Home for the Holidays

The holidays are a time for family and friends to catch up and share experiences. This year, explore some of Chattanooga’s venues and attractions that celebrate the festive season. Gather a group and use this guide to discover the local events the Scenic City has to offer.

 


Rock City’s Enchanted Garden of Lights

WHEN: Nov. 17-Jan. 6, open 6 p.m.-9 p.m. (closed Christmas Eve)
CONTACT: seerockcity.com/lights or 706.820.2531
COST: Adults $22.95 Fri.-Sun. and $19.95 Mon.-Thurs./Children (3-12) $12.95 Fri.-Sun. and $11.95 Mon.-Thurs. Group rates available.

Choose your own adventure through four uniquely themed realms of wonder at Rock City’s Enchanted Garden of Lights. The gardens’ natural daytime splendor transforms into a winter wonderland with more than 30 holiday scenes and nearly one million LED lights. Decorate Christmas cookies with Mrs. Claus, or warm up with hot cocoa at the North Pole Lodge. Along the trail, meet holiday characters including Santa, Jack Frost, and Inara the ice queen.



Ice on the Landing at the Choo Choo Gardens

WHEN: Nov. 17-Jan. 21
CONTACT: iceonthelanding.com or 423.265.0771
COST: Adults $10/Children (12 and under) $8

Ice on the Landing brings the classic winter tradition of outdoor ice skating to downtown Chattanooga. Located at the Choo Choo Gardens, visitors of all ages can skate through the festive wonderland. Vendors will be on site offering sweet treats, food, and hot cocoa.


The Nutcracker Christmas Carol: A Holiday Musical

WHEN: Nov. 17-19, Dec. 1-3
CONTACT: chattanoogastate.edu or 423.697.4400
COST: Adults $15/Children $5

Chattanooga State will perform “The Nutcracker Christmas Carol: A Holiday Musical” on two separate weekends. The family-friendly show combines all the great Christmas stories into one fun holiday musical.


Holiday Events at the Choo Choo

WHEN: Nov. 17-Dec. 30
CONTACT: choochoo.com or 800.872.2529 COST: varies depending on activity

Visit the Chattanooga Choo Choo this year to experience festive holiday cheer. Bring your wish list and get your picture taken with Santa, who will be on site all season long. Take in the tallest Christmas tree in Hamilton County, and ice skate under the lights. You can even plan a staycation and stay on-site at the hotel!



Ho, Ho, H2O! – SCUBA Claus at the Tennessee Aquarium

WHEN: Nov. 18-Dec. 17
CONTACT: tnaqua.org or 800.262.0695 COST: Adults $29.95/Children (3-12) $18.95

Since it’s too cold for a swim at the North Pole, Santa dons his diving gear to become SCUBA Claus at the Tennessee Aquarium! Catch a glimpse of this “Jolly Old Elf” as he brings holiday cheer to the “St. Nick-a-jack” Lake exhibit and swims alongside “Monster Fish” in the River Giants exhibit.



Holiday Events at the Creative Discovery Museum

WHEN: Nov. 18-Jan. 15
CONTACT: cdmfun.org or 423.756.2738 COST: regular admission $13.95

Creative Discovery Museum kicks off the wintry season on November 18 with Snow Day. Visitors can enjoy winter-related arts, crafts, and sensory journeys. The Holiday Shoppe, a separate “shop” for children upstairs in Discovery Library, will be open from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. on Saturdays, Sundays, and the occasional weekday from Nov. 18-Dec. 23. Gingerbread Workshops (reservations required) will be available starting Friday, Nov. 24, and will then be available on Saturdays and Sundays from Nov. 25-Dec. 17. On New Year’s Eve the Museum will host “2018 at 2:18”, a new year’s celebration for kids, from noon to 4 p.m. The “Run! Jump! Fly! Adventures in Action” exhibit will run through Jan. 15.


Holiday Windows at EPB

WHEN: Nov. 22-Jan.1
CONTACT: epb.com or 423.648.1372 COST: FREE

EPB will kick off the holiday season by unveiling the annual holiday window display on the Wednesday before Thanksgiving at 5 p.m. at EPB’s downtown headquarters on 10 W. Martin Luther King Blvd. The windows will be filled with scenes featuring EPB’s cast of merry animated holiday characters and thousands of lights.


Southern Belle and Pier 2 Holiday Events

WHEN: Nov. 23-Dec. 31 (Thursday-Sunday)
CONTACT: chattanoogariverboat.com or 423.266.4488
COST: varies, check website for times and charges

The holiday season brings special cruises to the Southern Belle including Thanksgiving on the River, Breakfast with Santa, ‘Tis the Season Luncheon, Christmas Carol Dinner Cruises, and New Year’s Eve on the River. Each of these events features a special menu, live entertainment, and spectacular views as you cruise down the Tennessee River.


