I’m not overstating things when I tell you that Christmas in Franklin is absolutely magical. Strolling down Main Street on a frosty December evening is one of my all-time favorite holiday experiences in Tennessee. Downtown Franklin comes alive during the holidays.
The street lamps and historic buildings are festooned with lights, wreaths, and garlands. The storefront windows entice shoppers with exquisite Christmas decorations and gift ideas. A massive Christmas tree in the public square guarantees Santa won’t be able to overlook this charming small town.
There’s so much to do and see in Franklin during the holiday season. Here are ten of our favorite ways to make this Christmas season the best one yet.
Dickens of a Christmas
If you’re looking for a holiday festival this season, you can’t do better than Franklin’s Dickens of a Christmas. December 11 and 12, downtown Franklin will be transported back in time to the days of Charles Dickens with the help of Victorian-era musicians and dancers, beloved characters from Charles Dickens’ most famous novels, and Father and Mother Christmas, who’ll come bearing treats for the children.
You’ll also find plenty of food, drink (including a beer garden and whiskey lounge!), and gift ideas from local artisans.
Holiday Movies and Shows at Franklin Theatre
We attend a Christmas show at the Franklin Theater every year without fail. From holiday movies to concerts to live performances, there’s always a plethora of options to choose from, and compared to other venues, ticket prices here are very affordable. This year’s choices include many Christmas movies, like A Christmas Story and Elf, live shows like Rhythmic Circus Holiday Shuffle and Studio Tenn’s A Christmas Carol, and holiday concerts from Jars of Clay, Hall and Oates, and Steve Wariner, just to name a few. Follow up a show with dinner and a walk around downtown, and you’ve got an evening you’ll never forget.
Franklin Christmas Tree Lighting
Downtown Franklin’s Christmas tree is spectacular, and the annual tree lighting ceremony is a popular way to kick off the holiday season. It’s happening December 3 from 5:30–9 p.m. and will include live music and performers, holiday lights, and, you guessed it, a visit from Santa Claus.
Holiday Spirits: Cocktail Festival
What better way to ring in the holiday season than with a bit of liquid cheer? December 3, The Factory at Franklin will host Holiday Spirits, a cocktail festival that features festive drinks, food, live music, and, once again, Santa Claus. Each ticket includes 12 sample-sized cocktails, and regular-sized drinks are available for purchase as well.
Downtown Franklin Christmas Parade
It’s not really Christmas without a parade through the streets of downtown, and you’d better believe Franklin’s got it covered. This year’s annual Christmas Parade is set for December 4 from 2–3:30 p.m. and will include more than 100 entries, culminating in a visit from Santa Claus himself.
Leiper’s Fork Christmas Parade
For a very different kind of Christmas parade, head to the impossibly charming village of Leiper’s Fork, December 11 for what’s billed as the wackiest parade in Middle Tennessee! Expect to see tractors, old cars and trucks, inventive floats, crazy costumes, horse-drawn wagons, farm animals, and more, as well as another visit from Santa. Plus, this year’s grand marshal is country artist Chris Jansen! The parade starts at 2 p.m., but you’ll want to arrive nice and early because the road through Leiper’s Fork will close at 2 p.m. and won’t reopen until the parade ends.
FrankTown Festival of Lights
Did you know Franklin has its very own spectacular drive-through holiday light display? The FrankTown Festival of Lights is an annual extravaganza from November 25 through December 26 at the Williamson County Ag Expo Center.
In addition to a mile-long driving route with 200 light displays synchronized to Christmas classics you can play on your car radio, holiday sweet treats will be on sale, and you can take family photos beside a 30-foot Christmas tree illuminated with more than 3,000 lights. I’m especially excited by Walkin’ Wednesdays, when the route is open to pedestrians only from 5–6:30 p.m. Tickets are $25 per car; Admission is from 5–9 p.m. each night.
Families are sure to love the Santa Brunch at 1799, the popular restaurant located inside downtown Franklin’s Harpeth Hotel. December 5, 12, and 19 enjoy a North Pole-inspired brunch and cocktail menu, as well as some time with Santa himself- You’ll definitely want to bring your camera to capture the moment. Be sure and make reservations for this special event ahead of time.
It’s a Wonderful Life: A Live Radio Play
At The Factory at Franklin’s Jamison Theatre December 9-24, Studio Tenn brings you a live radio play edition of It’s a Wonderful Life. In this twist on the holiday classic, the audience will be transported back to Franklin’s WAKM studio in the 1940s, where five actors will bring dozens of characters to life.
I have already bought tickets to two holiday events in Franklin because of this post, and I just might have to buy even more tickets now! This sounds like a can’t-miss holiday event.