2018 Holiday Activities for the Whole Family in Huntsville and North Alabama

When the weather gets cold children get restless. Listed here are seasonal events that let you stretch your legs and shake the sillies out. There are so many fun ways your family can make memories together this holiday season in Huntsville!

For more holiday fun including all the places to hear music, catch Santa, watch holiday plays, cavort with holiday cheerfulness and just plain get in the holiday spirit, visit the main page of our comprehensive 2018 Holiday Happenings Guide sponsored by the Galaxy of Lights at Huntsville Botanical Garden. 

ON THE GO? Keep all of our Holiday Guides and our full Event Calendar at your fingertips with our free Explore Huntsville app. It’s available on iTunes & Google Play and will help make your spirit bright!

November


Galaxy of Lights

Galaxy of Lights Cover

Our favorite way to celebrate the holiday season in Huntsville! See Santa soar over a delightful winter village, nursery rhyme characters spring to life, traditional holiday scenes, and much more. Galaxy of Lights is the perfect holiday treat for the young and young at heart. NEW THIS YEAR: Walking Night tickets MUST be purchased in advance for a specific night. To ensure your experience is the best it can be, there are a limited number of tickets each night, so make sure you purchase yours early! At Bike the Lights on November 13, The Silvery Moon Band, Huntsville’s premiere big band, swing and jazz band/orchestra, will play during the event! Food and drinks are available for participants, and Santa will be available beforehand for early Christmas wishes and photos. Santa will also be available to hang out with non-runners at the 5K Run!
Walking Nights: Nov. 9-12, Nov. 15-20 | Dog Walking Nights on Nov. 12 & 19 | 5:30PM – 8PM
Bike the Lights: Nov. 13 | 5:30PM – 7:30PM
Driving Nights: Nov. 23 – Dec. 31 (closed Nov. 26 & 27 for 5K Run and 3K Holiday Dash) | 5:30PM – 9PM
Location: Huntsville Botanical Gardens (map)
Walking Nights Cost: Adults $10 members/$12 non-members, Children ages 3-15 $5 members/$6 nonmembers; Dogs $3
Bike the Lights Cost: Adults $20 | Kids 12 and under $15
Driving Nights Cost: $25/vehicle (some nights are discounted to $20)
More Info: General Info | Bike the Lights | 5K Run | 3K Holiday Dash
RCM Review Walking Nights | RCM Review Driving Nights

Skating in the Park

skatingintheparkICE is coming back to Huntsville! Get ready to lace up your skates at Huntsville’s first outdoor ice skating rink — our very own version of “Rocket-fella” Center. Bring your family and friends beginning November 16 through January 6, and experience a magical winter land right in downtown Huntsville. Don’t miss opening day on November 16th, where you can get photos with The Snow Sisters (Anna and Elsa) and enjoy the Grand Opening ceremony at 3:45 with the Ribbon Cutting by Mayor Battle at 4PM, plus free popcorn and hot cocoa will be served from 4-5PM.
Dates/Times: Nov. 16 – Jan. 6; Hours vary (see website for details)
Location: Big Spring Park / Huntsville Museum of Art (map)
Cost: $10 (ages 10+), $5 (ages 9 and under), $5 skate rental
More Info: Website | Facebook | 256-529-7995

32nd Annual Athens Christmas Open Housechristmas athens skating

Christmas comes early to downtown Athens with caroling, ice skating, snow, and specials for shopping to help complete your Christmas list! Visit with Santa for photos as well as Mother Christmas, Rudolph, and the Christmas Elf, who will be walking around to greet visitors. Additionally, you can shop the Merry Market at ASU Center for Lifelong Learning (Marion Street) from a variety of small and home-based businesses.
Dates/Times: Nov. 16, 4-8PM; Nov. 17, 11AM-8PM; Nov. 18, 1-4PM
Location: Downtown Athens (map)
Cost: FREE to attend; fee for some activities
More Info: Website

Land Trust’s 24th Annual Thanksgiving Day Hikethanksgiving day hike land trust

Join us for a Thanksgiving Day tradition!  Be prepared for your Thanksgiving feast by starting the morning off with a Monte Sano hike lead by Land Trust volunteers and staff.  We’ll start out at Bankhead and work our way down to Three Caves on the Alms House Trail. Those who don’t want to make the walk back up will be shuttled to their cars. Please carpool to the starting location. This is a popular hike and parking is limited.
Date/Time: Nov. 22 at 9AM
Location: Take Pratt Avenue through Five Points to Bankhead Parkway on Monte Sano. Drive up the mountain past Tollgate Road. The Land Trust’s hiker parking lot- the Bankhead Trailhead – is ½ mile further on right. (map)
Cost: FREE (donations accepted)
More Info: Website

25th Annual Turkey Trot

The Crisis Services of North Alabama 25th Annual Turkey Trot 5k & 1 Mile Fun Run will take runners through beautiful campus of the University of Alabama Huntsville. The race will take place on Thanksgiving morning, Thursday, November 23rd, starting and ending right outside Spragins Hall. The 5K run will begin at 8:00am, followed by the the 1 Mile Fun Run at 8:30am and the Tiny Tot Turkey Trot at 9:00am with awards to follow. The Turkey Trot is a family family tradition! Walkers and strollers are welcome, but please leave your pets at home. If you just can’t resist dressing like a Pilgrim or a turkey, don’t be shy! You won’t be alone! The Turkey Trot supports the programs and services of Crisis Services of North Alabama, which provides emergency shelter to victims of domestic violence through HOPE Place, a community crisis line through HELPline, and forensic medical exams and rape crisis counseling through the Sexual Assault Response program, all free of charge.
Date/Time: Nov. 22 at 8AM-10:30AM
Location: Spragins Hall, UAH (map)
Cost: $15-$30 adults; no registration fee required for Tiny Tot Turkey Trot (canned food donations welcomed)
More Info: Facebook


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Tinsel Trail

A local favorite, Huntsville’s Tinsel Trail is a display of live Christmas trees in Downtown Huntsville during the month of December. An anticipated 300 will trees decorate Big Spring Park for the holiday season. This includes large flagship trees and the City of Huntsville tree. Now in its 8th year, each tree is sponsored by a local corporation, group or family, and decorated by its sponsor. Trees can have themes that match the company’s mission, or sometimes they’re just totally unique! The Tinsel Trail is open to the public daily until midnight. Trees are lit from dusk until midnight each night.
Dates/Times: Nightly Nov. 23-Dec. 31, dusk until midnight
Location: Big Spring Park (map)
Cost: FREE
More Info: Website | Facebook
Read our review of this event here.

Santa’s Village

Snow shows, craft projects and musical entertainment all add to the fun at the Village Santa Calls Home, located in a new location at the Huntsville Depot this year! Come see Santa’s Magic Garden – a magical garden that will come to life right before your eyes. Christmas trees will talk and sing, while holiday lights magically keep up the beat. There’s lots to see and do in the magical village that Santa calls home! Professional photos are made of each child with Santa, with potographs available online for private viewing. All ages will delight in visiting the Claus’ house, meeting Santa’s reindeer, the North Pole elves, and Santa!
Date/Time: Nov. 23 – Dec. 23 | 5-9PM nightly
Location: Historic Huntsville Depot (map)
Cost: $5 per person. Children under 1 year free.
More Info: Website
Read our review of this event.

Christmas in the Park – ArabArab Christmas in the Park

Arab City Park is a must-see during the holiday season. Featuring more than 2 million lights and new displays, the park will be ablaze with the magic and beauty of Christmas. Kick things off with the formal tree lighting ceremony on Friday, November 23rd at 6PM. Visitors can then stroll along the sidewalks and pathways within the park. The 8th Annual Santa in the Park, in conjunction with Christmas in the Park, adds to the excitement when the Arab Historic Village, adjacent to the Arab City Park, is transformed into Santa’s Village. As festival goers make their way thru the Village, a variety of activities will keep everyone entertained. Stop by the gristmill and pick up food for the reindeer, watch as the blacksmith makes reindeer shoes at his shop, visit with Santa Claus, decorate fun holiday cookies, and enjoy a cup of hot chocolate.
All historic buildings will be open and adorned with festive Christmas decorations. Local musicians and carolers will line the sidewalks adding to the magic by singing acapella renditions of traditional holiday music. Plenty of photo opportunities will be available to capture the holiday spirit!
Dates/Times: Park is lit from dusk through 9:30PM from Thanksgiving through Christmas. Santa in the Park is held Nov. 23-24, Nov. 30-Dec. 1, Dec. 7-8, Dec. 14-15, and Dec. 21-22 from 6-9PM
Location: Arab Historic Village (map)
Cost: FREE for general park visits; Santa in the Park is $5 per person with a max of $20/family (children 2 and under FREE)
More Info: Facebook

December


North Pole Stroll

The 2018 Athens North Pole Stroll will return to Big Spring Memorial Park during the month of December with trees decorated with twinkling lights and decked with the creativity of area agencies, groups, businesses, and families. To coincide with the Alabama 200, Limestone County 200, City of Athens 200, the Mooresville 200 and to continue the theme of Trustmark’s Athens Christmas Parade theme of “Bicentennial” – this year’s theme of the Athens North Pole Stroll will look back at Christmas Memories.  Hopefully, the many cherished memories of Christmas of days-gone-by of the decorators of this year’s event in a variety of decorations – photos, stories, hand-crafted items, and whatever the imagination brings to life will adorn the trees that will fill Big Spring Memorial Park in Athens.
Dates/Times: Dec. 1 – 28 | Daily until midnight
Location: Duck Pond (Big Spring Park), Athens (map)
Cost: FREE
More InfoWebsite | Facebook

