All the Holiday Must-Do’s for Franklin First-Timers

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: The holidays in downtown Franklin are a Hallmark movie brought to life. There are bundled-up shoppers finding the perfect gifts up and down Main Street, immersive seasonal events nearly every weekend, and, of course, decorations galore. It’s no surprise that Franklin has grown into a top destination to visit during the holidays, and if it’s your first time, we’ve gathered a list of things you must do on your visit. 

Dickens of a Christmas

One of the best small-town festivals you’ll ever attend, Dickens of a Christmas places festival-goers into the heart of Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol. The town itself feels preserved in time, so once you add in costumed characters strolling the streets (and occasionally bursting out in organized dance), you’re effortlessly transported into the 1800s. Bundle up to take photos with the ghosts of Christmas past, present, and future, Santa and Mrs. Claus, and even Ebeneezer Scrooge himself, shop from dozens of novelty vendors and embrace the magic of the season in an extra special (and nostalgic) way. 

Tree Lighting

Franklin kicks off the holidays with a revered tree lighting ceremony, happening this year on December 1. Crowds gather in droves around the Main Street square, Whoville-style, for an evening spent caroling, led by GRAMMY® nominee Matthew West. After plenty of festive build-up, the 40-foot tree will illuminate to roaring applause. This year’s lighting is scheduled for 7:15, with the full event running from 6 to 8 p.m. 

Franklin Theatre 

Main Street’s crown jewel is The Franklin Theatre, marked by its iconic red marquee and stunning time-honored interiors. The calendar is packed all year long with throwback movies, concerts, and other events, but it’s the place to be during the holiday season thanks to its calendar of festive films. This year’s lineup includes National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation, The Polar Express, Jingle All the Way, Elf, and more. Grab your tickets ASAP; they will sell out! 

Holiday Markets

If you’re hoping to shop small this holiday season, Franklin hosts a number of holiday markets that welcome vendors from near and far. The Made South Market is up first on November 17, followed by the Holiday Made Market for last-minute finds on December 16. Both will take place inside Liberty Hall at the Factory at Franklin. Throughout the season, check out our events calendar for even more markets popping up around town. 

Soak in the Season

While Franklin is known for hosting some of the best holiday happenings in Middle Tennessee (and beyond), you can capture all the spirit you need without an organized event. Head to Main Street in the morning, stopping for a seasonal coffee at spots like The Coffee House at Second & BridgeMcGavock’s Coffee Bar and Provisions, or Onyx + Alabaster, then spend time browsing the adorably decorated shops that line Main Street. Warm up with a proper Southern lunch at Puckett’s or 55 South, soak in stick season with an afternoon stroll through the parks around town, then hop in the car and drive through the city’s stunning neighborhoods draped in twinkling lights once the sun goes down. Round it all out with a festive nightcap at any of Franklin’s delightful cocktail bars, then snuggle in after a perfect day to let visions of sugar plums dance through your head.