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Christmas in the South - Holiday Festivals and Christmas Lights

Christmas at Biltmore Estate

Holiday decorations add festive sparkle to magnificent Biltmore House.
Photo Credit: Copyright 2008 The Biltmore Company, all rights reserved.
Christmas at Biltmore
November 5, 2010 – January 2, 2011
Asheville, North Carolina

America's largest house, Biltmore House on the magnificent Biltmore Estate, is even more magical than usual throughout the holidays, giving new meaning to the lyrics, Deck the halls with boughs of holly. Continuing the traditions that began when George W. Vanderbilt first welcomed his friends and family to Biltmore on Christmas Eve 1895, the estate features dozens of Christmas trees, miles of ribbon, garland and lights. To add to the sparkle, holiday music performed by ensembles fills the halls with seasonal cheer and inspirational holiday demonstrations are offered throughout the season.

Daytime Visits
Daytime guests may enjoy special complimentary seminars and activities on select days throughout the estate, including tree and wreath decorating, centerpiece designing, complimentary wine tastings at the Winery, pictures with St. Nick and more. For additional information and to purchase tickets, visit Christmas at Biltmore on the Biltmore Estate Official Website.

Candlelight Christmas Evenings
November 12, 2010 – January 1, 2011
Candlelight Christmas Evenings tickets include evening admission to Biltmore House with two ticket options for daytime visits. Advance reservations are required. Candlelight Christmas Evenings are not offered on November 23, 25, December 24 or 25, although daytime visits are available on those days.

Christmas at Callaway Gardens - Fantasy in Lights

"Swan Lake" - Fantasy in Lights at Callaway Gardens
Photo Credit: Courtesy of Callaway Gardens
Callaway Gardens - Fantasy in Lights
November 19 - December 30, 2010
Pine Mountain, Georgia

In its 19th festive year, Fantasy in Lights at Callaway Gardens features more than a dozen larger-than-life holiday scenes illuminated with eight million twinkling lights. Scenes include Snowflake Valley, a winter wonderland of snowflakes and white lights, a Magical Christmas Garden and Santa's Workshop, complete with animated versions of Santa's elves busy at work. Set apart from the drivable route, two spectacular scenes combine narration, music and choreographed lights to tell the stories of Twas the Night Before Christmas and The Nativity. Visitors may enjoy the magical tour in their own vehicles or by riding the Jolly Trolley. (Sunday, November 21, 2010 is the annual March of Dimes Night Walk. On this night only, no vehicles are allowed on the drive. Everyone must walk, and umbrella strollers for children are allowed.)

The Christmas Village, an indoor shopping and dining area, features roaming Fantasy in Lights characters and the chance to visit Santa. Unique gifts, including specialty food items, nostalgic toys, holiday ornaments and more, will be available for purchase. Also, a selection of Georgia artisans will be on-site making and selling an array of interesting craft items.


Christmas at Dollywood - Smoky Mountain Christmas Festival

Carol of the Trees at Dollywood's Smoky Mountain Christmas Festival
Photo Credit: Courtesy of Dollywood
Dollywood - Smoky Mountain Christmas Festival
November 6, 2010 - January 1, 2011
Pigeon Forge, Tennessee

For seasonal holiday fun, Dollywood offers an array of shows, activities and more for great family fun with something for all ages. Transformed into a winter wonderland, Dollywood's Smoky Mountain Christmas Festival features festive stage shows, festival foods, thrilling rides and over 4 million sparking lights. A few highlights include:

    * Dollywood’s Babes in Toyland and Other Stage Shows - Dollywood’s most elaborate stage show, Babes in Toyland, features a cast of 20 performers and a fully-orchestrated musical score. Other popular stage shows showcase hometown holiday favorites, Christmas gospel hymns and songs, Christmas story musicals and more.

    * Visits with Santa - Visit Santa's Workshop, a giant toy store with larger-than-life toys, interactive activities and a chance to have a visit with Santa.

    * Carol of the Trees - Enjoy nightly displays of thousands of lights and pyrotechnics synchronized with holiday music, transforming Rivertown Lake into a seasonal symphony for the senses.

    * Parade of Lights - Twice nightly, this festive parade features holiday characters and twinkling Christmas floats decorated with brightly colored lights.

Winter at Graceland


 A replica of Elvis' Santa, sleigh and reindeer Christmas display greets visitors on the front lawn of Graceland.Photo Credit: © Elvis Presley Enterprises, Inc.
 Winter at Graceland - Memphis, Tennessee
Graceland Annual Christmas Lighting Ceremony - November 19, 2010 at 6 p.m.
Tours of Graceland Decorated for the Holidays - November 19, 2010 – January 9, 2011

The Holidays
During the holidays, Graceland features many traditional decorations that Elvis enjoyed for Christmas at his beloved Memphis home. On the front lawn, a festive display welcomes visitors with a replica of the greeting from Elvis' first Christmas at Graceland in 1957, Merry Christmas to All, Elvis. Other outdoor decorations include a life size nativity scene, first displayed in the 1960s, and nostalgic blue lights lining the driveway, recalling the spirit of the popular Elvis hit, Blue Christmas.

