Spectacular Sights and Festive Lights – Holiday Activities in the Tennessee River Valley

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The Tennessee River Valley is filled with festive towns boasting some of the best holiday activities for families to enjoy together. When paired with southern hospitality and mild temperatures, these places should be included on anyone’s holiday travel itinerary.

A family travels through a secret cavern passage in search of Santa at Ruby Falls Christmas Underground.

Winter is a special time to plan a visit to the Tennessee River Valley. A variety of Christmas-themed activities in cozy towns, millions of twinkling lights and mild temperatures create a memorable holiday experience for people of all ages.

From stunning light displays to an underground winter wonderland, there are plenty of Christmas-themed activities for everyone to enjoy in the Tennessee River Valley region. Here is a roundup of places to experience this holiday season in the Tennessee River Valley.

The Mountain Country Christmas in Lights is an annual event that lights up the Georgia Mountain Fairgrounds in Hiawassee, Georgia with thousands of beautiful displays. Other activities include caroling, craft booths, food, petting zoo and special entertainment. Show runs every Thursday, Friday, and Saturday now through Dec. 29, 2019.

Noccalula Falls Park and Campground transforms into a winter wonderland with Christmas at the Falls. This fun event, featuring Santa, hot cocoa, train rides, cookie decoration and millions of Christmas lights, is from now until January 5, 2020, 5 to 9 p.m. nightly.

Each year the Huntsville Museum of Art creates an outdoor skating rink behind the museum in Big Spring Park just for the holidays. The park is open daily from now until Jan. 12, 2020.

Held at Rickwood Caverns State Park, Santa’s Underground Workshop is a magical experience, transforming the already magnificent cave into a beautiful underground winter wonderland. Visitors come to see over 100,000 twinkling lights, whimsical figurines and to visit with Santa underground. Hours are 2 to 8 p.m. daily through Dec. 30, 2019 (closed Christmas Eve and Day).

For a magical interactive journey to visit Santa, check out Ruby Falls Christmas Underground. Travel a secret cavern passage to the North Pole and Joystone City to discover a glittering ice cave, swirling snow flurries, Sugar Plum Fairy Village, Penguin Palace, Polar Creek, sparkling geodes and more on this heartwarming adventure. Dates and hours are Thursdays - Sundays Dec. 1 - 8 and daily Dec. 12 – 23.

From now until Jan. 4, 2020, the Huntsville Botanical Garden presents the annual Galaxy of Lights. The magnificent 2.5-mile route contains nearly 200 larger-than-life animated light displays, featuring everything from traditional holiday themes to dinosaurs, nursery rhyme characters, and, of course, scenes from nature.

Start a Christmas tradition at Dollywood and experience millions of lights, award-winning shows, a parade with vibrant floats and interactive characters and a winter wonderland featuring a 50-foot video motion Christmas tree. Smoky Mountain Christmas is offered through Jan. 4, 2020. Following a visit to Dollywood, take a short drive to downtown Gatlinburg where this quaint mountain village turns into a winter wonderland. Bundle up and head out on foot or from the comfort of a Gatlinburg Trolley and take in the millions of colorful lights and beautiful displays.

Located a quick drive from downtown Chattanooga, Rock City's Enchanted Garden of Lights is one of Chattanooga's memorable winter events. From now until Jan. 4, 2020, this light extravaganza showcases more than 30 holiday scenes and nearly a million LED lights that transform the gardens’ natural daytime splendor into a fantasyland of four realms of wonder: Yule Town, Arctic Kingdom, Magic Forest and North Pole Village. Visitors are also treated to gingerbread cookie decorating, hot cocoa and nightly entertainment.

Strolling through Grand Rivers, Kentucky during the holidays is like being the star in a Christmas movie. The Festival of Lights celebration includes over 700,000 lights and displays in Patti's Settlement and downtown. There are musical Christmas productions at the Badgett Playhouse, one-of-a-kind gifts at unique shops, memorable family meals at Patti's Restaurant and cozy lodging beside Kentucky Lake and Lake Barkley. The Festival of Lights runs through the end of January each year.

“Winter is a special time to plan a visit to the Tennessee River Valley. A variety of Christmas-themed activities in cozy towns, millions of twinkling lights and mild temperatures create a memorable holiday experience for people of all ages,” said Julie Graham, spokesperson for the Tennessee River Valley Stewardship Council.

The Tennessee River Valley offers a compelling story, captivating visitors with its little unknown facts, pristine, untouched areas and rich, authentic experiences. Save trip ideas and plan a trip easily with the Tennessee River Valley Geotourism MapGuide, an online guide of authentic places and adventures that have been recommended by locals. For more information on spectacular sights, festive lights and other holiday events in the Tennessee River Valley, visit https://www.tennesseerivervalleygeotourism.org/things/local-points-of-interest/ten73E679753FCF93A48.

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