7 free and low-cost holiday events you’ll love in Atlanta

Put your money into a gift (for yourself) instead.

The holiday season is here and we’re ready for the spirit of the season—think mulled wine, sweaters and twinkling lights. In Atlanta, you can immerse yourself in all the joys of the season without dreading looking at your bank account in January. In and around the city you’ll find plenty of festivals, events and gatherings. Keep on reading for fun for the whole family starting during Thanksgiving week.

Buckhead Village

Ski into the holidays at Buckhead Village, where they’re kicking off their Après All Day events for 2023. Don your best “after-ski” gear and be whisked away to a winter wonderland with snow-capped trees and crackling fires. Every Saturday through Dec. 16, you’ll find a street festival that lasts from 12 – 7 p.m., alongside live DJs and performers, a wandering Santa, hot chocolate, vendors and special events like a kids’ crafting experience or wreath-making workshop. Stop by one of the ski-life photo ops to commemorate the day. 

Or, experience authentic German cuisine and drinks in a vibrant shopping atmosphere at the Atlanta Christkindl Market from Nov. 24 to Dec. 24. With all the traditional elements of a Bavarian market, you can indulge in delectable culinary treats and handcrafted treasures in an enchanting environment where old-world traditions meet the modern energy of a bustling city. 

Most events are free, but some require a reservation, so make sure to plan before you go.

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Winter Wonderland at Fernbank Museum

Winter Wonderland: Celebrations & Traditions Around the World is a holiday exhibition that showcases diverse cultural celebrations and traditions through stunning displays on two floors, running from Nov. 18 to Jan. 7. The exhibition features unique festivities and traditions selected by cultural partners, including Sweden, Mexico, India, Kenya, Japan and more. 

Winter Wonderland is a holiday staple in Atlanta, and visitors can enjoy an artistic experience while immersing themselves in different cultures. As a bonus, visitors can participate in the Winter Wonderland scavenger hunt to guide them as they explore the exhibition. You can enter with the price of admission to the museum, but members can enjoy it for free. Teachers and veterans can also get special deals on museum memberships.

Tinsel Tavern at the Battery

Get ready for a festive holiday season at Tinsel Tavern! The pop-up experience will be filled with glittering tinsel and twinkling lights, as well as delicious seasonal cocktails and small bites. Great instagrammable backdrops are ready for all the selfies. 

Tinsel Tavern will be open from Nov. 23 to Dec. 23, and you don’t need a reservation to visit (but it’s recommended.) There will be themed nights, including an ugly sweater party and silent disco, as well as fun holiday karaoke. Entry is free, except on themed nights. ($5-10 cover)

Lights over Alpharetta

Are you ready for some holiday cheer? For those visiting family in the Atlanta suburbs, Lights over Alpharetta is an excellent and affordable option for the whole family to experience. Book in advance and get in for $29 per car Monday through Wednesday for a joy-filled driving and walking experience from Nov. 24 to Dec. 30. 

Ice skating at The Rink at Park Tavern

Located in the heart of Midtown Atlanta, the ice rink offers a winter oasis that brings joy to all ages from Nov. 25 to Jan. 15. The stunning backdrop features Piedmont Park and the Midtown skyline. You can grab a warm drink and skate in the city’s heart while enjoying the beautiful view. Stay until after 8:30 p.m. for an adults-only skate. If you’re looking for a great deal, go during the week for a special discounted rate of $15 per ticket (Monday-Thursday). The rink is open until midnight, making it a perfect after-work treat. Plus, only those who wish to skate need to purchase a ticket.

Oakland Cemetery’s Holiday Spirit Festival

Experience the holiday spirit on Dec. 2 at Oakland Cemetery’s Tour of Eternal Homes during the Holiday Spirit Festival. Explore select mausoleums with a Victorian guide, learn about the iconic stone structures and enjoy the holiday decorations. Buy tickets ($18/adults $14/child) to choose your preferred tour time. Tours run every 15 minutes and last approximately 75 minutes. Enjoy holiday festivities around Oakland’s Bell Tower before and after your tour. Celebrate with photos with Santa, a holiday artist market, a wreath sale, snacks, hot drinks and more.

