For as long as I can recall, my favorite Christmas song has been “Silver Bells;” the lyrics conjure up an idyllic vision of what the holidays should look like in a bustling town. Some might say this picturesque idea only exists in the movies… Well, I’m here to tell you, there is a place where the lyrics, “City sidewalks, busy sidewalks, dressed in holiday cheer. In the air, there’s a feeling of Christmas,” actually come to life. Strolling downtown Franklin with your peppermint latte in hand and a list of gifts to find, will surely have you humming “Silver Bells” and wondering if you are in fact, walking through a winter wonderland, minus the snow! The holiday season in Franklin is nothing short of magical. The street lights are trimmed with garland and twinkle lights, the windows of every store are decked out with seasonal displays, and the whimsical tree in the center of town is a sight to behold.
Raising of the NOEL Sign
One of the beloved hallmark signs of the Christmas season beginning in downtown Franklin is the raising of the NOEL sign above the Starbucks at Five Points. The sign is lifted every year the weekend after Thanksgiving, basically giving shoppers the go-ahead to begin making their list and checking it twice! The sign was initially built for the former Noel Hotel in Nashville. When the hotel eventually closed, the Cochran family decided to bring the sign to Franklin and place it on their building at Five Points during the Christmas season several decades ago. It has undoubtedly been bringing holiday cheer to all who visit Main Street during this season ever since.
Not only will you be in holiday heaven just shopping and enjoying the sights and sounds of the town, but there are also plenty of holiday events and activities to partake. First on the list is the Christmas Tree lighting to kick off the season. This is a fantastic family-friendly, free event to gather around the town square while watching live musical performances and participating in the countdown to the lighting. The children will love singing along with the local children’s choirs and counting down to the magical moment when the gigantic tree in the center of town lights up!
Dickens of a Christmas
Dickens of a Christmas is one of the most anticipated events of the year in Franklin. Visitors come from across the country to experience Charles Dickens’ novel as it comes to life with characters dressed in the Victorian era costumes and authentic street performances of beloved carols. The tantalizing aroma of freshly roasted chestnuts, turkey legs, and hot apple cider make the celebration all the more reminiscent of the era. Grab a picture with Scrooge and Tiny Tim, while browsing local makers’ and artists’ work to find a one-of-a-kind souvenir. Old and young will treasure this unique Franklin Christmas festival for years to come.
The Franklin Theatre
The iconic, fully restored Franklin Theatre on Main Street is an attraction in and of itself, and during the holiday season, it’s a can’t-miss stop on your visit to town. The historic theater dates back to 1937, but in 2007 the theater closed for three years to undergo an $8 million renovation. Talk about a worthwhile investment; this place is truly a treasure to the Franklin community and the perfect spot for a family movie night! Every year during the Christmas season, locals make a tradition out of seeing classic Christmas movies that play at the theater. Grab some fresh popcorn and a custom Franklin Theatre chocolate bar while basking in the nostalgia of the refurbished theater and a classic Christmas movie like Home Alone or The Grinch Who Stole Christmas. Check the calendar on the Franklin Theatre website to see what’s playing during your stay.
If you plan to see a movie at the theater with kiddos, be sure to check out Holiday Story Time at the Visitor Center each Saturday in December, which usually coincides with the film playing that day. Take a shopping break, while the children listen to a story read by Olaf and Elsa, Buddy the Elf, or maybe even the Grinch! After storytime, there is a meet and greet time with the character, sure to include lots of giggles and pictures. This is another free event bringing a little holiday magic to the day watching the movie characters come to life!
A few miles from the hustle and bustle of downtown Franklin, you’ll find the quaint, country village of Leiper’s Fork. It’s worth a visit not only for more fantastic shopping but also for the “Almost World Famous” Leiper’s Fork Christmas parade. What is more thrilling and festive for the whole family than a Christmas parade? Especially one that’s led by Hooch, the spotted mule! Every year on the second Saturday of December, locals bring out their Clydesdale horses, sheep, and even cows decked out in holiday gear for this one-of-a-kind parade. Pageant queens with vintage vehicles as their chariots and mini horses pulling wagons full of presents will have everyone awestruck at this annual tradition. And of course, Santa Claus comes to town for this very merry, country Christmas event!
Whether you are visiting the Franklin area for a special holiday festivity, the unparalleled local shopping experience, or you just happen to be in town during the holiday season, you are in for a real treat. Don’t just take it from me; in 2017, Franklin and Main Street were featured on MSNBC as the national “Shop Small Saturday” destination spot, and the TODAY show even featured shopping on Main Street with Trisha Yearwood and Jenna Bush Haggar. This year Oprah Magazine also declared Franklin one of its “Most Charming Christmas Towns Across the World!“
Our thriving town has made a name for itself, so come and see for yourself what this holiday hype is all about!