Garland adorning downtown streets, twinkling lights wrapped around bushes and trees, and the sound of holiday music emanating from shops have transformed towns and cities across north Alabama into winter wonderlands.
To celebrate the yuletide season, churches, arts groups and civic organizations will stage parades, open houses, ballets, plays and more. Check out this guide to the area's holiday events and attractions.
The parade season in Morgan, Lawrence and Limestone counties will kick off Monday in Decatur and run through Dec. 14 in Hillsboro and Town Creek.
• Monday: Decatur Christmas Parade, “Christmas Movie Marathon,” 6 p.m., winds from Second Avenue to Bank Street. Rick Paler will serve as grand marshal.
• Dec. 5: Athens Christmas Parade, 6 p.m., starts at Athens Middle School and goes to downtown.
• Dec. 5: Courtland Christmas Parade, 7 p.m., in downtown Courtland with State Sen. Garlan Gudger as grand marshal.
• Dec. 6: Moulton Christmas Parade, 7 p.m. “Christmas Now & Then: A Bicentennial Christmas,” begins at Moulton Mini Park beside Lawrence County High School.
• Dec. 7: Trinity Christmas Parade, 10 a.m., begins at Love Chapel Church, 10 a.m., and ends at Trinity Town Hall.
• Dec. 7: Mount Hope Christmas Parade, noon, at Mt. Hope School. Contributions go to Mount Hope Community Fund.
• Dec. 7: Elkmont Christmas Parade 1 p.m., goes from Elkmont High School to the Piggly Wiggly.
• Dec. 7: Priceville Shelia Smith Christmas Parade, 2 p.m., goes down North Bethel Road, Alabama 67, Marco Drive and Cave Spring Road.
• Dec. 8: Hatton Christmas Parade, 3 p.m. Donations will go to Brittany Parker, a 27-year-old mother of four, who was diagnosed with breast cancer in January.
• Dec. 9: Ardmore Christmas Parade, 7 p.m., starts at First Avenue West.
• Dec. 12: Hartselle Christmas Parade, 7 p.m., starts at the high school football stadium and goes down Railroad Street to Main Street.
• Dec. 14: Hillsboro Christmas Parade themed “The Magic of Christmas,” 11 a.m., will start at the old Tennessee Valley High School and end at Hillsboro Town Hall.
• Dec. 14: Town Creek Christmas Parade, 6 p.m., will begin at the old Hazlewood High School.
• Eva Christmas Tour of Homes, Sunday, 2-5 p.m. Featured sites include Charlies’ Vineyard at Frost Farm, the Weaver home, the Gibbs home and the McLemore home. Tickets to the tour organized by the Eva Art Guild cost $10 and are available at the first house visited.
• The Bells of Christmas Holiday Home Tour in Athens on Dec. 8, 1-5 p.m., will feature residences in the Canebrake Club District. The Athens-Ladies Civitan Club will host the tour. Tickets cost $15 in advance or $20 at the door. Proceeds will support programs for special needs children and adults in Limestone County. For more information, call 256-658-1985 or 256-777-2918.
• Alabama Baptist Children’s Home in Decatur will open its doors to visitors on Dec. 8, 2-5 p.m. Festive decorations, holiday food and a live Nativity await visitors to the home, 1404 Sixteenth Ave. S.E. Admission is free.
• Historic homes in Courtland will open their doors to visitors during the Christmas Open House Tour on Dec. 8, 1-4 p.m. Tickets cost $5 and will be available at the McCarley Center at 12:45 p.m. on Dec. 8. Among the seven featured sites are the Campbell-Norwood home, the Courtland Museum, Tiffani’s on the Courtland Square and the Courtland Presbyterian Church.
• Historic Decatur Christmas Tour on Dec. 14, 3-8 p.m. Luminary-lined streets will light up Albany and Old Decatur for the annual tour showcasing holiday decorations at seven residences; two churches, including the First Missionary Baptist Church in Old Town; and six historic spaces — Frazier Park, the Old State Bank, the Decatur Railroad Depot, the Decatur City Cemetery, the Riverfront Group on Bank and Church and Oak and Lee. Other highlights include music and a holiday market. Tickets cost $25 and are available at decaturchristmastour.com.
