Things to do in Athens this Christmas

Athens, Georgia, has quietly become a perfect holiday getaway. No football, no students, no problem! Athens is one of the best places to go in Georgia this December. Don't wait to plan a festive trip to Athens -- there are so many things to do this December to celebrate the holidays! In a season that some may feel has become too commercial and distant from the true meaning of the season, whether that's Christmas, Hanukkah, or Kwanzaa, it's a great time to focus on bonding experiences together with friends and family.

Here are some festive holiday events, activities and things to do in Athens this December:

Athens on Ice & Holiday Lights

Ice Skating in Athens:


Athens Ice Skating Girl

Grab the family and have some fun as ice skating returns to Athens! The ice rink at The Classic Center  440 Foundry Pavilion is the largest in the area --, with plenty of room for your best moves (or to have enough safe space to learn.) Ice skating in Athens has become a favorite winter activity for all ages. There are skates, and cute little seals to sit on, for even the littlest skaters. Head out to The Classic Center ice rink to keep the kids occupied during winter break from school, for a whimsical date night or couples night, a great outing with a group of friends, and even a fun activity for larger groups like a holiday office party, church group, sorority and fraternity social, and more.

Winter WonderLights:


Winter Wonderlights Tunnel

One of Athens' newest holiday activities is Winter WonderLights. Now in its third year, the State Botanical Garden of Georgia at UGA is transforming this holiday season into a glittering winter wonderland of lights. The walk-through light show extravaganza features 11 illuminated displays along a half-mile path that is certain to delight and inspire. Meander with your family and friends and create magical memories among twinkling displays, colorful decorations and a mesmerizing multi-colored light tunnel. The Winter WonderLights show will include a Garden of Delights, Candy Cane Lane and Cone Tree Plaza, among other magical features.

Lighted displays will delight children and adults most evenings from Nov. 22, 2022, through December 30, 2023. The Alice Hand Callaway Visitor Center will be transformed into a holiday market, where guests can shop for gifts and souvenirs. Refreshments such as cookies, s’mores, bottled water, hot chocolate and coffee will be available throughout the light show.

The half-mile trail will take from 45-60 minutes to complete and is fully ADA accessible. Tickets are $15 each, free for children under age 3, and must be purchased online in advance. Winter WonderLights is presented by the University of Georgia Office of the President.

Come Back in January for Disco Nights!

New this year, WonderLights Disco Nights is sure to be a hit. From Jan. 4-7, 2024, Winter WonderLights gets in the groove with the light show trail strobing to disco hits!  

Overnight Packages for WonderLights

Be sure to check out the festive overnight packages, including on-campus accommodations and a shuttle to the Garden and Winter WonderLights.

Athens Holiday Events Calendar

Holiday Markets in Athens

A holiday market outside Big City Bread at twilight.

Athens' amazing creative community is on full display at holiday open houses and artist markets. Local Athens holiday markets are the perfect opportunity to find truly personal gift ideas. After all, you'll find many of Athens' talented artists all in one place! You'll also be supporting local artists and makers while being able to browse outdoors, enjoy a festive atmosphere, AND avoid shipping costs and worries about delays.

Grab your mom, daughters, sisters or friends and start a tradition of spending time together at a local Athens holiday market together to pick out gifts for Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, or just because!

Check out our blog feature for a full roundup of Holiday Markets in Athens and our events calendar for other holiday events!

We've got even more ideas in our Athens Holiday Gift Guide!

Christmas Concerts & Performances:

Ballerinas performing a scene from the nutcracker

If you're looking for a Christmas concert, holiday music, or The Nutcracker, look no further than Athens, because we've got them all.

This year's lineup of holiday music, plays, ballet and other performances is top-notch. The Classic Center Theatre in downtown Athens is a wonderful venue with a full calendar of holiday performances, and the UGA Performing Arts Center does, too!

Check out the holiday event listings below:

Holiday Performances At The Classic Center:

At The UGA Performing Arts Center:

More Holiday Performances

Athens Staycation and Friends & Family Packages & Offers

Wondering how to share the holidays with friends and family, and do it safely? Rather than crowding everyone into one home, consider booking a local Athens hotel room or suite to provide more space for your visiting friends and family to spread out. Athens is typically blessed with fairly mild weather in December, meaning families and friends can still gather together at a local park for outdoor activities and a picnic meal. This is the year to get creative and start some new traditions!

Athens hotels have made these special offers for locals hosting friends and family for the holidays or seeking an Athens staycation for themselves.


Scenes of the Season