ATHENS, Georgia (November 27, 2018) -- The holiday season in Athens, Georgia, offers many opportunities for endless celebrations. Now is the time to plan a holiday vacation in Georgia. Visitors can enjoy festive heritage events, artist markets for one-of-a-kind gifts, world-class entertainment and holiday productions, and, as always in Athens, live music.

Athens on Ice: Athens, Georgia’s only indoor/outdoor ice rink is almost open for the season. The Classic Center is home to an indoor NHL-sized Ice-Skating arena and outdoor skating pavilion. From November 23 to January 25, the rink will be indoors, then move to the outdoor pavilion from January 13 to February 24. With multiple public skating sessions every day, adults only public skating and drop-in hockey, this winter staple is perfect for the whole family to enjoy.

Holiday Gala Tour of Homes:  The Athens-Clarke Heritage Foundation will have four homes opening their doors on Milledge Circle, one of Athens' newest local historic districts. This self-guided tour will take place on Sunday, Dec. 2 from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. The tour includes a variety of food options and a one-of-a-kind silent auction. Standard Gala tickets are $55 for members and $80 for non-members.

Athens Santa Pub Crawl: Hosted by Live Wire Athens, this festive pub crawl will take place on December 1 from 6:30 p.m. to midnight. Visitors dress in Santa costumes or their silliest holiday attire and visit multiple bars to spread the holiday cheer throughout the town. Wristbands are $15 - $20 and include stops at multiple venues.  All proceeds benefit the Athens Area Humane Society. Information about purchasing wristbands and venue details can be found at https://www.facebook.com/athenssantapubcrawl.

Indie South Fair Holiday Hooray!: This heritage market provides a venue for artists to connect with the community by sharing their techniques and creative processes in a street-fair atmosphere that is open to everyone. Spend the day at Chase Street on December 1st and 2nd  to shop for holiday gifts and decor. For more information, visit http://theindiesouth.com/calendar/holiday-hooray-athens-ga/.

Classic City Tour of Homes: Visitors from all over gather in Athens for this special event, hosted by UGA Miracle. This is the only time of the year the University of Georgia sorority and fraternity houses are opened to the public. The houses are prepped to showcase their rich history, traditions and holiday festivity on Sunday, December 2 from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. This is a great event for girlfriends or mother-daughters to enjoy. For more information, visit http://www.ugamiracle.org/events.html.

Classic City Band Holiday Concert: The State Botanical Garden of Georgia will host this concert on December 11 at 7 p.m. The Classic City Band is the oldest community band. Admission to the concert is free of charge and more information can be found at http://www.classiccityband.org/event/classic-city-band-holiday-concert-4/?instance_id=274

"Deck the Hollow" Holiday Light Show at Bear Hollow Zoo:  The Bear Hollow Zoo will be illuminated in lights, offer live music, animal encounters and photo opportunities on December 7-9 and 14-16 from 5:30-7:30 p.m.  Concessions, including hot chocolate and s'mores will be available for purchase.  Cost is $5/person (cash only). Children under the age of 2 are free.  For more information, visit https://www.athensclarkecounty.com/4982/Deck-the-Hollow.

The Downtown Christmas Parade of Lights: This popular annual event gives viewers and participants the opportunity to enjoy an evening parade in Downtown Athens while it is decorated for the holiday season. On Thursday, December 6, dozens of floats, bands and groups will blow through downtown overflowing with twinkling lights. The parade begins on the corner of Dougherty and Pulaski Streets at 7 p.m. and ends in front of City Hall for the traditional tree lighting ceremony hosted by Santa and Mrs. Claus. More information is available at https://www.visitathensga.com/event/downtown-parade-of-lights%3a-a-fairytale-christmas/15319/.

Breakfast with Santa at The Classic Center:  Santa Claus is coming to The Classic Center! Families are invited to The Classic Center Atrium on Saturday, December 8 from 8:30 a.m. - 10:30 a.m. for Breakfast with Santa, an event benefiting The Classic Center Cultural Foundation. Tickets are $25 for adults and $20 for children 10 and under. Attendees will enjoy a full delicious breakfast buffet, a special visit with Santa and other holiday characters, photos and holiday crafts. Attendees will also receive $2 off of an ice-skating session at The Classic Center. More information and how to purchase tickets can be found here, https://www.visitathensga.com/event/breakfast-with-santa/18661/.

Athens Holiday MarketThe 2018 Holiday market is a two-night event beginning Thursday, December 13 and ending Friday, December 14 from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. in the courtyard at the Big City Bread cafe. It will feature local artists and craftspeople from around the region. Local artists will be selling their wares under the stars at this evening event. Find handmade local goodies for all the folks on your holiday shopping list AND see everyone you know doing the same!

State Botanical Garden of Georgia Holiday Open House:  Experience the splendor of the Visitor Center and Conservatory at the State Botanical Garden of Georgia decorated for the holidays on Sunday, December 2 beginning at 2 p.m. Children will be able to share their wishes with Santa and create a holiday craft.  The gift shop will be well stocked with holiday decor, books, jewelry, toys and more.  The Athens Flute Choir will perform their Holiday Concert in the Day Chapel at 4:30 p.m. The acoustics are perfect for this holiday treat. For more information, please visit http://botgarden.uga.edu/.

The Nutcracker: The treasured tale of a little girl’s journey through the fantasy world of fairies, princes, toy soldiers, and an army of mice comes to Athens December 22 and 23 at The Classic Center Theatre. The Nutcracker Presented by the State Ballet Theatre of Russia is filled with Tchaikovsky’s beloved music along with spectacular sets, beautiful costumes, and enchanting choreography. Tickets are on sale now. Click here for more information, http://order.ticketalternative.com/cgi-bin/ncommerce3/SEGetEventList?groupCode=BRO&linkID=ta-cca&shopperContext=&caller=&appCode=.

New Year’s Eve 2018: A variety of venues are hosting special events to ring in the new year. Choose a fun New Years Eve package from the Graduate Athens  or Hotel Indigo to ring in the 2019. Landmark Athens venues like Georgia Theatre and 40 Watt club will have live music. For more information about these events click here.

For more information on planning a holiday trip to Athens, GA, check out Visit Athens’ Holiday Events page: https://www.visitathensga.com/events/holiday/

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Athens Travel Information:

The Athens Welcome Center at 280 E. Dougherty Street is open daily to provide maps, brochures, self-guided tours and visitor information. Guided bus tours of historic Athens depart daily from the Welcome Center at 2 p.m. Information on the Athens Welcome Center can be found at www.AthensWelcomeCenter.com.

About the Athens Convention & Visitors Bureau:

The Athens Convention & Visitors Bureau is a proactive sales and marketing organization whose primary goal is to increase the economic impact of the hospitality and visitor industry by attracting individual visitors, group tours, and meetings and conventions to Athens. Tourism WORKS for Athens, contributing $310.17 million in spending, 2,872 jobs and $21.24 million in local and state tax revenue in 2017.

The Athens Convention and Visitors Bureau offers a wealth of official visitor information at www.VisitAthensGA.com. More information on Athens, Georgia is available at 706-357-4430 and tourinfo@visitathensga.com.