Atlanta History Center’s Candlelight Nights Brings Traditions of Holidays Past to the Present

- Get into the holiday spirit with candlelit strolls, photos with Santa, holiday lights and music, fun character encounters, festive interactive activities and a Christmas marketplace –

ATLANTA, GA –At a time when Atlantans seek to slow down and savor the holidays with their friends and families, the Atlanta History Center presents two evening events that offer guests the opportunity to experience Christmas as in days gone by.  In fact, Candlelight Nights, presented on the evenings of December 11 and 18, invite History Center guests to celebrate the holidays in three distinct time frames at three unique Southern historic houses - all in one night. Visitors experience an 1861 Christmas at Smith Family Farm, a 1930 celebration at the elegant Swan House and an 1821 frontier-styled holiday observance at Wood Family Cabin. 

Candlelit paths link the trio of historic houses under majestic hardwoods amid the History Center's twenty two acres of Goizueta Gardens, woods and trails enveloped in the warm glow of the holidays. Each stop features period-authentic music, Meet the Past museum theatre characters sharing stories of the holiday traditions of their specific places and times, children's activities and more. For instance, guests at the Smith Family Farm help Civil War-era residents decorate for Christmas and listen to stories and songs of the enslaved who express their hopes for the end of slavery. At the Swan House, Tray Dahl & The Jugtime Ragband bring a New Orleans-style jazz sound to holiday classics of the 1920s and 1930s. And, mere steps from Swan House, the voices of the Atlanta Sacred Harp Singers resound from the pioneer-era Wood Family Cabin around the beautiful canopy of Swan Woods. 

The History Center’s holiday celebration is not limited just to holidays of the past. Inside the Atlanta History Museum's sparkling, spacious new Allen Atrium, visitors enjoy leisurely holiday shopping at the new Christmas Market filled with local crafts and artisanal creations, before little boys and girls meet Santa and pose for photographs at the Garden Overlook. 

Souper Jenny, who moves her Buckhead restaurant to the History Center in April, dishes up delectable soups, salads, grilled cheese and treats for purchase. Cash bars set up across the campus with adult libations (including special holiday-themed drinks) and non-alcoholic beverages are available for purchase. 

WHAT:             Candlelight Nights, Atlanta History Center’s annual holiday tradition

WHEN:             December 11, 2015, 5:30 PM – 10 PM

                           December 18, 2015, 5:30 PM – 10 PM

WHERE:           Atlanta History Center; 130 West Paces Ferry Road; Atlanta, GA

ADMISSION:   This special holiday program is $15 for nonmembers; $8 for children; $10 for members. Purchase advance admission tickets at or call 404.814.4000. 


Atlanta History Museum:

Christmas Market

5:30 PM- 9:30 PM

Not done with your holiday shopping yet? Purchase special one-of-a-kind gifts from local artists and craftsmen including:

Suds and Lather handmade soaps;Southern Botanics handcrafted botanic artworks;Jimella’s Bakery;Fairywood Thicket Farm jams and jellies and hot caramel apples and apple cider;Lakeshore Pottery;JavaGenesis Coffee Roasting;Beautiful Briny Sea artisan sea soaps; and more!

Alliance Theatre Carolers

6:45 PM and 7:45 PM

Get into the holiday spirit as the Alliance Theatre Carolers sing beloved Christmas carols during two special evening performances.

Visit with Santa Claus

December 11, 5:30 – 9:30 PM

December 18, 7:00 – 9:30 PM

Ho! Ho! Ho! Grab your camera and get ready to photograph the family while visiting with Old Saint Nick.


Travel to Christmastime in 1861 and be welcomed into the holiday celebrations at the Smith Family Farm. Encounter characters from the first year of the Civil War as they share their personal stories of holidays during the war and revive traditions of the past as guests help residents of the farm decorate with traditional crafts-making and hands-on activities like popcorn and garland making, salt dough ornament activities, candle-dipping, blacksmithing, and open-hearth cooking. Enjoy a taste of winter vegetable soup provided by Souper Jenny.

Timed Farm Activities:

1861 Christmas Tree Lighting

6:00 PM, 8:00 PM, 9:00 PM

The sounds of caroling greet you as you gather round to light the candles on the Christmas tree.

