(There’s No Place Like) Home for the Holidays: Plenty of Festive Events to Enjoy in West Alabama This Season

(There’s No Place Like) Home for the Holidays: Plenty of Festive Events to Enjoy in West Alabama This Season Tuscaloosa County Park & Recreation Authority

Ready to get out and enjoy the holiday season here in Tuscaloosa? Here's a roundup of some of the best holiday events to see and visit in coming weeks.

Holidays on the River

Holidays on the River event is back in full swing at the Tuscaloosa Amphitheater. Enjoy outdoor ice skating on a 60x100 rink, horse-drawn carriage rides, and visits from Santa. An affordable food menu, areas for lounging around fire pits, and the Tinsel Trail right outside make the Tuscaloosa Amphitheater the place to be for the whole family. 

Admission is free, but tickets are needed for skate rental and access to the ice rink. Skate passes are $15 per person and include skate rental and admission to the rink for the day. Season passes are $85 and include skate rental and unlimited skating for the 2019-2020 winter season. The City also offers birthday and corporate party rental packages. Skate lessons are also available, and Family Nights feature $12 skate passes all day.

Tickets and schedules for the Holidays on the River season, which runs through Jan. 20, are available at holidaysontheriver.com.


Tinsel Trail

Tuscaloosa goes all out for the holidays, with stunning decorations popping up all over town. None, however, compare to the annual Tinsel Trail – a stunning, magical sight along the city’s Riverwalk and the Tuscaloosa Amphitheater. 

Hundreds of trees, sponsored by local businesses, organizations, and individuals, will be festively decked out from now until Jan. 6 Proceeds from the Tinsel Trail benefit Tuscaloosa’s One Place.

Several special events are planned for the Tinsel Trail this season. Sunday with Santa is set for Dec. 8 from 3-6 p.m. The event includes train rides along the Trail, a story time for the kids, and other activities. Tickets for children are $7; adults are free. Pet Night is Dec. 15 from 3-5 p.m. Visitors can bring their pets to the Tinsel Trail to see Santa, meet local pet partners, and more. For more information, visit ttowntinsel.com.


Dickens Downtown

Everyone has something that really gets them into the holiday spirit – and for many in this area, it’s Dickens Downtown. This year’s event will be held on Tuesday, Dec. 3 from 5-8 p.m. Downtown Northport will transform into a scene from the Victorian era, with period outfits, an English Town Crier, and Father Christmas. A snow machine helps complete the ambiance of the setting.  

The roads are blocked for traffic during the celebration, so that visitors can watch the street performances, listen to live music, and wander in and out of the local businesses visiting with old friends and meeting new ones.  

Dickens Downtown began in the 1990s, transforming downtown Northport into a locale fit for a live re-enactment of a novel by Charles Dickens. The event, a group effort put on by the Northport Merchants Association, the City of Northport, and the Friends of Historic Northport, draws huge crowds year after year.


The Nutcracker

Whether you have never seen a production of The Nutcracker or it’s part of your holiday ritual, make sure to join the Tuscaloosa Community Dancers’ enchanting characters on their magical journey this holiday season, a fairy-tale adventure for all ages to enjoy.  

The classic, timeless holiday ballet will be performed at the Bama Theatre Dec. 12-15. Madeline Evans will perform the role of Clara. The role of Clara’s little brother, Fritz, will be performed by Gracie Elder. “Breakfast with The Nutcracker” will also return before the 10 a.m. Saturday, Dec. 14 performance, beginning at 8:30 a.m.  

Show times for The Nutcracker are Thursday, Dec. 12 at 7 p.m., Saturday, Dec. 14 at 10 a.m. and 5 p.m., and Sunday, Dec. 15 at 2 p.m. Ticket prices are $21 for adults, $17 for seniors and military, and $12 for students and children. 

Tickets for the 2019 performances of The Nutcracker and Breakfast with The Nutcracker are available on tututix.com. For more information about the Tuscaloosa Community Dancers, visit tuscaloosadancers.com. 


West Alabama Christmas Parade 

PARA’s 44th Annual West Alabama Christmas Parade is set to roll on Dec. 13. This year’s parade is “The Official Bicentennial Parade,” in honor of the city of Tuscaloosa’s 200th birthday. The parade is often earlier in December, but PARA moved it to the 13th – the city’s official birthday date. Thousands of area residents are expected to gather to watch as the parade moves through downtown Tuscaloosa.

To kick off the parade, there will be a tree lighting ceremony at the Tuscaloosa County Courthouse at 5:15 p.m. The parade will begin at 6:30 p.m.

Each year, Grand Marshals are chosen to be honored at the parade – members of the community that have played a part in making an impact on Tuscaloosa. This year’s Grand Marshals are Tim Parker, Cathy Randall, and Harrison Taylor.

All parade information is available by visiting tcpara.org/westalchristmasparade.


Christmas Afloat

The Black Warrior River is the place to be to view one of the area’s most beautiful holiday traditions. The Christmas Afloat lighted holiday boat river parade and fireworks show is set for Saturday, Dec. 14 right after dark. The parade starts at 5 p.m. and the fireworks show is planned for 5:45 p.m. 

Viewers can watch the parade and fireworks from the north or the south bank along the Tuscaloosa Riverwalk or the Northport Levee.  There is no admission charge for the parade or for the fireworks show.

The event is put on by the Tuscaloosa Christmas Afloat Foundation and the Pirates of the Warrior boat club, a not-for-profit organization of citizens who promote safe boating and recreation along the Black Warrior River. Donations for the fireworks show can be made at gofundme.com/f/christmas-afloat-2019-fireworks-fund.  




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