Christmas Card Lanechristmas card lane

Christmas Card Lane is an outdoor, life-size card exhibit located in the heart of Madison, AL. You’ll find whimsical, traditional, and religious themes amongst the more than thirty designs on display. Visitors are invited to drive along Church and Front Street, in our historic downtown neighborhood, to enjoy this visual holiday delight! The cards will be illuminated until 9PM each night in the month of December. During the day, you may park on Main Street and stroll the sidewalks to admire the details of each design. Afterwards, cast a vote for your favorite card online!
Dates/Times: December 1-31
Location: Downtown Madison (map)
Cost: FREE
More InfoWebsite

Kris Kringle’s Candlelight Christmas

We are decking the halls, the walls and the stalls! Burritt on the Mountain invites everyone to Kris Kringle’s Candlelight Christmas November 30th and  December 1st from 5-9 p.m. The kids will love to see Kris Kringle in the Burritt Mansion from 5:00 – 8:00 p.m. He has to get the reindeer to bed early as he has a busy month coming up! The star-lit mountain will be mirrored by more than 600 candles, adding to the nostalgic feel of the holidays. Music will be heard throughout the mansion and the park; cider, cookies and tasty figgy pudding will keep us warm. Children will enjoy stringing cranberries and popcorn, making paper punch ornaments, creating handmade cards and icing cookies. Many who have come to Candlelight Christmas have felt there was no better way to start the holiday season in a festive non-commercial setting.
Date/Time: Nov. 30 and Dec. 1  | 5:00-9:00 PM
Location: Burritt On the Mountain (map)
Cost: General admission for non-members ($10 adults, $9 seniors and military, $8 children 3-18); $2 for museum members; FREE for children 2 and under
More Info: Website
Read our review of this event.


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33rd Annual Living Nativity

You are invited to Cornerstone Church’s 33rd annual Living Nativity on December 1st and 2nd from 6:00 – 8:00 PM. It is a free, drive-through living Nativity with live animals, people and music depicting the very 1st Christmas. Please join us as we give this CHRISTmas gift to our community.
Date/Time: December 1 & 2 | 6PM-8PM
Location: Cornerstone Community Church (map)
Cost: FREE
More Info: Website

Enchanted Forest of Decatur

Start new traditions with Enchanted Forest of Decatur, a tinsel stroll among a beautiful display of Christmas trees trimmed in festive decorations! Enchanted Forest of Decatur will be a display of live cut Christmas trees, sponsored and decorated by individuals, groups or businesses. Every tree will be uniquely decorated and solar lights will give that extra sparkle for an unforgettable Christmas light display. This community-sponsored forest will receive visitors from the day of the Decatur Christmas Parade, Monday, December 3, 2018, through New Year’s Day 2019. Visitors will be able to stroll along the pathways and enjoy the trees decorated by groups from Decatur and the surrounding area. A special free community event is set for Saturday, December 15, with a rain date of Saturday, December 22. ‘Explore the Forest’ will be a fun filled event designed to draw people to Decatur and the Daikin Amphitheate
Date/Time: Dec. 3 – Jan. 1
Location: Founders Park, Decatur (map)
Cost: FREE
More Info: Website

Christmas Fest

Come join us at the First Christian Church for our come-and-go Christmas Fest! You and your kids will enjoy hands-on Christmas crafts, free pictures with Santa, free finger food, a live reading of the Christmas Story, and Christmas Carols. Come prepared to take part in the festive fun with your kids!!
Date/Time: December 8 | 11AM-1PM
Location: First Christian Church (map)
Cost: FREE
More Info: Facebook

Christmas Village at Sharon Johnston Park

Join us as we turn our Pioneer Village into a Christmas Village!  Take photos with Santa, make an ornament, decorate sugar cookies and go on a carriage ride.
Dates/Times: Dec. 1, 8 & 15 | 2-6PM
Location: Sharon Johnston Park, New Market (map)
Cost: $5; 3 and under are FREE
More Info: Facebook

Drive-Thru Christmas

It doesn’t get much better than a live nativity story! Ride the Christmas Caravan through history as the story of Christ’s birth is told in one of the most unique ways you’ll ever experience it. Finish off the evening with cookies and hot chocolate.
Dates/Times: Dec. 5-8 from 6PM-9PM
Location: Somerville Baptist Church (map)
Cost: FREE
More Info: Website

