8 exciting festive events for your family in Birmingham

Alabama Ballet Nutcracker
The Nutcracker will forever be one of my favorite parts of the Christmas season. (Alabama Ballet)

Can you believe it’s already the holiday season? It may still be warm outside, but I’ve already spied Christmas lights and displays around town. Read on to discover the festive events you and your family won’t want to miss in The Magic City.

1. Glow Wild

lanterns at the zoo
I don’t know about you, but I really want to see those lanterns at Glow Wild. (Birmingham Zoo / Facebook)

With jaw-dropping wild animal and sea life lantern creations lighting up the night, the Birmingham Zoo is coming alive this holiday season. This is a sign to take the whole family on a stroll around the stunning lights at Glow Wild. Plus, you can ride on the Red Diamond Express Train or go for a spin on the Protective Life Carousel—talk about fun.

  • Location: Birmingham Zoo, 2630 Cahaba Rd, Birmingham, AL 35223
  • When: Select nights from Wednesday, November 16-Monday, January 16 | 5-9PM
  • Cost: (Online) Adult $11.87-20.95, Kids ages 2-12 $9.07-12.95 | (In-person) Adult $16.77-23.95, Kids ages 2-12 $10.47-14.95
  • Buy tickets

2. North Pole Express

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Hop on board with Santa. (Heart of Dixie Railroad Museum / Facebook)

It’s a family tradition to watch The Polar Express every Christmas Eve night, so you know I’m eager to hop on board the Heart of Dixie Railroad Museum’s North Pole Express. While you’re traveling to the North Pole, you’ll listen to a Christmas story, sing holiday carols and meet Santa, Mrs. Claus and elves. Of course, they have hot, hot chocolate and yummy treats on board too.

  • Location: Heart of Dixie Railroad Museum, 1919 9th St, Calera, AL 35040
  • When: November 18-20, 25-27, December 2-4, 9, 11, 16-18 | Departure times at 5PM, 6:30PM, 8PM
  • Cost: $30 for coach cars | $40 for entertainment coach cars | $50 for first-class cars | Free for kids two and under
  • Buy tickets

3. Market Noel

Brunch with the Big Guy, Market Noel
Brunch with the Big Guy. (Junior League of Birmingham)

You can discover more than that perfect Christmas gift at the Junior League of Birmingham’s Market Noel from Wednesday, November 16 to Saturday, November 19. The Big Guy himself is popping by for a visit that includes brunch, kid-friendly holiday activities, Magical Mimosas for adults and a picture with Santa.

Can’t make it to the brunch? No worries because you can have Milk and Cookies with Santa and snap a picture with the man in red and white.

  • Location: The Finley Center at The Hoover Met Complex | 5508 Stadium Trace Pkwy, Hoover, AL 35244
  • When: Saturday, November 19 | Noon-3PM
  • Cost: Tickets are $36 for two adults and two children, and additional family members can be added for $6 each. Tickets include general admission to Market Noel.
  • Buy tickets.

4. Vulcan’s Magical Nights

Vulcan Park & Museum
A magical holiday experience. (Vulcan Park & Museum)

The Vulcan is a Birmingham icon—in December, the park is also a Christmas wonderland. Looking at festive lights warms my heart and Vulcan’s Magical Nights is lighting up the night right. It’s a cheerful time filled with lights, holiday music, special guest appearances and, of course, Santa. Also, there’ll be delicious food, hot chocolate, wine and beer available for purchase.

5. Asbury United Methodist Church’s Experience Christmas

live nativity
Experience Christmas like never before at this live nativity. (Asbury United Methodist Church)

For a free and fun family event, check out the Christmas festivities at Asbury United Methodist Church on Sunday, December 4. Not only can you watch a live nativity to experience the Christmas story like never before, but you can also make your own Christmas ornaments, snack on delicious cookies and sip on hot cocoa.

6. Elf

Bham Now at The Alabama Theatre
Can you tell we love Christmas at Alabama Theatre? ( Matthew Niblett / Bham Now)

Is there anything better than watching a fan-fave Christmas movie? Well, watching it at Alabama Theatre makes it even more of a magical experience. The best way to spread Christmas cheer is to bring your family to watch one of the funniest holiday movies, Elf.

Looking to watch another classic Christmas movie? Alabama Theatre is playing an abundance of festive films during the month of December—check out the schedule.

7. Alabama Ballet’s The Nutcracker

holiday date
From mischievous mice to brave toy soldiers, you’ll be in awe during this ballet. (Alabama Ballet)

The Nutcracker has always been my favorite Christmas story, and I’m counting down the days until I’m transported to the land of sweets. With Tchaikovsky’s beloved melodies, Alabama Ballet is one of only eight companies around the world licensed to perform George Balanchine’s The Nutcracker. You won’t want to miss this rare opportunity!

  • Location: BJCC Concert Hall, 2100 Richard Arrington Jr Blvd N, Birmingham, AL 35203
  • When:
    • Friday, December 16 | 7:30PM
    • Saturday, December 17 | 2:30PM + 7:30PM
    • Sunday, December 18 | 2:30PM
    • Tuesday, December 20 | 7:30PM
    • Wednesday, December 21 | 2:30PM + 7:30PM
    • Thursday, December 22 | 2:30PM
    • Friday, December 23 | 2:30PM
  • Cost: $45-65
  • Buy tickets

8. Sounds of the Season

Samford Arts
Experience Christmas cheer at Samford University. (Samford Arts)

With a lineup of classic Christmas carols and beloved holiday songs, the talented members of the Opera Birmingham Studio at Samford University and the Opera Birmingham Chorus are filling our ears with the sweet sounds of the season. This family-friendly concert is one of the best ways to get in the holiday spirit. You can also wander around Samford to look at the beautifully decorated campus with lights and a Christmas tree.

Looking for more upcoming events in The Magic City? Follow Bham Now on Facebook, Instagram + TikTok to stay in the know.

Selah Vetter
Selah Vetter
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