Santa, reindeer, light displays, and a lot of rocket-themed decorations — Christmas in Huntsville has just about everything but snow (usually)! Christmas in Huntsville is out of this world!
After spending 20+ Christmases in Huntsville, Alabama, I am well-versed in spending the holiday in the Rocket City. Here are my top tips on how to have a merry Christmas in Huntsville.
Drive Through the Galaxy of Lights
The Galaxy of Lights is Huntsville’s best and brightest holiday tradition. In the winter, the Huntsville Botanical Garden is turned into a winter village with a trail lined by displays of Christmas lights. Driving through the Galaxy of Lights is the most popular way to experience the displays, but you can also walk the lights (and with your furry friend on designated nights) or run and bike the lights on special race days. Tune your radio to the special holiday music station (they’ll remind you what station at the gate) so you can jam along and learn about this year’s lights display, like how many strands of lights and bulbs make up the Galaxy. The displays change a little each year, but you can usually expect to see traditional holiday scenes, scenes from popular Christmas songs, flowers and nature, dinosaurs, and lots and lots of rockets and space-themed lights, of course! Walking nights are available in November, and driving nights start the day after Thanksgiving through New Year’s, and the Galaxy of Lights is open on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day.
Take Care of Your Christmas Shopping at Harrison Brothers
Downtown Huntsville’s favorite general store, Harrison Brothers Hardware has been on the Square since 1897. The store sells locally made arts and crafts, kitchen items, gourmet foods, books, and classic toys. It’s the perfect place to stop for a unique Christmas gift for anyone on your shopping list. Harrison Brothers is open Monday through Saturday from 9:30 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Meet Santa at His Village
Santa’s Village is the best place to meet Santa and his reindeer in Huntsville. Normally held at Alabama Constitution Village, this year Santa’s Village is being hosted at the Historic Huntsville Depot. Santa’s Village has photos with Santa (of course), Santa’s reindeer, the North Pole elves, snow shows (snow in the South, y’all!), holiday crafts projects, musical entertainment, and magical lights. Santa’s Village is open the day after Thanksgiving until December 23.
Feel the Spirit of Christmas Past at the Twickenham Tour of Homes
Every year, Alabama’s largest antebellum district, the Twickenham Historic District, holds a “Spirit of Christmas Past Homes and Luminary Tour“. Held on one Saturday night in December, this tour of homes takes you inside four private residences plus the Weeden House Museum (Alabama’s oldest house open to the public), First United Methodist Church, and the Helion Lodge. The residences are decked out in holiday decor, the roads are lit by luminaries, and special musicians entertain you with holiday music.
Walk Down the Tinsel Trail
The Tinsel Trail through Downtown Huntsville is a free display of decorated live Christmas trees that line the walk through Big Spring Park. Each tree is decorated by a sponsor, like local businesses, foundations, and families. 300 trees get unique decorations befitting their sponsors and the city of Huntsville. One of my favorite trees from years past was a Bumble tree from Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer (my family calls me Bumble because I, like the Abominable Snow Monster, can reach the top of the Christmas tree). The trees are lit starting the day after Thanksgiving through early January from dusk until midnight.
Go Skating in the Park
Once you’ve walked down the Tinsel Trail, you’ll end up at Skating in the Park at the Huntsville Museum of Art, Huntsville’s first outdoor ice skating rink. This open air ice skating rink is a relatively new holiday tradition in Downtown Huntsville (it’s in its sixth year), but it has quickly become a popular one! The rink opens mid-November and stays open through mid-January, and it is open Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. There’s hot chocolate and other wintery treats to snack on, and you get a discount on admission if you bring your own ice skates.
Go Christmas Shopping at a Craft Show
Each year in early December, the NEACA (North East Alabama Craftsmen’s Association) holds a Christmas Craft Show at the Von Braun Center. This show has over 100 tables with a wide range of handmade crafts and gifts that are perfect for your holiday shopping.
Where will you be spending the holidays this year? Let me know in the comments!