• The town of Mooresville will hold a Holiday Home Tour on Dec. 14, 1-4 p.m. The event includes tours of four homes, the 1821 Stagecoach Tavern, the 1840 Post Office and the 1839 Brick Church, where music will be playing. Stop by Peebles Barn for sweets and coffee. Tickets cost $40. For more information, visit mooresvilleal.com or call 256-355-2683.
Trails of Trees
• Decorated trees will line Founders Park on Bank Street as the Enchanted Forest of Decatur opens to visitors Monday-Jan. 3. A special free community event will take place Dec. 15, 2-5 p.m., with Santa, refreshments, crafts and music. While the event is free, proceeds from tree sponsorships go to the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society.
• The annual Tinsel Trail in Huntsville will turn Big Spring Park into a winter wonderland with 300 decorated trees. Past decorations featured cartoon characters, superheroes, rockets, snowmen and more.
• A tree lighting ceremony on Dec. 6 at 6 p.m. will usher in the annual Ardmore Tinsel Trail, which will feature dozens of decorated trees at The Bryant House on Ardmore Avenue and First Street. The ceremony will include music from the Cedar Hill Children’s Choir. The trail will remain up through Jan. 5.
• Enter a forest of whimsical, festive and traditional trees at Athens North Pole Stroll at Big Spring Memorial Park. The free trail will be open through Dec. 28. On Dec. 14, Santa will stop by the North Pole Stroll from 5-7 p.m. to visit with children.
• The inaugural Christmas on the Square will bring decorated trees to downtown Moulton this holiday season. The festivities will kick off on Dec. 5 with a tree lighting ceremony at 6 p.m. The trail of trees will remain up through Jan. 1.
• Athens State University Community Band’s annual Christmas Concert will fill Carter Gymnasium with popular holiday songs Sunday at 3 p.m. The band features volunteer musicians under the direction of Steven Porter. A reception following the event will include a visit from Santa. Admission is free.
• “Season of Love,” a holiday concert by the Calhoun Chorale will feature selections from Schubert, “Rent,” Kirk Franklin and more on Dec. 8. The concert at Latham United Methodist Church, 109 Weatherly Road in Huntsville will begin at 5 p.m. Admission is a suggested donation of $10.
• Some of the area’s youngest musicians will take center stage during the Decatur Youth Symphony’s Winter Concert on Dec. 10 at 6 p.m., at Austin Junior High School. The concert will feature performances by ensembles and the orchestra. Tickets are free.
• The 15th annual Christmas Festival and live Nativity by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints will be Dec. 14-15 at 1804 Sparkman Drive in Huntsville. Concerts featuring an 80-piece choir and 40-piece orchestra begin at 4 p.m. and 6 p.m. each day. Live Nativities are 3:30-4 p.m., 4:45-5:15 p.m., 5:30-6 p.m. and 6:45-7:15 p.m. Free, reservations requested. Huntsvillechristmasfestival.org.
• Orchestra Sul Ponticello’s Christmas Concert on Dec. 16 at 7 p.m. will feature Vivaldi’s “Gloria” with the Huntsville Master Chorale and local singers, music from “The Nutcracker,” “Greensleeves,” “Chestnuts Roasting on an Open Fire,” “White Christmas” and more. Tickets to the performance at The Church at Stone River, 3014 Danville Road S.W. Decatur, cost $25 for adults, $5 for college students and free for other students.
• Brother duo The Beasley Brothers will bring their annual holiday celebration back to the Princess Theatre on Dec. 20 at 7 p.m. The Americana and rock act of Jackson and Lawson Beasley will perform holiday classics and modern Christmas songs. Tickets cost $15. Princesstheatre.org.
• Living Christmas Tree at First Baptist Church in Huntsville will feature 150 singers and a 50-piece orchestra performing sacred Christmas songs. Performances will be Dec. 19 and 20 at 7:30 p.m., Dec. 21 at 4:30 and 7:30 p.m. and Dec. 22 at 5:30 p.m. A special “Tree for the Children” will be Dec. 21 at 11 a.m. While free, reservations are required. Tickets will become available Monday at fbchsv.org. The church also will host a free pancake breakfast with activities before the performance for children on Dec. 21.
