December has officially marched into 2016 with its pomp and cheer. Tennessee has loads of holiday celebrations to fill your calendar in every big city and small town. Being from a small town myself, I always love the warmth of a small community around Christmas time. You can experience some Christmas charm from some of the cutest Tennessee small towns by checking out these celebrations. For a full list, plan your holiday schedule at www.tnvacation.com/calendar.
Discover old time traditions of the local region during the Holiday Homecoming Celebration Dec. 12 at Norris Dam State Park. Bring a flashlight and dress warmly for this walk that will take you through the east side of the park to the rustic cabins. Decked out in Christmas cheer, the area is transformed into a winter village filled with festivities, live animal demonstrations, and historical depictions of Appalachian life, horse-drawn wagon rides, and so much more.
Gear up for another Christmas season in Historic Jonesborough as it’s decked out for the holidays during the annual Holiday Tour & Tea 2-6 p.m. Dec. 13. See seven establishments for a once-in-a-lifetime experience, as these buildings are rarely open to the public. And, they’re decorated in holiday cheer! The elegant tea features a hot and cold tea bar and treats in a Victorian-style setting. Tickets are $15 and on sale now.
Stay in touch with your inner child by taking an imaginary journey to the North Pole on the Tennessee Valley Railroad’s North Pole Limited. Storytelling and refreshments enhance the journey through Tennessee’s picturesque valley. Once to the destination, a special guest boards the train. On the return ride, Santa visits with children and gives each child a keepsake item to remember their magical Christmas trip.
Hang out with Naomi Judd as this year’s Grand Marshall of the Christmas Parade in Leiper’s Fork. She’ll kick off the procession 2 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 12 from Southall Road through the heart of the village on Old Hillsboro Road. Bring a lawn chair to enjoy this festive and fun parade that features antique cars, trucks, horses, and, of course, Santa Claus.
If you’ve ever wanted to befriend a live reindeer, Cookeville is making that wish come true with this year’s Rockin’ with the Reindeer. Along with the reindeer petting zoo, guests can enjoy visits with Santa in the Cookeville History Museum, goody bags, one ride down the Snowzilla slide, a craft area and much more.
Travel to Pulaski, Tenn. in Giles County to tour the world-famous Milky Way Farm which boasts over 1,000 acres of pastures filled with deer, wild turkey, barns, trails, and vistas. The farm has one of the largest magnolia plantations of the South and tours of the Manor House are available. Sundaes with Santa will be hosted by Milky Way Farm 1-4 p.m. Dec. 12-13 with hay rides, huge helpings of ice cream sundaes and Christmas tours of the manor. Say hi to Santa and be sure to tell him what’s at the top of your wish list this year.
New at Discovery Park of America is the Let It Glow Light Show now open. More than 380,000 lights (that’s more than 24 miles!) adorn the property as guests drive through and experience this unique drive-through show in Union City. A live nativity provided by churches in the surrounding area is also featured. A Polar Express component and performances by the David Johnson Chorus also take place.
Enjoy holiday displays and luminaries via trolley or horse-drawn carriage ride Dec. 11-12 at Pickwick Landing State Park as it hosts Christmas in the Park. Get into the holiday spirit with the drive-thru display of lights. Carriage and train rides are free to experience. A visit from Santa and his elves and bedtime stories are also on the schedule for this family-friendly event.
What are some of your favorite Tennessee small town Christmas celebrations? Let me know in the comments below!