Holiday events from the STS Top 20 list

The holidays are upon us, and the Southeast Tourism Society has several Top 20 events that will delight and inspire anyone who participates in their festivities.

Enchanted Garden of Lights
Lookout Mountain, Georgia
Nov. 19, 2021 – Jan. 1, 2022 (Nightly, closed Christmas Eve)

See Rock City shine brighter than ever during the 27th anniversary of Rock City’s Enchanted Garden of Lights! This award-winning, holiday light extravaganza showcases more than 30 holiday scenes and over a million LED lights that transform the gardens’ natural daytime splendor into a fantasyland of four realms of wonder: Yule Town, Arctic Kingdom, Magic Forest and North Pole Village. Enjoy gingerbread cookie decorating, hot cocoa and see Santa (through Dec. 23).

Ruby Falls Christmas
Chattanooga, Tennessee
Dec. 1-23

It’s the most wonderful time of year when Christmas returns to Ruby Falls. The event on Lookout Mountain is a yuletide adventure for Santa believers and kids at heart. A 35-foot-tall, decorated Christmas tree on the Village Plaza, along with twinkling lights draping the historic castle, venues and landscape are a festive prelude leading up to the much-anticipated visit with Santa, who is preparing for the season of joy. Top that with holiday treats, adding your Christmas wish to the Wish Tree, and a trip inside Lookout Mountain to the tallest underground waterfall open to the public in the United States to round out a magical annual family tradition.

Community Holiday Light Show
Danville, Virginia
Dec. 9-23

While some elves believe the best way to spread holiday cheer is by singing loudly for all to hear, folks in Danville, Virginia, believe decorating one of the oldest civic-owned parks with thousands of lights is the best. For seven years, the Community Holiday Light Show has been the center of yuletide celebrations and traditions for residents in Southside Virginia — whisking visitors away to a fantastical wonderland of lights. The drive-through light show features displays built by local families, organizations and businesses— not to mention the crafts, refreshments and complimentary photos with Santa Claus that visitors can take part in after the show inside Children’s Village.

Not only has the light show sparked new traditions and holiday memories, it has also contributed over $68,000 to civic organizations, volunteer groups and local nonprofits. The 15-day event is open nightly to the public. A portion of the gate fees are donated to the volunteer groups working the show that night while another portion is turned into prize money and donated to local nonprofits courtesy of the display that is voted as best in show by the public. For just $10, families, friends and neighbors are swept away to a magical winter wonderland of lights and then to Children’s Village for photos, hot chocolate and crafts — all while supporting the community. Nothing is more magical than a holiday season of giving!

Tryon Palace’s Candlelight Christmas Celebration
New Bern, North Carolina
Dec. 11 and 18

Experience the beauty, joy and magic of the holidays at North Carolina’s first state capitol, as Tryon Palace invites you to the Governor’s Mansion for its Candlelight Christmas Celebration.

Please join us for this wonderful annual holiday celebration. Tryon Palace, located in New Bern, North Carolina, welcomes Christmastime decked out with 18th century inspired décor, with a splash of traditional 19th century. Tryon Palace’s Candlelight Christmas Celebration takes place on the grounds of Tryon Palace with an array of festivities to please attendees of all ages and includes tours of the Governor’s Palace and historic homes, Stanly House, Dixon House and Commission House.

Begin your evening with a tour through the dazzling Palace and a visit with historic colonial characters in period dress as you witness holiday vignettes. Afterwards, spend the evening exploring the historic homes, participating in various activities and being entertained in the Performance Tent. Enjoy the marching rhythms of Tryon Palace’s Fife and Drum Corps and the celebratory fusion of music and dance from a Jonkonnu troupe, as well as circus acts, fire eating, sword swallowing, acrobatics and 18th-century magic tricks. The festivities conclude with a dazzling black powder firework display on the Palace South Lawn.

Throughout the event, delicious fare can be purchased from food trucks located outside the Palace gates. Inside the gates at the “tavern,” you can grab a seat and enjoy beer, wine and delicious baked goods in a jovial holiday setting, or warm up sipping on hot cider and holiday cookies.
Tryon Palace’s Candlelight Christmas Celebration takes place on two consecutive Saturdays in December. In 2021, it returns on the Saturdays of Dec. 11 and 18, from 4:30 p.m. – 9:30 p.m. Tickets are $25 for adults and $15 for youth. Candlelight is a rain or shine event, and fireworks may be cancelled during extreme weather conditions.

For more information, go to or call (800) 767-1560.