Chattanooga area holiday events: Santa’s on his way and light shows power up

Staff Photo by Robin Rudd / Even with the temperatures in the high 60s Ice on the Landing, at the Choo Choo, was able to offer ice skating. New Years Eve was celebrated on a unseasonably warm, humid night.

There's no need to hang the stockings quite yet, but it's time to get those wish lists ready as there are more places to greet Santa starting this weekend. Chattanooga-area residents also can celebrate the opening of two favorite holiday traditions: Ice on the Landing, an outdoor ice rink in the Chattanooga Choo Choo gardens, and Rock City's Enchanted Garden of Lights, a winter wonderland of twinkling lights and vignettes.

This year, the Enchanted Garden of Lights unveils a new realm, called Heart of the Mountain, meant to "highlight the handiwork of the trolls who sculpt with stone, glass and metal to create an amazing experience for our guests," said Doug Chapin, president and CEO of See Rock City Inc.

"This part of the Enchanted Trail from Fat Man's Squeeze through the Hall of the Mountain King has never been open at night during this event before, and we cannot wait to share it with you," he said in a news release.

Also new this year are NoogaLights, a 1.5-mile, drive-through light experience illuminating Dallas Island at Chester Frost Park, and Chattanooga Zoo's Asian Lantern Festival, a light experience inspired by the resident animals.

(READ MORE: Chattanooga area's weekend events include Leslie Jordan memorial, Thanksgiving celebrations)

For families looking for Santa, he's already made an appearance at Bass Pro Shops in East Ridge, where visitors can get a free 4x6 photo through Dec. 24.

Santa photos start Thursday at Hamilton Place, with options available daily (except Thanksgiving) through Christmas Eve. Black Santa will be available Dec. 7-8. Pet nights with Santa are the next four Mondays.

In Cleveland, Tennessee, Santa will arrive at Bradley Square Mall at 6 p.m. Friday with a host of friends. Frosty, Rudolph, Snoopy, the Gingerbread Man, Buddy the Elf, the Grinch, Chase and Sky from "PAW Patrol," the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Spider-Man, Buzz Lightyear, Poppy Troll and Olaf the "Frozen" snowman will be stationed throughout the common area of the mall greeting Santa as he makes his way to Santa's Workshop. All of the characters will remain in place for half an hour to distribute candy and take free photos.

Santa will arrive Wednesday at Northgate Mall in Hixson. Santa Mocs night is Nov. 29, when the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga mascot is on hand for photos and Santa trades his traditional red and white for a blue and gold suit.

In Dalton, Georgia, families can make photos with Santa at Dalton Mall starting Dec. 1.

Check websites for schedules, as Santa takes breaks to feed the reindeer.

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ASIAN LANTERN FESTIVAL -- Chattanooga Zoo, 301 N. Holtzclaw Ave. Thirty-eight interactive displays and light sculptures inspired by the animals, 6-10 p.m. Wednesday-Sunday through Jan. 15 (closed Thanksgiving). $16-$18 members, $19-$21 nonmembers. Tickets sold online only.

CHRISTMAS VILLAGE HOLIDAY MARKET -- Camp Jordan Arena, 323 Camp Jordan Parkway, East Ridge. Craft and commercial vendors, 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Saturday, 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Sunday. $5 ages 13 and older.

DAYTON ICE RINK -- Centennial Park, 391 Second Ave., Dayton, Tenn. Outdoor ice rink, Friday through Feb. 28 (hours vary). $10 ages 13 and older, $8 younger skaters. 423-775-9847

EAST RIDGE CHRISTMAS PARADE -- Ringgold Road from Germantown Road to Tombras Avenue. Lighted parade, 6:30 p.m. Saturday. (Rain date 3 p.m. Sunday.)

ENCHANTED GARDEN OF LIGHTS -- Rock City, 1400 Patten Road, Lookout Mountain, Ga. More than a million LED lights throughout the park, Christmas Market and seated dinner in Santa's Workshop & Kitchen on select dates, timed entry 4:30-9:45 p.m. Friday through Jan. 1. $26-$32 adults, $16-$22 children 3-12 depending on date. Tickets must be purchased in advance online.

ICE ON THE LANDING -- Chattanooga Choo Choo Gardens, 1400 Market St. Outdoor ice skating rink opens for the season at 6 p.m. Friday; closes Jan. 29 (hours vary, but open holidays). $12 adults, $10 children 12 and younger (includes skate rentals). New this year: online ticket purchase.

NOOGALIGHTS -- Chester Frost Park, 2277 N. Gold Point Circle. Half-hour, drive-through holiday show of lights and fog, 5:30 p.m. daily through Dec. 31 (closed Christmas Day). $30 per car; must purchase tickets online.

PINK FRIDAY -- Downtown Ringgold, Ga. Early Black Friday specials at local shops, live music, DJ, refreshments, tree lighting at dusk, 10 a.m-6 p.m. Friday. 706-965-8398

SANTA & FRIENDS ARRIVAL -- Bradley Square Mall, 200 Paul Huff Parkway, Cleveland, Tenn. Twelve holiday and cartoon characters greet Santa, pose for free photos and pass out candy, 6-6:30 p.m. Friday. Santa will arrive at the new west entrance by Pandemonium Family Fun Center. Workshop is inside Story Land near Claire's and Hibbett Sports. Walk-ins welcome, or reserve a time online to receive a phone call from Santa. Pet Nights 4-7 p.m. Mondays through Dec. 6.

SANTA COMES TO STATE FARM -- Andrea Strickland State Farm, 38 Sanford Lane, Flintstone, Ga. Free photos with Santa, 5-7 p.m. Monday (pets welcome).

SANTA'S WORKSHOP -- Hamilton Place, 2100 Hamilton Place Blvd. Photos start Thursday on the lower level at Center Court. Walk-ins welcome, or reserve a time online to receive a phone call from Santa. Black Santa available 11 a.m.-7 p.m. Dec. 7-8. Pet photos 4-7 p.m. Mondays through Dec. 21.

SANTA'S WORKSHOP -- Northgate Mall, 271 Northgate Mall Drive, Hixson. Santa photos start Wednesday. Walk-ins welcome, or reserve a time online to receive a phone call from Santa. Santa Mocs, with the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga mascot and Santa in a blue and gold suit, 4-7 p.m. Nov. 29. Pet Nights 4-7 p.m. Nov. 28, Dec. 5, Dec. 12.

Find more events, and add your own, at

Contact Lisa Denton at or 423-757-6281.