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Guide to Atlanta Holiday Fun

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There are lots of holiday events and shows happening in and around Peachtree Corners this year. If you’re looking for even more seasonal celebrations, here is a sampling of some festive things to do around Atlanta.

Family Fun

The Roof at Ponce City Market has become a winter wonderland. Now through January 8, visitors can purchase tickets to get on the 3,500-square-foot ice rink and Skate the Sky.

Private, heated Sky Igloos are located alongside the skating rink and at 9 Mile Station. They can be reserved for all-age and 21+ parties of one to six. For skating and igloo details and reservations, click on poncecityroof.com.

The Yard at Ponce City Market is the place to go on Saturday, Dec. 17. Santa will be there ready to pose with guests during Selfie Saturdays with Santa, 12-4 p.m. If the weather is frightful, Santa will be on the second floor of Central Food Hall. Find out more at poncecitymarket.com.

Atlanta’s largest ice rink is at Atlantic Station. Skate the Station is open now through Jan. 16. It’s ready for action, weather permitting, on weekdays, 4-10 p.m.; Saturdays, 11 a.m.-11 p.m.; and Sundays, 12-8 p.m.

The free Celebration at the Station is a light and snow show happening now through Jan. 3, every hour from 5 to 9 p.m. Go to the Events page at atlanticstation.com to find more.

Skaters can also glide along at Avalon on Ice on the Plaza in Avalon, now through Jan. 16. General admission is $18 for adults and $14 for children aged 9 and under. Tickets and more info are on the website, experienceavalon.com.

Reservations are open for select days now through Dec. 24 for Tea with Santa at The St. Regis Atlanta. The afternoon treat includes sweets and a visit with Santa, Mrs. Claus and a mischievous elf.

Polar Express at the Best Address is a Christmas Day brunch with live music, entertainment, delectable food and an open bar. Prepaid reservations are available for parties of 1 to 15.Visit exploretock.com/stregisatl for info and to make reservations for both events.

Lights and Decorations

The much-loved Garden Lights, Holiday Nights brings back favorite features and adds a few new twists at Atlanta Botanical Garden, now through Jan. 14. Most dates sell out quickly, so visit the website for tickets soon.

Holiday songs will fill the air with Carols in the Garden when the Tinseltones visit on Dec. 10 and 17, 10:45 and 11:45 a.m. Keep up with all the events at atlantabg.org.

The historic home of author Joel Chandler Harris in Atlanta’s West End will host special Home for the Holidays tours on Dec. 17, 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. The Wren’s Nest’s iconic front porch and interior rooms will be festooned with period-inspired decorations. Tickets run $14 to $18 and can be purchased through wrensnest.org.

Winter Wonderland: Celebrations & Traditions Around the World is back at Fernbank for its 13th year as a special exhibit, now through Jan. 6. It spans two floors of the museum and showcases different decorated trees and displays that recognize various celebrations, events and cultural traditions from around the world. Learn more at FernbankMuseum.org.

This year, World of Illumination brings Reindeer Road, a larger-than-life holiday light event, to the parking area of Six Flags White Water in Marietta. The spectacular drive-through light show runs now through Jan. 1, nightly from 6 to 10 p.m. Pricing starts at $39.99 per vehicle. For details and tickets, visit worldofillumination.com.

Menorah Lightings

On the first night of Hanukkah, Dec. 18, Avalon and Chabad of North Fulton will hold the Menorah Lighting at Avalon on Boulevard East, 5-6 p.m. Guests will also enjoy some special goodies. Visit experienceavalon.com for details.

Chabad Intown has scheduled free events featuring Menorah Lightings at North Highland Park in Virginia Highland on Dec. 18 at 4 p.m. and Atlantic Station on Dec. 20 at 6 p.m. There’s another at Decatur Square on Dec. 22 at 6 p.m. Find more events at atlantajewishconnector.com/organization/chabad-intown-atlanta.

