For two months of the year, normally warm-weather Atlanta morphs into a wintry paradise during Global Winter Wonderland. The annual event stretches into January, ushering in featured entertainment, family-friendly happenings, and meet-and-greets with Santa. Here, participants can head to the Global Village to visit replicas of famed sites such as Big Ben, the Sydney Opera House, and the Great Pyramids of Giza, which were originally made out of snow. Elsewhere, holiday fun in the form of giant candy canes, a snowman, and a Christmas castle infuses the grounds with festive cheer. The whole event is set to a rotating soundtrack of live music from artists including funk band DC Cooper, pop singer Lexi, singer Coco Jones, plus dance performances by UniverSoul Circus and SALSAtlanta.
In addition to the sense of perseverance and accomplishment that comes with finishing a 5K, the organizers of the Bacon Chase have added another incentive: bacon. During their two races?the 5K Piggy Pilgrimage, which is a traditional 5K, and the 0.05K Blitz to Bacon, which is a 164-foot sprint?runners can munch on unlimited bacon bits before feasting on unlimited amounts of bacon at the finish line. Runners 21 and older can wash down the savory strips of bacon with a bloody mary, and all runners get a Bacon Chase T-shirt and a signature bacon-scented bib. The festival opens at 8 a.m. and features many bacon-themed activities, plus music.
The festive day serves a greater purpose, too. Attendees will be able to register to become a St. Jude Hero, raise money for St. Jude Children?s Research Hospital, or both.
Blue Mark Studios thrives inside the refurbished halls of century-old St. James Church by regularly hosting exhibitions of newly discovered artists from around the U.S. In addition to traditional art exhibitions, Blue Mark's resident artists load the studio's calendar of events with countless openings, fashion shows, dance parties, and art lessons. They craft their works in private studios on the premises, ranging from ceramics to visual FX and 3D media. They often sell their pieces to people wishing to display art in their home or on their bumper.
Flush with cash during the Roaring Twenties, Atlanta's Shriners set out to build a magnificent monument for their headquarters, dubbed the Yaarab Temple Shrine Mosque. The structure was to feature grandiose architectural touches such as towering minarets and onion domes. When a teetering economy threatened construction, the Shriners sold the building to film mogul William Fox, who finished the space as a movie palace with virtually no changes to its extravagant design. As splendid as the exterior was, audiences were unprepared for the interior. After seeing it for the first time, one Atlanta Journal reporter breathlessly remarked on the "picturesque and almost disturbing grandeur" on display.
Crafted to resemble the courtyard of a Moorish castle, the main hall's decorations begin in the back with a faux canopy of plaster and steel stretching over the rear balcony. Stone parapets wrap around the sides, culminating in a towering proscenium arch illuminated by hanging lanterns and overhung with persian rugs. Above, a blue ceiling sparkles with hundreds of recessed light bulbs, which refract through three-inch crystals. Projected clouds drift across this simulated starry night and rain on anyone who texts during a show.
The final jewel in the theater's gilded crown is the The Mighty Mo Organ. The second-largest theater organ in the world, the Mighty Mo was custom-built in 1929 for the princely sum of $42,000 to accompany any movie or live production. The instrument’s richly textured sounds erupt from 3,622 pipes of varying length, with the smallest no larger than a pen and the largest spanning five feet in diameter. Adding to the Mighty Mo's sonic tapestry is an internal glockenspiel, marimba, and xylophone, plus a system by which the stage's grand piano can be played remotely. The Mighty Mo also mimics thunder, steamboat whistles, saxophones, and its parents' voices when they're not around.
Since banding together in 1979, the historians at Atlanta Preservation Center have helped ward off packs of angry bulldozers from more than 175 endangered buildings. Working alongside local government, businesses, and community leaders, the preservation team has saved elaborate structures including the Peters House and Winecoff Hotel. In addition, its headquarters—the 1856 Grant Mansion in Grant Park—is one of just three antebellum houses left in Atlanta and the team is currently working to restore the building to its architecturally accurate origins. When it isn’t keeping delicate treasures from crumbling, the Atlanta Preservation Center leads walking tours of historic areas and tells embarrassing stories from the days when the city’s buildings were just a bunch of baby bricks.
A few times each year, throngs of revelers descend on the bars of Virginia Highlands, Buckhead, and Midtown. Perhaps they'll be in costume, perhaps wearing festive holiday colors. Either way, it's likely they're guests of Atlanta Bar Tours. The company organizes its neighborhood jaunts around the pageantry of national holidays or tailgating opportunities. Each crawl visits at least six pubs and restaurants, many of which prepare drinks in keeping with the theme—whether celebrating Oktoberfest or Steve's doctoral thesis on rum. During the crawl, each establishment features food specials and, more often than not, scores the event with live music.