Your Guide to 2018-2019 Events the Whole Family Can Enjoy
Choose your adventure through four uniquely themed realms of wonder at Rock City’s Enchanted Garden of Lights. The gardens’ natural daytime splendor is transformed with over a million glistening lights and magical decorations. Enjoy story time and gingerbread cookie decorating with Mrs. Claus, sip hot cocoa in the North Pole Lodge, or listen to local and regional choirs. Along the way, meet holiday characters including Santa, Jack Frost, and Inara the Ice Queen.
Ice on the Landing brings the classic winter tradition of outdoor ice skating to downtown Chattanooga. Visitors of all ages can take a turn on the rink, located in the historic Glenn Miller Outdoor Gardens at the Choo Choo. Vendors will be set up to supply sweet treats and hot cocoa. Visit the website for special promotions and activities.
Visit the historic Chattanooga Choo Choo to experience festive holiday cheer. Take a photo with Santa and Mrs. Claus, who will be on-site all season long, while marveling at the tallest Christmas tree in Hamilton County. Ice skate under the lights, or sip and shop at the holiday market, before enjoying seasonal favorites at local bars and restaurants. You can even plan a staycation and spend the night at the hotel!
SCUBA Claus will once again be donning his diving gear and making weekend appearances at the Tennessee Aquarium starting Nov. 17. Catch a glimpse of the “Jolly Old Elf” in either the “St. Nick-a-Jack” Lake exhibit or swimming alongside the “Monster Fish” in the River Giants exhibit.
Climb aboard the North Pole Limited for an unforgettable journey at the Tennessee Valley Railroad Museum. Lighted displays, refreshments, storytelling, and sing-alongs are all a part of this family-friendly event. As the train rolls into the North Pole, a special guest will make an appearance!
Creative Discovery Museum kicks off the wintry season on Nov. 17 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. 17-Dec. 23. Gingerbread Workshops (reservations required) will be available starting Nov. 23 and will then be available on Saturdays and Sundays from Nov. 24-Dec. 16. On New Year’s Eve, the Museum will host “New Year’s at Noon,” a New Year’s celebration for kids.
The “Hello from Japan!” exhibit will run through Jan. 6.
EPB will unveil their annual holiday window display on the Wednesday before Thanksgiving at 5 p.m. at EPB’s downtown headquarters: 10 W. Martin Luther King Blvd. The festive windows will be filled with scenes featuring EPB’s cast of merry animated holiday characters and thousands of twinkling lights.
It’s the most wonderful time of the year at the Southern Belle, where seasonal cruises include Thanksgiving on the River, Christmas Carol Dinner Cruises, Breakfast with Santa, ‘Tis the Season Luncheons, Early Bird New Year’s Eve, and New Year’s Eve on the River. Each event features a special menu, entertainment, and breathtaking views of the Tennessee River.
Dozens of festively decorated boats will parade along the Tennessee River in the 38th annual Grand Illumination and Lighted Boat Parade. Come down to the Riverfront Friday evening to see the vessels set sail starting at the Walnut Street Bridge.
Honoring the European tradition of an outdoor holiday market, Bluff View Art District offers a unique alternative to the bustle of Black Friday shopping. See local pastry chefs, bakers, coffee roasters, and a French chocolatier create festive treats. Live Christmas music will be playing from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m., and shopping specials can be found throughout the district.
Each year, crowds gather in downtown Cleveland for carols and a tree lighting to open the holiday season. Visitors can enjoy free carriage rides around the courthouse square and musical presentations on the steps of each historic downtown church. On Dec. 1, the Christmas parade will depart from Bradley Central High School and showcase lighted floats, bands, and, of course, Santa!
Chickamauga and Chattanooga National Military Park present this one-of-a-kind holiday experience. The Cravens House will be festively decorated to reflect Christmastime during the Civil War era, and tours of the historic home and grounds will be led every 30 minutes starting at 6 p.m. Reservations are required due to spacing limitation.
Santa believers and kids at heart create sweet memories as they explore a secret passage to the North Pole through a glittering ice cave – leading to Santa Claus himself. Along the way, help Santa’s miners prepare for the holidays with festive interactive activities. Discover Sugar Plum Fairy Village and Penguin Palace, crack your own geode, play in snow flurries, and more! Admission includes activities, a photo with Santa, and a souvenir geode to remember your magical adventure.
This 24-hour-long festival, organized by Southside residents, merchants, and friends, features programming all day and night – including parades, live music, cook-offs, open houses, store discounts, cookie decorating, silent auctions, dancing, fireworks, and much more! A schedule of more than 100 events can be found online.
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 choir, Ballet Tennessee, the CSO Youth Orchestra, the Metropolitan Bells, and the East Lake Expression Engine. This year’s theme will be “On a Silent Night.”
A Chattanooga shopping tradition, the Holiday Market is held during the month of December at the Chattanooga Convention Center. Explore the works of artisans selling custom pieces, jewelry, pottery, apparel, furniture, and much more. While shopping, visitors can enjoy festive daily entertainment and hot cocoa. Market hours are 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Saturdays and 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Sundays.
On Dec. 1, Southern Adventist University celebrates the sounds of the holiday season with a performance by the wind symphony, jazz ensemble, and Southern Ringtones. The university’s School of Music will also perform a special Christmas opera on Dec. 8.
