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Three Best Christmas Light Shows for Families in the Deep South

Published by Abby Defusco

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Due to the climate of the Deep South, Christmas light shows and light displays are a very popular activity and attract visitors from November until after New Year’s Day. There are many from which to choose. All cater to children in some way, but the three here are the best of the best. They have been providing Christmas Lights festivals for decades and always put on a great show for families at Christmas.

Best Christmas Light Show Festival in Georgia

  • Magical Nights of Lights at Lake Lanier Islands in Buford, Georgia

It is difficult to choose between several of the Christmas Light Shows in Georgia, as there are several. Over the years I have visited them all, including the Rock City Enchanted Garden of Lights. However, Lake Lanier Islands simply has more to offer children and families, while providing an interesting time for the adults.


The Lake Lanier Islands Resort is conveniently located off several interstate highways leading from the Atlanta metro area. It is also easily accessible from most North Georgia locations. With the Christmas Village and the amusement rides, bonfires, Santa visits and shopping, the Magical Nights of Lights is truly is the best deal for families. There are also packages available with lodging on the property and the area is close to both the Mall of Georgia and the mountain villages of Helen, Georgia and Dahlonega, Georgia which would be sure to provide a wonderful Christmas weekend getaway.

Best Christmas Light Show Festival in Tennessee

  • Smoky Mountain Christmas Festival at Dollywood in Pigeon Forge, TN

All the small towns in the Great Smokies have Christmas Festivals, but in my opinion, Dollywood offers the most bang for the buck for visitors with families. Everything is included in the one ticket price, and this includes over a dozen different Christmas musicals, as well as shopping, a Santa’s Workshop and the ability to dine with the Coca Cola Santa at any time without having to reserve a special pricey package.

Dollywood also has rides and has plenty of shops with lots of toys for kids to experience during the holiday season. Rides on the train or the old-time carousel are both fun treats for children. Dollywood has one of the largest lights displays in the Southeast with over four million twinkling lights. Lodging is plentiful in Pigeon Forge and there are many other attractions in the town. If you want to visit Gatlinburg, it is just a few miles away. You can also easily reach attractions and shopping in Cherokee, North Carolina, Sevierville, Tennessee and Townsend, Tennessee from Pigeon Forge as well as travel some of the roads of the Great Smoky National Park.

Best Christmas Light Show Festival in South Carolina

  • Lights Before Christmas at the Riverbanks Zoo in Columbia, SC

Without a doubt, one of the most fun events that you can find to do as a family at Christmas is in the South Carolina Midlands. This area of Columbia, South Carolina is a pleasure for families and has much to offer. The Riverbanks Zoo also has a Botanical Garden and many of its light displays are handcrafted. The event also offers a Jingle Bell Bonfire, where guests can roast marshmallows around a large Christmas fire and sip some hot cocoa. The event also has a nightly ‘snowfall,’ which kids in the South will love.

Columbia, South Carolina is a mid-sized Southern sophisticate of a city. There are many restaurants, hotels and attractions in the area. The Riverbanks area is also on the National Registry of Historical Places because on the property are Civil War abutments and the ruins of one of the South’s oldest textile mills, which was built out of granite around 1830 and was burned to the ground by Union Forces. Columbia, South Carolina would make an ideal family getaway at Christmas break.

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