• “Humbug! A Christmas Carol,” an original musical written by Decatur’s Chuck Puckett and performed by the Bank Street Players, will return to the Princess Theatre for the third consecutive year. Based on Charles Dickens’ “A Christmas Carol,” the musical includes original songs. Phil Parker as Ebenezer Scrooge will lead the 42-member cast. Tickets cost $18 for general admission and $15 for students and seniors. Shows are Dec. 5-6 at 7 p.m. and December 7 at 2 p.m. and 7 p.m. princesstheatre.org.
• Footlights Community Theater in Athens will bring “The Best Christmas Pageant Ever” to the stage Dec. 6 at 6:30 p.m. and Dec. 7 at 2 p.m. and 6:30 p.m. and Dec. 8 at 2 p.m. Tickets to the Clinton Theater, 605 South Clinton Street, cost $15 for adults, $12 for students and seniors and $10 for children and groups of 10 and more. Footlightstheater.com.
• “Christmas Now & Then,” an annual tradition at Calvary Assembly, 4839 Calvary Blvd., Tanner, will feature popular holiday songs and cartoon characters along with sacred Christmas hymn and the nativity story. Shows are Dec. 6 and 13 at 7 p.m.; Dec. 7 and 14 at 2 and 6 p.m.; Dec. 8 and 15 at 6 p.m. Tickets are $5. Christmasnowandthen.com.
• A seven-movie series will bring the holiday spirit to the Princess Theatre in downtown Decatur throughout December. The series will kick off Dec. 8 with “National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation.” Other screenings include the 1947 version of “Miracle on 34th Street” on Dec. 9, “A Christmas Story” on Dec. 16, “It’s a Wonderful Life” on Dec. 17, “Home Alone” on Dec. 19, “White Christmas” on Dec. 22 and “Elf” on Dec. 23. Tickets cost $7 for adults and $5 for students and seniors. The movies will start at 2 p.m. and 7 p.m. each day.
• The Point Mallard Figure Skating Club will bring the story of the Grinch, Cindy Lou and Whoville to the ice in performances of “Whoville on Ice.” The shows on Dec. 14 will start at 2 p.m. and 3:30 p.m. at Huntsville Ice Complex, 3185 Leeman Ferry Road. Tickets cost $1-9. pointmallardfsc.com.
• Dancers Incorporated’s annual holiday production of “The Nutcracker” will bring sugar plum fairies, a nutcracker prince and a mouse king to life on Dec. 14 at 2 and 7 p.m. Leading the cast of dancers is Drew Sybert as the Nutcracker Prince, Jillian Martin as the Sugar Plum Fairy and Samantha Hardin as Clara. Tickets cost $15 in advance and $20 the day of the show. princesstheatre.org.
• Set in north Alabama in the 1850s, Huntsville Ballet Company’s production of “The Nutcracker” combines the classic ballet with antebellum-style costumes and historic scenes of Huntsville. Accompanied by the Huntsville Symphony Orchestra, the company will perform the ballet Dec. 13 at 7:30 p.m., Dec. 14 at 2 and 7:30 p.m. and Dec. 15 at 1 p.m. at the Von Braun Center. Tickets start at $35. Huntsvilleballet.org.
Displays of light
• Galaxy of Lights at Huntsville Botanical Gardens is a 2-mile journey with 200 light displays of Christmas scenes, animals, children’s characters and more. Open Wednesday through Jan. 4, 5:30-9 p.m. Tickets are $25 for up to 10 people per vehicle. hsvbg.org.
• Tens of thousands of lights will bring classic holiday tunes and movie music to life at the Terry home on Harrison Street Southeast in Decatur. The free light show typically runs Sunday-Thursday, 5-11 p.m.; Friday and Saturday, 5 p.m.-midnight. Find a schedule of the music at lights.tbonerex.com/Christmas. Tune to 107.1 FM.
• More than 40,000 lights adorn the Metcalf home on Danville Road Southwest this year. The Metcalf home, across the street from Austin Junior High School, comes to life every night, complete with holiday songs. Tune into 93.5 FM.