Grand Illumination Boat Parade

WHEN: Nov. 24
CONTACT: erwinmarinesales.com or 423.266.1316
COST: FREE

Celebrate the holiday season at the Grand Illumination and 37th annual Lighted Boat Parade on the Downtown Riverfront. Dozens of festively decorated boats will circle between the Walnut Street Bridge and Olgiati Bridge.



Black Friday Holiday Open House at Bluff View Art District

WHEN: Nov. 24
CONTACT: bluffviewartdistrict.com or 423-265-5033 (ext. 481)
COST: FREE

Following the European tradition of an outdoor holiday market, Bluff View Art District will offer a unique alternative to the bustle of Black Friday shopping. See local pastry chefs, bakers, coffee roasters, and a French chocolatier create festive treats. Shopping specials can also be found throughout the district as the area transforms into a storybook holiday experience.



North Pole Limited at the Tennessee Valley Railroad Museum

WHEN: Nov. 24-Dec. 30
CONTACT: tvrail.com or 423.894.8028 COST: $21-$65 depending on date/time of service

The Railroad Museum’s most popular annual event is the North Pole Limited train ride, which has been a family tradition since 1999. During the enchanted holiday season, passengers are transported by train on an imaginary journey to the North Pole. Refreshments, storytelling, sing-alongs, and lighted displays provide entertainment during the trip. As the train rolls into the North Pole, a special guest will hop aboard!


Chattanooga Girls Choir Winter Concert

WHEN: Dec. 1
CONTACT: chattanoogagirlschoir.org or 423.296.1006
COST: Adults $15/Children (12 and under) $8

This year, the Chattanooga Girls Choir is celebrating 31 years of beautiful holiday music. Their annual winter concert entitled “On a Winter’s Night” will be performed at Ridgedale Baptist Church. This will be a festive night of holiday music the whole family can enjoy. Five choirs will perform a broad range of sacred and secular pieces including familiar carol arrangements to celebrate the Christmas and Hanukkah seasons, along with classic favorites.


Deck the Walls at Chattanooga Workspace

WHEN: Dec. 1
CONTACT: chattanoogaworkspace.com or 423.822.5750
COST: FREE

The Chattanooga Workspace is home to many local artists, and they’ll open their doors on Dec. 1 to welcome the community for a family-friendly night of food, art, shopping, and more. Meet local artists, browse the open studios, and shop for unique, creative gifts that can’t be found anywhere else.


A Classic Christmas in Cleveland

WHEN: Dec. 1-2
CONTACT: mainstreetcleveland.com or 423.479.1000
COST: FREE

For more than 50 years, Downtown Cleveland has opened the holiday season by lighting the community Christmas tree and welcoming Santa. Visitors can enjoy free carriage rides around the courthouse square and musical presentations on the steps of each historic downtown church. The parade takes place Saturday, Dec. 2 and includes floats adorned with lights, bands, and caroling.


Holiday Open House at the Cravens House

WHEN: Dec. 1-2
CONTACT: nps.gov or 423.821.7786
COST: FREE

Chickamauga and Chattanooga National Military Park invites the public to Cravens House to experience how the holidays were celebrated during the Civil War era. Although the Craven family spent the Christmas season away from their home during the war, the house has now been restored to reflect the festive decorations that would have been used. Tours of the historic home and grounds are led every 30 minutes beginning at 6 p.m., and reservations are required due to spacing limitations.


Holiday Lights at the Chattanooga Zoo

WHEN: Dec. 1-3, 8-10, 15-17
CONTACT: chattzoo.org or 423.697.1319 COST: visit website

Enjoy the Chattanooga Zoo as it is converted into a magical winter paradise from 5:30 to 8 p.m. each night. Guests can visit the animals and watch them open their presents. They can also get their picture taken with Santa Claus, while enjoying holiday games, crafts, and more!


Ruby Falls Christmas Underground

WHEN: Thursdays-Sundays Dec. 1-17; Daily Dec. 18-23, 12 p.m.-8p.m.
CONTACT: rubyfalls.com/Christmas or 423.821.2544
COST: Adults and Children 3 & Up $11.95; combined with Ruby Falls tour: Adults $24.95/Children $16.95

Children of all ages will enjoy this magical journey to visit Santa! Guests travel a secret passage to the North Pole, where Santa’s Joystone miners are preparing for the holiday season. Along the way, you’ll discover a glittering ice cave, see Sugar Plum Fairy Village, and find your own sparkling Joystone. Located in the caverns of Ruby Falls, Christmas Underground allows guests to enjoy nighttime magic throughout the day!


