s former governor and first lady, Mike and Alice Foster is decorated for Christmas with a different style tree in every room.



  • Shadows-on-the-Teche in New Iberia, La., celebrates the season with"Merry Making Season" tours. The home will be decked out in 19th-century holiday style, and tours will focus on family celebrations of the time.



  • The theme for the  47th annual Trees of Christmas at Merrehope in Meridian, Miss., is “Literary Legacies,” honoring Southern books and authors. Trees displays depict such works as A Delta Wedding by Eudora Welty, ABC Mississippi by Laurie Parker, A Painted House by John Grisham and many more.



  • Celebrate the season at Hills And Dales in LaGrange, Ga., as all three floors of the 1916 Callaway family manor is decorated for the holidays. These tinsel-filled tours run through December 26.



  • Enjoy an Antebellum Christmas at the Old Governor's Mansion in Milledgeville, Ga., through December 23. Completed in 1839, the Old Governor's Mansion is one of the finest examples of High Greek Revival architecture in the nation. During the Civil War, the Mansion was claimed as a "prize" in the "March to the Sea," when General William T. Sherman headquartered in the building on November 23, 1864.  During the holiday tour, take a step back in time and see how the elite of Georgia celebrated the holidays. An upcoming candlelight tour is scheduled for December 17.



  • Through January 1, 2016, is Fashions for Evergreens at Hotel Roanoke (Va.) Each year during the holiday season over 30 towering evergreens is professionally decorated and displayed throughout the hotel and conference center. Vote for the best-decorated tree and it could win first place in the annual Fashions for Evergreens competition.


Extras

  • Christmas Tea
    through December
    Vianne’s Tea House in Mandeville, La.
    Hours: Daily, 10:30 a.m. or 2:30 p.m.
    Admission: $28.99 per person + tax & gratuity



  • Horse and Carriage Rides at The Wharf in Orange Beach, Ala.
    through Dec. 27
    Time: 3-10 p.m. (Monday-Friday); 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. (Saturday-Sunday)
    Admission: $10


Don't forget about Ripley's Aquarium of Myrtle Beach's Festival of Trees; and check out Louisiana Holiday Trail of Lights, pre-Thanksgiving Holiday Light Displays, So Many Ways to Kick Off the Holiday Season in the South and Six Places to Celebrate the Holiday Season for even more events.

photo credits: (top) Enchanted Airlie, courtesy of WilmingtonAndBeaches.com (middle) Snowman Arch, courtesy of Charleston County Parks and Recreation

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