It's time to deck the halls of the Classic City because everyone's favorite time of year is fast approaching... the holiday season! Nobody does winter holidays better than Athens, Georgia. The reason for the season is family and with SO much going on in December, you are certain to find something festive and fun that you and all your loved ones can enjoy. With "The Nutcracker" and ice skating in addition to returning favorites such as the parade and holiday markets, this year is the perfect opportunity to take a break and make a Georgia getaway to Athens this Christmas season.

For the first time ever in The Classic Center Theatre, audiences will be able to celebrate the season with a very special version of the Second Thursday Concert Series. The University of Georgia's Holiday Concert brings together the UGA Symphony Orchestra, Hodgson Singers, and University Chorus for a night of holiday music magic. Come and enjoy this unique community tradition on December 3 at 8 p.m. Tickets are $25. More information can be found here!

It wouldn't be Christmas in Athens, Georgia without the Parade of Lights. This popular annual event allows spectators the opportunity to view an evening parade and to enjoy the festive atmosphere of Downtown Athens while it is all decorated for the holiday season. This year's theme, the "Sounds of Christmas," will have Christmas cheer ringing through the Classic City on December 5.  The parade begins at 7 p.m. at the corner of Dougherty and Pulaski Street and ends an hour later in front of City Hall. The traditional tree lighting ceremony, hosted by Mr. and Mrs. Santa Claus, will follow. Kick off the 2013 holiday season in classic Athens style and don't miss the chance to see your favorite city lit up like a tree, a Christmas tree that is. 

Athens is well-known for its art scene, making holiday artist markets and special events the perfect opportunity to find one-of-a-kind gifts. This year the Indie South Fair (formerly Athens Indie Craftstravaganzaa) is expanding to a 2-day festival. The Holiday Hooray! on December 7th & 8th brings an eclectic selection of emerging artists and crafters from the South and beyond to downtown Athens. If you're an artist, the fair provides a venue for you to directly connect with the community in a street-fair atmosphere that is always free and open to everyone. So whether you're looking to share your craft or shop for loved ones, the Holiday Hooray! is a seasonal experience everyone should have. More information about the fair is available here.

The holiday season is all about the spirit of giving. Rather than racking your brain for the perfect gift for that special somebody, head on over to Handmade for the Holidays: Athens Artist Market at The Classic Center. With 60 local artists displaying their unique, one-of-a-kind crafts, you're sure to find something for everyone on your shopping list. With everything from pottery and paintings, to jewelry and skincare, no one will be leaving empty-handed! Handmade for the Holidays will be at The Classic Center December 14 from noon - 8 p.m., and December 15 from noon - 6 p.m. There are even more shopping opportunities in Athens, including the Lyndon House Arts Center's Deck the Walls Holiday Shop and Heirloom Café's Holiday Market.

Allow yourself to be transported to Christmases past. On December 14, the Athens Historic House Museum Association will host the Holiday Spirits Museum Mile Tour which will focus on period holiday traditions spanning the 19th century by exploring four unique historic houses from the Federal, Greek Revival, and Victorian periods. The tour will culminate with a glorious Victorian Christmas at the Ware-Lyndon House. The tour begins at 2 p.m. and tickets are $25. Make your reservations today by calling 706-353-1820. 

No holiday season would be complete without the twinkle of Christmas lights. From December 12 - 21st, the Athens-Clarke County Leisure Services Department will host Deck the Hollow Holiday Lights at Bear Hollow Zoo. Everyone is invited to celebrate the holiday in lights from 5:30 - 7:30 p.m. nightly. Other festive activities will include live music, animal encounters, and photo opportunities in the zoo illuminated by lights. Admission is $2 per person, free for ages 2 and under. More information can be found here.

From December 14 - 22, Christmas at The Classic Center will transform the Grand Hall into a winter wonderland complete with a series of ongoing events including a festival of trees, ice skating, pictures with Santa, and more. Bring your family and y'all can enjoy a special breakfast with Santa and other holiday characters on Saturday December 14 or December 21 at 9 a.m. In Santa's workshop, the kiddos will be able to decorate cookies and create holiday crafts. Other highlights of the festival include professional gingerbread houses on display, local choral group performances, and holiday story and movie time. Additional information can be found here or by calling 706-357-4444.

For generations, no other holiday activity has represented the spirit of Christmas as memorably as a family outing to see "The Nutcracker." This holiday season, The Classic Center will host State Ballet Theatre of Russia's "The Nutcracker" for three special performances. On December 21-22, the magic of Christmas will come alive as audiences enjoy the spectacular sets, beautiful costumes, and enchanting choreography. You have three chances to catch this holiday classic come to life: Saturday at 3 p.m. and 7:30 p.m., and Sunday at 3 p.m. What would Christmas be without "Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy?" Don't miss out this year! Ticketing information can be found at here. Overnight packages including tickets to see "The Nutcracker" are available for December 21st.

The year is almost over and 2014 is on its way! Finding the perfect plans for New Year's Eve can be really stressful, so take a load off and come to the Classic City. With tons of live music all around town and several hotels offering special holiday packages, Athens has all you need to ring in the New Year just right! 

The holidays will be over before you know it; try to soak up all the end of the year activities while you still can! Grab some hot cocoa and all your loved ones, and make some lasting memories during the most wonderful time of the year in the most wonderful city of all: Athens, Georgia! The Athens Convention & Visitors Bureau is here to help you while you plan your holiday visit to Athens. Visit them at or call them at 706-357-4430 for information. Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays!