By Janet Level
Christmas across the region is filled with a variety of wonderful sights and sounds. This year, many different experiences await the
curious and joyful all around the area. With everything from holiday parades to Christmas cantatas to a 19th century Santa, it will be incredibly easy to keep the holiday spirit all season long.
Before the turkey was gobbled this year, three seasonal traditions began at opposite ends of the region. In Nashville, the ICE! Show at the Gaylord Opryland Hotel kicked off on Nov. 14 and will run through Jan. 3. Based on the popular poem, “’Twas the Night Before Christmas,” this attraction features tons of ice sculpted into eye-popping statues and an actual ice slide. Tickets and additional information are available by searching “OprylandICE!” online or visit www.marriott.com.
If the show isn’t in your holiday budget, simply take your family on a stroll through the Gaylord Opryland Resort. After the sun goes down, the hotel turns into a winter wonderland with spectacular lights and shows inside that cost nothing.
On the western edge of the region, the Grand Rivers Festival of Lights started Nov. 7 and continues through Jan. 4. Patti’s 1880 Settlement and Grand Rivers are transformed into a brilliant holiday display at dusk each night. Visitors are able to look for Christmas gifts among 700,000 lights and several unique shops on the property.
Clarksville gets in on the holiday festivities on Nov. 25 when the city flips the switch on Christmas on the Cumberland. Covering nearly 7/10 of a mile along the McGregor Park Riverwalk and featuring a variety of activities, the lights twinkle and shine from 5 to 10 p.m. Sunday through Thursday and from 5 to 11 p.m. Friday and Saturday until Jan. 1.
Hopkinsville’s Festival of Trees will start from 5 to 7 p.m. Dec. 4 at the Senior Citizens Center on West Seventh Street. Each school from Christian County along with local businesses will have a themed Christmas tree on display. The festival continues from 5 to 7:30 p.m. Dec. 5, 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Dec. 6, and 1 to 5 p.m. Dec. 7.
Christmas parades are always popular, and Hopkinsville along with Clarksville will both host marching bands and floats on Dec. 6. The Hopkinsville parade runs through downtown beginning at 10 a.m. while the streets of Clarksville fall into formation at 5 p.m.
To journey back in time 2,000 years, Grace Church of the Nazarene in Clarksville will offer a unique experience from 6 to 9 p.m. Dec. 5-7. A short drive off Exit 1, the church campus is transformed into its Drive-Through Nativity. Visitors pull into a parking lot marked with luminaries and receive a CD to play as they slowly proceed from one station to another filled with live animals, fires and actors who portray the Biblical story of Christ’s birth. A holiday choir singing and hot chocolate await at the end of the line.
One of Hopkinsville’s finest traditions takes place from 4 to 6:30 p.m. Dec. 13 when downtown transforms into the 10th annual Polar Express and concludes with the Downtown Tree Lighting. The public will enjoy carriage and mini-train rides, as well as music, dancing, stories and shopping.
Hillcrest Baptist Church will continue its tradition of joyous holiday musicals by singing The Songs of Christmas at 7 p.m. Dec. 12, 6 p.m. Dec. 13, and 3 p.m. Dec. 14. Always an exciting and powerful program led by Tom Drake, the Hillcrest choir will not disappoint any who venture out in the winter weather to attend.
Hillcrest will also host Walk through Bethlehem from 6:30 to 8 p.m. nightly Dec. 17 to Dec. 20. Visitors can wander the streets of Bethlehem as they would have appeared at the time of Jesus’ birth. Featuring a variety of animals and a live nativity, guests experience a magical connection to a time long ago.
The 100-voice choir at Hilldale Baptist Church off Exit 11 in Clarksville will present A Christmas Musical, written and directed by Lyndel Littleton, at 7 p.m. Dec. 12 and 13, and at 3 p.m. Dec. 14. While tickets are free, call 931-648-8031 to reserve a seat at this Christmas spectacular.
Finally, on 5:30 p.m. Dec. 21, the Fellowship Choir at Edgewood Baptist Church in Hopkinsville will present Christmas Makes Everything New under the direction of Rachel White. This holiday special offers beautifully arranged Christmas classics as well as some contemporary melodies, sure to make the evening merry.
With free admission to most activities, there is something for almost everyone to enjoy and make the holidays especially bright.
By Janet Level