College Football: Free Fun for Fans in Atlanta

Atlanta is the capital of college football, a fact that is especially apparent in December, which brings to Mercedes-Benz Stadium the SEC Championship, Cricket Celebration Bowl and the Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl. Tickets to these games are out of the price range for most fans, but college football loves its fans so each game offers pre-game fan experiences that are free for the public to attend and enjoy.

Mercedes-Benz Stadium is the home of nonstop college football in December. (Photo by Paul Daniel)

SEC Championship

Singer, songwriter, guitarist Darius Rucker performs at the Dr. Pepper SEC FanFare ahead of the SEC Championship game. (Photo courtesy of the SEC FanFare)

The SEC Championship pitting the University of Georgia Bulldogs against the University of Alabama Crimson Tide kicks off at 4 p.m. Dec. 2 at Mercedes-Benz Stadium. No worries if tickets are way out of your price range. You can still be a part of the action because admission to the Dr. Pepper SEC Fanfare is free. It is open Dec. 1 from 1 until 7 p.m. and Dec. 2 from 8 a.m. until 4 p.m. What’s on the agenda? Quite a lot. The T-Mobile Championship Concert featuring Darius Rucker happens at noon on Saturday. Rucker, whose hit songs include “Wagon Wheel,” “Alright” and “Beers and Sunshine,” will take the stage in Building B of the Georgia World Congress Center during the Dr. Pepper SEC FanFare. The concert will be featured live during the SEC Championship edition of Marty & McGee Presented by Old Trapper. SEC Nation Live occurs from 1 until 4 p.m. on Saturday. The SEC East Pep Rally starts at 1:15 p.m., and the SEC West Pep Rally starts at 1:45 p.m. In addition, there will be new interactives and attractions, along with fans favorites like celebrity quarterbacks, pep rallies and more.

Saturday at 8:30 a.m., Coach Nick Saban (Alabama) and Coach Kirby Smart (Georgia) join ESPN’s College GameDay – Rece Davis, Desmond Howard, Pat McAfee and Kirk Herbstreit. The conversation occurs at the Georgia World Congress Center, Building B. The interview will be taped before the show goes live on ESPN.

Cricket Celebration Bowl

The Cricket Celebration Bowl featuring the Howard University Bison from the Mideastern Athletic Conference and the Florida A & M Rattlers from the Southwestern Athletic Conference kicks off at noon on Dec. 16 at Mercedes-Benz Stadium. Ahead of the game, fans can enjoy the Coca-Cola Fan Experience in the Georgia World Congress Center International Plaza from 8:30 until 11:30 a.m. On Dec. 15, ESPN Events will host the inaugural Band of the Year Championship at Mercedes-Benz Stadium. The competition features the nation’s top marching bands from historically black college and universities.

Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl

The Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl kicks off at Mercedes-Benz Stadium on Dec. 30. (Image courtesy of Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl)

Long regarded as the official kickoff of the Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl, the football-themed Peach Bowl parade will feature floats, bands, classic cars, cheerleaders, mascots and much more. The parade starts at Centennial Olympic Park and Baker Street and concludes at FanFest at the Georgia World Congress Center on Dec. 30. The parade steps off at 8 a.m. and concludes at 9:30 a.m. Your cost: Not one red cent.

There’s more. The Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl FanFest built by The Home Depot runs from 8 a.m. until noon on Dec. 30. The FanFest is an indoor fan experience featuring 200,000 square feet of interactive attractions like punting, passing and kicking games, obstacle courses and zip lining. It will also feature sponsor displays, sponsor sampling, merchandise and live entertainment from the main stage. The highlight of the event will be the pep rallies, which include the cheerleaders, bands and mascots from both participating schools.

The Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl features the Ole Miss Rebels and the Penn State Nittany Lions.

Fan experiences at December’s college football games aren’t the only free things to do during the holidays in Atlanta. Here are more Free Things to do in December in Atlanta.

Journalist Carol Carter writes and edits for Atlanta Convention & Visitors Bureau.

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