It’s no surprise that we at Tennessee Crossroads love to get out and enjoy all the unique people and places around the state. But we particularly love this time of year, because even those places that we seasoned travelers have visited time and time again offer a different experience during the month of December. We’re approached all year long to share that passion and knowledge, and this time of year, the requests usually stem from a desire (or need) to entertain family and out-of-town guests.
So where should you take your friends and family this holiday season? Rather than merely look at past shows for that kind of information, as we might have done in the past, we thought it would be fun to ask the faces of Tennessee Crossroads what they personally enjoy doing and seeing around the holidays. Some submitted yearly family traditions, while others shared their personal plans for experiencing a Tennessee Christmas in the upcoming weeks. Together, we came up with a number of fun things to do between now and New Year’s, whether you wish to enjoy the spirit of the season by viewing Christmas lights, sharing a good meal with friends and family or by taking part in a number of holiday attractions. You may find that you regularly enjoy some of these activities, but others are off the beaten path.
Keep in mind that these are activities that we ourselves personally enjoy and we are relatively few in number. We are always looking for new places to go and see and would love for you to leave us a comment telling us (and our other readers) about your favorite activities and places to visit during the holidays! Who knows? Maybe you’ll give us an idea for a new holiday tradition!
Joe Elmore, Host
Your local Christmas Parade & The Nashville Symphony’s annual performance of Handel’s Messiah
“I’ve had the honor of being the Grand Marshall in a few Middle Tennessee Christmas parades over the years, and a good, old fashioned parade is a cost-free way to get into the Christmas spirit. I highly recommend it. This year, for the first time, I’m going to take in the Nashville Symphony’s performance of Handel’s Messiah at the War Memorial Auditorium. It’s a Nashville tradition I’ve somehow missed since I’ve lived here. I’m looking forward to this long-overdue experience. And finally, although there’s “no place like home for the holidays,” I’ve always wanted to spend Christmas Eve and Christmas night at a Smoky Mountain inn. This just may be the year I do it.”
The Nashville Symphony will present Handel’s Messiah at the War Memorial Auditorium in downtown Nashville December 16– 18. For more information, visit www.nashvillesymphony.org.
Monell’s 16th Annual Victorian Christmas
“One of my favorite things to do during December is go to the Victorian Christmas at Monell’s in Nashville. It’s the most delicious, beautiful, and holiday spirit-filling experience, all under one roof. Michael King and his staff decorate, cook, sing and serve a meal that is indescribable. I make it a point to attend every year.”
Monell’s Victorian Christmas is held only at the Nashville location, 1235 6th Avenue North, from December 1– 23. Reservations are required. For more information (including pricing and the menu) visit www.monellstn.com/n-rest.html.
Tennessee Valley Railroad’s Polar Express & the Huntsville, Alabama Botanical Garden’s Galaxy of Lights
“The Tennessee Valley Railroad Museum in Chattanooga runs a special North Pole Limited Christmas train every year. With storytelling, refreshments and a Santa appearance, it’s fun for the kids and parents too. Other railroad enthusiasts do similar things in Kentucky and Alabama. If train rides aren’t for you, the lighting display at the Botanical Gardens in Huntsville, Alabama is usually pretty spectacular. I go every year.”
The North Pole Limited runs December 9 -22. For more information, visit the Tennessee Valley Railroad’s website at www.tvrail.com.
Galaxy of Lights runs from November 11-January 1 at the Huntsville Botanical Garden from 5:30-9:00 p.m. every night. For more information, visit their website at www.hsvbg.org.
Sunnyside Lights & The Farm Community’s Annual Christmas Bazaar
“I recommend driving down Sunnyside Drive in Brentwood. There is a family who lives on this street that has been putting up one spectacular light display for 28 years in memory of their son. The home is decorated with over 135,000 lights, and over 350 figures. It takes them over two months to prepare for the display each year. It’s a truly magical experience. I also recommend the Annual Christmas Bazaar at The Farm Community in Summertown. It’s too late to attend this year (the Bazaar occurs the first Saturday in December) but it’s an experience to definitely keep in mind for next year.”
The Sunnyside Lights are located at 1956 Sunnyside Drive, Brentwood. The display runs through the month of December every evening from 5:00 – 10:00 p.m. From Friday, December 17-Thursday, December 23, Santa will be making an appearance from 6:30 – 9:00 p.m. For more information, visit sunnysidelights.wordpress.com.
To learn more about the Farm Community, visit their website at www.thefarmcommunity.com.
Local Town Squares
“To me, some of the most surprising treasures I’ve ever found lie within our state’s beautifully quaint town squares. Each one is steeped in history and truly unique in their architecture, landscaping, holiday decorations and the variety of wonderful treats they have to offer their visitors. The squares were designed to be an experience that’s pleasing to all our senses…especially during the Holidays. On the square, we’re compelled to slow down and savor it all… so, if you want a warm, happy holiday escape, set aside some time to visit a Tennessee town square this season. And, when you go, take along the kids or grandkids….they just might like a glimpse of the past …even if it might be kind of square.”
Leiper’s Fork Christmas Parade
“Me? I love a parade! And it’s not too late to catch a very colorful one, in every sense of the word, in Leipers Fork on Saturday, December 11 at 2:00 p.m. the village streets are lined with spectators waiting to see everything from Scottish bagpipers to Elvis impersonators, Gypsy Vanner horses to goats, all manner of tractors and floats, and of course the man of the hour, ole Santa himself! Make it a “two-fer” and get some holiday shopping done while you’re there as you browse the town shops. There are several places to eat, so you can come early for lunch, or stick around for supper. The whole experience is guaranteed to put you in the spirit!”
The Leiper’s Fork Christmas Parade will be held Saturday, December 11 at 2:00 p.m. (Updated 12/10: Due to the threat of inclement weather, the Leiper’s Fork Christmas Parade has been re-scheduled to Saturday, December 18th at 2:00 p.m.). Leiper’s Fork is located about halfway between Franklin and Fairview.
Erin McInnis, Production Assistant
It’s A Wonderful Life, the Belcourt Theatre
“It’s hard to be anything but festive at the Belcourt’s annual showing of this Christmas classic. A Nashville tradition for the past seven years, the chance to watch this film on the big screen surrounded by friends and like-minded strangers provides a perfect way to share in the holiday spirit!”
It’s A Wonderful Life is at the Belcourt Theatre in Nashville December 17 – 26. For more information, including showtimes and tickets, visit www.belcourt.org.
Ed Jones, Producer
A Christmas Story, The Tennessee Repertory Theatre
“A Christmas Story is a time-honored holiday classic, and a yearly tradition exists in my family of watching the 1983 film. Last year, I was lucky enough to attend the Tennessee Repertory Theatre’s stage adaption, which was everything I anticipated and more, and plan to attend again for the second year in a row. If you haven’t seen it, plan to before it’s too late.”
A Christmas Story is presented by The Tennessee Repertory Theatre at the Andrew Jackson Theatre at Tennessee Performing Arts Center in Nashville. The play runs November 20 – December 18. For details visit www.tennesseerep.org.
Ken Simington, Executive Producer
Gaylord Opryland Hotel, A Country Christmas
“I believe that one must take in the Opryland Christmas experience, especially if you have never seen it before or have out-of-town guests. It is such a jewel that many of us probably took for granted before the flood. Now that it has re-opened, I’m planning on spending a warm day inside walking and enjoying the sights & sounds of Christmas at the Opryland Hotel.”
For more information on all the Christmas activities the Opryland Hotel has to offer, visit their website at www.gaylordhotels.com/gaylord-opryland/.
For more ideas, visit the Tennessee Crossroads website.