From Holiday Lights to Open Houses to Celebrations and more, there is still time and plenty of ways you can get your "jingle" on in the South.
Make your holiday season merrier and brighter, and start a new tradition at any one of these 30 events happening around the region
1. With over one million lights, a 20-foot color changing tree, 8-foot Ferris wheel, a drive-thru light tunnel and more, it is easy to see how Finney's Christmas Wonderland
(through Dec. 31, 6 -10 p.m.) in Crossett, Ark., won ABC's "The Great Christmas Light Fight" in 2015. What makes this unique is that it was started by one man 30 years ago who wanted to spread Christmas cheer. Don't miss the special section dedicated to the military as well as the displays highlight the Christmas story.
2. The Texas Motor Speedway in Fort Worth is lit up for the holidays. The annual Gift of Lights
(through Dec. 30, 6 - 10 p.m., $25 per car) features 1.5 miles of over 500 light displays. Inside the track is Santa's Village. Stop by to visit with Santa, enjoy a hot cup of cocoa and see some of the Texas Motor Speedway cars on display.
3. More than one million lights and 100 animated light and sound displays make the Moody Gardens Festival of Lights
(through Jan. 8, 2017, 6 - 10 p.m., admission fee varies) one of the largest holiday celebrations in the country. In addition to the lights, there is live entertainment, the area's only outdoor skating and Ice Land
(admission fee varies) with its Artic slide. For more Galveston holiday fun, check out Winter Wonderland Island
4. Christmas in the Crevasse
(through Dec. 30, Friday - Sunday, 5:30 - 9:30 p.m., $5 per person, $3 per child, age two and under) in LaPlace, La., features over 80 lighted Christmas displays. Take it all in on a hayride through five acres of farmland.
5. Dancing Lights of Christmas
(through Jan. 1, 2017, Sunday - Thursday, 5 - 10 p.m., Friday through Saturday, 5 - 11 p.m.) in Nashville, Tenn., a drive-thru lights show, features a 35-foot Christmas tree. Tune in the radio, turn it up and watch from your car window as hundreds of thousands of Christmas lights dance to Christmas tunes. Swing by Santa's Village
to catch a glimpse of the "big man" himself and enjoy other activities like a petting zoo ($2), pony rides ($5.50) and more.
6. Callaway Gardens’ Fantasy In Lights
(through Jan. 7, 2017; admission and time varies) in Pine Mountain, Ga., features over eight million lights. Recognized one of the “Top 10 Places to See Holiday Lights” as named by National Geographic Traveler includes woodland displays, two beach scenes and more. Opt to take “The Jolly Trolley” or drive through the lights in your vehicle. Be sure to visit the Christmas Villa
ge, where you can buy ornaments and gifts, as well as visit Santa.
7. St. Augustine's historic district is lit by more than 3 million white lights during Nights of Lights
(through Jan. 31, 2017). Tracing its origins to the Spanish tradition of displaying a white candle in the window during the Christmas holidays, the lighting display reflects the city’s 450 plus year history. View them on foot
, by bicycle or pedicab, on the Old Town Famous Nights of Lights Tour
, aboard Ripley’s Red Train
or by horse and carriage
. This year, the city is offering a free Park
‘n Ride Shuttle
every Saturday through Dec. 24.
8. Dozens of animated light displays greet you along the Celebrate the Season's Holiday Lights Driving Tour
(through Dec. 30, 6 - 9:30 p.m., $5 per vehicle) route. Taking place at Old Santee Canal Park in Moncks Corner, S.C., not only will the displays leave you with a warm feeling about the holidays, but also clean energy as well. They get their glow using homegrown renewable energy from Santee Cooper's Green Power program.
9. The 1.5-mile drive through North Myrtle Beach Park & Sports Complex has been turned into a magical holiday wonderland during The Great Christmas Light Show
(through Dec. 30, 5 - 9:30 p.m., $15 per vehicle) in North Myrtle Beach. Featuring nearly two million lights and over 400 magical light displays, enjoy a variety of animated figures and holiday scenes. End your visit with a stop in Santa's Village for additional activities such as ice skating, Santa Express Train Ride and more.
10. Continuing through the end of Blowing Rock (N.C.) Winterfest
(Jan. 26-29, 2017), Chetola Resort's Festival of Lights
illuminates the area around Chetola Lake. Scenes discovered along the drive include ice skaters, Rudolph's "catch" and others.
11. The entire town of McAdenville, N.C., glows during the holiday. Heralded as Christmas Town USA
(through Dec. 26, Monday through Friday, 5:30 - 9:30 p.m., Saturday through Sunday, 5:30 - 11 p.m.) not only are nearly 400 trees decked out for the holidays but so are the houses. Drive or walk the 1.3-mile route and surround yourself with McAdneville's holiday spirit.
12. Small town, big lights. Celebrate Christmas Between the Lakes during Grand Rivers (Ky.) Festival of Lights
(through the first week in January; lights turn on at dusk). Over 700,000 lights and various lighted displays decorate Patti's Settlement and downtown.
13. Thousands of sparkling lights and displays make up the annual Holiday Lights at The Distillery
(through Jan. 2, 2017). From dusk to 11 p.m., drive through the grounds Buffalo Trace in Frankfort, Ky., to enjoy them.
14. Over 900,000 lights transform the 110-plus acres of Lotito City Park into a holiday wonderland during Holidays of Lights
(through Dec. 31, Sunday through Thursday, 6 - 9 p.m., Friday through Saturday, 6 - 10 p.m., free but donations are appreciated). Bask in the glow and holiday spirit as you view the lights on the 1.5-mile driving trail.
