If you just happen to have family in one of these locales or you've a hankering to get out of town for the holidays, here are several exceptional Christmas celebrations not too far off.
Our Kentucky neighbors up in Derby City have some great Christmas traditions. The biggest and best may be Christmas at the Galt House Hotel, a decidedly kid-friendly extravaganza that takes place at the iconic riverside Louisville hotel.
The Galt House celebration's main attraction is KaLightoscope, a unique and dazzling display of huge lighted holiday ornamentals and luminaries set up all around the hotel, inside and outside. Additionally, the hotel's colorful Christmas Village features the Candy Cane Train, a life-size gingerbread house, and the Snow Fairy Castle, presided over by the very much alive Snow Fairy Princess. Children can write a letter to Santa, draw a Christmas scene on the Drawing Wall, and sip afternoon tea with the Snow Fairy Princess.
The Galt House also puts on a special holiday dinner show until Dec. 15 and the Victorian-era inspired Dickens Dinner, complete with spirited carolers, will take place in the hotel's acclaimed RIVUE Restaurant and Lounge on Dec. 16.
Deemed by the Kentucky Travel Industry Association a Top 10 "Winter/Holiday Festivals & Events" and a "Top 100 Event" by the American Bus Association, Christmas at the Galt House Hotel has been featured on the Travel Channel.
Other Louisville holiday highlights include the city's new 40 Nights of Lights downtown festivities featuring a huge Christmas tree, a four-block light show and an ice skating rink; Lights Under Louisville at Louisville MEGA Cavern; and the Polar Express 4-D Experience at the Louisville Zoo, a special effects experience based on the beloved children's book. All these special Christmas celebrations contributed to Louisville being named by Southern Living to its "5 Best Cities for a Southern Christmas."
Stone Mountain Park, Ga
They really know how to celebrate Christmas at the world's biggest piece of exposed granite, and festivities will continue until New Year's Day. Stone Mountain will be aglow from the two million lights positioned all around the grounds of the Georgia monolith. The park's popular train will make its five-mile circuit around the "mountain" while Christmas carols and the story of the first Christmas set the proper holiday mood. More train-themed Christmas cheer comes from another Polar Express 4-D Experience.
New this year is the "Forever Christmas" show featuring the season's pop songs from yesteryear and today. The musical offering complements the Holly Jolly Cabaret performance with vocalists accompanied by piano.
Other Stone Mountain Christmas shows include "Toyrific," a theatrical production with heroic toys; "Mistletales" offered by Mrs. Claus from the comfort of her gingerbread house; and the Snow Angel Meet and Greet at the Snow Angel Palace, along with the Tin Soldiers.
What's Christmas without a parade? Stone Mountain's Crossroads Christmas Parade passes through the park's primary Crossroads section at 6 p.m. Each night closes with the Snow Angel Fireworks Finale, featuring the Snow Angel "flying" overhead, at 9:45 p.m.
One of the most pleasing things about most of these great Stone Mountain Christmas performances is each activity's relative brevity. Most last a pleasant 15 to 30 minutes.
Snow Mountain at Stone Mountain Park, the region's only snow park, is open on select dates through Feb. 18. The wintertime attraction offers two-hour tubing sessions combined with an all-day snow play access.
The Holiday Festival of Lights! in Charleston features several great activities including a three-mile Christmas-lights drive with hundreds of light displays; Santa's Village and Winter Wonderland; and giant Christmas card displays. And you won't find at least one of the festival's holiday traditions at any landlocked locale — a Christmas-themed 50-ton sand sculpture.
Santa's Village and Winter Wonderland will offer train rides, gingerbread houses, marshmallow roasts and carousel rides, among additional Holiday Festival of Lights attractions. The festival takes place at James Island County Park. Holiday cruises with cabaret-style entertainment aboard The Carolina Queen, Charleston's paddlewheel boat, will run every Saturday night through Dec. 15.
Most of Charleston's distinguished historic inns have special tours and presentations planned for the holidays, and there will be a number of Christmas-y theatrical productions in the city's several live-performance theaters. The Carolina Queen holiday cruises will run through the 15th and Charleston's Festival of Lights! continues through the 31st.
for more info
n Galt House KaLightoscope
n Stone Mountain Christmas
n Charleston Festival of Lights
© 2012, Knoxville News Sentinel Co.
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