Chattanooga Boys Choir Singing Christmas Tree

WHEN: Dec. 2
CONTACT:  chattanoogaboyschoir.org or 423.634.2299
COST: $15-$40, by seating

Celebrate the holidays with the Chattanooga Boys Choir in one of the area’s oldest and most revered traditions! The Singing Christmas Tree performance will feature 120+ members of The Boys Choir, Ballet Tennessee, the Chattanooga Symphony and Opera Youth Orchestra, and the Metropolitan Bells. This year’s theme will be Miracle on 3rd Street.


MAINx24

WHEN: Dec. 2
CONTACT: mainx24.com
COST: FREE

Celebrating its 10th year, MAINx24 is back Saturday, Dec. 2 on the Southside. This 24-hour long festival features programming all day, from parades, to music projects, to poetry readings and more, and is meant to showcase the area’s revitalization. A schedule of events can be found online.


Chattanooga Holiday Market

WHEN: Dec. 2-3, 9-10, 16-17
CONTACT: chattanoogamarket.com or 423.648.2496
COST: FREE

Explore the Chattanooga Holiday Market during the month of December and see the work of 200+ artisans selling unique gifts, jewelry, photography, clothing, sculpture, canvas artwork, wooden toys, and much more. Enjoy holiday music and fun for the entire family. The market will be held at the Chattanooga Trade & Convention Center from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Saturdays, and 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Sundays.


Southern Adventist Christmas Concerts

WHEN: Dec. 2 & 9
CONTACT: southern.edu or 423.236.2880 COST: FREE

On December 2nd Southern Adventist University celebrates the sounds of the holiday season with a special performance by their wind symphony. The university’s School of Music will also perform a festive Christmas concert on December 9th.


Christmas Open House at the Georgia Winery

WHEN: Dec. 2, 9, 16, 23
CONTACT: georgiawines.com or 706.937.9463
COST: FREE

Visit the Georgia Winery each Saturday in December for Christmas open houses! Enjoy samples of mulled wine and other refreshments as you browse through unique wine gifts and craft vendor offerings.


Family Fun Day at the Hunter Museum

WHEN: Dec. 3
CONTACT: huntermuseum.org or 423.267.0968
COST: FREE for Members/Non-Member Adults $15/Children (17 and under) FREE

Bring the whole family from 2-4 p.m. for a festive holiday experience featuring fun for all ages with cookies and hot chocolate, holiday card and ornament making, Wayne White-inspired cardboard collages, music, storytelling, a winter-themed scavenger hunt in the galleries, and even a visit from Santa himself.


Holiday English Tea at the Houston Museum

WHEN: Dec. 3
CONTACT: thehoustonmuseum.org or 423.267.7176
COST: Adults $25/Seniors (65+) $20/Children (4-12) $5

Warm up with a hot cup of tea at the Houston Museum’s Holiday English Tea. This tea party features authentic English treats such as scones, finger sandwiches, and sweets. Admission includes a guided tour of the Victorian home that houses the museum and its collection of antiques. Seatings at 1 p.m. and 2:30 p.m.


A Classic Christmas

WHEN: Dec. 3
CONTACT: leeuniversity.edu or 423.614.8343
COST: FREE

This acclaimed seasonal celebration features Lee University’s Choral Union, Symphony Orchestra, and more. Celebrating its 28th year, this festive celebration of Christmas music features a variety of Lee University School of Music performers and guests. Tickets are complimentary but required. Contact the box office for reservations.


Caroling with the Fishes

WHEN: Dec. 3
CONTACT: tnaqua.org or 800.262.0695 COST: Adults $14.50/ Children $9.50/FREE for Members

It’s the most wonderful time of the year! Carol with the fishes and kick-off your family’s holiday traditions. The galleries will be decked with sounds of the season – choruses, singers, and local musicians on the drums, flutes, strings, and more! Visit with Santa, take home a keepsake photo, and treat yourself to a seasonal beverage. Enjoy holiday shopping at the River Journey Gift Shop.


Bryan College Christmas Concert

WHEN: Dec. 8
CONTACT: bryan.edu/arts or 423.775.7498 COST: Free

Come and celebrate the magic and music of Christmas! This program features ensembles from the Fine and Performing Arts Department. Enjoy musical selections from Bryan College’s Choral, Piano, and Instrumental ensembles.


Red Clay State Park Cherokee Christmas Program

WHEN: Dec. 10
CONTACT: tnstateparks.com or 423.478.0339
COST: FREE

Visit Red Clay for a fun evening and learn how the Cherokee and settlers celebrated the holidays. History comes to life as people sing traditional songs, cook over the fire, and teach visitors how life was long ago. This will include a candlelit walk back through time and the rare chance to experience the park through the eyes of historic figures who lived in the area. Online registration is required.