The Yule Log

6:15 PM, 7:15 PM, 8:15 PM, 9:15 PM

Listen to stories and songs sung by the fire as the enslaved community celebrates Christmas and hopes for the end of slavery. Afterward, visit with interpreters as they discuss resistance and the history of holidays for the enslaved.

A Christmas Feast

7:30 PM, 8:30 PM, 9:30 PM

Experience a special Christmas dinner as the Smiths sit down to a course of traditional Civil War-era delicacies and share family stories and traditions of the season.

Meet the Past Museum Theatre Performance: Stephen’s Story

6:45 PM, 7:45 PM, 8:30 PM

Travel to the cabin and meet Stephen, an enslaved skilled woodworker who must face a crucial decision regarding his future during the holiday season. This decision will impact the lives of those closest to him, for better or worse.


Revel in the holiday season of 1930 as you are transported to a Jazz Age Christmas party at the lavishly decorated Swan House where the Inman family and Swan House staff celebrates Christmas. During guests’ time travels to 1930, they encounter Grant Carter, preparing the 1929 Hudson Super Six sedan for holiday travel in the city; meet Edward Inman as he shares why he donated to the Empty Stocking Fund and how the charity is helping those in need in Atlanta today; and go behind-the-scenes in the kitchen with Lucille Arnold as she prepares holiday meals and shares her plans on celebrating the holidays with her own family once her Swan House shift is done.  Create your own 1930s holiday postcard to send to your family and friends before enjoying a taste of dessert and listening to live music and singing Christmas carols in the Morning Room of Swan House. 

Timed Activities:

Tray Dahl & The Jugtime Ragband

6:30 PM, 7:30 PM, 8:30 PM

Tray Dahl & The Jugtime Ragband is a New Orleans-style jazz band that specializes in 1920s and 1930s classics. Join the group as it performs Christmas songs of yesteryear, inspiring visitors to dance, smile and tap their feet.

Piano Christmas sing-along with Ruby Ross Wood

5:45 PM and 9:30 PM

Join Ruby Ross Wood, the Inman’s interior decorator, as she leads guests in a sing-along of traditional Christmas songs.


Be transported to Christmastime 1821 and meet a pioneer family just settling into new lives on the Georgia frontier. Savor a taste of Brunswick stew provided by Souper Jenny while enjoying live music, hands-on-activities for a Make n’ Take toy, encouraging guests to make their own early American toy for the perfect stocking stuffer, and enjoy the delightful smell of a holiday meal smoldering over the open-hearth. 

Timed Activities:

Atlanta Sacred Harp Singers

7:00 PM, 8:00 PM, 9:00 PM 

The Atlanta Sacred Harp Singers perform historic a cappella shape-note hymns from The Sacred Harp, a collection first published in Georgia in 1844. Their performances entertain and inspire listeners through the active tradition of community sacred singing, which originated in early 19th century Georgia.


A Cappella Group Octave Performs Live

6:15 PM, 7:15 PM, 8:15 PM

Enjoy Atlanta’s favorite female a cappella singing group performing holiday favorites. Founded in 1996, Octave has grown and changed with its evolving membership. Octave’s members include teachers, writers, executives, pharmacists, athletes, dancers, grammar geeks, attorneys and moms — brought together for great music, great friendships and great fun.


Founded in 1926, the Atlanta History Center is an all-inclusive, thirty-three-acre destination featuring the Atlanta History Museum, one of the nation’s largest history museums; historic houses including the 1928 Swan House and the 1860 Smith Family Farm; the Centennial Olympic Games Museum; the Kenan Research Center; the Grand Overlook event space; Chick-Fil-A at the Coca-Cola Café, a museum shop, and the Goizuetta Gardens, featuring 22 acres of gardens, walkways, paths and trails.In addition, the History Center operates the Margaret Mitchell House located in Midtown Atlanta. For information on Atlanta History Center offerings, hours of operation and admission call 404.814.4000 or visit


About Us

The Atlanta History Center is an all-inclusive destination featuring the Atlanta History Museum; two historic houses, 1928 Swan House and 1860 Smith Family Farm; the Centennial Olympic Games Museum; Kenan Research Center; Grand Overlook event space; Chick-Fil-A at the Coca-Cola Café, a museum shop, and the Goizueta Gardens, featuring 22 acres of gardens, walkways, paths and trails. In addition, the History Center operates the Margaret Mitchell House located in Midtown Atlanta.