Ponce City Market joins with Chabad Intown to present a traditional Menorah Lighting ceremony to celebrate the Festival of Lights on Dec. 21 at 6 p.m. at The Yard. There will be music, live entertainment and refreshments. Get details at poncecitymarket.com.

Everyone is invited to celebrate Hanukkah at Light Up the JCC on Dec. 20, 5-5:30 p.m., in the courtyard at the Marcus Jewish Community Center of Atlanta in Dunwoody. There’ll be a menorah lighting, Hanukkah songs, performances and free hot chocolate and doughnuts. Go to atlantajcc.org for more info.

Seasonal Shows

A Christmas Carol will be staged by the Alliance Theatre for the 34th time. The Alliance production features new costumes, live music and puppetry. The play runs through Dec. 24 on the theatre’s Coca-Cola Stage. Tickets, show times, cast list and more is available at alliancetheatre.org/christmas.

Two Nutcracker shows will grace the stage at Fox Theatre this December. Hip Hop Nutcracker, Dec. 13 at 7:30 p.m., is a contemporary dance spectacle set to Tchaikovsky’s music. Tickets start at $49. The more traditional Nutcracker! Magical Christmas Ballet features puppets, acrobatics and stars of the Ukraine ballet. There’ll be two showings on Dec. 23, 3 and 7 p.m.; tickets start at $34. Visit foxtheatre.org for tickets and details.

The cast at Dad’s Garage has rehearsed the traditional Scrooge play, but Invasion: Christmas Carol brings a surprise guest to disrupt everything. Past invaders include Young Frankenstein and The Harlem Globetrotters. The show runs Dec. 2-30. Go to dadsgarage.com/ixc for info and tickets.

Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer, based on the classic holiday TV show, is recreated at the Center for Puppetry Arts now through Dec. 31. Tickets include the show, admission to the Worlds of Puppetry Museum and a Create-a-Puppet workshop. Go to puppet.org to find out more.

The Shakespeare Tavern Playhouse transports its audience to Scrooge’s London counting house for Dicken’s classic A Christmas Carol, presented Dec. 3-23. Food and drink are available 75 minutes before every show. For info on special performances and to get tickets, click on shakespearetavern.com.

See something different this season at State Farm Arena. Holiday Hoopsgiving, Dec. 10-18, is a Thanksgiving basketball showcase that features five college neutral-court games, and Cirque Musica: Holiday Wonderland, a show with acrobats, aerialists and hijinks, will be at the arena on Dec. 13 at 7 p.m.

The WWE Holiday Tour Supershow, Dec. 27 at 7:30 p.m., features fan-favorite smackdown superstars. Show info and tickets are at statefarmarena.com.

Holiday Concerts and Music

On Dec. 18, Christmas on Clairemont: Keyboards and Choir will be presented at First Baptist Church Decatur at 6 p.m. It features four grand pianos and organ, a festival chorus of 100 local singers and special guest soloists and conductors. The concert is free to attend with an opportunity to support Ukraine. Find details at christmasonclairemont.com.

Spend Christmas with the ASO for a musical evening filled with holiday carols, hymns and more. It’ll be presented Dec. 15, 16 and 18. On Dec. 17 at 8 p.m., the voices of Celtic Woman: A Christmas Symphony will ring through Symphony Hall with arrangements from the Irish all-female group’s holiday album “The Magic of Christmas.”

The ASO and Chamber Chorus perform Handel’s Messiah (Part I) on Dec. 22, 8 p.m. at Atlanta Symphony Hall. If you prefer to watch it at home, an ASO performance of Handel’s Messiah will be aired on Georgia Public Broadcasting on Dec. 18 at 6:30 p.m. Get info on these and more concerts at aso.org.

On Dec. 18 at 4 p.m., A Christmas Festival of Lessons and Carols will be presented at the Cathedral of St. Philip in Atlanta. The choral service is the church’s most popular. Admission is free. Find out more at cathedralatl.org/worship/music/concerts.

