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20 best things to do in Atlanta this Christmas
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20 best things to do in Atlanta this Christmas

20 best things to do in Atlanta this Christmas
Photo Credit: Steve Schaefer
A large crowd enjoys the fireworks show after the lighting of the Christmas tree Saturday, at Atlantic Station, November 19, 2016, in Atlanta. GA. STEVE SCHAEFER / SPECIAL TO THE AJC

20 best things to do in Atlanta this Christmas

It's the most wonderful time of the year, and there are many magical activities around Atlanta this holiday season.

Whether you already have special traditions or are looking to make some new ones, here is our ultimate guide to the holidays in Atlanta. Cross all of these events and actitivities off of your holiday to-do list and you're sure to have a holly jolly season. You won't want to miss a thing

Visit live nativity scenes.  Slow down for a spell and immerse yourself into a live and interactive nativity scene. 

Have some snowy fun. A white Christmas is within grasp, even in the Deep South. 

Ride the Macy's Pink PigFor more than 50 years, the Macy's Pink Pig has marked the beginning of the holiday season for Atlantans. Ride through a life-sized storybook filled with friends and fun under the signature 170-foot, 1950s-themed Pink Pig Tent.

Go ice skating. Glide on Atlanta open-air ice rinks for a winter experience like no other, even if it isn't below freezing just yet. 

See the Nutcracker. Ride the nostalgic wave that is the Nutcracker and feel like you're a kid all over again. 

Take a hike . Cooler weather and dazzling leaf colors make fall one the most popular seasons for hiking. Head to one of these great north Georgia trails to soak up some classic autumn beauty.

Light the night. Enter a world of dazzle and wonder by exploring the many holiday lights shows around metro Atlanta.

Enjoy beautiful music at a classical Christmas concert.  Classical holiday performances are all about tradition and familiarity. Every year, the Spelman-Morehouse Christmas Carol Concert will be riveting, and performances of holiday favorites by the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra will invoke a twinge of nostalgia. Learn about these and more.

See A Christmas Story: The Musical at the Fox . Atlanta is one of eight stops for the national tour. The stage version is based on a much beloved Christmas movie.

Stand on the sidelines of a holiday parade . In a season chock full of parades, you need a comprehensive guide as to not miss the party.

Enjoy a new holiday tradition close to home. Choose from Christmas events in Gwinnett CountyDeKalb CountyNorth Fulton CountyCobb County.

Go on a romantic holiday date night. Looking for a special evening designed for two? You needn't look any further for some great holiday-inspired ideas for a romantic night out. 

See a holiday movie. Catch a familiar classic guaranteed to warm the heart, or watch a new festive film to be cherished for holidays to come. 

Watch  Christmas tree lightings around metro Atlanta . Christmas tree lightings are an important symbol that mark the beginning of the season. Start your holiday off right by attending one of these special ceremonies. 

Go to the Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl (and the parade). There's something for everyone this season, including the passionate football fan. Head downtown to see the parade

Buy a local Christmas treeYour Christmas tree lives with you for a month out of the year, so it should be the perfect one to compliment your home. 

Escape to these magical destinations close to home. Sometimes we need to get out of town to appreciate the spirit of the season. You need not travel far to find serene landscapes that capture what the holidays are all about. 

