7 ways to spend the holidays around Chattanooga

Staff Photo by Matt Hamilton / Jane Hangstefer, 5, center, looks at the windows with her cousins Thomas Sedman, 2, left, and Kelly Grace Sedman, 5, at the EPB building in downtown Chattanooga.

Unlike years past, there are far fewer entertainment options as we near the end of December 2020, but there are still ways to uphold a few holiday traditions. Here are seven options to consider.


The Chattanooga Ballet canceled live performances of "The Nutcracker" because of the pandemic, but fans don't have to miss out on this holiday tradition. The nonprofit dance company has partnered with public television station WTCI to show the production on TV. Remaining broadcasts are at 9 p.m. and midnight Christmas Eve and at 4:30 p.m. Christmas Day.

Rather than having dancers perform on a stage in front of cameras, Artistic Director Brian McSween conceived an approach that showcases Chattanooga through location shoots at the Lookout Mountain Club, Sculpture Fields, Hunter Museum of American Art, Chattanooga Choo Choo, Wildflower Tea Shop & Apothecary, The Hot Chocolatier, the Tivoli Theatre lobby and other sites.

"We believe this year's 'Nutcracker' will be a beautiful opportunity to recapture some of the wonder, joy and hope that has been hard to come by this year," McSween said.

More: chattballet.org/


As long as the weather cooperates, the temporary ice-skating rink at the Chattanooga Choo Choo, 1400 Market St., will be open 11 a.m.-4 p.m. Christmas Eve and 4-11 p.m. Christmas Day. (The rink closes for rain or if temperatures drop below 21 degrees.)

Normal hours during winter break (through Jan. 3) are 11 a.m.-9 p.m. Monday through Wednesday, 11 a.m.-11 p.m. Thursday and Friday, 10 a.m.-11 p.m. Saturday and noon-9 p.m. Sunday. Rates are $10 for adults, $8 for children 12 and younger. Fees include skate rentals and 80 minutes on the ice. The rink is scheduled to close Jan. 25.

More: iceonthelanding.com/


Rock City, 1400 Patten Road, Lookout Mountain, Georgia, is festooned with tens of thousands of Christmas lights and scenery. The nighttime attraction opens at 5 p.m. daily through Jan. 2, except Christmas Eve (though the park is open until 5 p.m. if you'd rather try Fat Man's Squeeze in the daytime).

You must buy your tickets online and reserve a time for entry. Admission is $26.95 for adults, $14.95 for children 3-12. Wait until Dec. 28-31, and you can get in a little cheaper, $24.95 and $13.95.

More: seerockcity.com/


The Tennessee Aquarium, 1 Broad St., and the Imax Theater, 201 Chestnut St., next door will be closed Christmas Day, but otherwise open 10 a.m.-5 p.m. for holiday programming through Dec. 31. Holidays Under the Peaks activities include seasonally themed scavenger hunts and animal enrichment.

You can purchase timed-entry tickets to the aquarium online for $34.95 for adults, $21.95 for children 3-12. Combo tickets are not available online, but may be purchased at the aquarium ticketing center or the Imax box office.

More: tnaqua.org/


Tennessee Valley Railroad Museum, 4119 Cromwell Road, is closed Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, but will be open over the weekend for Missionary Ridge Local excursions and the last chance to enjoy trips to Santa's headquarters on the North Pole Limited. Tickets for the Local are $19 adults, $13 children 2-12. Tickets for the North Pole Limited are $35 all ages.

More: tvrail.com/calendar


For more than 80 years, EPB's employee elves have set up seasonal scenes featuring Santa, reindeer and fellow elves from the North Pole. You can see the Holiday Windows display on the Market Street and Broad Street sides of the EPB building, 10 W. M.L. King Blvd., and this year, for the first time, EPB is offering a virtual tour that you can watch from the comforts of home.

More: epb.com/holiday2020


Gingerbread workshops have ended at the Creative Discovery Museum, 321 Chestnut St., but through Jan. 1 you can get a prefab kit to go for $32. It's a good way to create sweet memories while everyone is gathered at home. The to-go kits include cookies, prebuilt houses, icing, candy and other treats. Purchase online to pick up during regular operating hours, 10 a.m.-5 p.m. (closed Christmas Eve and Christmas Day).

More: cdmfun.org/

Email Lisa Denton at ldenton@timesfreepress.com.