Holiday concerts at State Farm Arena include IHeartRadio Power 96.1’s Jingle Ball 2022, a star-studded musical event on Dec. 15 at 7:30 p.m., and the V-103 Winterfest 2022 on Dec. 16, 8 p.m., with Grammy-award winner Maxwell as headliner. Get details and tickets at statefarmarena.com.

New Year’s Celebrations

The annual Noon Year’s Eve Celebration on the Roof will run from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Dec. 31 at Ponce City Market. Skyline Park will host an all-ages celebration centered around a countdown to noon. All-access tickets of $25 include admission and gameplay; ages 3 and under are free. Go to poncecitymarket.com to pre-order tickets and learn more.

Another family-friendly celebration will be held at Avalon on Dec. 31, 10 a.m.-1 p.m., to ring in the new year at Noon Year’s Eve. The daytime event includes a DJ, face painting, complimentary snacks and plenty of photo ops. Admission is $15 each for kids and adults, ages 2 and under are free. Find all the info at experienceavalon.com.

Ring in 2023 at the New Year’s Eve Swingin’ Party at the Byer’s Theatre in the City of Sandy Springs on Dec. 31, starting at 8 p.m. Tickets start at $40 to enjoy the music of Georgia Music Hall of Famer Francine Reed and Sandy Springs native Joe Gransden and his 16-piece band.

The Swing in the New Afterparty moves to the Studio Theatre for dancing, light bites, desserts and a toast at midnight. Afterparty tickets are $55 and sold separately from the concert. Purchase tickets through sandyspringsga.gov/events.

On Dec. 31, Georgia Aquarium will host an adults-only New Year’s Celebration, starting at 8:30 p.m. Attendees enjoy after-hours access to the main galleries, cocktails and food, live entertainment and a midnight champagne toast. General admission tickets are $125; VIP tickets are $195. All proceeds benefit the aquarium’s research and conservation efforts.

After a three-year hiatus, the annual Peach Drop returns to Underground Atlanta on New Year’s Eve, Dec. 31. The festivities are free to the public typically draw crowds of 65,000 to 100,000. Watch the website undergroundatl.com to keep informed.

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Titanic: An Immersive Voyage To Set Sail On 30-market World Tour

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Images courtesy of Titanic: An Immersive Voyage

Exhibition Hub in partnership with Fever and a collaborative of Titanic collectors announced today the launch of its latest exhibition Titanic: An Immersive Voyage.

The companies also announced that Milan, Italy and Atlanta, Georgia have been selected as the initial host cities for the next generation experience. Titanic: An Immersive Voyage is scheduled to open in Atlanta on Friday, July 19.

Titanic: An Immersive Voyage will feature more than 300 artifacts from Titanic and its sister vessels the Olympic and the Britannic, as well as objects from Carpathia and Californian, two additional ships key to Titanic’s story.

Items to be showcased in the experience were curated from multiple collections including treasures from Kevin Saucier, the owner of one of the largest private collections of Titanic memorabilia in the world. Priceless artifacts from the collection of Spencer Knarr will also be featured in the all-new Titanic experience. Mr. Knarr started his collection at the age of 12.

“Titanic is the most enchanting ship of all time and is revered by many as an iconic gem,” said John Zaller, Executive Producer at Exhibition Hub. “We’re delighted to tell this immortal story in our signature humanistic and immersive style, and to share it with guests around the world. We could not be more appreciative of the collectors who have joined us on this journey.” 

Titanic: An Immersive Voyage represents an entirely new approach to the story of the world’s most famous ocean liner. The experience features more than 300 artifacts, and dramatic room re-creations from the ship, along with advanced theatrical techniques and breathtaking technological overlays that place guests inside the story of the celebrated Titanic.

“Titanic: An Immersive Voyage engages the Titanic story like never before,” said Zaller. “Our expertise in exhibition design and immersive storytelling creates an unforgettable emotional connection to Titanic.”

“The mold for a Titanic exhibition was in need of a refresh,” said Mr. Knarr. “And, Exhibition Hub, with its success in creating immersive experiences, was just the company to do it. I’m really excited to have been invited to participate.”