The Georgia Winery invites guests to a sweet afternoon at the Christmas Open House. From unique wine gifts and gourmet food products to premade gift baskets and more, the large selection will make Christmas shopping a breeze.
The holidays kick into gear at the museum on Sunday, Dec. 2 with a “Sugarplums and Snowflakes” inspired Family Fun Day. Families are invited to join the festivities, which will include many holiday-themed art-making activities. The Chattanooga Ballet will perform a small section of their winter production “The Nutcracker.” Another special guest who is known for his rosy cheeks and hearty “Ho Ho Ho!” will also make an appearance!
In its 29th year, this festive celebration features Lee University’s Choral Union, Symphony Orchestra, and more. A variety of the university’s School of Music performers, as well as special guests, work together to make this Lee’s most well-attended music event each year. Tickets are complimentary but required.
Warm up with a hot cup of tea at the Houston Museum’s Holiday English Tea. This traditional English tea features authentic treats such as scones with lemon curd or clotted cream, finger sandwiches, and sweets. Admission includes a guided tour of the Victorian home that houses the museum’s collection of antique glass. Seating takes place at 1 p.m. and 2:40 p.m.
Walk through a winter wonderland at the Chattanooga Zoo this holiday season. While enjoying the lighted, festive atmosphere, guests can visit the animals and watch them open presents. Additional activities include pictures with Santa, holiday games, crafts, caroling, and more.
Chattanooga State will perform “A Christmas Carol: The Musical” on two separate weekends. The family-friendly show is based on Charles Dickens’ classic story featuring Ebenezer Scrooge; musical numbers like “God Bless Us, Everyone” and “Christmas Together” bring the story to life.
The Chattanooga Workspace is home to many local artists, and they’ll open their doors on Dec. 7 starting at 5:30 p.m. to welcome the community for a family-friendly night of food, art, and shopping. Meet local artists, browse the open studios, and shop for unique, creative gifts that can’t be found anywhere else.
Celebrate the magic of the season with the Bryan College Performing Arts Department! This program includes traditional anthems and carols selected by the Bryan College Chorale; additionally, the school’s instrumental and piano ensembles will perform excerpts from “The Nutcracker.”
The Lee University School of Music and School of Religion present this evening of lessons and carols. Scripture surrounding Christ’s birth will be interwoven with beautiful Christmas music for a moving service. Tickets are complimentary but required.
This year, the Chattanooga Girls Choir is celebrating 32 years of beautiful holiday music. Their annual winter concert, entitled “Singing with Spirit,” will be held at the Hixson United Methodist Church at 7:30 p.m. Five choirs will perform a broad range of sacred and secular pieces, including classic holiday favorites.
Ballet Tennessee presents the enchanting ballet “The Nutcracker” at the UTC Fine Arts Center. Featuring beautifully crafted choreography by the late Barry VanCura, this holiday classic stars Madeline Claire Stefaniuk as Clara and Ta’Sean Honeysucker as the Nutcracker Prince. Guest artists Morgan McEwen and Brian Gephart will dance the roles of Sugar Plum Fairy and Sugar Plum Cavalier. Performances will be held on Dec. 14 at 8 p.m. and Dec. 15 at 2 p.m.
Choo! Choo! All aboard the Polar Express for a trip to the North Pole. Dress in your favorite pair of pajamas and enjoy a special screening of The Polar Express 3D at the IMAX Theater. This is your chance to meet the conductor, sip hot cocoa, and sample delicious pastries. It’s fun for the entire family and all who truly believe!
Guest conductor Stuart Chafetz will lead the Chattanooga Symphony & Opera’s holiday tradition of seasonal selections and modern hits at the Tivoli Theatre. Along with the CSO Chorus and Metropolitan Bells, this year’s program will feature vocalist Dee Donasco.
For an educational holiday treat, register for Christmas at Red Clay – where you’ll experience the historic state park through the eyes of the Cherokee people. This living history event features customary songs, cooking demonstrations over the fire, and celebrations of the traditions of the past. Guests should meet at the Visitor Center at 5:30 p.m.
The Tivoli Theatre will host the Moscow Ballet’s “Great Russian Nutcracker,” which brings a whimsical story of adventure and holiday enchantment to the stage. With handcrafted costumes, larger than life puppets, and spectacular sets, this over-the-top production is sure to entertain the whole family.
Welcome 2019 in unmatched style! Grab your friends for a spectacular party at the Hunter featuring heavy hors d’oeuvres by Events with Taste, entertainment by DJ PHLZ, a midnight champagne toast, and scenic views of the city. This event was named one of the Southeast’s top New Year’s Eve parties by The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Visit the website for tickets.
Head to the Chattanooga Zoo for the wildest New Year’s Eve party around! This family-friendly afternoon includes games, activities, and more. In addition to counting down the clock in different time zones around the world, visitors will also learn how the zoo is working to stop the clock on extinction for endangered species.
Join the Tennessee Valley Railroad for a special New Year’s Eve excursion. Enjoy a three-course meal of your choice as you travel the rails in a vintage dining car. The approximately two-hour ride departs from Chattanooga’s Grand Junction Station.
The American Cancer Society presents the first-ever Cheers to a Cure! This upscale evening event, complete with heavy hors d’oeuvres, silent auctions, champagne toasts, and entertainment, takes place at The Renaissance Center in Rossville, Georgia. Attendees must be 21 or older.