Christmas is almost upon us once again! Isn’t it truly amazing how fast the year went? In fact, it’s time to plan your adventures before you blink and the Christmas season has come to an end. The Magic City and its surrounding areas definitely have a lot to offer. So, get out those calendars and plan the following fun activities to celebrate Christmas in Birmingham!
Christmas in Birmingham
Within the metro area or roughly an hour’s drive, there is a diverse selection of unique ways to celebrate Christmas in Birmingham. From light displays in caverns to the largest German Christmas pyramid in the United States, you won’t want to miss any of these holiday highlights!
Wonderland Under Warrior
First up on your list should be Wonderland Under Warrior. Hitting very high in the unique category, this Christmas light extravaganza is held at Rickwood Caverns State Park which is only 30 minutes north of downtown Birmingham. It is one of the most impressive light shows I’ve seen given that it is in a cave. 😉
The interesting thing here is that inside the cave, it’s dark day and night. This means it makes no difference whether you go when it opens at 2 pm (on select days) or an hour before closing at 8 pm.
Also, it’s 62 degrees year-round in the cave. I thought I might still need my coat to be comfortable but ended up getting pretty warm. It took under an hour to complete but do note there are stairs right inside the entrance which is also the only way to exit. Advance purchase of tickets is best as they regulate the number of people inside the cave at any given time.
Vulcan's Magical Nights
For a quick but fun family outing, be sure to see Vulcan’s Magical Nights at Vulcan Park. The newer but popular Christmas event is all outdoors so be sure to bundle up!
Join the big iron guy as he gets into the holiday spirit while keeping watch over Birmingham. Enjoy hot chocolate and Christmas music synced to the lights (at certain times throughout each night). Grab a family Christmas photo with the downtown lights in the background and tour the museum if you wish. Santa even makes an appearance!
Yes, that word! An authentic German Christmas pyramid, the Weihnachtspyramide is the tallest in the United States. Made in a German village, the 30-foot pyramid was brought to Cullman and assembled by three of the German company’s employees.
Only a 45-minute drive from downtown Birmingham, Cullman celebrates its German heritage and has proudly displayed the impressive pyramid since 2019. I personally loved seeing how different it looks during both daytime and lit up at night.
When you’re done taking in the unique Weihnachtspyramide, head right across the street to Depot Park to see the enormous Christmas tree and light displays throughout.
If the view of downtown Birmingham from Vulcan Park leaves you wanting more, be sure to see the Regions Center. A longtime annual tradition, the four sides are each decorated to display a Christmas tree, a wreath, or a stocking. My personal favorite is the wreath.
For over 40 years, Birmingham residents have enjoyed the 30-story downtown building dressed in its Christmas best. The effect is obtained by red or green gel sleeves slipped over the naturally white lights above each window. Pretty clever I think!
Also, another popular activity to check out is the Christmas tree in Linn Park. In early December, the tree is lit following the annual Christmas parade. Additionally, many of Birmingham’s metropolitan cities have Christmas parades and other holiday events including Trussville, Mountain Brook, Hoover, Vestavia, and Pelham.
Shrine of the Most Blessed Sacrament
Located only 40 minutes from Birmingham, consider a trip to Hanceville to see the Shrine of the Most Blessed Sacrament. Home to Our Lady of Angels Monastery, the architecture of the main church closely resembles the Basilica of St. Francis in Assisi, Italy.
At Christmas, inside the church and the grounds are beautifully decorated. Visits are not only welcomed but encouraged. There’s even an annual Christmas open house! No photos are allowed inside the main church but snap away around the grounds as you please.
Ave Maria Grotto
Continuing on with the unique theme, a visit to Ave Maria Grotto is a must. Also only a 45-minute drive from Birmingham, the Christmas lights adorn mini replicas of iconic structures from all over the world!
Be aware that the lights only happen certain nights in late November and throughout December. Check the calendar before you leave to drive up. Last year, we arrived to find they had been canceled that night. Not all was lost though as we came from seeing all downtown Cullman had to offer. However, I’m looking forward to trying again in a few days!
The Grotto isn’t a big space and ideally doesn’t take much time to see. It is outdoors so don’t forget those coats and scarves. Enjoy cookies and coffee during your nighttime holiday visit as well as carriage rides and food trucks on select nights (check the calendar).
Appropriately named, Glow Wild is held at The Birmingham Zoo from mid-November through mid-January. Animal lanterns glow and light up the night throughout the zoo and are definitely a dazzling delight!
Enjoy train rides, carousel rides, and yummy concessions to entertain the entire family. Allow for approximately 1.5 hours depending on the size of your party and if you plan to ride the train, carousel, or stop for snacks.
Christmas At The Falls
No holiday season is complete without a visit to see Christmas At The Falls…Noccalula Falls, that is! Located in Gadsden (an hour northeast of Birmingham), this truly is a spectacular must-see event for the entire family.
By the entire family, I mean there are even nights to bring your furry canine family member. Be sure to check the calendar though because outside of those select nights, dogs are not permitted.
From an impressively large Christmas lights display to concessions, train rides, and an animal inhabitant, there is something for everyone. This is also an outdoor event so dress appropriately.
Also, refer to the website because tickets are sometimes sold online only. Lastly, be sure to know the conditions for the night of your visit as Christmas at the Falls can close in the case of inclement weather.
Wreaths Across America
A bit of a change of gears, I felt I had to include a visit to the Alabama National Cemetery. Seeing the Christmas wreaths displayed on the headstones of true American heroes is one of the most moving sights.
Wreaths Across America is an annual event held in December where Christmas wreaths are placed on the graves of our military heroes. Typically, the wreaths are placed in mid-December and are taken up in early January.
The Alabama National Cemetery is located 35 minutes from Birmingham in the city of Montevallo. Please be respectful as a burial could be taking place and therefore not an appropriate time for photos.
North Pole Express
Last but not least, take a ride on the North Pole Express. Located in the Birmingham metropolitan area of Calera, this holiday event is put on by the Heart of Dixie Railroad Museum.
Purchase tickets in advance and pick them up at the depot. Allow at least 1 hour 45 minutes for the train ride including boarding 15 minutes prior to departure. Santa and Mrs. Claus make a visit and a yummy treat is given to ages 2+. Don’t forget to dress warmly and have a jolly time!
Have you gotten into the Christmas spirit yet? If not, what are you waiting for? Celebrating Christmas in Birmingham is quite magical! I mean, it IS The Magic City and all…😉 Hopefully, one of these fantastic activities sparked your interest and a date on your calendar!
Have you done any of these fun adventures? If you have, what was your favorite? If not, how do you celebrate Christmas in Birmingham? Let me know below!