Note the red velvet drapes on the right: They're an original holiday addition Elvis made to the Graceland living room. Image used by permission, Elvis Presley Enterprises, Inc.

What to Do This Holiday Season in West Tennessee

The way I see it, you can’t improve much on the portrait of West Tennessee as a string of pretty-as-a-picture small towns stretching out from the grandeur of Memphis – unless it’s the holidays, when the scene sparkles with lights, frost and the spirit that settles in at this time of year. There are so many ways to paint yourself in the scene – take a candlelight walk; witness a hometown parade; search for gifts from local shopkeepers – or try any of my other favorite West Tennessee to-dos this season:


Dickens Christmas on the Square, Dec. 8-9: 10 a.m.-7 p.m. Saturday and 1-5 p.m. Sunday, Covington’s Historic Downtown Square (40 miles northeast of Memphis) channels Victorian England as costumed characters from Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol stroll the streets. You’re invited to dress in period costume as well, or simply shop around and enjoy the entertainment, which will include caroling, storytelling, puppet shows, choral and instrumental performances and carriage rides. The city will host the Covington Christmas Parade Dec. 10.

Covington’s town square is big on history and retail, and the shops really get in the spirit. Here, the Hatchie River Emporium and Haberdashery looks its holiday best. Photo courtesy of Covington – Tipton County Chamber of Commerce.

Costumed characters add even more charm to Covington, Tennessee, during Dickens Christmas on the Square. Photo courtesy of Covington – Tipton County Chamber of Commerce.


Humboldt’s Christmas Tour of Historic Homes and Churches, Dec. 8: 2012 was a significant year for historic preservation in Humboldt, located just north of Jackson: Its restored City Hall gracefully turned 100; then, locals formed the Humboldt Historical Society and dreamed up the idea of hosting Humboldt’s first annual Christmas Tour of Historic Homes and Churches. For $10, you’ll tour four historic homes decorated for the season and two churches dating to the 1890s, and enjoy refreshments at the Humboldt Public Library.


Annual Jackson Christmas Parade, Dec. 3: At 6:45 p.m., Jabari Greer – native son, philanthropist, New Orleans Saints cornerback – will serve as Grand Marshal of this parade through downtown Jackson.

The Nutcracker, Dec. 7-9: Jackson claims Tennessee’s longest consecutively running production of The Nutcracker (31 years!), performed by the city’s pre-professional Ballet Arts, Inc. – with the help of a few Russian guest artists – at the Carl Perkins Civic Center.

Sugar Plum Fairy Tea, Dec. 9: Consider this your ballet bonus gift. At 12:30 p.m., Ballet Arts presents this mother/daughter tea party full of treats to eat and Nutcracker cast members to meet.


Christmas at Graceland, through Jan. 8: In terms of décor, Graceland’s got a lot going on. Magnify that this season, when Elvis’ original decorations come out of storage. Outside, hundreds of blue lights line the driveway and a life-sized Nativity scene, along with Santa and his sleigh, pop up; inside, red velvet drapes and Presley family holiday treasures dazzle.

Note the red velvet drapes on the right: They’re an original holiday addition Elvis made to the Graceland living room. Image used by permission, Elvis Presley Enterprises, Inc.

The Peabody Memphis, throughout December: Holiday concerts by area school choirs and chamber ensembles resound in The Peabody’s Grand Lobby 11 a.m. to noon Dec. 3-7, 10-14 and 17-19. The concerts are free and open to the public, as is the hotel’s legendary gingerbread display – a room-sized wonder for which Peabody pastry chef Konrad Spitzbart and his staff began preparing in September. You can’t miss the Alpine village of homes, a working train, shops and a snowy landscape – fashioned using 300 pounds of gingerbread and 250 pounds of powdered sugar – in the Peabody lobby.


Downtown Unwrapped, throughout December: This series of events illuminates the downtown of northwest Tennessee’s Paris – a scenic hub of boutiques for gifts, antiques, jewelry and clothing with coffee- and sweet shops sprinkled in. Downtown Unwrapped events include a Candlelight Advent Walk among downtown churches (Dec. 5), a Christmas Festival and Parade (Dec. 15) and a month-long Festival of Trees (view the trees inside the Paris-Henry County Heritage Center, housed inside a 1916 Italian Renaissance Revival mansion). Select nights, downtown businesses will extend their hours; Santa will be available for conversation and photos on the courthouse lawn and gingerbread houses will grace store windows.

Dec. 15 is an especially good day to be in downtown Paris, with its family-friendly festival, parade, gingerbread decorating competition and extended shopping hours. Photo courtesy of Downtown Paris Association.

What’s your favorite way to welcome the holidays in Tennessee?

Hi! I’m Samantha Crespo, and I am Floridian by birth, Tennessean by heart. Growing up, I vacationed in East Tennessee, so I...Read on

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