Misfit makers workshops with Scraplanta 

Scraplanta collects and reuses old art supplies to make Atlanta’s art scene more sustainable. They’re hosting free art workshops at Misfit DIY Wrapping Co. on the first three Tuesdays of Dec. Each week’s workshop will have a theme: Gaudy Garlands on Dec. 5, Unconventional Wreaths on Dec. 23 and Toilet Paper Candles and Poinsettias on Dec. 19. Check Scraplanta’s calendar for more details.

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Where to try out 2024’s hottest fitness trends in Phoenix

If you’re looking to shake up your fitness routine this year, check out the new kids on the fitness block.

Remember hula hoops from the ‘60s, Jazzercise from the ‘80s and Tae Bo from the ‘90s? While these fitness trends were all the rage at one time, the exercise industry continues to evolve — even if it’s just finding a more modern way to do the same old moves.

As with most fads, from fashion to cuisine, the fitness industry keeps consumers on its toes — motivating people with fun and unexpected activities, offering accessible and convenient options and making them feel like part of a like-minded community. Here are five of the hottest trends for 2024 and where to find them in Phoenix.

1. “Hot Girl Walks” Outside

Sometimes fitness just doesn’t need to be that intense — and those are the times to head out for some fresh air on a Hot Girl Walk to get your 10,000 steps in and contemplate life. The experts at Lifespan Fitness have been tracking more than 7.6 billion TikTok views for #Fittok alone, and #hotgirlwalks have 1 billion million views — one of the top 10 most searched for fitness trends. 

What exactly is a hot girl walk? It’s a consistent walking routine where you can maximize the benefits of the outdoors, elevate your fitness and focus on self-care in a low-impact workout. Just grab some music, focus on yourself or your goals and take a stroll. And, since you don’t need any special gear to get started, there’s no upfront cost and you can start today.  

Thankfully, in Phoenix, there are tons of great places to get your walk on. Of course, you can just tour your neighborhood, but if you’d prefer some more scenic options or ones with less traffic for your physical and mental health break, the following fit the bill.

Cruise the Arizona Canal, starting at Scottsdale Fashion Square in Old Town and heading west through Arcadia to the Arizona Biltmore, a Waldorf Astoria Resort. Or, meander the Indian Bend Wash Greenbelt, which is an oasis of parks, lakes, paths and golf courses over 11 miles from Shea Boulevard and 92nd Street to Tempe Beach Park. You can even stroll the Riparian Preserve at Water Ranch in Gilbert while enjoying the wildlife sanctuary. 

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2. Electro-Muscle Stimulation Classes

While high-intensity interval training (HIIT) has been the buzzword for the past decade, a shift is happening. “People are looking for low-impact exercises that leave them feeling energized, not drained,” says Jason Sani, director of wellness at OHM Fitness, which has three locations in the Valley. 

He points specifically to electro-muscle stimulation (EMS) technology, a group training class where you wear a bodysuit with electrode pads that deliver electrical stimulation to large areas of the body as you exercise simultaneously. “It allows you to activate and recruit fibers that are often neglected and challenging to activate,” says Sani.

Though the research is still emerging on the benefits, Hollywood celebrities like Chrissy Teigen, Jessica Alba, Heidi Klum and Madonna gush about EMS as their secret to building muscle without breaking a sweat, and OHM Fitness is planning to have up to 30 locations open by the end of 2024 to meet the rising demand for classes.

OHM Fitness

Desert Ridge: 21001 N. Tatum Boulevard, Suite 18-1090, Phoenix

McDowell Mountain Village: 15029 N. Thompson Peak Parkway, Scottsdale

Gilbert Cooley Station: 3919 E Williams Field Road, Suite 101, Gilbert

Woman sitting on fitness equipment in a public gym.

3. Muscle Building in the Gym

For those who would rather stick to the basics, strength training and muscle-building will never go out of style — the only thing that seems to shift each year is which body parts those muscles should dominate. For 2024, Megan Smith, Fitness Director at Camelback Village says, “It’s the year of the strong glutes and legs, like Carrie Underwood legs.” 

Since you clearly won’t be skipping leg day, the only big decision is how you’d like to get your workout done — and gyms are experiencing a resurgence after COVID lockdowns. Sure, you could still do your strength training at home with any number of apps, but gyms offer a real-life community that’s impossible to replicate combined with access to top-notch equipment. 

