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Need events to fill your holiday plans? Try one of these Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, and holiday things to do.
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Around The Area

Out and About: Last-Minute Holiday Things to Do

Dec 16th, 2016

Christmas is hardly a week away. Hanukkah and Kwanzaa start the day before and day after, respectively. In just over two weeks, you’ll be using a 2017 calendar. Do you know how you’ll spend the upcoming holidays? If your time isn’t already allotted for, here are some events and attractions to keep in mind when making plans.


Dec. 16-31: Lights of Life

Cruise Marietta’s brightest lit streets, admiring the dozens of spectacular displays erected on Life University’s campus. One highlight is a 65-foot tall rendering of Santa and his sleigh.

Dec. 16 – Jan. 7: Garden Lights, Holiday Nights

More than one million lights illuminate the 30-acre grounds of Atlanta’s Botanical Garden in this spectacular holiday lights display.

Dec 9 – Jan. 15: Chinese Lantern Festival

25 handcrafted lanterns, a three-story pagoda, and 200-foot-long Chinese dragon light up the south side of Atlanta’s Centennial Park in this new holiday attraction.

Dec. 18: Holiday Hootenanny

This holiday music extravaganza features four unique sets of music and a silent auction, with proceeds from the auction and a portion of ticket sales benefiting Habitat for Humanity.

Dec. 31: Peach Drop

Live music begins at 7pm, although people start showing up well before for Atlanta’s biggest free New Year’s celebration. Join tens of thousands to watch the 800-pound peach descend at minute and revel in the excitement of the new year.


Nov. 11 – Dec. 24: Holidays at the Domain

Holidays at the Domain are winding down, but there are still a few events left and just over a week left to snap your kids’ photos with Santa.

Nov. 25 – Dec. 24: Blue Genie Art Bazaar

Support local artists and gift one-of-a-kind items to your loved ones this holiday season with a trip to Austin’s Blue Genie Art Bazaar.

Dec. 3-23: Ballet Austin’s “The Nutcracker”

Ballet Austin’s rendition of the classic holiday ballet is in its 54th year of production. Experience it with your family at the Long Center for the Performing Arts.

Dec. 10-23: 50th Annual Trail of Lights

A holiday season in Austin isn’t complete without a visit to Zilker Park’s festive and bright Trail of Lights. This year’s “trail” features more than 40 displays and two million lights.

Dec 14-24: Armadillo Christmas Bazaar

Enjoy cocktails, beer, or wine while shopping for stocking stuffers or Hannukah presents at this fun artisan market.

Dec. 31: Austin’s New Year

Art installations, fire dancers, storytellers, and other talented performers make this alcohol-free, family-friendly New Year’s celebration a treat for all who participate.


Dec. 3-31: Holiday Magic

The Brookfield Zoo’s holiday extravaganza features more than a million twinkling lights, a model train, a magic show, and holiday carolers. Check it out on weekend nights though Dec. 31.

Dec. 16 – Jan. 8: Christmas Around the World and Holidays of Light

Get a glimpse of how the winter holidays are celebrated around the world at The Museum of Science and Industry’s holiday exhibit.

Dec. 16-30: Holidazed and Confused

If you’re in need of comic relief this holiday season, find it at Second City’s praiseworthy holiday show.

Dec. 18-30: Ballet-free Nutcracker

If the ballet isn’t your jam, check out this inventive twist on the holiday classic at the Chopin Theatre. It’s appropriate and enjoyable for viewers of all ages.

Dec. 24: Matzo Bash

Celebrate the first day of Hanukkah in style with cocktails, apps, and dance music at Chicago’s Matzo Bash Christmas Eve gala, a truly one-of-a-kind party.

Dec. 31: Chi-Town Rising New Year’s Eve Celebration

Food, live entertainment, and a spectacular fireworks show are in store for those attending Chi-Town Rising’s NYE event. Tickets to enter the event’s two viewing areas are free, but required in order to attend.


Nov. 6 – Jan. 8: 12 Days of Christmas

The Dallas Arboretum does not hold back around the holidays. In addition to putting on the Degolyer Estate events, the arboretum strings up 500,000 lights and rounds up fun costumed characters and carolers for family-friendly merriment in the gardens.

Nov. 19 – Jan. 8: Trains at Northpark Center

Kids love the trains at Northpark Center, but the 1,600 feet of track laid out and decorated to the max impresses adults as well. The trains wind around iconic monuments along the way, from New York City to San Francisco.

Nov. 25 – Jan. 3: Holiday Tea at the Degolyer Estate

Tea at the Degolyer Estate is always pleasant, and holiday tea at the mention is a very special treat. 11am and 2pm seatings are scheduled daily through January 3. If you attend before December 30, be sure to tour the lavishly decorated mansion.

Dec. 2-31: Dallas Symphony Orchestra Holiday Shows

The Dallas Symphony Orchestra and Chorus is reviving its beloved Big Brassy Christmas & Organ Extravaganza. The orchestra will be also be putting on a new Christmas Pops production, Christmas Time is Here with Diane Reeves, and a John Denver – Rocky Mountain Christmas show.


Nov. 25 – Dec. 31: A Hudson Christmas

Admire some of the Denver metro’s most spectacular lights displays, hot cocoa in hand, at Littleton’s Hudson Gardens between now and NYE. Santa will be hanging around the botanical gardens until December 23.

