‘Tis the Season in Atlanta!

By Katie Brousseau, MPH’23 in Behavioral, Social, Health, and Education Sciences

For grad students, the holiday season feels extra magical because it comes on the heels of a mad dash to cram for final exams and put the finishing touches on semester-long projects that we’ve doted on like small children. When the semester suddenly comes to a close, we find ourselves with hours of newfound time added back to our schedules for the remainder of the month of December. Luckily for us RSPH students, the city of Atlanta has us covered when it comes to winter activities that can help us de-stress from finals and get into the holiday spirit. Read on for some ideas to feel festive this winter.

Holiday lights

Garden Lights, Holiday Nights, credit: Atlanta Botanical Garden Instagram, @atlbotanical

Light Up the Night
When it comes to celebrating the holiday season in Atlanta, nothing quite compares to Garden Lights, Holiday Nights, hosted by Atlanta Botanical Garden. This annual display features over 2 billion lights displayed across 30 acres, including an incredible transformation of the Garden’s iconic Earth Goddess sculpture and a curtain of lights synchronized to classic holiday tunes. A newer addition to Atlanta’s roster of winter activities, Zoo Atlanta’s Illuminights at the Zoo is a Chinese lantern festival showcasing over 80 hand-painted lanterns on display throughout the Zoo. I was so blown away by my visit this year that I’ve already been twice! Finally, if you’re looking for a drive-thru light display, check out ATL Holiday Lights at Lakewood Amphitheater. Another spectacular show of lights, this is a great option for those who prefer to stay warm and cozy on chilly Atlanta evenings.

Skate your Worries Away
If you thought that Atlanta is too warm for winter sports like ice skating, you’re mistaken! Atlantic Station, a shopping center in Midtown, is home to the largest outdoor ice-skating rink in metro Atlanta called Skate the Station. Avalon, a shopping center in nearby Alpharetta, also boasts their own open-air skating rink under a canopy of twinkly lights, Avalon on Ice. These are both great options if you’re looking for the Rockefeller Center-inspired winter skating experience. If you’re looking for an indoor skating experience, head to Center Ice Arena in Sandy Springs, where, in my experience, you can typically skate on harder ice with fewer crowds (albeit, with a slightly less holiday-themed experience).

Avalon on Ice, credit: atlantaparent.com

ATL Christkindl Market, credit: ATL Christkindl Market Instagram, @atl_christkindl

Shop for Holiday Gifts
Shop local this holiday season at any of the various holiday pop-up markets around the city. When you’re done ice skating at Atlantic Station, stick around for their Maker’s Market, happening every Saturday and Sunday in December. Do you miss buying from local crafters and artisans at Ponce City Market’s weekly farmer’s market? You’re in luck! Many of the same local vendors (and more!) can be found at their holiday market, The Village Retail, on Sundays in December. Finally, head to Christkindl Market in Buckhead Village District to enjoy a Bavarian-esque Christmas market, open daily in December. Don’t forget to buy a gift or two for yourself while you’re at it!

Dine at a holiday pop-up
Personally, my favorite part of living in Atlanta is the incredible food scene. You’d better believe that I’ve been making the most of the festive menus and decorations at local holiday pop-ups this winter! Across the city, restaurants deck the halls and serve up holiday-inspired cocktails and dishes. Personal favorites include Urban Tree Cidery’s Rockin’ Around the Urban Tree (come on- look at their Mister Grinch cocktail!) and Storico Vino’s Christmas in Italy. Also check out Biltong Bar’s Blitzen Room, Best End Brewing’s Mingle and Jingle Bar, and The Blind Elf at The Blind Pig Parlour Bar. Your taste buds will thank you.

Urban Tree’s Mister Grinch, credit: Urban Tree Cidery Instagram, @urbantreecider

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