In the mansion, traditional Christmas decorations include Presley family Christmas gifts and artifacts, red draperies at the windows of the front rooms, changed from the usual blue draperies each year for the holidays. Seasonal events usually include a tree lighting ceremony, nighttime tours and special exhibits, an Elvis-Santa and more. For dates and details, visit Winter at Graceland.

The Elvis Presley Birthday Celebration
January 6 - January 9, 2011
A full schedule of events celebrates Elvis' birthday each year. For details, visit Elvis' Birthday Celebration.

Christmas in Colonial Williamsburg

The Colonial Williamsburg Fifes and Drums provide 18th-century seasonal music.
Photo © Colonial Williamsburg Foundation - All Rights Reserved
 Williamsburg, Virginia
November - December 2010

Fragrant handmade decorations, the glow of candlelight, seasonal music and festive fireworks bring the magic of Christmases past to Colonial Williamsburg. Hundreds of special programs and events offer memorable fun for all ages. Advance reservations are necessary for many of the popular events.

A sampling of highlights includes:

    * The Grand Illumination - December 5, 2010 - Heralding the holiday season, this festive celebration includes period entertainment, the lighting of candles throughout the Historic District and dazzling fireworks displays in three locations.

    * Kid's Holiday Weekends - In addition to family fun throughout the season, special Kid's Holiday Weekends offer festive programs devoted to sharing family fun, food preparation and entertainment.

    * Annual Christmas Homes Tour - Presented by the Green Spring Garden Club, this annual walking tour features private homes, not usually open to the public, decorated with holiday floral arrangements.

    * Christmas Decorations Walking Tour - Daily During the Season - Enjoy a guided look at Colonial Williamsburg’s picturesque buildings and streets, decorated for the holidays.

    * Christmas Eve / Christmas Day - Experience a Yuletide Supper welcoming the arrival of Father Christmas, the Community Christmas Tree Lighting, the firing of the Christmas guns and an array of Christmas Day activities and dining experiences.

Christmas at Stone Mountain Park

A Stone Mountain Christmas - The nightly Snow Angel Celebration features a dazzling fireworks and snowfall spectacle.
Photo Credit: Courtesy of Stone Mountain Park
 A Stone Mountain Christmas
Select Dates: November 13, 2010 - January 2, 2011
Stone Mountain, Georgia

Stone Mountain Park, Georgia's most popular attraction, offers festive fun for all ages during the annual holiday celebration, A Stone Mountain Christmas. More than 2 million Christmas lights twinkle in the reproduction 1870s town of Crossroads, where most of the holiday fun takes place. Traditional favorites, along with a few new events this season include:

    * Wonderland Walkway and Snow Angel Palace (new) – Enjoy this enchanting tunnel of lights and music that leads to the Snow Angel Palace for photos with Stone Mountain Park's Snow Angel.

    * The Polar Express 4D™ Experience – This 20-minute 4D experience adds a new dimension (for example, the aroma of hot chocolate, steam engine steam, the wind in your face) to this beloved Christmas story adventure.

    * Holiday Shows - Sleigh Ride, Simply Christmas, Crossroads Christmas Carol, and Holly Jolly Cabaret offer holiday classics to get you into the spirit of the season.

    * Sing-Along Christmas Train - Enjoy the Christmas lights on the five-mile journey around the mountain.

    * Fireworks and Snowfall Celebration - The Snow Angel lights the winter sky with a spectacle of fireworks and snow.

    * Crossroads Christmas Parade - Santa and friends parade through Crossroads.

    * Visits with Santa - Kids can share their holiday wishes and have a photo taken with Santa Claus.

A Stone Mountain Christmas tickets are required to enter Crossroads and experience the Christmas event. For additional information about all events and to order tickets, visit the Stone Mountain Christmas Website.

Speedway in Lights - Bristol Motor Speedway

A Tunnel of Holiday Lights
Photo Credit: Courtesy of Bristol Motor Speedway
 Speedway in Lights - Bristol Motor Speedway
November 19, 2010 - January 8, 2011
Bristol, Tennessee

The roar of the engines is replaced with the twinkling of two million lights during Bristol Motor Speedway's annual Speedway in Lights. Along the four and one-half mile route, including a drive around the World's Fastest Half-Mile, visitors delight in over 200 displays.

A sampling of highlights and annual favorites includes:

    * Symphony of Lights (new) - The largest display to be added in Speedway in Lights's 14-year history, this light show features a large Christmas tree, dancing snowflakes, arches and fountains, consisting of more than 300,000 LED lights synchronized to music.

    * The Twelve Days of Christmas - A dozen scenes stretch for 180 feet, each approximately 10 feet tall and nearly 15 feet wide, depicting holiday scenes.