At Village Health Clubs & Spas, there’s no shortage of options to meet your needs: one-on-one person training to help maximize results and keep you motivated, group training classes for accountability and support, specialized weightlifting sessions with Gainey XFit Sport, or hitting the state-of-the-art weight room on your own. 

Village Health Clubs & Spas

Camelback Village: 4444 East Camelback Road, Phoenix

Gainey Village: 7477 East Doubletree Ranch Road, Scottsdale

Ocotillo Village: 4200 South Alma School Road, Chandler

DC Ranch Village: 18501 North Thompson Peak Parkway, Scottsdale

4. Pickleball for Social Gameplay 

America’s fastest-growing sport for three consecutive years, pickleball, is sweeping the nation and has no signs of letting up anytime soon. And it’s especially popular in the Phoenix Valley, considering the governing body for the sport, USA Pickleball, is located just 35 miles north of central Phoenix in Surprise.

This fast-paced and competitive game is easy for beginners to learn, and is played on a court the same size as a doubles badminton court. There is singles and doubles play, making for a social outlet alongside a great workout. You’ll need a paddle and ball, can wear any athletic wear you’d like, and there are free and paid courts all over town.

The Pecos Park Pickleball Courts in Phoenix has 16 outdoor courts that are free to use (there is a fee to use the indoor ones) and open from 5:30 a.m. to 10 p.m. daily. Pickleball Kingdom in Chandler is a dedicated facility with 15 indoor courts, locker rooms and shower facilities, a snack bar and air conditioning — the perfect summertime solution. This facility also offers free Pickleball 101 classes for beginners, so you can work up to playing in open sessions, leagues, or tournaments. And Chicken N Pickle at the Westgate Entertainment District in Glendale, is a growing chain of indoor and outdoor pickleball courts (plus ping pong, bocce, Jenga and more) serviced by a range of bars and dining areas.

Pecos Park Pickleball Courts: 17010 S. 48th Street, Phoenix

Pickleball Kingdom: 4950 W. Ray Road, Chandler

Chicken N Pickle: 9330 W. Hanna Lane, Glendale

View inside of a sauna with benches and hot rocks.

5. Biohacking Recovery with Ice Baths and Saunas 

Ask any trainer and they’ll tell you that the real magic of exercise happens in the recovery phase — so it’s important to place an emphasis on giving your body time to rest and heal after tough workouts. A technique called biohacking may help. 

“Biohacking is when a person takes their biology into their own hand and does little things to trigger biological changes,” explains fitness and recovery expert Devon Jackson, owner of LiveColder. “The most popular of which is ice baths and saunas. Look for the number of people partaking in ice baths, saunas, red light therapy, cryotherapy and other modalities to shoot through the roof in 2024.”

Though experts don’t have a clear consensus on the benefits of cold-water immersion, or ice baths, proponents say users may report improved mental and physical benefits, like sore-muscle relief or a boost in mood. Initial research on infrared saunas point to a variety of short- and long-term benefits, like helping with pain relief, promoting better sleep and fighting illnesses like the common cold. 

Live Colder

14201 North Hayden Rd., Suite A2, Scottsdale

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A couple enjoying a Christmas Tree Lighting holiday event.

6 free and low-cost holiday events to enjoy the magic of the season

Because holiday cheer doesn’t need a price tag.

The holidays are a time for spreading joy and creating lasting memories, and you don’t have to spend a lot of money to do so. Dallas offers a variety of free events, such as tree-lighting ceremonies, festive markets and community gatherings where you can make the most of the season. In this guide, we’ll provide tips on how to fully embrace the holiday spirit while keeping your budget anxiety low.

Holidays at the Dallas Galleria

13350 Dallas Pkwy, Dallas, TX 75240

Date and time: Throughout Nov. and Dec.

