IllumiNights at the Zoo.

Cool Things To Do in December in Atlanta

From outdoor activities to holiday shows, there’s something cool for everyone during December in Atlanta.

Dinosaurs Converge on Georgia World Congress Center

Visit Georgia World Congress Center to encounter dinosaurs. (Photo courtesy Jurassic Quest)

Jurassic Quest brings dinosaurs to Georgia World Congress Center Dec. 9-11. The life-size dinosaurs are meticulously painted and animated. Whether you are 3 or 103 you will probably be amazed when you face the Spinosaurus, T-Rex and the 50-foot-long megalodon.

Oldies and Goodies

La Tavola Patio
La Tavola is a Virginia Highland tradition.

Yes, Atlanta is a foodie town with creative and award-winning restaurants opening all the time. But there is something to be said for staying power. Try out some of our restaurants that have stood the test of time and are still going strong. For instance, La Tavola Trattoria in Virginia Highland has served classic Italian comfort food since 1999. Bacchanalia opened in 1993 and still offers fine dining that can’t be beat. La Grotta Ristorante has been a Buckhead favorite for more than 45 years, and Hal’s, also in Buckhead, has offered sumptuous steak and seafood for more than 30 years. Nakato Japanese Restaurant on Cheshire Bridge Road can put more than 50 birthday candles on its acclaimed sushi while Nikolai’s Roof atop the Hilton Atlanta has provided four diamond experience, compete with caviar and vodka flights since 1976.

Go Ice Skating

Skate the Station at Atlantic Station is one of several ice rinks open for the season.

The rinks are out in full force, even if Atlanta doesn’t (often) have below freezing temperatures. Head over to Pullman Yards on the edges of Kirkwood and Edgewood to skate and then enjoy the toasty marshmallow bar along with festive libations. Other places to practice your double axel are Skate the Station at Atlantic Station, Skate the Sky on the Roof at Ponce City Market, The Rink at Park Tavern and Avalon on Ice just north of the city.

Find your Spot at the 3rd Spot

This might just be the perfect Spot for you.

Everything you want in a place to have fun with delicious food and drinks can be found at Your 3rd Spot. A unique, technology-driven dining and gaming concept in the Upper Westside, Your 3rd Spot is home to more than 26,000-square-feet of fun including a bowling alley, curling alley, basketball, and lots and lots of classic and modern video games. A unique feature is Match and Connect, which shows you other players in the building you might get along with based on their game preferences and personality. 

Christmas Joy, Irish style

See and hear Emmet Cahill at Atlanta Symphony Hall.

A celebration of Christmas Music, “Joy to the World,” featuring world-acclaimed Irish tenor Emmet Cahill will take place Dec. 2 at Atlanta Symphony Hall. Atlanta soprano Amy Little, the Georgia State University Singers and Edgewood String Quartet will join Cahill to perform stirring renditions of traditional and contemporary Christmas songs and Irish classics. As a lead singer with the Irish group Celtic Thunder, Cahill has toured the world and sold more than two million records. He has enjoyed sell-out performances at Carnegie Hall, and his Irish album debuted at No. 1 on the Billboard World Music Charts. All ticket sales — 100 percent — will be given to four nonprofits: Desire Street Ministries, YoungLife, Heart for Lebanon and MAP International.

Cirque du Soleil Defies Gravity at Atlantic Station

See Cirque du Soleil: Kurios, Cabinet of Curiosities at Atlantic Station.

Cirque du Soleil: Kurios, Cabinet of Curiosities is under the big top at Atlantic Station through Dec. 24. You will step into the curio cabinet of an ambitious inventor who defies the laws of time, space and dimension in order to reinvent everything around him. The visible becomes invisible, perspectives are transformed and the world is turned upside down.

Harry Potter: The Exhibition

Immerse yourself in the wizarding world at Harry Potter: The Exhibition. (Photo courtesy Harry Potter: The Exhibition)

Celebrate the magic of the wizarding world at Harry Potter: The Exhibition, open at 200 Peachtree through early 2023. The exhibit brings to life moments, characters, locations and beasts from the film series. You can interact with props and costumes, practice your Quidditch skills and lots more. Choose your favorite Hogwarts wand, sit in Hagrid’s giant chair, squeeze into the cupboard under the stairs and throw a Quaffle.

Stranger Things —The Experience

A fan of “Stranger Things?” Then this experience is for you.

The popular Netflix show, “Stranger Things,” which is filmed in Atlanta, returns for an interactive experience at Pullman Yards. It is called Stranger Things — The Experience. Go to Hawkins Lab and participate in a new study and interact with “Stranger Things” characters, unlock your power and influence your surroundings. Then enjoy an ’80s style medley of locations and fan-favorites with food, drinks, photo ops and interactive performances.

