Family is the nucleus of the holiday season. From shopping for loved ones to dinners with old friends, winter is jam-packed with activities and traditions meant to celebrate the folks who make your life special. Here are six events the youngest — and oldest — members of your clan will enjoy.
Children’s Christmas Parade
Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta’s Children’s Christmas Parade is the largest Christmas parade in the Southeast. Every year, marching bands, costumed characters and floats go down Peachtree Street heralding in the holiday season and welcoming Santa and Mrs. Claus to Atlanta. Expect giant reindeer balloons and knights on real horses. If you want one-on-one time with Saint Nick, attend Breakfast with Santa at the Four Seasons Hotel at 8:30 a.m. Colony Square also offers pre-parade fun: visit with princesses and other characters and make Christmas crafts in the square starting at 8:30 a.m. Tune in to Channel 2 WSB-TV to watch the parade live if you’re unable to make it to Peachtree Street.
10:30 a.m.-12 p.m. Dec. 2. Free. Begins at Peachtree Street and 16th Street and ends at Peachtree Street and Fifth Street. 404-785-5437, choa.org/parade.
Macy’s Pink Pig
Children riding Priscilla the Pink Pig is one of the most iconic images of Atlanta in winter (since we don’t get enough snow to shake a stick at). The pink monorail has been a part of the city’s holiday season since 1956. The original Pink Pig was located in Rich’s department store before it briefly relocated. The ride has been in Macy’s at Lenox Square since 2003. Despite several location changes, Priscilla has remained essentially the same. Kids and adults pile into the train and ride around a tent; special Priscilla plushies and other Pink Pig-themed trinkets are available for purchase at the gift store. One ride costs $3, two rides cost $5.50 and three cost $7.50. A portion of proceeds from each ride is donated to Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta.
Through Dec. 31. 10 a.m.-8 p.m. Mondays-Fridays; 10 a.m.-9 p.m. Saturdays; 11 a.m.-7 p.m. Sundays; 11 a.m.-6 p.m. Dec. 24 and Dec. 31; closed Christmas Day. $3-$7.50. Upper Level Parking Deck at Macy’s Lenox Square, 3393 Peachtree Road, Atlanta. Macys.com.
Celebrations in Light at the Children’s Museum of Atlanta
“Sockefeller Plaza” is the newest addition to the Children’s Museum of Atlanta’s Celebrations in Light. The museum invites visitors to kick off their shoes and slide; Professor Labcoat provides insight into the activity’s physics in a special science show on the rink floor. Programming throughout December focuses on celebrating Las Posadas, Hanukkah, Christmas and Kwanzaa. See performances from cultural groups, sing along to songs and hear special book readings that honor the traditions of each holiday. Additionally, the build it lab transforms into a toy workshop where children can craft toy helicopters, cars and ball catchers to give to friends and loved ones.
Nov. 30-Jan. 3. 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Mondays-Tuesdays and Thursdays-Fridays; 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Saturdays-Sundays. $15.95. Children’s Museum of Atlanta, 275 Centennial Olympic Park Drive NW, Atlanta. 404-659-5437, childrensmuseumatlanta.org.
Stone Mountain Christmas
Stone Mountain pulls out all of the stops for its yearly Christmas celebration. The theme park’s holiday festivities include an immersive light show, live performances and a special 4-D movie. Kids can croon Christmas classics on the Singalong Christmas Train while their adults shop for hand-blown glass, homemade fudge and other presents. Each night, Rudolph and friends parade through town on floats heralding in Santa and Mrs. Claus. Rudolph, Clarice and Bumble also host a meet and greet where kids can hug, high-five and interact with the beloved cartoon characters. You can even get your Christmas list approved by the big guy; USA Today named Stone Mountain one of the 10 best places to see Santa Claus in 2008.
Through Jan. 3. 10 a.m.-10 p.m. Saturdays through Dec. 23; 2-9 p.m. Sundays through Dec. 17; 10 a.m.-7 p.m. Dec. 24; 10 a.m.-9 p.m. Dec. 26-Jan. 3; closed Christmas Day. $29.95-$34.95. Stone Mountain, 1000 Robert E. Lee Blvd., Stone Mountain. 1-800-401-2407, stonemountainpark.com.
Garden Lights, Holiday Nights
Technology and nature rarely combine as beautifully as they do in Nature’s Wonders, the newest light display at the Atlanta Botanical Garden’s yearly Garden Lights, Holiday Nights. Over 1,000 strings of lights are hung from the treetops of Storza Woods. The bulbs pulse blue, purple and green to accompanying music, engulfing attendees in luminescent patterns. Favorite displays like the light-up orchestral orbs and a model train exhibit return to the yearly celebration. The exhibition features refreshment options for everyone: Kids can roast marshmallows in the s’mores pit while adults check out the cash-only bar.
Through Jan. 7. 5-11 p.m. Fridays-Saturdays; 5-10 p.m. Sundays-Thursdays. $14.95-$34.95; free for children under 3. Atlanta Botanical Garden, 1345 Piedmont Ave., Atlanta. 404-876-5859, atlantabg.org.
Winter Wonderland at Fernbank
Fernbank’s annual Winter Wonderland exhibition honors cultures from all around the world. Trees decorated with lights and traditional cultural artifacts from North America, South America, Africa, Europe and Asia line two floors of the museum. Fernbank also hosts a Holly Jolly Film Fest on Saturdays throughout December; stop by the museum to catch screenings of holiday classics like “A Charlie Brown Christmas” and “Frosty’s Winter Wonderland.”
Through Jan. 7. 10 a.m.-5 p.m. $16-$18; free for museum members and ages 2 and younger. Fernbank Museum of Natural History, 767 Clifton Road, Atlanta. 404-929-6300, fernbankmuseum.org.