Wrap up the holidays with Christmas festivities

Staff correspondent


With Christmas only a few days away, families have only a short time remaining to take part in the holiday events happening in and around Gwinnett County. For those who've been too busy shopping and baking cookies, the next few days provide a final chance to celebrate the Christmas season.

For winter fun close to home, families can bundle up and head to historic downtown Lawrenceville. The city will offer outdoor ice skating on Crogan Street through Jan. 2. The rink will be open from 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. Monday through Friday. The rink will close at 6 p.m. Saturday and will be closed Sunday. On New Year's Eve, the rink's hours will be 11 a.m. to 11:30 p.m., and on New Year's Day hours will be noon to 6 p.m. The $8 cost per person includes skate rental. For more information, visit www.visitlawrenceville.com.

Tonight is the last chance kids will have to see Santa Claus ride into Crossroads on his sleigh during "A Stone Mountain Christmas" at Stone Mountain Park. Santa will make his entrance at 6 p.m. and be available to hear children's Christmas wishes from 6:30 to 9:30 p.m.

Stone Mountain Park's holiday festivities for families also include millions of lights in Crossroads, a nightly holiday-themed lasershow with fireworks and snowfall and a Christmas train ride. At Crossroads' Kids Land, children can meet the Coca-Cola Polar Bear, decorate cookies in Mrs. Claus's kitchen and write letters to Santa. They can also attend storytelling with Mrs. Claus throughout the day and see A Tinkerdoodle Christmas movie in the 4D Theater.

Several live shows include a Home for the Holidays musical show, the Crossroads Christmas Carol Live and Emily's Magical Christmas, a live performance that tells the story of an angel in training who teaches a child the true meaning of giving.

"A Stone Mountain Christmas" festivities run from 3 to 10 p.m. today and 3 to 9 p.m. Monday-Dec. 30. For more information, visit www.stonemountainpark.com.

Families can also meet Santa tonight during Lake Lanier Islands' "Magical Nights of Lights" celebration, which runs from 5 to 10 p.m. nightly through Dec. 30. Lake Lanier's attractions include a six mile driving tour with nine new light displays and illuminated characters. The Holiday Village features a live nativity scene, an improved Santa Shop, a bonfire for roasting marshmallows and pony rides. Attractions will be open Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. Entry to the "Magical Nights of Lights" is $25 per car Monday through Thursday, $30 per car Friday through Sunday, $45 per passenger van and $125 per bus, plus tax. For more information, call 770-932-7200 or visit www.lakelanierislands.com.

A trip to Atlanta promises even more fun this weekend. Continuing to delight children since 1953, the Priscilla the Pink Pig ride will be open through Jan. 2 in the upper parking lot just outside Macy's at Lenox Square Mall. The ride will be open from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. today and from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday. The ride will be closed Sunday. On Dec. 31, it will reopen from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Dec. 31 and run from noon to 7 p.m. Jan. 1 and 2. Rides cost $3 for children of all ages. The Piggie Pass reservation costs $5 and lets riders choose a date and time to ride. The cost includes a souvenir pin. For more information or to make a reservation, call 770-913-5639 or visit www.macys.com/pinkpig.