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Top 2013 Christmas light displays in Atlanta include Stone Mountain, Lake Lanier

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The 2013 Christmas season is in full swing, so it’s the perfect time to load up the family and head out to some of Atlanta’s best light displays. This year, parents have many options in and around the city, including Stone Mountain Park and Lake Lanier’s Magical Nights of Lights. So, bundle up, grab a few warm blankets, pop in a holiday CD, and check out these top Christmas lights displays in Atlanta. They’re all worth the drive.

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Stone Mountain Christmas 2013
Stone Mountain Park dazzles in 2013 with more than two million twinkling Christmas lights, plus more than a dozen performances and activities. New for 2013, Stone Mountain Park welcomes two iconic North Pole favorites, Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer and Bumble the Abominable Snow Monster. Kids of all ages can meet these two heartwarming characters or catch them in the nightly Christmas parade. Shows include Forever Christmas, Holly Jolly Cabaret, Toyrific and A Crossroads Christmas Carol. The Singalong Train is a sure fire way to spark your family’s holiday spirit and The Polar Express 4-D Experience is a state-of-the-art holiday tradition at the big rock. For just $10 park admission, you can drive through the park to get your family into the spirit of the season. However, the best lights are found at the Village. For a limited time, save 30% on a Christmas Family Value Pass, which includes access to all attractions and shows, a meal, hot chocolate and unlimited Coca-Cola drinks. Order your tickets here. Snow Mountain is now open, but admission is extra.

2013 Magical Nights of Lights at Lake Lanier Islands
Known as the world’s largest animated light extravaganza, the seven-mile driving tour features giant illuminated characters that are comprised of millions of twinkling and moving lights. At the end of the ride, you’ll discover Holiday Village with roaring fires for toasting marshmallows, pony and carnival rides, a petting zoo, holiday treats and snacks, and holiday shops. At Holiday House, thousands of lights “dance” to music in a synchronized display and visitors are sure to enjoy the Ice Skating Rink. Magical Nights of Lights is open now through Dec. 31 from 5-10 p.m. Cost is $60 per carload. $10 off coupons are available at Publix, McDonalds, Chick-fil-A, QuickTrip and Lenny’s Sub Shop locations. They’re redeemable online or at the admission gate. During December, coupons are only valid Sunday - Thursday and not on Christmas Eve or Christmas Day. For more information, head to the official website. Be sure to check out the slideshow to see photos from Magical Nights of Lights.

2013 Garden Lights at Atlanta Botanical Gardens
2013 marks the third year for Garden Lights, a must-see display. This is not your everyday Christmas light show. The Garden boasts nearly one million energy-efficient LED lights bedecking the 30-acre garden in every shimmering color under the rainbow. Kids of all ages especially love Orchestral Orbs, a one-of-a-kind topiary light show choreographed to holiday music on the Great Lawn. Holiday Lights is open from 5-10 p.m. through Jan. 4. Advance purchase is recommended. To order tickets, click here.

2013 Season of Magic at Piedmont Park
Families can enjoy Atlanta’s only daily horse-drawn holiday carriage rides, beautiful Christmas lights under the scenic Atlanta skyline, ice skating at Park Tavern, and a delightful carousel with the Legacy Fountain light show in the background. It’s the perfect way to spark your family’s holiday spirit. Season of Magic is open through New Years Day. The light display is free, but carriage and carousel rides are extra. For more information and to purchase tickets, head to the Piedmont Park website.

Life University Lights of Life 2013
Lights of Life started 24 years ago as a gift to the community. Now, it’s an Atlanta tradition for all to enjoy. The annual display features more than one million lights on more than 100 animated decorations through a 1.5-mile drive. There’s also a petting zoo, train and pony rides, and Santa Claus during the weekends. Light snacks, bottled water and hot cocoa are available for purchase. Now through Dec. 31. Cost is $5 per car ($10 Dec. 20-25). Click here for more information.

2013 Holiday Season Celebration at Atlantic Station
More than 250,000 sparkling lights adorn eight blocks at Atlantic Station for the 2013 holiday season. The 50-ft. Grand Christmas Tree is the focal point of nightly snowfalls. These occur at 7 p.m. Monday-Thursday, 6-9 p.m. hourly on Saturday, and 6-8 p.m. on Sunday. Atlantic Station is also home to Atlanta’s largest open-air ice skating rink. Santa is available for visits and photos in Central Park. For more information, go to AtlanticStation.com.

Emory Johns Creek Hospital
While it’s certainly not one of the city’s largest, the Christmas light display along Hospital Parkway near Emory Johns Creek Hospital is absolutely free and a holiday tradition in north Atlanta. Animated scenes light up the night sky and the drive is an easy one with a carload of kids. 6325 Hospital Parkway, Johns Creek, GA 30097.

Private Homes
A cheap way to enjoy the holidays is to load up the SUV or minivan and drive around some of Atlanta’s neighborhoods to check out residential Christmas light displays. An exceptional one is located in Stone Mountain. Every year, the Economy family goes all out with an amazing light display that features Christmas scenes like Snowflake and Gingerbread Lanes, Snowman Village, the North Pole Café, a Disney section, and much, much more. To see the awesome Christmas light display in Stone Mountain, set your GPS to 1833 Smokerise Summit, Stone Mountain, GA 30087. Last year, the family raised $2,000 for Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta.

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