• Parade of Lights: Head to the Tennessee River for a light show on the water on Dec. 7. The annual maritime Christmas event featuring 15 to 20 boats decorated for the holidays will leave from the Riverwalk Marina at 6 p.m. riverwalkyc.org. Best viewing spots will be at Rhodes Ferry, the Hard Dock and the marina. Get to the Riverwalk Marina early for an up-close look at the boats. The docks will open at 4 p.m.
• Somerville Baptist’s Drive-Thru Christmas retelling of the story of Jesus’ birth, life, death and resurrection will be open to the public Dec. 11-14, 6-9 pm. Admission is free.
• The 20th annual Bethlehem Walk at Mable Hill Baptist Church in Ardmore will lead visitors on a 20-minute walk-through of Bethlehem on the night of Jesus’ birth. Open Dec. 6-Dec. 8 and Dec. 13-15, Free. 3778 Ready Section Road, Ardmore. Large groups should call ahead for reservations. 256-420-8172.
• Emmanuel Baptist Church in Athens will present “The Christmas Story,” a live Nativity, Dec. 13-15, 5:30-8:30 p.m. Free. 1917 U.S. 72 in Athens.
• For “One Starry Night,” Wesley Memorial United Methodist Church in Decatur will transform its worship center into Bethlehem. Guests will see, touch, smell and taste what life was like at Jesus’s birth. Open Dec. 14, 5-8 p.m., at 1211 Westmead St. SW. Free.
• Expect a visit from Santa and Mrs. Claus, music and more at Christmas in the Park in downtown Falkville on Sunday. The fun will begin at 4 p.m. and include free refreshments, Christmas carols, a flag ceremony, the Falkville High School band, a poetry reading and a Christmas tree lighting.
• Enjoy refreshments, music, singing and more at Decatur Public Library’s Christmas Open House on Dec. 5 at 6 p.m. A children’s program with Santa Claus, crafts and a holiday snack will precede the open house at 5 p.m. Free.
• Hartselle Holiday Market featuring a Christmas tree farm, a visit from Santa and The Gingerbread House, where children can shop, will come to the Hartselle Tabernacle, 8 a.m.-4 p.m. on Dec. 7. Santa will be on site 1-4 p.m. Admission is free. 35 Tabernacle Road.
• What better way to start off the day than with Breakfast With Santa? During the annual event on Dec. 7 to benefit CASA, children will make reindeer food, crafts and participate in a coloring contest. A silent auction also will be on site. Tickets to the event at First Bible Church, 8-11 a.m., cost $5 and will be sold at the door.
• The annual tree lighting at Lincoln-Bridgeforth Park in Athens will take place Dec. 10 at 5 p.m. with a visit from Santa and gift and bicycle give-away to follow at the Pincham-Lincoln Center. The East Limestone Marching Band will hold drives to collect toys for the give-away.
• Celebrate Christmas with Santa and Mrs. Claus at Somerville’s historic courthouse on Dec. 14, 11 a.m.-2 p.m. The Christmas with Santa and Mrs. Claus event will include a stew lunch and holiday musician. Donations will go to renovating the courthouse. For more information, call 256-778-8282.
• Enjoy tea, story time and petit fours with Mrs. Claus at Graves Grocery, 10034 Alabama 36 in Lacey's Spring, on Dec. 14, 3-4:30 p.m. Tickets to the Mrs. Claus Tea Party are $5. Reserve a spot by Dec. 13. gravesgrocery.com.
• With touches of cinnamon, cloves and Red Hots, stores in downtown Athens will serve up sweet concoctions during the Sippin’ Cider Festival on Dec. 14, 5-8 p.m. Festivities also include children’s activities, a visit from Santa Claus, roasting marshmallows, train rides by the Athens Lions Club and holiday music.
• The second annual Pink Christmas Breakfast will honor breast cancer survivors on Dec. 14 at 9 a.m. at the Turner-Surles Community Center in Northwest Decatur. Journey of Faith, a nonprofit organization, spearheaded the free community event. To reserve a spot, visit journeyoffaith-inc.org. While free, donations are accepted.