15. Celebration of Lights
(through Dec. 27, Friday through Sunday, 5 - 9 p.m.) in Fairmont, WVa., features more than 320 lighted displays. These displays decorate Morris Park, and can all be seen along the driving route.
16. Festival of Trees
at Museum of East Texas (through Jan. 3, 2017, Monday - Friday, 10 a.m.- 5 p.m., Saturday through Sunday 1 - 5 p.m. Extended hours, Dec. 19-23 until 8 p.m.) in Lufkin features over 100 uniquely decorated trees. View them for free, and walk away with some inspiration for your decorating.
17. A Nutcracker-themed tree and an Elvis-themed are just two of the many themed trees you can see during Trees of Christmas
(through Dec. 30, Monday - Saturday, 9 a.m. - 5 p.m., $10 per person, $9 per senior, $5 per student). In its 48th year, the event takes place at Merrehope and F.W. Williams historic homes in Meridian, Miss.
18. Celebrating its sixth year, Huntsville, Ala.'s Tinsel Trail
adds more holiday cheer to the downtown area. Located at Big Spring Park, the trail highlights around 250 live decorated Christmas trees.
19. During Eola Wonderland Christmas Tree Show
(through Jan. 6, 2017) at Lake Eola Park in downtown Orlando, Fla., the Chris
tmas tree comes alive with a synchronized light and music show. Performances are every night at 5:45 p.m.; 6:45 p.m.; 7:45 p.m.; 8:45 p.m. and 9:45 p.m.
20. Considered to be the largest tree display in South Carolina, the Festival of Trees
(through Dec. 31; free with aquarium admission) at Ripley’s Aquarium in Myrtle Beach has grown. In addition to the themed holiday trees from each of the 50 states, there are an additional 20 themed trees. Situated throughout the aquarium, some of the more uniquely designed trees include the Kentucky Derby-inspired red roses tree and the Mardi Gras tree with masks and beads representing Louisiana.
21. The Towers in Natchez, Miss., adds some dazzle to the holiday season. Each year, the bed and breakfast hosts "The Jeweled Christmas at The Towers
" (through Jan. 7, 2017) that features vintage costume jewelry creatively incorporated in the holiday decorations throughout the house. It's truly sparkle and shine everywhere you look.
22. Through Jan. 8, 2017, experience Christmas in Graceland
in Memphis, Tenn. Both the exterior and interior of Elvis' home is decorated for the season. Enjoy the life-sized nativity scene, lights and more, including some of the Presley family Christmas artifacts on display.
23. Historic Columbia (S.C.)'s Historic Holiday Tours
(through Dec. 31) takes you into both the Robert Mills House and Hampton-Preston Mansion. Guides provide stories of holidays past in Columbia
and discuss how families decorated and entertained during the 19th and early 20th centuries.
24. Reynolda House Tours: A 1917 Christmas
(through Dec. 31) in Winston-Salem, N.C., introduces you to the holiday decorations and styles favored by R.J. and Katharine Reynolds in the early 20th century. While on the tour, view the display of holiday greeting cards from the Museum Archives.
Festivals and Celebrations
25. Through Dec. 24, Saint Charles (Mo.) Christmas Traditions
brings together Christmas past and present for the enjoyment of all ages. See Santas from around the world, meet characters like Ebeneezer Scrooge, enjoy performances by Victorian carolers and much more.
26. In addition to the thousands of lights and dozens of Christmas trees at NOLA ChristmasFest
(through Dec. 30) in New Orleans, there is also an ice skating rink (said to be city’s only authentic one), Kringle Carousel, Snowy Summit Climbing Wall and much more. From the New Orleans-themed gingerbread house exhibit to holiday arts and crafts, there's something for all ages and interests.
27. Canton, Miss., the "City of Lights," dazzles during the holiday season with its Victorian Christmas Festival
(through Dec. 23, 5 - 9 p.m.). In addition to the over 200,000 glittering lights decorating the historic Courthouse Square, there are carousel rides, horse and buggy rides and more. A Light and Character Parade takes place Friday through Sunday, 6:30 and 8 p.m. Stop by the Canton Animation Museums to view the life-size animated figures depicting various scenes.
28. Snow in Central Florida? Yes, but only if you visit Old Town Kissimmee. The nightly snow is part of the overall Christmas Wish at Old Town
. Through Dec. 24, other festivities include an array of colorful lights, carolers and more.
29. Trees adorned with ornaments and animated holiday displays brightly decorate the gardens at Hoffman's Chocolate Winter Wonderland
(through Dec. 30, 6 - 10 p.m.). Enjoy a variety of live entertainment, sample seasonal treats from Factory Shoppe & Ice Cream Parlour and visit with Santa and Mrs. Claus (through Dec .23, Friday through Sunday.)
30. Programs and demonstrations provide a view of 17th- and 18th-century holidays traditions during A Colonial Christmas
(through Dec. 31) at Jamestown Settlement and American Revolution Museum at Yorktown. Special events and live entertainment are planned for Dec 23-31.
photo credits: (top) St. Augustine skyline, courtesy of FloridasHistoricCoast.com; (top right) Christmas Tree in the Plaza, courtesy of FloridasHistoricCoast.com; (middle right) McAdenville (Christmas Town USA) Water and Christmas Trees, courtesy of VisitNC.com; (middle left) Decorated trees at Festival of Trees at Ripley's Aquarium in Myrtle Beach, S.C., courtesy of Ripley's Aquarium; (bottom right) Reynolda House, courtesy of Visit Winston-Salem; (bottom left) carousel, courtesy of NOLA ChristmasFest