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Can’t Miss Alabama: Sparkle at Christmas events, attractions

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Holiday festivities continue into the new year.


Galaxy of Lights in Huntsville

Explore the elaborate lights at the Huntsville Botanical Garden through Sunday, Jan. 1. Galaxy of Lights is open Christmas Eve until 2 p.m. and closed Christmas Day. It opens New Year’s Eve until 2 p.m. and is closed New Year’s Day. Click here for the complete holiday schedule. Between walking nights and driving nights, new features at this year’s Galaxy of Lights include a 150-foot tunnel of lights comprising 40,000 channels of light; lighting effects in and around the Damson Aquatic Garden; a display of 96 light poles, each 10 feet tall, programmed to dance to music in the Van Valkenburgh Daylily Garden; more than 300 colorful floodlights that emphasize the garden’s natural features and landscape; more than 10 illuminated swings spread throughout the experience; and a professional photo opportunity in the garden. For tickets and information, visit The venue is at 4747 Bob Wallace Ave.

Magic Christmas in Lights

Bellingrath Gardens and Home will have its annual holiday light display through Wednesday, Jan. 4. Magic Christmas in Lights will open Christmas Eve at 8 a.m. but will be closed on Christmas Day. It opens New Year’s Eve at 8 a.m. and is closed New Year’s Day. Click here for the complete holiday schedule. Stroll throughout the 65-acre garden estate just south of Theodore. Beer, wine and special coffee with Irish cream will be available throughout the evening, as well as snacks, hot chocolate and s’mores. Bellingrath’s Magnolia Café will serve holiday meals from 4 p.m. to 8 p.m. Follow this link to download the Magic Christmas in Lights map.

Glow Wild: An Animal Lantern Celebration 

Get ready for the Birmingham Zoo’s larger-than-life illuminated experience, Glow Wild: An Animal Lantern Celebration. The celebration is underway through Monday, Jan. 16 from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m. The event is closed Christmas Eve and Christmas Day but open New Year’s Day. Click here for the complete holiday schedule. Watch the zoo come alive with wild animal and sea life lantern creations brilliantly lighting up the night. Take a ride on the Red Diamond Express Train or go for a spin on the Protective Life Carousel. Glow Wild is a weather-dependent event with nights being subject to cancellation. Tickets are on sale at birminghamzoo/glowwild.

Wonderland Under Warrior

Rickwood Caverns is transformed into a winter wonderland through Sunday, Jan. 8. The caverns will be closed Christmas Eve, Christmas Day and New Year’s Eve. The caverns will reopen New Year’s Day at 2 p.m. Click here for the complete holiday schedule. Wonderland Under Warrior, in the park’s centerpiece cave system, offers a magical experience featuring festive light displays, decorations and a number of characters who are available for photos. The cave temperature remains at 62 degrees year-round. Reservations are highly recommended. The entire walk is about 1 mile inside the cave. Rickwood Caverns State Park is off Interstate 65 in Warrior, about 30 miles north of downtown Birmingham and about 75 miles south of Huntsville. Learn more here.

Ice skating rink at The Wharf 

Grab a pair of skates and glide, spin or fall into the season on real ice through Monday, Jan. 16 at The Wharf in Orange Beach. The skating rink will be open Christmas Eve from 10 a.m. until 4 p.m. but closed on Christmas Day. The rink will be open New Year’s Eve from 10 a.m. until midnight and open New Year’s Day from 10 a.m. until 10 p.m. Follow this link for the complete holiday schedule and ticket information. Skaters are required to complete a waiver before participating. General admission is $15. The rink is under the large white tent near the Main Street entrance.

Magical Nights: Vulcan’s Holiday Experience

Vulcan Park and Museum will be transformed into a wonderland filled with holiday lights, music and special guest appearances through Friday, Dec. 23. The Anvil and Museum will have extended hours until 8 p.m. Food, hot chocolate, wine and beer will be available for additional purchase. Tickets are available via the website or on Eventbrite. Admission includes access to the park grounds, observation tower and museum, and photos with Santa.

‘George Balanchine’s The Nutcracker’

The Alabama Ballet is celebrating its 20th anniversary of performing “George Balanchine’s The Nutcracker” through Friday, Dec. 23 at the Birmingham-Jefferson Convention Complex. The Alabama Ballet remains one of only eight companies in the world granted the rights by the Balanchine Trust to perform “George Balanchine’s The Nutcracker.” Tchaikovsky’s beloved melodies transport the young and young at heart to a magical world where mischievous mice besiege a battalion of toy soldiers, and an onstage blizzard leads to an enchanted Land of Sweets. Tickets can be purchased online at, through Ticketmaster or by calling the Alabama Ballet office at 205-322-4300.

Alabama Ballet will present its 20th anniversary production of “George Balanchine’s The Nutcracker” through Dec. 23. (Eric Lucky)