Knarr’s fellow collector echoed those sentiments.

“One meeting with John Zaller and Exhibition Hub was a lock,” said. Mr. Saucier. “It’s a great way to break away from the traditional exhibit case and create a worldwide touring show. There are collectors who keep their treasures hidden and there are those of us that want to share with the world.”

Titanic: An Immersive Voyage uses cutting-edge storytelling technology to create a powerful emotional connection between visitors and those 2,200 souls onboard. The experience also features hands-on activities, in-depth learning opportunities, projection mapping, a detailed audio tour, educational materials, a special selfie zone, a unique green-screen photo opportunity and an expansive retail store with items from Titanic and her sister ships for sale.

More Information – The waitlist for tickets is now open and tickets will officially go on sale on June 17.  Visit expo-titanic.com/atlanta to join the list.

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Sneak Peek at The Westin at The Gas South District

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The 348-room, 11-story hotel opens March 21

The Westin Atlanta Gwinnett is eagerly counting down to its grand opening this week on March 21st, marking a significant milestone as the hotel prepares to redefine hospitality in Gwinnett County. Located in the dynamic Gas South District, this cutting-edge 11-story hotel features 348 rooms and over 27,000 square feet of flexible event space across 14 rooms. As part of Concord Hospitality’s portfolio, the establishment is poised to become a game-changer in the area, offering unparalleled service and amenities.

General Manager Mark Castriota, with Russell Stewart, Sales and Marketing

Under the leadership of General Manager Mark Castriota, with Russell Stewart steering the Sales and Marketing efforts, the hotel is set for a successful launch. General Manager Mark Castriota expressed excitement about the imminent opening. He lauded the dedication and hard work that has paved the way for this moment. Castriota emphasized the hotel’s commitment to providing unmatched hospitality experiences in Gwinnett County. The Westin aspires to fill the hotel with skilled individuals who deliver The Westin’s signature quality service to all guests.

The Westin Atlanta Gwinnett is more than just a place to stay; it’s a retreat for wellness and relaxation. The property boasts signature wellness initiatives, sleep-enhancing features, and breathtaking floor-to-ceiling windows. Modern conveniences are standard in every room and suite, including high-speed Wi-Fi, 55-inch smart TVs, ergonomic workstations, and mini-fridges.

One of the hotel’s highlights is its rooftop bar, Overstory, which offers stunning 360-degree views of North Georgia. Here, guests can enjoy locally brewed beer, a nod to the hotel’s commitment to supporting local businesses. Additionally, the hotel will feature SweetSong Kitchen & Bar, a full-service restaurant that emphasizes locally sourced and sustainable ingredients.

A unique architectural feature of The Westin Atlanta Gwinnett is its 25 preset lighting configurations. It can be adjusted to reflect various events and holidays, adding a vibrant and dynamic touch to the hotel’s facade. This, along with amenities like a full-service Starbucks, an indoor pool, and the Westin WORKOUT Fitness Studios, ensures guests have everything they need for a rejuvenating stay.

The Westin Atlanta Gwinnett is set to become a cornerstone of luxury and wellness in Gwinnett County, inviting visitors to experience a new level of hospitality.

A more in-depth feature will appear in Southwest Gwinnett magazine May/June issue.

Photos by Bruce Johnson

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Broadway Director Joins Production of Beauty and the Beast in Sandy Springs

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City Springs Theatre Company brings the legendary Broadway musical, Beauty and the Beast to Sandy Springs from March 8 to 24.
Exterior of the Sandy Springs Performing Arts Center

City Springs Theatre Company (CSTC) brings the legendary Broadway musical, Disney’s Beauty and the Beast to metro Atlanta with performances from March 8 through 24.

“City Springs Theatre Company is exceptionally proud to bring this modern classic to Atlanta audiences this spring,” said Tony Award-winner and Atlanta native Shuler Hensley, who serves as CSTC’s artistic director.

