Memphis Holiday Events and Traditions Guide 2020
Experience the holidays in Memphis with these events! While some of our favorite traditions are going to look and feel different this year, we can still get in the spirit and enjoy the festivities.
Here’s a handy guide to Memphis and Mid-South holiday events, trees, and light displays, including details about safety guidelines and what’s new or different for 2020.
South Main Lights – through January 2021
New for this year, South Main businesses and restaurants have turned on brightly colored holiday lights covering the storefronts. They’ll be lit up each night from 4 p.m. and midnight. Perfect for walking through the neighborhood, doing some masked-ups shopping, or grabbing takeout.
Wonderland Memphis – ongoing
The geniuses who created Memphis Escape Rooms have put together a more celebratory, less puzzling experience for the holidays this year. The Wonderland Memphis Interactive Photo Experience at the Carriage Crossing in Collierville is multiple rooms with 15 festive backdrops and fun. It’s enough for your holiday photos and cards with plenty left over for Instagram! It’s $20 per person (kids under 4 are free) and you register for a time with just your party. Details.
Delight at the Concourse – installation begins November 15 and takes a few days
Crosstown Concourse’s Central Atrium will be lit up all season long with 1oo-foot tall lights and decor. There will be no public lighting event this year, but you can mask up, walk through, grab dinner, and get some holiday shopping done at the shops inside when you stop by to check out the lights.
Christmas at Graceland – November 19 – January 8
Blue Christmas? White Christmas? Home For Christmas? Whatever your favorite Elvis Christmas song, you’ll love Graceland all lit up for the holidays. From December 1 -20, Graceland will offer special Mansion tours with live tour guides from 2 p.m. – 4 p.m. each day. Graceland tour capacities are reduced and masks are required. The Guest House at Graceland is also offering Christmas packages. This year, Lighting Ceremony is going virtual-only and will be broadcast live on Facebook from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. on Thursday the 19th.
Zoo Lights – select nights November 20 – January 3
The Memphis Zoo hosts the SunTrust Zoo Lights again this year on select nights from Nov. 20 through Jan 3 from 6 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. There are lights, singing trees, tram rides, an illusion show, a marketplace, and a few animals on display. It’s $10 for Zoo members and $12 for non-members.
For extra fees, you can also ride a Ferris Wheel or a take horse-drawn carriage ride with hot chocolate and s’mores. This year, you have to buy tickets ahead of time for a specific night, masks are required in certain areas, and capacity is limited to 3,500 people.
Enchanted Forest at the Pink Palace – November 21 – December 31
Is this the oldest holiday display in Memphis? Probably. It’s been around since the fifties—definitely with that vintage feel—and now has a home at the Pink Palace along with their annual Festival of Trees tree-decorating display. This year, the Enchanted Forest will be open Wednesdays through Saturdays from 10:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Sundays from noon to 5 p.m. with timed ticketed entry.
Attendance will be limited to 25 people every 15 minutes, and masks and social distancing are required. Photos with Santa will be happening, albeit with the Big Man in a Plexiglass “snow globe” (kids will sit on a bench). Tickets go on sale on November 16th.
Starry Nights at Shelby Farms – select nights November 27 – January 3
Drive through two miles of all new light displays at Shelby Farms on select nights this holiday season. Details and 2020 changes are TBA, but I have heard that this year’s light designs will be all-new!
Holiday Wonders at Botanic Garden – November 27 – December 27
The Botanic Garden will host four different areas with holiday displays for its annual Holiday Wonders experience, including a towering, lit Christmas tree. Open select nights from 5 p.m. – 8:30 p.m. You can reserve your timed-entry tickets online. Tickets are $8 for members, $10 non-members, and $12 for same-day tickets (which you still should buy online, no tickets at the gate). Check out the safety guidelines here.
Christmas Tree at the Peabody – opens to the public November 28
Catch the Duck Marches at 11 a.m. and 5 p.m. while you take in the classiest holiday decor in town. The tree stays up all season. Please note that the Tree Lighting event on the 27th is open to hotel guests only.
St. Jude Marathon Virtual Experience – November 29 – December 5
No, the St. Jude Marathon is not a “holiday” event, but the annual marathon—that normally brings tens of thousands of people to Memphis—supports the lifesaving mission of St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital and happens on the first Saturday in December. This year, the marathon will be a virtual experience where people are running their marathons wherever they are in the world.
Winter Wonderland at the Children’s Museum of Memphis – December 1 – January 3
This year, CMOM transports us to a winter wonderland full of trees, sparkling lights, and holiday fun, including activities, performers, and photo opportunities. Winter Wonderland at CMOM is closed on Mondays and on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, but otherwise open 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily and is included in the price of admission. Check out the full schedule of crafts, story times, activities, projects, food trucks, and performances.
2020 Holly Jolly Celebration – December 4, 5, 11, 12
The newly renovated Handy Park will host outdoor holiday experiences for two weekends in December. Expect faux snow, music, hot chocolate, and free pictures with a snowglobe-enclosed Santa from 5 p.m. – 7 p.m. each day. Social distancing will be enforced and masks are required.
Nutcracker: A Gift From Ballet Memphis, WKNO TV, December 11, 8 p.m., free, all ages/kid-friendly
Since we can’t gather at our local theaters for Nutcracker performances this year, Ballet Memphis is bringing the show to us—for free! Ballet Memphis’s Nutcracker was filmed at their studio and the historic Mallory-Neely house, the show will be broadcast on WKNO and WKNO 2 on Friday, Dec. 11, and then after that through various community partners and Ballet Memphis. Details.
What are your favorite Memphis holiday traditions? Let us know in the comments.