,The Magic City is nothing short of magical during the holiday season. Communities, businesses, churches, store fronts, and more, go out of their way to make this city and its surrounding areas shine so brightly during the most wonderful time of the year. Perhaps you already have your annual family favorite holiday traditions set this year, or maybe you’re looking for a ‘where to guide’ on how to experience new holiday traditions with your loved ones. Whichever category you fall under, this mama’s got the scoop on how to make the most of this Christmas in Birmingham and it’s surrounding areas.
Santa’s Wonderland: Bass Pro Shop in Leeds
Santa’s wonderland inside the Bass Pro Shop is up and ready for visitors! Santa officially arrived at the store on November Fifth, but he will be there ready to listen to the long lists of Christmas wishes until December 24th. Santa’s Wonderland inside Bass Pro Shop is a beautiful sight to see and is a great family-friendly way to experience some wholesome holiday cheer. Visitors are welcomed by elf workers in Santa hats and experience a true winter wonderland with fake snow, Christmas decorations, lights all around, a giant Christmas tree, and more. Perhaps the best part of experiencing Christmas at Bass Pro is the opportunity for FREE photos with Santa! Be sure to sign up here to check times and secure your spot here.
From now until January 16th, the Birmingham Zoo is offering a mystical opportunity for guests to experience a night illuminated by wild animal and sea life lanterns. This is an event that is fun for all ages and is truly an awe inspiring experience! This event includes non-traditional Christmas lights in the form of huge (some over 30 feet tall) colorful lantern animals from around the world. Animals like jellyfish, tigers, dragons, and crocodiles are made from silk covered frames and airbrushed with intricate details. These creations will line the zoo’s paths at night from 5:00 p.m.-9:00 p.m. Guests will also be able to enjoy a ride on the Red Dragon Express train! If you plan to attend, check out this page for more details on pricing, how to purchase tickets, and specific event dates.
Rocket City Christmas Light Show
The Rocket City Christmas Light Show and Winter Wonderland is back for its third annual event! Starting on November 18th, guests can meet at Toyota Field in Madison and embark on a mile-and-a-half North Pole themed drive. They will ride past thousands of lights and can tune into 95.5 FM for a Christmas soundtrack for the event. The price is $30 per car, and $60 for passenger vans and larger vehicles. The tours operate every night, rain or shine, from 5:00 p.m.-9:00 p.m. After the light show, guests can enjoy the Winter Wonderland, which is covered in the price of admission. It includes tents with hot chocolate and letter writing to Santa, cookie and ornament decorating, and more.
While the light show lasts until January First, the winter wonderland will only be open until December 24th. Check out this website for all of the new features the light show will offer this year plus details on when Santa will be visiting.
The North Pole Express
The North Pole Express, located at the Heart of Dixie Railroad Museum, is an enchanting Christmas event! (However, I have unfortunately never had the opportunity to enjoy it.) It is always one of the most popular experiences during the holidays for families in the area. I have heard SO MANY good things about how much fun the magical train ride is for the whole family! The train is transformed into a real-live polar express that embarks on a journey to the top of the world. Guided by starlight, guests on the train will get to hear Christmas stories, sing Christmas carols, and watch for glimpses of the North Pole. Hot chocolate and sweet treats are served during the 90-minute ride. Also, photo opportunities with Santa and Mrs. Claus are offered.
Rumor has it that tickets sell out extremely fast (apparently they go on sale in July)! If you’re lucky enough to secure a ticket unlike I was, you and your little passenger will make the best Christmas memories aboard the train. Pajama attire is encouraged 🙂
Alabama Theatre Shows
The Holiday Film Series at the Alabama Theatre has always been one of my favorite Christmas traditions in Birmingham. There is something so magical about seeing a movie in a theater that has been part of Birmingham since 1927. While my favorite Christmas film will forever be “It’s a Wonderful Life,” there are other classics to choose from, including The Polar Express, Home Alone, Elf, and Miracle on 34th street. The price for admission is $10 for each showing, with the exception of the Polar Express which will be $12. Read up on the details for showtimes and dates here, and be sure to get your tickets early!
In addition to the holiday film series, the Alabama Theatre will also be hosting another wonderful Christmas event–the Nutcracker Magical Christmas Ballet! The theater will open its doors for the 30th Anniversary Tour production on November 29th at 7:00 p.m. Guests of all ages will be wide eyed in amazement from the show’s sensational costumes, colossal puppets, and astonishing acrobatic moves. The show is an international sensation as it features dancers from all over the world, including the Ukraine Ballet. Additional event information and ticket prices can be found here.
The Alabama Ballet will be preforming the Nutcracker on December 3rd at the Lyric Theatre and from December 16th-23rd at the BJCC Concert Hall.
I can’t picture Christmas in Birmingham without hearing the Trans-Siberian Orchestra’s life-giving show play in my mind. Their concert is one of the most popular events of the year, and if you’ve ever been to one you know why. Through a unique combination of rock and orchestra, the extremely talented artists that make up the TSO always manage to put on an incredibly powerful show that leaves a fierce emotional impact on fans. This year they are back with their tour titled “The Ghosts of Christmas Eve: The Best of TSO and More.” They will be performing at the BJCC Legacy Arena on December 15th at 7:00 p.m.
While this would be a great event to experience as a family, parents should note that the show’s powerful energy makes for a very loud concert and the eccentric light shows can be a bit overstimulating for some.
Holiday Market at Sloss Furnace
On December Third, the Fellowship House Junior Board will be hosting a Holiday market benefiting charity at Sloss Furnace. Admission is free and there will be a wide variety of vendors and an opportunity to see Santa! This indoor event will run from 10 a.m. until 4:00 p.m. in the East Room. At 12:00 p.m., the metal artists will be pouring iron. This is a great opportunity to shop small for Christmas gifts and support local vendors, all for a great cause. For more information, visit the Fellowship House’s website.
Whoville at the Summit
If you’re looking for a Whoville Christmas experience this year, then look no further than the Summit! Photo sessions with the Grinch and Cindy Lou Who will be the main event! These will take place on Fridays December Second, December Ninth, and December 16th from 5:00 p.m.-8:00 p.m. Walk-ins are welcomed as sessions will be done on a first come first serve basis, but appointments can also be made to secure your spot.
Using this link, you can also sign up for photo sessions with Santa at the Summit. I love that they have options for sensory sensitive photo sessions with Santa for children with sensory processing issues.
Formerly known as Desoto Caverns, Magestic Caverns is home to some of Alabama’s most historic caverns. On any given day you can find visitors enjoying guided tours, train rides, gemstone panning, and so many more attractions. Every year they put on a beautiful christmas celebration and this year is no different. Guests will have the opportunity to experience the joy of the Advent season by taking a journey through the quaint settlement of Fairborn into Majestic Caverns. Shows run on December Ninth, 10th, 16th, and 17th, from 5:00 p.m.-9:00 p.m. This Winter “Underland” event will be an epic and unique experience for all ages, as guests will get to experience the beauty of the cave decked out with holiday cheer.
Christmas at the Falls
Located in Gadsden, Noccalula Falls is the perfect place to get your holiday fix of lights, displays, and decorations. I mean, what is better than the combination of waterfalls and Christmas?! While this annual Christmas event starts on November 24th and runs through January First, tickets have already gone on sale! Visitors will be greeted with breathtaking views of millions of sparkling lights lining the park. They will also be able to enjoy those views on a special holiday train ride. Santa will be visiting the falls from November 25th-December 23rd. General admission tickets to enter the falls are sold on location year round. However, tickets for Christmas at the Falls can only be purchased online. Be sure to check out the information on their website!