Alabama Baptist Children’s Homes Christmas Open House

Each December, we have our annual Christmas Open House events at our ABCH campuses, and this year we are looking forward to the privilege of hosting YOU in Decatur! Guests enjoy festive decorations, holiday foods, and guided tours from our children, who are always so excited to show off their homes.
Dates/Times: Dec. 2 from 2PM-5PM
Location: Alabama Baptist Children’s Home, Decatur (map)
Cost: FREE
More Info: Website

Jingle Bell Square

Join us for Jingle Bell Square in Downtown Scottsboro! The activities will begin at 9:00 a.m. with our arts & crafts vendor fair. We will also have kid’s activities and food vendors! We will continue the fun with the 2nd Annual Jingle Bell Run at 4:00 p.m. and the Christmas Parade at 5:00 p.m. Enjoy the sights of the Jingle Bell Trail of Christmas trees and have your picture made with Santa! You can also ride in a horse and buggy around the square.
Dates/Times: Dec. 8 | 9AM-8PM
Location: Downtown Scottsboro (map)
Cost: FREE
More InfoFacebook


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Mommy & Me Nutcracker Tea

Create a special memory with your little ones at our third annual Mommy & Me Nutcracker Tea. (Daddy is welcome too.)  Enjoy delicious treats, make a keepsake craft, meet our dancers and hear the story of The Nutcracker at Alabama Youth Ballet Theatre’s Mommy & Me Nutcracker Tea.  The tea party will conclude with a mini-presentation of The Nutcracker.
Dates/Times: Dec. 8 | 10PM
Location: Alabama Youth Ballet Studios (map)
Cost: $10
More InfoWebsite

Historic Decatur Christmas Tourdecatur christmas tour

The Historic Decatur Christmas Tour is held the second Saturday in December each year: During this time many of the homes in Decatur’s historic districts open their doors for public tours.The annual Christmas Tour of Homes showcases homes from Old Decatur and Albany Historic Districts. These districts contain one of the finest and largest collections of Victorian and early 20th-century craftsman and bungalow homes in Alabama and many are listed on the National Register of Historic Places. This year’s schedule includes a Holiday Market and bells choir concert at  Westminster Presbyterian Church in the Albany district and carriage rides (separate ticket) through Old Decatur. Don’t forget downtown merchants and restaurants will be open for your dining and holiday shopping needs before and during the tour. First United Methodist Church will serve as tour headquarters, with light refreshments available for tour ticket holders.
Dates/Times: Dec. 8 from 3PM-8PM
Location: Downtown Decatur (map)
Cost: $25
More Info: Website

Spirit of Christmas Past Homes Tour and Luminaries

If you want a peek at some of the Antebellum homes in Downtown Huntsville’s Twickenham Historic District, a select few are open each year for one evening as part of the Spirit of Christmas Past Home Tour. Private residences along with the Weeden House Museum go “all out” with holiday décor and the entire district lines its streets with luminaries, giving the entire area a true Christmas glow.
Dates/Times: Dec. 8 from 5-9PM
Location: Twickenham Historic District (map)
Cost: Tours are $15 per person, $5 for children 12 and under | FREE to drive through to see the lights and luminaries!
More InfoWebsite | 256-536-7718

Cosmic Carols and Cocoacosmic cocoa and magic show

The U.S. Space & Rocket Center is offering a magical start to the holiday season in Huntsville with Cosmic Carols and Cocoa Sunday, Dec. 9, from 1 to 4 p.m. Guests can grab a cup of hot cocoa, decorate out-of-this-world cookies, create festive holiday crafts and enjoy Dr. Osborne’s magic show. The event in the Davidson Center for Space Exploration is free for museum members and $5 for non-members. Children ages four and under get in free.
Dates/Times: Dec.  9 | 1PM-4PM
Location: U.S. Space & Rocket Center (map)
Cost: FREE for Museum members | $5 for non-members | FREE for children 4 and under
More InfoWebsite

Polar Express Day at the Hardin Center

Join us as we celebrate our fourth annual Polar Express Day on Saturday, December 15, 2018! Visitors will be able to play in Imagination Place, Let it Snow, join a guided tour of Festival of Trees, watch “The Polar Express” movie, create a special craft, and take one ride on our miniature “Polar Express” train in our rear parking lot. Hardin Center members only pay $5 for the train and can do all other activities for FREE! The train and the other activities will run until 2 pm. All members and those purchasing tickets may stay and enjoy Let it Snow, Festival of Trees, and Imagination Place until closing time at 5 pm.
Dates/Times: Dec. 15 | 10AM-2PM
Location: Hardin Center Imagination Place, Gadsden (map)
Cost: FREE for Hardin Center Members ($5 to ride the train); $12 for non-members
More Info: Website

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