Shoppers can kick off the holiday season and support local by visiting businesses in historic downtown Athens during the 35th annual Christmas Open House.
Hosted by the Athens-Limestone County Chamber of Commerce and Athens Main Street, the weekend-long event will kick off 5:30 p.m. Friday with tree lightings in Merchant’s Alley, between Terranova’s Italian Restaurant and the Athens Main Street Office. Athens High School Choir will provide live music entertainment during the ceremony, then continue the performance on the east side of the Limestone County Courthouse at 6 p.m.
From there, patrons are encouraged to walk around, shop and dine with local merchants. Malone and Friends have two live concerts scheduled for the weekend, and food trucks will be available Friday on the south side of the Limestone County Courthouse.
“The annual Christmas Open House provides a perfect opportunity to shop local while officially kicking off our community’s holiday season, thanks to a festive variety of activities available for everyone,” said Chamber President Pammie Jimmar.
In addition to businesses around The Square being open, shoppers can check out Merry Market on Marion Street, where a variety of local vendors will be set up near the ice skating rink. The market will be open 4–8 p.m. Friday, 11 a.m.–8 p.m. Saturday and 12–4 p.m. Sunday.
Other events to check out in Athens this weekend include a holiday-themed light display on the Limestone County Courthouse at 7 p.m. Friday and Saturday; Ice Skating on The Square for $5 per person from noon to 4 p.m. Saturday and Sunday; and free train rides from the Athens Lions Club from 1–4 p.m. Saturday and Sunday on Hobbs Street, between Madison and Jefferson streets.
Of course, no holiday event is complete without a visit from Saint Nick. Open House visitors are encouraged to pop by the Dream Key Real Estate office on Jefferson Street from 1–3 p.m. Saturday or Sunday for a photo with Santa Claus. Photos are $10 each.
The photo opportunities don’t stop there, either. Two glow-light signs reading “Merry & Bright” and “ATH” will be available, and patrons are encouraged to post their photos on social media with an invite their family and friends to shop local.
“Christmas Open House in downtown Athens is like stepping into a Christmas card,” said Tere Richardson, executive director of Athens Main Street. “The decorations, the shopping and all the family activities make it a perfect way to begin the holiday season.”