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  • The British man who killed four people during a London rampage had made three trips to Saudi Arabia: He taught English there twice on a work visa and returned on a visa usually granted to those going on a religious pilgrimage. More details about attacker Khalid Masood's travels, confirmed by the Saudi Arabian embassy in Britain, emerged Saturday amid a massive British police effort to discover how a homegrown ex-con with a violent streak became radicalized and why he launched a deadly attack Wednesday on Westminster Bridge. The embassy said he taught English in Saudi Arabia from November 2005 to November 2006 and again from April 2008 to April 2009, with legitimate work visas both times. He then returned to Saudi Arabia for six days in March 2015 on a trip booked through an approved travel agent and made on an 'Umra' visa, usually granted to those on a religious pilgrimage to the country's Islamic holy sites. The embassy said Saudi security services didn't track Masood and he didn't have a criminal record there. Before taking the name Masood, he was called Adrian Elms. He was known for having a violent temper in England and had been convicted at least twice for violent crimes. Masood drove his rented SUV across London's crowded Westminster Bridge on Wednesday, striking pedestrians. Then he jumped out and stabbed to death police officer Keith Palmer, who was guarding Parliament, before being shot dead by police. In all, he killed four people and left more than two dozen hospitalized, including some with catastrophic injuries. The Islamic State group has claimed responsibility for the attack, calling him a 'solider' who responded to its demands that followers attack countries in the coalition fighting IS in Syria and Iraq. British officials said security at Parliament will be reviewed after new footage emerged that showed the large gates to the complex were left open after Masood rushed onto the grounds. There are concerns that accomplices could have followed him in and killed even more people. The footage from that day shows pedestrians walking by the open gates and even a courier entering Parliament grounds. Former Metropolitan Police commissioner Ian Blair told the BBC that changes to the 'outer soft ring' of Parliament's security plan are likely in the aftermath of Masood's attack. The new footage follows earlier video that showed slight delays and confusion during the evacuation of Prime Minister Theresa May from Parliament as the attack unfolded. Masood, who at 52 is considerably older than most extremists who carry out bloodshed in the West, had an arrest record in Britain dating to 1983. In 2000, he slashed a man across the face in a pub parking lot in a racially charged argument after drinking, according to a newspaper account. Masood's last conviction, in 2003, also involved a knife attack. One victim, Danny Smith, told The Sun newspaper that Masood had stabbed him in the face with a kitchen knife after an argument just three days after they met. Hundreds of British police have been working to determine his motives and are scouring Masood's communications systems, including his possible use of the encrypted WhatsApp device, to help determine if he had any accomplices. Still, police have released many of those they took in for questioning in the case. One 58-year-old man remains in custody for questioning after being arrested Thursday in the central English city of Birmingham, where Masood was living. Authorities haven't charged or identified him. A 32-year-old woman arrested in Manchester has been released on bail and faces further inquiries. Police said Saturday that a 27-year-old man arrested Thursday in Birmingham has been released. Eight others arrested in connection with the investigation had been set free earlier, including a 39-year-old woman who had initially been freed on bail but now faces no further police action, police said Saturday. Details about how Masood became radicalized aren't clear, although he may have become exposed to radical views while an inmate in Britain or while working in conservative Saudi Arabia. It's also not clear when he took the name Masood, suggesting a conversion to Islam.
  • RADFORD, N.C. (AP) - A North Carolina sheriff says a newborn and the baby's 2-year-old sister have been found stabbed to death.Hoke County Sheriff Hubert Peterkin tells WRAL (http://bit.ly/2n1S80h) the bodies of 4-day-old Genesis Freeman and 2-year-old Serenity Freeman were found Saturday in the woods near an intersection close to the city of Raeford.Before they were found, their 30-year-old father Tillman Freeman was arrested and charged with two counts of child abuse and child endangerment. Authorities said the father refused to cooperate with the investigation into the children's whereabouts. TRENDING STORIES: Plane crashes near Cobb County home; 1 killed Company will pay you $10K a month to travel, stay in luxury homes Home Depot accused of unsafe practices; Criminal investigation launched They have not said who they think killed the children, who were reported missing following a domestic dispute. Freeman's wife was in a local hospital when the children disappeared.Details about the domestic dispute were not immediately released. It's not clear whether Freeman has an attorney.
  • One day after 11 of 14 charges were dropped against him, an Atlanta man has been indicted in connection with women he allegedly held at a Sandy Springs house, the Fulton County district attorney said Friday. Kenndric Roberts, 33, was indicted on six counts of trafficking a person for labor servitude, six counts of false imprisonment, two counts of possession of a firearm during commission of/or attempt to commit certain crimes, and participation in criminal street gang activity, District Attorney Paul Howard said. The indictment means that Roberts will be held without bond in the Fulton County jail, Howard said. A judge had set bond at $80,000 on Thursday during a preliminary hearing. “It was distressing,” Howard told Channel 2 Action News on Friday about the previous day’s developments. “We thought it put our victims in a state of vulnerability. “We thought it was important that this defendant remain in jail.” Roberts was arrested March 8 after one of the women called 911, telling police, “I’m in a very bad situation, and I need to get help,” officers said. Eight women were removed from the house, police said. Six indicated they were held against their wills. Police also found expensive cars and an AK-47 in the 6,800-square-foot house, Carter said. Detectives learned the women were forced to dance at local strip clubs, according to a news release from Howard’s office. The money they earned would be given to Roberts. Police also said Roberts was a Gangster Disciples member and required the women to get gang-related tattoos as a sign of loyalty. In Thursday’s hearing, attorney Mike Maloof Sr. referred to Roberts as a “poor man’s Hugh Hefner.” “Everybody had grand designs on making money, and they lived well,” he said. “That’s not trafficking.”   In other news:
  • Tens of thousands protested Saturday under sunny skies in London against plans for Britain to withdraw from the European Union. The Unite for Europe march, which saw many people carrying bright blue EU flags, came just days before Britain is expected to begin its formal separation from the other 27 nations in the EU. The crowds observed a minute of silence at Parliament Square as a tribute to the four victims killed and dozens wounded in an attack Wednesday on Parliament. Many bowed their heads as Big Ben chimed and placed flowers at Parliament's gate to honor the victims. Police did not provide a crowd estimate. Organizers said more than 25,000 people were present. There was also a smaller anti-Brexit protest march in Edinburgh, Scotland. Organizers considered delaying the long-planned march because of the attack — in part to avoid putting extra strain on British police — but decided to go ahead. Liberal Democrat leader Tim Farron told the crowd that 'democracy continues' despite the assault. 'We stand in defiance of that attack,' he said. Prime Minister Theresa May plans to trigger Article 50 of the EU treaty on Wednesday, setting the Brexit process in motion. Negotiations are expected to take at least two years. Britain voted in a June 23 referendum to leave the EU.