Slime Away

Get your slime on at the Sloomoo Institute.

The Sloomoo Institute, an immersive, multisensory experience where you play with the help of hand-crafted, artisanal slime is open in Buckhead. The attraction, perfect for all ages, features a series of fantastical, interactive experiences that delight the senses including a DIY bar where you can make more than four million different slime creations, a glow-in-the-dark cove with interactive video installations, dozens of slime vats for interactive play and Sloomoo Falls, where you can stand under a waterfall of slime. How about Lake Sloomoo, which provides 350 gallons of slime to walk on?

Lights, Lights and More Lights

Atlanta Botanical Garden is all dressed up for the season. (Photo courtesy Atlanta Botanical Garden)

There are several amazing light shows in Atlanta, all designed to dazzle you and put you in the holiday spirit. Head over to the Atlanta Botanical Garden for its always popular “Garden Lights, Holiday Nights,” where many of the favorites will be on display as well as new additions such as illuminated metal sculptures of birds flocking to the renovated Anne Cox Chambers Garden. Another family pleaser is the “World of Illumination’s Reindeer Road,” which is the world’s largest drive-through animated light show with more than two million animated lights. See it as Six Flags White Water. Six Flag Over Georgia is full of the holiday spirit with Holiday in the Park, where you can stroll through a tunnel of more than one million dancing LED Lights. Head to Celebration at the Station at Atlantic Station for nightly light and snow shows set to music. Back at Zoo Atlanta again this year is IllumiNights at the Zoo: A Chinese Lantern Festival. Other light shows include a Stone Mountain Christmas at Stone Mountain Park, Lakeside Lights Spectacular at Margaritaville at Lanier Islands and ATL Lights at Lakewood Amphitheater.

Take a Break for Yourself

The holidays can be stressful, so take a little “me time.” Get a facial over at Heyday in Midtown or sweat it out at one of the several locations at Perspire, whose infrared red sauna and red light therapy will provide health and wellness benefits to get you through the season. The Intown Salt Room will give you space to breathe with dry salt therapy and meditation with sound therapy.

Is She or Isn’t She?

“Anastasia” comes to the Fox Theatre. (Photo by Evan Zimmerman for Murphy Made)

Anastasia” comes to Atlanta as part of Regions Bank Broadway in Atlanta and transports audiences from the twilight of the Russian Empire to the euphoria of Paris in the 1920s as a young woman sets out to discover her past. Pursued by a ruthless Soviet officer determined to silence her, Anya enlists the aid of a dashing con man and a lovable ex-aristocrat and they embark on a journey to help her find love, home and family. But is she Anastasia, the Grand Duchess, the youngest daughter of Tsar Nicholas II who was supposedly killed by the Bolsheviks in 1918? Maybe. 

It’s a Celebration

The Cricket Celebration Bowl comes to Mercedes-Benz Stadium Dec. 17 and features the Jackson State Tigers vs. the North Carolina Central Eagles. The Cricket Celebration Bowl, which showcases the heritage, legacy, pageantry and tradition of Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs), features the conference champions from the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference (MEAC) and Southwestern Athletic Conference (SWAC).

Get Peachy

The Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl is an annual college football bowl that is a local tradition since 1968. The bowl not only delivers exciting college football but has donated more than $60 million to charities and scholarships. And, this year, it is the playoff semi-final.

Hoopsgiving at State Farm Arena

College basketball is the focus of Holiday Hoopsgiving at State Farm Arena Dec. 10-18. There will be four games on Dec. 10 and one game on Dec. 18.

SEC Championship

Yes, the SEC Football Championship takes place Dec. 3 at Mercedes-Benz Stadium, and it’s a battle for the ages as the Louisiana State University Tigers take on National Champions, the University of Georgia Bulldogs.

Hip Hop Nutcracker

The story is the same. bit Hip Hop Nutcracker is set in New York City. (Photo courtesy Hip Hop Nutcracker)

The Nutcracker, Tchaikovsky’s 130-year-old ballet classic, gets updated and reimagined into the Hip Hop Nutcracker and will appear at the Fox Theatre on Dec. 13. As in the original, Maria-Clara and the Nutcracker Prince are sent on a dream adventure where they end up fighting a gang of mice, visiting the Land of Sweets and learning about the the real meaning of the holiday season. But rather than in 19th century Germany, this ballet takes place in contemporary New York City.

For even more December things to do, check our calendar of events.

Journalist Mary Welch writes business and lifestyle stories for local and national publications. 

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