The festive decorations, the time-honored traditions, gift-giving, and the holiday foods we crave like clockwork each year—these are the highlights of the holiday season, and the city of Sandy Springs, Georgia, revels in them all. Here, the streets glow with pop-up light displays, the concert halls and parks ring with the sounds of holiday songs, and festive markets with delicious foods provide a taste of other cultures. When you need a quick break from the holiday hustle and bustle, the trails along the Chattahoochee River will put you at ease.

Because the holidays get hectic, it’s a good idea to do some advanced planning and figure out which events and outings you, your family, and friends will enjoy the most. In Sandy Springs there’s a lot going on, so we’ve highlighted eight of our favorite events to help you get the most cheer and joy out of this special time of the year.

1. Explore Santa’s Fantastical Immersive Worlds


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It’s the next best thing to actually visiting Santa at the North Pole. At Santa’s Fantastical Immersive Worlds, kids and adults will have a blast exploring a Disneyesque village with live performers, lighting displays, and activities using interactive technologies. Stroll down Main Street to meet delightful characters, like Yondo the friendly Yeti and Snibbley the arctic wolf. Then, make your way to the Peppermint Palace and areas like Unicorn Dreams and Retro Christmas to see live performances. At the Frosted Foyer and the Laser Trees area, you can wander among vibrant displays of lights, and be sure to visit Santa’s Chateau, where kids can meet Santa, zoom down the Ice Alive slide, and use Sketch-Tastic technology to create their own animated characters. Running from November 16th to December 24th, the Santa’s Fantastical exhibit takes place at the Perimeter Pointe shopping center, near the Sandy Springs Marta Station.

2. Enjoy a Holiday-Themed Theater Production


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Sandy Springs is home to two stage troupes: The City Springs Theatre Company and the Act3 Playhouse ensemble, both of which feature amateur and professional talent offering holiday-themed productions this December. The former, whose home is at the Springs Springs Performing Arts Center, focuses on musicals, and this year is performing the stage adaptation of the movie Elf, a comedic, modern Christmas classic. Act3’s players are also taking a humorous route with A 1940s Radio Christmas Carol, a slapstick tale of chaos during an attempt to recreate the Charles Dickens classic A Christmas Carol.

3. Stroll Among Sparkling Lights


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Stroll through the twinkling neighborhood of festive miniature wooden houses at Sparkle Sandy Springs. The display kicks off with an opening event on December 2nd. With this new local tradition, the Green at City Springs glows with brilliant lights, while people warm up with hot chocolate and other delicious treats. All the while, a live performance from School of Rock Atlanta will send the sounds of holiday classics flowing through the crisp evening air. This idyllic gathering is sure to put you in the holiday spirit. Can't make it to the opening event? The lights and houses will remain on display through December 31st!

4. Hike on a Holiday for a Fresh View of the Season


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For the Heritage Sandy Springs Outdoors Club, the ideal seasonal celebration is hosted by Mother Nature. The club leads holiday hikes at Island Ford, where you’ll enjoy views of the Chattahoochee River. Moderate slopes and rocky terrain provide a bit of a challenge, but these hikes aren’t that difficult and beginners will enjoy them. A walk along the river through the quiet woods will offer a fresh perspective on the holiday season and give you a chance to decompress after hectic days of shopping. Keep an eye out for details on this year’s treks on the Heritage Sandy Springs events listing on Facebook.

5. Experience Swedish Christmas Traditions

The holidays are so much more interesting when you get a glimpse of how various cultures celebrate the season. At the annual Swedish Christmas Market, sample chocolates as well as traditional Swedish Christmas food, like whipped cream-covered waffles and juicy hot dogs. If you like to find unique gifts, the market also includes traditional Scandinavian handicrafts as well as modern artistic items. A real highlight of the gathering is the Lucia procession, a reflective, emotional march where girls and boys in white robes bear candles as symbols of hope and light ahead of Scandinavia’s darkest stretch of weather. Held at the Dorothy Benson Center in Sandy Springs and organized by the Atlanta chapter of the Swedish Women’s Educational Association, 2018’s event takes place on December 2nd.

6. Get Merry with the Season’s Classic Sounds at City Springs


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Numerous holiday concerts are sprinkled throughout the December calendar in City Springs–the vast downtown district that not only includes restaurants, shops, and City Hall—but you’ll also find performances at several venues such as the outdoor City Green, the intimate Studio Theatre, and the newly debuted Byers Theatre with seating for more than 1,000 guests. Whether it’s a touring act, like the Boston Brass Christmas Bells are Swingin’ show, or The Nutcracker presented by the Roswell Dance Theatre, the winter season at City Springs delivers a stellar soundtrack to inspire holiday cheer.

For each of us, there’s a tradition or aspect of the holidays that reminds us of our childhood and puts us in a festive mood. For some, it might be classic music or special foods, and for others it could be a stroll among holiday lights, or even a family hike. Whatever strikes a chord with you, you’ll probably find it among the many holiday events in Sandy Springs.

Written by Jhoni Jackson for RootsRated Media in partnership with Visit Sandy Springs.