Who says you can't get into the holiday spirit before Thanksgiving? There's plenty of events and happenings out there for you to get a jump-start on that "ho, ho, ho" feeling before the family sits down for some turkey and trimmings.
Not only can you beat the crowds and not feel rushed (and most importantly, have your photos posted first on social media), but you also can start new traditions, make new memories and check off your seasonal to-do list.
From carnival rides to live entertainment to lighted holiday displays and much more, Santa's Enchanted Forest at Hialeah (Florida) Park, through Jan. 2, 2022, has a little bit of everything for everyone. Be sure not to miss seeing South Florida's Tallest Christmas Tree, among other holiday attractions.
In Lebanon, Tennessee, Dancing Lights of Christmas, Nov. 12- Jan. 2, 2022, is considered the state's largest drive-thru holiday light and music shows. Enjoy over 2 million lights synchronized to music along a 2.5-mile route. There is also Santa's Village, complete with the man himself, along with carnival rides and sweets. Additionally, the light show provides special event days, such as free admission for the military, Nov. 12-16.
For the holiday season, downtown Cleveland, Mississippi, glows with a million lights during 50 Nights of Lights, Nov. 13 -Jan. 2, 2022. Wrap yourself in the holiday spirit with events like the Tree Lighting Ceremony (Nov. 13) and Ladies Night Out Cookie Class (Nov. 19).
Sunny, a 32-foot-tall snowman and his friends greet you at World of Illumination's Arctic Adventure, Nov. 17- Jan. 2, 2022, at Atlanta Motor Speedway in Hampton, Georgia. The illuminated adventure, set to holiday music, is deemed as "the world's largest animated drive-through light show." Amp up the overall experience with a purchase of a pair of 3-D Treasure Hunt Glasses.
Walkway of Lights at Lakeside Park, presented by The Marble Falls (Texas) Chamber of Commerce, Nov. 19- Jan. 1, 2022, features two million lights and over 300 lighted displays. The event hosts special nights during its 44-day run with two before Thanksgiving: Pop-Up S'mores Bar (Nov. 19) and Cookie Decorating (Nov. 20).
Open Houses/ Holiday Markets
Texas Christkindl Market Nov. 18- Jan. 2, 2022, Arlington, Texas; Holiday Gifts at Stonecreek Nov. 19-20, Mountain Home, Arkansas; Charleston's (South Carolina) Annual Holiday Market Nov. 19-21; Celebration of Seagrove (North Carolina) Potters Studio Tour Nov. 19-21; Christmas in November Craft Show Nov. 19-21, Wheeling, West Virginia; Pine Belt Holiday Expo & Christmas Market Nov. 20, Hattiesburg, Mississippi; Kentucky Mercantile Nov, 20, Somerset; A Very Maury Christmas Nov. 20, Columbia, Tennessee; Piedmont Craftmen's Fair Nov. 20-21, Winston-Salem, North Carolina;
Through Dec. 24, the Santa Workshop Experience at Orlando's ICON Park on International Drive is a premier spot for Santa photos. And, the best part - children receive a free ride on The Wheel in a private holiday capsule (50 percent off admission for additional riders). All can partake in holiday beverages and treat offerings and more.
Over a dozen downtown storefronts showcase festive window displays during "A Downtown Christmas Story" Self-Guided Window Tour, Nov. 15 – Jan. 2, in Hattiesburg, Mississippi. Be sure to vote for your favorite.
Learn all about reindeer with The Reindeer Farm Experience, Nov. 19- Dec. 19 and Dec. 20-24, in Bowling Green, Kentucky. Everyone can enjoy Christmas music, Christmas movies in the barn and more. And for the children, visits from Santa are scheduled, along with Storytime with Mrs. Claus.
Logansport (Louisiana) Christmas Festival, Nov. 20, includes the Cajun Christmas Run, a parade and more. In addition, holiday lights along the riverfront are illuminated during the festival and remain so through Jan. 2, 2022. The event hosts special activities on three Saturdays in December.
photo courtesy of Visit Hattiesburg and Lou Hammond