Must-Try Holiday Traditions

Holiday Wonders at the Memphis Botanic Gardens / Logan Young

Every winter, Memphis transforms into a holiday wonderland. From musical mansions decked out in holiday lights to family-friendly activities, the city is alight with holiday cheer. Celebrate the holidays with these iconic traditions.

May Your Days Be Merry and Bright

Take a drive with friends and loved ones through Shelby Farms Park for Starry Nights, the largest holiday light show in the Mid-South, featuring thousands of twinkling lights and holiday displays. Stop by Mistletoe Village to warm up with hot chocolate and roasted s'mores, say hello to Santa, enjoy live music, and shop for the perfect holiday gift from local crafters.

Discover a wild winter wonderland during Zoo Lights at Memphis Zoo. Explore a fantasy land of lights, ride the LED Ferris wheel, experience snow in the courtyard, and visit live reindeer! Visit Santa in his shop and enjoy all of the Zoo Lights holiday activities during this favorite annual holiday event.

One of Memphis' newest holiday attractions, which started in 2017, is Holiday Wonders at the Memphis Botanic Gardens. Outdoor family fun awaits with three new interactive venues: Snowy Nights, Trees Alight and Sculptures Bright. Bring the whole family to play in the falling "snow,” sip hot cocoa, and enjoy crafts, games, music, and lights to celebrate the season. 

Take a trip through the Enchanted Forest, a time-honored Memphis tradition at the Pink Palace Museum. You'll meander through magical forests of twinkling trees with various themes, spotting busy elves, playful penguins and cuddly teddy bear friends. Then wander through the snow-covered Gingerbread Village, complete with cozy cottages and toy trains, before visiting Jolly Old Saint Nick himself.

Beginning this holiday season, but taking place every single night, year-round, The Mighty Lights will dance each night across both the Harahan and Hernando De Soto bridges. Find a spot, on the riverfront or a rooftop, and experience the biggest nightly light show on the Mississippi River, running every hour on the hour from sundown to 11 pm.

Memphis Zoo Lights
Shelby Farms Starry Night / Allen Gillespie
Christmas at Graceland
Santa on Beale Street
Memphis decks the halls when it comes to the holiday season

Only in Memphis

Colorful floats, festive marching bands, steppers, and eye-catching twirlers take over iconic Beale Street at the annual Memphis Holiday Parade. Be sure to show up early to get a good viewing spot.

If you’re Downtown after dark, be sure to head to the riverfront to see the bridges aglow with the holiday spirit of Mighty Lights.

Visiting the lobby of The Peabody is one of the city’s great holiday traditions. The hotel’s festive holiday decorations include a 30-foot-tall Christmas tree, twinkling lights, and garlands strewn along the mezzanine railings, and an unforgettably spectacular gingerbread house display that takes an entire month to create. The fountain belonging to the world-famous Peabody Ducks is decorated with a display of festive flowers. Be sure to order a pastry from Chez Philippe's magnificent dessert display while you get into the holiday spirit at the South’s Grand Hotel.

Celebrate the season with the King of Rock ‘n’ Roll at Christmas at Graceland. Christmas was Elvis' favorite holiday, so it's no surprise Graceland will be the most festive spot in town. Hundreds of blue lights will decorate the driveway, and the mansion will include Elvis’ favorite red velvet Christmas drapes and the same decorations originally found in the Presley home, including a life-size Nativity scene, Santa sleigh, and reindeer. Across the street at the entertainment complex, you can enjoy a holiday concert weekend featuring a live orchestra with Elvis on the big screen, a gospel Christmas show, and star-studded rock 'n' roll show. This holiday season at Elvis’ mansion will be extra special, as “Christmas at Graceland,” starring country star Kelly Pickler, debuts on the Hallmark Channel in November.

Make your way to Santa’s Wonderland at Bass Pro Shops at the Pyramid, where you can stock up on outdoor goods for all your winter adventures while the kiddos get a free photo with Santa, play in the laser arcade, make holiday arts and crafts, and much more.

Get Tickets to a Show  

Don’t miss “A Christmas Carol” at Theatre Memphis, an honored Memphis tradition. Or take flight at Playhouse on the Square with Peter Pan, check out “If Scrooge was a Brother” at Hattiloo Theatre, or head to The Circuit Playhouse for the hilarious “Santaland Diaries” featuring everyone’s favorite elf-gone-bad.
See the wooden soldiers march and the sugar plum fairies pirouette across The Orpheum’s stage in the Ballet Memphis’ Nutcracker, or experience the modern version in Nut Remix at the Cannon Center for the Performing Arts, featuring classical ballet, hip-hop, flamenco, and traditional West African dance, and Memphis native and world famous jooker Lil' Buck, who’s danced in commercials for both Apple and Lexus.

And The 12 Bars of Christmas Crawl comes to Downtown Memphis this December. Wear your holiday onesie, ugly sweater or elf costume and enjoy a festive pub crawl down world-famous Beale Street.