“Christmas time is here
Happiness and cheer
Fun for all that children call
Their favorite time of year”
The theme song for the classic show “A Charlie Brown Christmas” by Vince Guaraldi and Lee Mendelson pretty well summarizes how north Alabama celebrates the holidays.
Massive light displays, decorated evergreens, and holiday shopping help spread happiness and cheer across the Shoals region and in Alabama’s picturesque mountain towns.
Considering a Yuletide road trip in north Alabama? Here are some places and events for the whole family. And since baristas love to celebrate the holidays with special brews, we also suggest a coffee shop in each town. After all, you’ll need to “fuel” this foray.
Visit one of more of these spectacles, and your whole family will be inspired to throw back their heads and sing along with Charlie and the gang:
“Oh, that we could always see
Such spirit through the year”
Celebrate the German way in Cullman. The city’s celebrations nod to the city’s heritage, with a monthlong celebration. Make sure to check out the towering Christmas pyramid (known in Germany as the Weihnachtspyramide), a multi-level pyramid where each segment represents different seasonal elements.
Coffee break: Karma’s Coffee House hits all the barista-driven favorites, including holiday drinks like sugar cookie, white gingerbread, snickerdoodle, or winter cranberry latte; peppermint hot chocolate; or apple cider. Other beverages include north Alabama’s Piper and Leaf teas. Hungry? Karma’s classic diner menu includes breakfast, sandwiches, and pizza.
The town near Guntersville Lake loves this time of year. Elves turn Arab City Park into Christmas in the Park, described as “a festive and over-the-top display of merriment and holiday splendor” with some two million lights and associated decorations. It’s open through December 31.
Santa visits Arab Historic Village on Fridays and Saturdays through December 17 (admission is $6 for ages two and above). That’s not all: You can watch the folks at Phillips’ Blacksmith Shop hammer out “reindeer shoes.” Check out Santa’s bedroom at Mrs. Lola Boyd’s 1890’s Farmhouse. And pick up freshly ground “reindeer food” at Smalley Grist Mill to put out at home on Christmas Eve.
Coffee break: Four Knights Coffee on North Main Street serves espresso, cold brew, and other coffee drinks, along with frappes, milk shakes, and pastries.
Wonderland Under Warrior, the special lighted holiday tour of one of Alabama’s greatest natural wonders, runs through January 8. The mile-long guided tour is offered from 2 p.m.–8 p.m. Tickets are $12 each for ages four and up, and reservations through Alabama State Parks are strongly suggested. Check the calendar for times when Santa is onsite.
Coffee break: Makers Coffee in nearby Morris is fully decorated, with Christmas music playing and holiday drinks like Peppermint Mocha (or hot chocolate), Frosted Gingerbread, Son of a Nutcracker, and Milk and Cookies Frappe.
The abundance of Christmas spirit in the Rocket City is on display along the Huntsville Tinsel Trail, set through January 2 at Big Spring Park. Look for light displays, more than 350 decorated live trees, food trucks, and pop-ups promoting Huntsville’s Downtown Craft Coffee Trail.
Also in Huntsville, special holiday events for Winter Park at Orion Park Amphitheater’s skating rink run through January 29. Visit Santa’s Workshop (hours vary) for a photo with the jolly old elf. Private igloos for dining and relaxing start at $250.
Coffee break: Honest Coffee Roasters (the Huntsville location is blocks from the Tinsel Trail) has three seasonal lattes, The Nutcracker with peppermint-infused condensed milk; Salted Maple; and Gingerbread. Acai bowls, pastries, breakfast and lunch dishes also are available.
The nighttime is the right time for the dazzling displays throughout Christmas at the Falls in Noccaula Falls Park. Millions of lights wind through the 500-acre park. The holiday event is open through January 1 (closed Christmas Eve and Christmas Day), and Santa takes gift requests through December 23. Tickets for Christmas at the Falls, as well as general and express tickets for the park’s train are available online.
Coffee Break: The Coffee Bar in downtown Gadsden hits all the java highlights, with cold brew, espresso, lattes, specialty coffee drinks and frappes, teas, and hot chocolate.
A trail of lighted trees with stations providing prime selfie spots are the highlights of Christmas on the Square in this Lawrence County city. It’s open through January 1, with special theme nights throughout December. The trail is free. Eat and drink from food trucks parked around the square.
Coffee break: Choices are few in Moulton, but Highway 24 leads from Moulton to the High Point Market in Decatur, where specialty coffee drinks include Peppermint Mocha made with Birmingham-roasted Principio coffee beans. It serves herbal tea blends from north Alabama’s Piper and Leaf, too.