What would Santa do? Spend the holidays in downtown Huntsville

single-meta-cal November 21, 2023

The holidays are here again, and downtown Huntsville is alive with the spirit of the season. From hot cocoa and decorations to a visit from Santa himself, there are plenty of activities to satisfy even the Grinchiest Grinch.

“Downtown is the heartbeat of the City and it is an extra special place during the holiday season,” said Rob Buddo, President & CEO of Downtown Huntsville, Inc. “We have holiday options for all ages, including Tinsel Trail, Skating in the Park and top-notch shopping with local retailers. It’s also a great place to enjoy a date night as we have a diverse array of restaurants offering homemade cocktails.”

‘Spring’ into the holidays

A poster promoting the inaugural Big Spring Jingle at Big Spring Park on Friday Dec. 8. There is a reindeer at the top, and an ice-skating graphic at the bottom.

Though enjoyed year-round by residents and visitors, Big Spring Park really glows during the annual Tinsel Trail. Running through Dec. 31, the attraction features over 400 live Christmas trees decorated by businesses, nonprofit organizations and community groups.

This year’s event kicks off with Mayor Tommy Battle “firing up” the Rocket City Tree on Friday, Nov. 24, at 6 p.m. Sponsored by Coca-Cola, the Rocket City Tree will be adorned with 3D-printed rockets from Teledyne Brown Engineering. Featuring a large rocket topper, the tree will stand over 25 feet tall.

Another popular park attraction will test your balance on slippery surfaces Skating in the Park. Through Jan. 7, lace up your skates and cut figure eights into the ice behind the Huntsville Museum of Art. Admission is charged.

A young child ice skates during Skating in the Park at the Huntsville Museum of Art.

Lace up your skates and hit the ice at Skating in the Park through Jan. 7.

Huntsville Parks & Recreation will host the inaugural Big Spring Jingle on Friday, Dec. 8, from 5-8 p.m. This free family-friendly event features lights, music and — rumor has it —a visit from Santa. Food trucks will have concessions for purchase. Visit the Parks & Recreation Facebook page for more details.

Old and new traditions

Huntsville residents wave from a snowy float during the Huntsville Christmas Parade in 2022.

The 2023 Huntsville Christmas Parade is Tuesday, Dec. 5, at 6 p.m. The procession starts near the post office on Clinton Avenue.

The holidays are all about traditions, and nothing beats the annual Huntsville Christmas Parade. Set for 6 p.m. on Tuesday, Dec. 5, the route spans from the post office on Clinton Avenue to Cleveland Avenue. Besides the normal lights and marching bands, expect to see some creative floats reflecting this year’s theme, “Christmas Through the Decades.”

If you prefer something more historic and subdued, join the Twickenham Spirit of Christmas Past Homes and Luminary Tour. Held Saturday, Dec. 9, from 5-9 p.m., the tour includes five historic homes. The Weeden House and local churches will also be open for walk-throughs. 

Holiday grab bag

Beautiful music and timeless carols are a big part of the holiday season, and you’ll find plenty at events like Tuba Christmas, Chill Fest, The Huntsville Ballet Company’s performance of “The Nutcracker” and the Downtown Library’s 12th annual concert with the Rocket City Jazz Orchestra. 

Behind on your shopping? Check out local markets like Yule Y’all at Lowe Mill and the Downtown Vintage Market, located inside the Green Street Parking Garage.  

Meet the big guy

Santa checks his list surrounded by a diverse group of children.

“Nights of Santa” returns to EarlyWorks Children’s Museum on Dec. 12.

Whether you’ve been bad or good, no holiday season is complete without a visit from the big guy himself – Santa Claus.  

EarlyWorks Children’s Museum, at 404 Madison St. SE, will host Nights of Santa Dec. 12-23, starting at 5 p.m. daily. Exceptions are a 3 p.m. start on Saturday, Dec. 16, and noon on Sunday, Dec. 17. 

Kids can enjoy North Pole-themed activities like decorating cookies, but they can also sit on Santa’s lap and whisper their gift requests in his ear. Tickets are required.

For more information, visit downtownhuntsville.org.

Heading downtown? Find where to park