    * The Sea Of Illumination - Presented by Ripley's Aquarium of the Smokies, this popular display features almost 750 feet of sparkling fish, sharks and other sea creatures.

    * The Animated Snowman Attraction - Flying snowballs build a huge snowman.

    * Dinosaur Village - This display features six dinosaurs and an erupting volcano.

    * Santa's Speedway Sleigh (Thursday nights only) - A special tram offers the experience of an open-air ride through along the 4.5-mile route, complete with Christmas carols played on the tram's sound system and information provided by a tour guide - departs from a boarding station located near the HVAC Chill Hill every Thursday night at 6 p.m. and 8 p.m. Tickets may be purchased at the station.

Other attractions include an ice skating rink and 300-foot long tube slide (November 18, 2010 - January 16, 2011 - closed Mondays). Also, visit the Christmas Village for photos with Santa, roasted marshmallows, hot chocolate, carnival rides and crafts vendors.

For additional information about the schedule and tickets, visit: Bristol Motor Speedway Website.

100 Miles of Lights - Richmond to Virginia Beach


 A "fantasea" of lights illuminates the Virginia Beach Boardwalk.
Photo Credit: Courtesy of "100 Miles of Lights"
 Seven Virginia Cities from Richmond to Virginia Beach

The award-winning annual 100 Miles of Lights takes place along the 100 or so miles from Richmond to Virginia Beach, featuring a festive array of holiday light shows, special events, decorated historic areas, musical performances, visits with Santa Claus and more.

The seven host cities for this delightful seasonal event are: Richmond, Williamsburg, Newport News, Hampton, Portsmouth, Norfolk and Virginia Beach. Some of the highlights include:

See the Holiday Lights - A few of the Light Display highlights include Holiday Lights at the Beach along the Virginia Beach Boardwalk, featuring 250 mostly nautical displays, GardenFest of Lights at Richmond's Lewis Ginter Garden with over 500,000 lights in botanical themes and Celebration in Lights, Virginia's oldest drive-through light show, featuring 700,000 lights in over 200 fanciful displays.

Visit Santa - A number of uniquely festive opportunities to visit Santa include singing, sailing and brunch with Santa, a legendary Santa, Victorian Santa and more, each at various locations throughout the season.

Special Events - The events calendar is chocked full of wonderful special events including:

    * Holiday parades
    * Seasonal marketplaces and bazaars
    * Planetarium and aquarium shows
    * Ice skating, carriage rides and caroling
    * Special events for Thanksgiving, Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, and New Year’s Eve
    * World class holiday entertainment
    * Special holiday themed tours and many more fun events

Hotel Packages - Several area hotels feature special packages and rates during the holidays.

Additional Information - Visit the 100 Miles of Lights Website for a complete listing of things to do and information about tickets, scheduled dates, hours and directions.

Magical Nights of Lights - Lake Lanier Islands Resort, Georgia

Roasting marshmallows at the Holiday Village bonfire
Photo Credit: Courtesy of Lake Lanier Islands Resort
 Magical Nights of Lights
November 20 - December 30, 2010 including holidays
Lake Lanier Islands Resort

More than six miles of illuminated giant characters are created with millions of twinkling lights at this annual holiday spectacle.

A few highlights include:

    * The Twelve Days of Christmas
    * Santa’s Elves at Work
    * The North Pole Express
    * The Animated Sliding Penguin
    * Jack and The Beanstalk
    * Icicle Bridge
    * Candy Cane Lane

Following the dazzling driving tour, plan to spend some time at Holiday Village, featuring a bonfire for roasting marshmallows, holiday fare, pony and amusement rides, holiday shopping and more. Pictures with Santa take place at the Santa Shop.

Additional Information - For details about scheduled dates and hours, admission rates, package prices, directions and more, visit the Lake Lanier Islands Resort / Magical Nights of Lights Website.

Lights Before Christmas - Riverbanks Zoo and Garden

The holidays are happenin' at the zoo.
Photo Credit: Courtesy of Riverbanks Zoo and Garden
 Lights Before Christmas - Riverbanks Zoo and Garden
Columbia, South Carolina
November 19, 2010 - January 2, 2011
Closed November 25, December 24 and 25 and 31 - Schedule subject to change.

Celebrating over 20 years of South Carolina's largest and longest running holiday tradition, Lights Before Christmas presents dazzling light displays of almost one million lights, featuring everything from splashing elephants to a dancing tree and nightly snowfalls. A few highlights include:

    * Music in Motion Lights Spectacular
    * Nightly visits with Santa on days before Christmas
    * Roasted marshmallows at the cozy Jingle Bell Bonfire and warming hot chocolate or coffee to top off the experience

Parents, remember to pack a camera to take photographs of your children with Santa.

Additional Information - For additional information about tickets, directions and more, visit the Riverbanks Zoo and Garden Website.
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