“For three decades now this ‘tale as old as time’ has been delighting audiences of all ages, across the globe. With its colorful characters, dazzling musical numbers (“Be Our Guest”, “Gaston”) and the Oscar-winning title song, Beauty and the Beast promises to be family theatre at its finest,” added Hensley.

Directing and choreographing City Springs Theatre Company’s production of Disney’s Beauty and the Beast is renowned Tony Award-recipient Baayork Lee, who has performed in some of Broadway’s biggest musicals.

Disney’s Beauty and the Beast will be performed in the Byers Theatre at the Sandy Springs Performing Arts Center, located at 1 Galambos Way in Sandy Springs.

“Disney’s Beauty and the Beast is the most family-friendly show we’ve ever produced, and it’s the perfect outing for groups of any kind looking for a truly memorable theatrical experience,” noted CSTC Executive Director Natalie DeLancey.

Disney’s take on the classic story tells of Belle, an idealistic young woman trapped in a provincial town, and The Beast, who is himself a prince trapped under the spell of an enchantress.

If The Beast can learn to love (and be loved), the curse will end, and he will be transformed back into his former princely self. But time is running out. If The Beast does not learn his lesson soon, he and his household will be doomed for all eternity.

Disney’s Beauty and the Beast features a book by Linda Woolverton (author of the original animated film’s screenplay), with music by Alan Menken, and lyrics by Howard Ashman and Tim Rice.

Performance schedule

Friday, March 8 at 8:00 p.m.

Saturday, March 9 at 2:00 p.m. and 8:00 p.m.

Sunday, March 10 at 2:00 p.m.

Thursday, March 14 at 8:00 p.m.

Friday, March 15 at 8:00 p.m.

Saturday, March 16 at 2:00 p.m. and 8:00 p.m.

Sunday, March 17 at 2:00 p.m.

Thursday, March 21 at 8:00 p.m.

Friday, March 22 at 8:00 p.m.

Saturday, March 23 at 2:00 p.m. and 8:00 p.m.

Sunday, March 24 at 2:00 p.m.

Cast

Belle – Diane Phelan (Broadway: School of Rock, The King And I, Into The Woods)

The Beast – Christian Magby (TV: “The Flash”)

Mrs. Potts – Candice Song Donehoo (Broadway: The King And I, National Tour: Jekyll and Hyde)

Gaston – Stanley Allyn Owen (National Tour: CATS)

Lumiere – Nick Walker Jones

Cogsworth – Luke Grooms

LeFou – DJ Plunkett (National Tour: Wicked)

Maurice – Russ Williamson

Babette – Maggie McCown

Madame de la Grande Bouche – Grace Choi

Chip – Cece Fields and Michael Wood

Silly Girls – Grace Arnold, Hannah Morrison, Emma X. O’Loughlin

The Ensemble: Ian Blanco, Emmanuel Cologne, Sammy Fossum, David Grindrod, Imani Joseph, Ben Ohnemus, Meaghan Paetkau, Javar La’Trail Parker, Ryley Perry, Zac Pritts, Caitlyn Savage, Wendell Scott, Amanda Fallon Smith

Creative and production teams

Director/Choreographer – Baayork Lee

Associate Choreographer – David Grindrod

Music Director – Griffin Strout

Conductor – Greg Matteson

Lighting Designer – Mike Wood

Sound Designer – Anthony Narcisso

Scenic Designer – Kelly Tighe

Costume Designer – Ryan Moller

Production Stage Manager – Shay Holihan

The production will also feature students from City Springs Theatre Company’s acclaimed pre- professional program, who will appear as additional ensemble members in the show.

Disney’s Beauty and the Beast is included in current subscriber season packages. Individual tickets (from $38 to $98) are on sale now, with discounts for seniors, students, groups and active and retired military personnel.

Visit www.CitySpringsTheatre.com or call 404-477-4365 for more information. Discounts for groups of 10 or more are available by calling the box office at 404-477-4365. Gift cards are also available by calling the box office. CSTC’s Box Office is open Monday through Friday from 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.

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