Nov. 25 – Dec. 24: The SantaLand Diaries

David Sedaris’ stint as a Macy’s elf in New York City generated plenty of fodder for jokes and sketches. Get your laughs in this holiday season by attending a performance at the Jones Theatre.

Dec. 2 – Jan. 1: Zoo Lights

The Denver Zoo’s holiday lights spectacular is one of the season’s most highly anticipated annual events. Mobile, illuminated animal sculptures are a highlight of this year’s event.

Dec. 16-18: Handel’s Messiah

The Colorado Symphony and Chorus take Handel’s masterpiece to the next level. The oratory, conducted by Douglas Boyd and directed by Duain Wolfe, is at the Boettcher Concert Hall this weekend.


Nov. 9 – Dec. 31: The Honky Tonk Angels Holiday Spectacular

Get into the holiday spirit with a Honky Tonk Angels musical. In this holiday-themed show, the Angels head to Nashville for a reunion and concert. The show features yuletide favorites and plenty of humor.

Nov. 12 – Jan. 8: Festival of Lights

Moody Gardens is bringing back its Festival of Lights show for a 15th season, and its bigger and brighter than ever. Be dazzled by the million-plus lights and nightly live entertainment. Thrills on offer include ice skating and an arctic ice slide.

Nov. 18 – Jan. 15: Zoo Lights

Another major lights display takes over the Houston Zoo this time of year. Attend to marvel at more than two million lights, sip hot cocoa, and decorate holiday cookies.

Nov. 25 – Dec. 31: WinterFest at Typhoon Texas

Typhoon Texas Water Park is throwing a month-long holiday party, and everyone in the family is invited. The park is decked out in lights and decorations, has holiday-themed rides, and is screening a 4D holiday show.

Nov. 30 – Dec. 31: Panto Wonderful Wizard

Wizard of Oz fans, rejoice. Join Dorothy, Tin Man, Scarecrow, and Cowardly Lion on their quest to find home. The journey takes the crew through a holiday wonderland in which audience participation is encouraged.


Nov. 22 – Jan. 1: Gingerbread Village

For 24 years running, the Sheraton Seattle’s culinary crew has teamed with local architects and designers to create one heck of an impressive gingerbread display. View it for free in the Sheraton Seattle Hotel’s lobby.

Nov. 25 – Jan. 1: WildLights

Half a million lights, arranged to look like animals, draw crowds to Woodland Park Zoo’s holiday lights spectacular. [Real] nocturnal animals roam their enclosures, and carolers sing. WildLights is closed December 24 and 25.

Nov. 11 – Jan. 29: Wonderland

Seattle’s classic winter cabaret and burlesque show runs through the end of January this year. Go for the laughs and festive atmosphere, or the brunch items and drinks on offer to enjoy while you watch.

Dec. 24: Jingle Bell Run

If you’re like most Americans, you won’t be getting much exercise over the next couple of weeks. Run, or walk, three miles in Tacoma’s annual Jingle Bell Run to make yourself feel better about all the lazing around you’ll be doing. Costumers are welcome.

Dec. 31: Space Needle Fireworks

The Space Needle’s New Year’s Eve fireworks are always over-the-top. Ring in 2017 watching brilliant flashes of light emanate from the highest structure on earth to shoot fireworks.

Southern California

Nov. 18 – Jan. 8: LA Zoo Lights

Hang out with real live reindeer and enjoy a mug of hot cocoa while admiring the work of the brilliant architects behind LA’s Zoo Lights experience.

Nov. 27 – Jan. 1: Lights on Display

Sherman Oaks resident Mike Ziemkowski is passionate about holiday decorating, and welcomes the public to admire his hard work almost every night this time of year. Visit between 5pm and 10pm to experience for yourself what the fuss is about.

Dec. 17: Holly Jolly Day at L.A. LIVE

Skate on ice, decorate holiday cupcakes, and drink spiked hot cocoa at L.A. LIVE’s annual Holly Jolly Day extravaganza.

Dec. 24: 57th Annual L.A. County Holiday Celebration

Dozens of talented performance troupes play and sing Christmas and Hanukkah music for this festive multicultural event, held at downtown L.A.’s The Music Center. It’s free to attend.

Dec. 30: Alice’s Winter Wonderland Festival at Clifton’s Cafeteria

Princesses, pirates, fairies, mermaids, and superheroes all make appearances in this one-day only winter experience put on by Creating Arts Co.

South Florida

Nov. 25 – Dec. 31: Symphony of Lights

Gulfstream Park’s holiday festivities are in full swing, and run until NYE. Visit on the weekend to see stilt walkers and jugglers in action, and of course lights.

Dec. 9 – Dec. 18: Garden of Lights

This is the last weekend of the season to enjoy the holiday lights show at Flamingo Gardens and Wray Botanical Collection in Davie. Holiday lights and decorations are the main attraction. Music fills the air, and holiday drinks and snacks are available to purchase.

Dec. 9 – 30: George Balanchine’s The Nutcracker

The Miami City Ballet takes to the stage to perform what is almost certainly the most celebrated rendition of this holiday classic ballet.

Dec. 24 – Jan. 8: Wild Holidays at Jungle Island

Jungle Island’s family-friendly holiday celebration is returning for another season. Highlights include a candy cane jungle, scavenger hunts, an animal parade, and captivating performances.

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