12 Holiday Happenings Where You Can Eat, Drink, And Be Merry
It’s that time of the year when the city pulls out all its holiday trappings—from Christmas cookies paired with the poetic musings of “East Atlanta Santa” to the possibly reckless combination of mulled wine and amateur ice skating.
Your online gift shopping is complete. Your PTO is properly logged. Your six-hour window for catching up on The Crown is set. Look at you—that holiday to-do list is almost to-done. The only unchecked box is figuring out what to do between binging and napping. More holiday stuff, naturally. And in Atlanta, there’s lots of seasonal sipping and merry munching to get into. Doesn’t matter if you’re into bright lights or bar crawls, the city has something festive with your name on it.
Every year you drive down Piedmont, notice all the colorful flickering between the trees, and say to yourself, “Self, this year we’re going to Garden Lights, Holiday Nights.” But you never go. The Atlanta Botanical Garden is doing everything in its power to change that this year with a luminescent festival (through Jan. 14) filled with train rides, massive origami-inspired sculptures, and millions of LED lights. And with posh onsite restaurant Longleaf accepting dinner reservations, you can pair the show with wine and dinner.
Ponce City Market
There are so many holiday happenings at Ponce City Market this year that you might need some help from Santa’s elves to hit them all. Snag your reservation now for a full service 9 Mile Station dining experience in a cozy igloo, where you'll have views of the Atlanta skyline. Or lace up your ice skates for Skate the Sky, which also includes access to Skyline Park’s games and rides. After your unsuccessful attempts at a triple axel, you can warm up and roast marshmallows at the fireside pods in the yard or stop by Santa’s sleigh for a selfie. For a boozier way to celebrate the season, check out PCM’s holiday pop-up bars at Biltong Bar, 12 Cocktail Bar, and Holiday Social Bar.
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You’ve probably seen fun posts about Fernbank After Dark events on your timeline, but you may not recognize the popular attraction with decked halls. Through Jan. 6, the space that’s famous for dino bones and 3-D movies will turn festive with a Winter Wonderland exhibit celebrating global holiday traditions and other seasonal activities. We’re not 100 percent certain what the “sock skating rink” is all about, but after a few drinks from the Fernbank bar, we’ll find out.
The ritzy Buckhead Village District is hosting an outdoor German Christkindl Market for the holidays (Nov. 25-Dec. 24). Beyond all the expected market goodies (ornaments, jewelry, and, of course, bratwurst), the Village will also feature a wreath-making workshop, an Atlanta Ballet performance, and a Girl Gang pop-up shop. If you’re known to get a little spend-happy after a few too many mulled wines, invite a responsible friend to keep you at the market and away from Dior, Hermes, and other high-dollar stores.
Watching people stumble on Park Tavern’s ice rink is almost as much a tradition as sipping eggnog. This year, though, the Piedmont Park restaurant is offering skating lessons from Fireworks Skating Academy for those who are a lil’ wobbly on the blades. If you’re not in the mood for tumbling on your tush, you can still celebrate the season (Nov. 27-Jan. 16) with park-side dining (lobster-crab dip, spicy chicken eggrolls, etc.), themed cocktails, and picture-perfect igloos.
Tinsel Tavern from Live! at the Battery Atlanta
Live! At The Battery is hosting a pop-up holiday bar, which will open every day in December until Christmas Eve and will includes activities like ugly sweater contests, family fun days, and other themed nights. With decorations, festive cocktails, and light bites, the Tinsel Tavern could be a fun way to kick off a progressive dinner stroll at The Battery.
The Miracle Bar pops up again in the Midtown Promenade shopping center, Nov. 25-Dec. 24. Find all the familiar cheer with an explosion of lights, overload of decorations, and a soft guarantee that the DJ will play several Christmas songs from Gucci Mane and Mariah’s “All I Want For Christmas” twice at minimum. But even if we miss the East Atlanta Santa set, we’re here for the cookie plate with dippable frosting and the Snowball Old Fashioned made with a little gingerbread spice and a giant sphere of ice (dropping some holiday bars, Gucci would be proud).
Rowdy Tiger Whiskey Bar & Kitchen
The heated igloos on the rooftop of Rowdy Tiger in Midtown can make for a fun post-work gathering with colleagues or a cozy weekend date night. Just be prepared to eat enough wings, nachos, flatbreads, and cocktails to feed a Whoville village because there is a minimum $300 food and beverage spend, which is paid in advance when you reserve here.
The West End’s Best End Brewing’s annual Mingle and Jingle Christmas bar is stuffed with miles of tinsel and so many trees, stockings, and lights that it’s likely to make any Scrooge smile. Beginning Nov. 25, swing by and grab a cocktail or one of their house-brewed beers like the Schnitzengiggle, which has a touch of sweetness (and one of our favorite beer names). Take your recycled gift wrap bows to contribute to their bow wall, which is back again this year if you need a fun backdrop for some in-the-spirit selfies.
The Blind Elf at The Blind Pig Parlour Bar
Now that the holidays are here and it’s socially acceptable to have eggnog, The Blind Elf is coming in clutch with their Nog-Gonna Make It to Work Tomorrow cocktail, which tastes like a liquid philharmonic symphony of eggnog, Black Barrel rum, and toasted almond orgeat. For the eggnog haters, they have other fun cocktail options like the vodka-based Rudolph’s So Bitter or Cran’ma Got Run Over By A Reindeer with rye and cranberry. The full Blind Elf holiday pop-up experience (from The Blind Pig Parlour in Buckhead) gives you two cocktails and two small bites like pigs in a blanket and beer battered mushrooms for $54. Get some eggnog or don’t, but either way the holiday cheer is impossible to egg-nore (we couldn’t resist).
photo credit: Hampton + Hudson
Hampton + Hudson
Thankfully Atlanta doesn’t usually get snow (two gloved middle fingers up to Snowpocalypse 2014), but starting Dec. 12, you can pretend you’re surrounded by snow at Ski Lodge, Hampton + Hudson’s pop-up bar. We’re most excited to take shotskis with our friends and chase them down with ‘mallows and chocolate from their s’mores board. You can debate whether Die Hard is actually a Christmas movie as you sip on holiday cocktails and graze on H+H’s famously tasty apps like their Hangover Fries, which come loaded with chili, cheese, and a runny egg.
photo credit: Addison Hill Photography
Skate The Station
The Atlantic Station ice rink also returns to the city (Nov. 18-Jan. 16). If and when you do work up a sweat, go peruse the Maker’s Market—a local artisan pop-up market open every weekend in December until Christmas Day. Then when you work up an appetite, hit the Station’s dining scene, which includes a wide variety of eats like burgers, pizza, pho, and more.