If we're not mistaken, the Peach State has a serious case of the ho-ho-ho's.

By Valerie Fraser Luesse
December 17, 2018
If you've never heard of Christmas at Callaway, let's talk. Callaway Gardens, which you'll find in the small town of Pine Mountain, hosts what we like to call "the ultimate Christmas extravaganza." Make merry in the Christmas Village, meet holiday characters up close, and ride through the dazzling illuminated forest. You'll instantly fit right in with the rest of the sweater-swathed crowd craning their necks to catch every music-coordinated display. 
| Credit: Jim Dillard

Callaway Resort & Gardens Fantasy in Lights (pictured above) is one of many holiday extravaganzas that are part of Christmas in Georgia these days. You'd expect glitz and bling in big cities like Atlanta, but we're seeing spectacular sparkle in less imposing places like Columbus—and in little towns across the state.

The 27-year-old light display at Callaway, which National Geographic named one of the top 10 in the world, is in rural Pine Mountain, Georgia, about 30 minutes from Columbus. Speaking of which, Columbus offers a production of ELF, the musical, at the Springer Opera House, which opened in 1871 and is now the State Theater of Georgia. At Christmastime, the National Infantry Museum's Giant Screen Theater plays host to footie-PJ'd tikes who come to watch The Polar Express. Columbus is also home to the Ludy's Christmas Lights Spectacular Display, created by a local family and now a fundraiser for the Make A Wish Foundation.

In the high country, Dahlonega and Helen have taken Christmas in Georgia to a whole new level. Locals and tourists alike flock there to see tree lightings, shop local, and maybe chase the chill with some hot chocolate. This time of year, the Blue Ridge Railway in artsy little Blue Ridge, Georgia, becomes the Santa Express, with readings of 'Twas the Night Before Christmas and other holiday fun with The Man in Red.

If you want the postmark to end all postmarks on your Christmas cards, mail them from teeny-tiny Santa Claus, Georgia (population 160-ish). Some people drive hours for that stamp, reports gafollowers.com. The town, which has street names like December Drive and Reindeer Street—not to mention a special mailbox for Santa—is near Vidalia (yep, home of those onions) and about an hour-and-a-half from Savannah.

Macon gets an early start, with a Festival of Trees that began November 8 at the Museum of Arts and Sciences and runs through January 15. See some 40 trees created by local designers. And we hear Austell, Georgia—a small town in the Atlanta metro area—has one of those probably-visible-from-space light displays.

Of course, there are a few biggies we can't overlook. According to onlyinourstate.com, the Christmas displays at Atlantic Station in Midtown Atlanta, the Atlanta Motor Speedway, and Holiday in the Park at Six Flags need to be on everybody's bucket list.

You copy that, Santa?

WATCH: Why You Really Need To Plan A Trip To Dahlonega, Georgia

This little mountain town has so much charm and character year-round, but at Christmastime? Oh. My. Goodness. Lights, Santa, Action!