The Dallas Galleria offers festive and budget-friendly ways to celebrate the holiday season with Santa, holiday skate shows and more. You won’t even have to step foot in a store if you don’t feel like it. Here are just a few of your options:

  • Grand Tree Lighting Celebration (Nov. 24 and Nov. 25): This is a must-see event! Watch Olympic skaters perform a stunning ice-skating show with a finale of fireworks. You’ll also see Missile Toes, the Galleria’s famous pyrotechnic Santa who back-flips. Yes, you read that correctly. (Free)
  • Storytime with Mrs. Claus (Saturdays, Nov. 25 – Dec. 23): Gather around as Mrs. Claus shares her favorite holiday stories for children and families. (Free)
  • Hanukkah Menorah Lighting (Dec. 7 at 5 p.m.): Celebrate the first night of Hanukkah with the lighting of a giant Menorah and remarks by Temple Shalom. (Free)
  • Santaland (Nov. 17 to Dec. 24): Experience the magic of winter with the man himself. Visit his wonderland, where Santa listens to children’s wishes and poses for photos. (Tickets start at $37 for a child and parent to visit)

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NTX Vintage Markets Holiday Bazaar at The Rustic

The Rustic, 3656 Howell St., Dallas, TX 75204

Date and time: Sunday, Dec. 3, 10 a.m. – 3 p.m. 

NTX Vintage Markets has partnered with The Rustic in Dallas to present a cheerful holiday vintage market. Expect over 20 local vendors to showcase their unique finds, vintage clothing and fine jewelry, but there will also be plenty of local beer, snacks and sweets. The best part? Admission is free, and parking won’t cost you a dime. So, whether you’re on a mission to find that perfect holiday gift or just looking to “window” shop with a cold brew, this event promises a good time.

Klyde Park’s Tree Lighting Ceremony

Klyde Warren Park, 2012 Woodall Rodgers Freeway Dallas, TX 75201

Date and time: Saturday, Dec. 2, 3 – 6 p.m. 

Get ready for a fun-filled day of family-friendly activities at Klyde Warren Park’s annual holiday extravaganza. The event promises a variety of festivities, including face painting to transform your little ones into holiday masterpieces, games that will challenge your competitive spirit (in a jolly way, of course), and crafts to let your creativity shine bright like Rudolph’s nose. You can also take a selfie with Santa and listen to Mrs. Claus tell heartwarming holiday tales. The day will culminate in a live show featuring holiday music and special appearances by Santa’s pals Frosty and Rudolph. Don’t forget to catch the magical Christmas tree lighting that adds a special sparkle to cap this holiday event in Dallas.

Thrift Studio Holiday Pop-Up Shop

1833 E. Levee St., Dallas, TX 75207

Date and time: Nov. 29 – Dec. 16, Wednesday – Saturday, 10 a.m. – 6 p.m.

Are you feeling stressed about finding the perfect holiday gifts? Look no further than Dwell with Dignity’s Thrift Studio. This pop-up thrift store offers affordable designer home decor and festive treasures. The best part? By shopping at Thrift Studio, you’ll also support a good cause. The store will be open for 12 days this holiday season, so take your chance to find unique gifts while spreading cheer.

The Santa Shack Holiday Expo

Soar Creative LLC, 1337 Chemical Street, Dallas, TX 75207

Date and time: Saturday, Dec. 9, 1 – 6 p.m. 

Join Redmon Books at the first annual Santa Shack Holiday Expo for a fun-filled pop-up shop celebrating the joy of literacy. This event features over 20 children’s book authors, just in time for the holiday season. (Books make great holiday gifts!) You’ll have the opportunity to meet local authors, take professional photos with Santa and enjoy hot cocoa. Additionally, during this season of giving, you can give back to the community by participating in a holiday book drive and donating new or used books to support this worthy cause.

Downtown Dallas Stocking Stroll

Downtown Dallas Stocking Stroll

Main Street Garden Park, 1902 Main Street Dallas, TX 75201

Date and time: Saturday, Dec. 16, 12 – 3 p.m.

Take a leisurely holiday stroll through the streets of downtown Dallas, adorned with twinkling lights and charming decorations. Immerse yourself in the cheerful atmosphere and embrace the spirit of the season. Keep an eye out for special surprises and activities along the way. Who knows, you might even catch a glimpse of Santa Claus himself! Create cherished memories by taking in the holiday season’s sights and sounds.

As the holiday season approaches, it’s important to remember that the joy and togetherness that come with it are truly priceless. This guide will help you make the most of this special time without worrying about your budget. Gather your loved ones, embrace the spirit of giving, and let these affordable holiday events in Dallas light up your season with happiness and warmth. 

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