Lessons & Carols

WHEN: Dec. 14
CONTACT: leeuniversity.edu or 423.614.8343
COST: FREE

Lee University’s School of Music and School of Religion join together to present this service of nine lessons from scripture interwoven with uplifting Christmas music. Tickets are complimentary but required. Contact the box office for reservations.


The Nutcracker

WHEN: Dec. 16 & 17
CONTACT: ballettennessee.org or 423.821.2055
COST: Adults $19/Children and Seniors $17/ Group rate of 15 or more $15

Ballet Tennessee presents the holiday classic, The Nutcracker, with original choreography by Barry VanCura. Guest artist Fredrick Davis, star of the national documentary From the Streets to the Stage: The Journey of Fredrick Davis, joins the cast in the roles of Snow Cavalier and Sugar Plum Cavalier. The ballerina roles will be danced by Ballet Tennessee professional dancers Hannah Locke, as the Sugar Plum Fairy, and Emma Pannkuk, as the Snow Queen. Performances will be held at the UTC Fine Arts Center Saturday, December 16 at 2:00 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. and Sunday, December 17 2:00 p.m.


PJs and The Polar Express 3D

WHEN: Dec. 16 & 17
CONTACT tnaqua.org or 423.266.4629
COST: Members $10/ Non-Members $14

Choo! Choo! All aboard the Polar Express for a trip to the North Pole! Begin winter break in a leisurely style at the IMAX Theater. Dress in your favorite pajamas and enjoy a special screening of The Polar Express 3D. This is your chance to meet the conductor, sip hot cocoa, and enjoy pastries before the movie. It’s fun for the entire family and all who truly believe!


Luken Holdings CSO Pops Series: Home for the Holidays

WHEN: Dec. 16-17
CONTACT: chattanoogasymphony.org COST: $21-$81, varies by seating

Conductor Kayoko Dan will lead the Chattanooga Symphony and Opera’s annual holiday tradition in seasonal classics at the Tivoli Theatre. Along with the CSO Chorus and Metropolitan Bells, this year’s program will feature special guest Neshawn Galloway and the Center for Creative Arts Concert Choir.



Moscow Ballet’s Great Russian Nutcracker

WHEN: Dec. 20
CONTACT: tivolichattanooga.com
COST: $30-$177, varies by seating

Now in its 25th season, the Moscow Ballet’s Great Russian Nutcracker brings a whimsical story of adventure and holiday enchantment to life on stage. The classic ballet is sure to entertain the whole family and features a company of dancers, larger than life puppets, nesting dolls, handmade costumes, and spectacular sets hand-painted in Russia.



NEW YEAR’S EVENTS

Zoo Year’s Eve

WHEN: Dec. 31
CONTACT: chattzoo.org or 423.697.1322
COST: FREE with regular Zoo admission

The Chattanooga Zoo is hosting the wildest family-friendly New Year’s Eve party with an afternoon of games, activities, and more! In addition to counting down the clock in different time zones around the world, guests will also learn how the Chattanooga Zoo is working to stop the clock on extinction for endangered species. 


New Year’s Events at The Chattanoogan

WHEN: Dec. 31-Jan. 1
CONTACT: chattanooganhotel.com or 423.756.3400
COST: See website for pricing

Ring in 2018 with a fabulous package including a plated dinner, dancing, music, and a champagne toast at The Chattanoogan’s New Year’s Eve Celebration, featuring live music from The Power Players. The package includes overnight accommodations, New Year’s Eve Celebration party, and New Year’s Day breakfast buffet in Broad Street Grille.


Tennessee Valley Railroad’s New Year’s Eve Dinner Train

WHEN: Dec. 31
CONTACT: tvrail.com or 423.894.8028 COST: $75 and up; varies by train car

Join the Tennessee Valley Railroad for a special New Year’s Eve excursion. Enjoy a four-course meal as you travel the rails in a vintage train dining car. Alcohol is not permitted on the trains. The trip departs from Grand Junction Station.



New Year’s Eve Party on the Bluff

WHEN: Dec. 31
CONTACT: huntermuseum.org or 423.267.0968
COST: call for pricing

Usher in the New Year in unmatched style at the Hunter Museum this New Year’s Eve! This unforgettable party includes food by Events with Taste, an open bar, music and dancing by SoundForce Entertainment, and some incredible views of Chattanooga. Tickets are available beginning the first week of December at huntermuseum.org/partyonthebluff.org/partyonthebluff