Our Favorite Holiday Happenings

If the idea of heading to the mall this holiday season has you curled in the fetal position, consider that holiday experiences are a great way to show the love, and they're on trend. A recent McKinsey report reveals that spending on activities has grown four times faster than spending on objects. And research of out Cornell University shows that sharing an experience with someone can make them happier in the long run over giving them something like a smartphone. In fact, customer satisfaction from a material purchases decreases rather quickly, which is why you have to upgrade to yet another new iPhone each year. But the joy from a pleasant experience lives on. We're not suggesting you give up shopping entirely. That might put us out of a job. But with so many things to do in our fine city, here are a few of our favorite Atlanta holiday experiences.

Garden Lights, Holiday Nights returns this year with new music and motion along with all your faves including Nature’s Wonders, the largest curtain of synchronized light and sound in the world. Upgrade to premium tickets and get a free drink ticket and limited-edition hologram glasses.The exhibition runs nightly through Jan. 11 The Nutcracker is a holiday classic. And the Atlanta Ballet serves it up with twist. On stage at the Fabulous Fox Theatre through Dec. 24, this one is a thrilling journey through space and time, where everyday objects grow in extraordinary size.

The Big Top is back at Atlantic Station. And that means that Cirque du Soleil is in town. Don't miss this year's VOLTA, a captivating performance with dance, music, acrobatics and circus-inspired acts. VOLTA is a tribute to the adventurous spirit that fuels the culture of street sports, playing through Jan. 5. Centennial Olympic Park transforms into an International Winter Wonderland this holiday season with the Chinese Lantern Festival and the Atlanta Christkindl Market. Look for live entertainment, cultural food and interactive activities through Jan. 5. The Grammy-Award winning Atlanta Symphony Orchestra celebrates its 75th anniversary this holiday season by performing traditional favorites through Dec. 18. In his final season following a 20-year career, retiring maestro Robert Spano conducts Christmas classics and Handel’s "Messiah." Check out Holidays at The High on Friday, December 13 from 6 to 9 p.m. This members-only event includes a special photo booth with our fave CatMax Photography, merry music by Black Box Disco, ugly sweater coloring sheets, a 12 Days of Christmas-inspired scavenger hunt in the galleries and a docent-led gallery tour of wintry works.

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