Best Holiday Events & Activities in Chattanooga
The holidays are the most wonderful time of the year, bringing friends and family together in celebration. The Christmas season usually includes activities with lots of festive decorations and special trips to see the big man in red, all in the name of fun. Chattanooga, the Scenic City, is an amazing host to some of Tennessee’s best and most unique holiday events. Traditionally, Chattanooga and its mountainous landscape are breathtaking all on their own but add some holiday magic, and the city comes to life with Christmas cheer. These events are some of the best the city has to offer, and if you’re making your way to town, you’ll want to make a list and check them off twice.
Enchanted Garden of Lights
For the past 24-years, Rock City hosts a holiday extravaganza aptly named Enchanted Garden of Lights. If you’re looking for a magical and wondrous way to explore this holiday season, this should be high on your list. The folks at Rock City Gardens transform the park by constructing 30-holiday scenes and implementing close to one million LED lights.
In case you haven’t been to Rock City Park, it’s located atop Lookout Mountain with a 4,100-foot walking trail featuring incredible rock formations, caves, and gardens. During the Enchanted Garden of Lights event, you can wander through the North Pole Village, decorate a gingerbread cookie, drink some hot cocoa and enjoy live musical entertainment. Bring the children along, and they can meet Santa, Jack Frost, and the Ice Queen.
North Pole Limited
The Tennessee Valley Railroad hosts a special event each year that is perfect for families with children who are in awe of the magic that is Santa Claus. Each year, the railroad offers a trip to the imaginary North Pole. The return journey is just under an hour and a half but full of adventures! On the tour, guests are treated to amazing views of beautifully decorated Christmas lights, delicious refreshments, engaging stories, and sing-along songs.
Once the train rolls into the station, Santa climbs aboard treating each child to a special token. If you want to make the most out of the North Pole Limited event, you can purchase tickets for an overnight stay or enjoy the Holiday Dinner Train in a beautifully restored dining car from the 1920’s.
Christmas Carol Dinner Cruise
The Southern Belle Riverboat aims to give guests a beautiful and unique way to experience the city. Every year the company carries over 100,000 passengers for daily sightseeing tours that include food and entertainment. It’s rated one of the top attractions in Chattanooga. Each year, the company hosts a range of events that cater to holiday festivities and one of our favorites is the Christmas Carol Dinner Cruise.
The cruise starts with holiday music to get everyone into the Christmas spirit. As the boat winds its way up the scenic Tennessee River, guests are treated to a dinner of prime rib and shrimp creole. Bring the children along because Santa makes a special appearance and takes time to pose for photos while you’re aboard the cruise.
Ruby Falls Christmas Underground
Ruby Falls is home to one of the tallest and deepest public underground waterfalls. The fall descends 26 stories and is an amazing sight to behold. Ruby Falls is located on Lookout Mountain, and when you visit the park, you can make a trip to the top of the mountain for some truly spectacular views.
For the past 5-years, Ruby Falls has hosted a special holiday event call Ruby Falls Christmas Underground. Individuals and families can explore the cave and its wondrous rock formations against a Christmas backdrop. You can travel through a secret passage to the North Pole, discover a glittering cave, and make a stop at the Sugar Plum Fairy Village. Tickets to the Christmas Underground exclude an official tour but does come with a special souvenir from Santa himself.
Holiday Lights at the Chattanooga Zoo
Visiting the Chattanooga Zoo is a special occasion when you get to see all the amazing and exotic animals. But, during the holiday season, the zoo puts on their annual Holiday Lights event. On select days throughout December, the zoo is turned into a magical wonderland. Holiday lights are hung throughout the park and guests can participate in a range of activities designed to celebrate the season.
You can stop by and see the animals as they receive and open their Christmas presents, get your picture taken with Santa Claus, and decorate cookies. Carolers punctuate the spirit with renditions of our favorite holiday songs. At additional costs you can purchase rides on the train, carousel, and camel.
In association with the Chattanooga Zoo, Brew Lights is a one-night event taking place December 1st, 2018. The evening coincides with the zoo’s first day of Holiday Lights. You must buy individual tickets to participate, but those who have done so won’t regret it! Tickets include access to 30 different breweries and unlimited samples.
There is a specialty cocktail station, live 80’s music from Aquanet! and your favorite holiday hits mixed for you by DJ Santa. Because this event is geared towards adults who are of drinking age, you can have some fun in the bad Santa photo booth. There are also food trucks with some delicious items all night long. Access to the festivities requires a valid ID and ticket.
Chattanooga Holiday Market
The Chattanooga Market was established as a way to connect consumers with fresh produce, artisanal foods, and locally designed crafts. Since its establishment, it has become one of the biggest weekly markets in the area. The Chattanooga Holiday Market features over 200 local vendors and artists every Saturday and Sunday throughout December.
The market’s popularity has made it a destination of choice for locals and tourists alike. Stop by and shop for gifts while enjoying musical entertainment from Chattanooga Girls’ Choir and more. Holidays wouldn’t be the same without Santa who makes an appearance each day between 11am and 2pm where you can get a free photo. You can turn this shopping destination into an outing by indulging in hot cocoa, enjoying a warm lunch, or tasting one of the local spirits.
Chattanooga offers a few different options if you want to experience The Nutcracker. There is a hip-hop rendition of The Nutcracker at the end of November that utilizes urban dance for the retelling of this classic story. A DJ, violinist, and digital scenery bring the stage to life and focus on celebrating the holiday season in a modern and contemporary way.
If traditional is more your style, you have two options in front of you. The Chattanooga Ballet puts on a show for two nights in December or you can visit Moscow Ballet’s Great Russian Nutcracker on Dec 30th. All events are very popular and tickets tend to sell out quickly. If you are interested in going you’ll want to purchase in advance.
Sweet Magnolia wants to make it easier for you to experience Chattanooga during the holiday season.
Discover Chattanooga Vacation Package
For anyone who has yet to experience everything Chattanooga has to offer, we recommend the Discover Chattanooga package. It includes two nights’ hotel accommodations and tickets to some of the city’s best attractions like Chattanooga Walking Tours and Songbirds Guitar Museum. You can tailor your experience even further by choosing an additional experience such as visiting the Chattanooga Whiskey Distillery or taking a local train ride with the TN Valley Railroad.
Enchanted Christmas in the Scenic City
When you have your eye on something a little more festive, this package is for you. You can spend the weekend in Chattanooga with two nights’ hotel accommodation and tickets to some of the holiday attractions we mentioned above such as:
- Christmas Underground at Ruby Falls
- Rock City’s Enchanted Garden of Lights
- Christmas Carol Dinner Cruise on Southern Belle Riverboat
- Chattanooga Christmas Market (Saturdays only)
To book your spot for the Enchanted Christmas in the Scenic City, contact Sweet Magnolia today.