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Know before you go: Atlanta Macy’s Great Tree Lighting

UPDATE 11/29: If you’re looking for photos from the tree lighting, check out this photo gallery!
tree light 6.JPG_1707393 (Small)

The Macy's Great Tree Lighting in Atlanta is November 26. Here's a view of the 2004 tree. AJC file photo

A 60-foot white pine that lived for years outside a home in Dallas, Ga. will light up Thursday night outside Lenox Square for an audience of about 100,000 people. It’s Macy’s Great Tree Lighting, an Atlanta tradition that’s been around fo rmore than 60 years.

The best part: the celebration and fireworks are free. As Macy’s spokeswoman Melissa Goff put it, “it’s our gift to Atlanta.”

If you’ve got ideas about how to make the Great Tree Lighting a smooth, fun experience, or if you’ve got memories of the event to share, post them in the comments!

For now, here’s what you need to know before you go:

When: The tree-lighting pre-show starts at 6:15 p.m., but people always arrive early.  Nov. 26. The lighting celebration begins at 7 p.m. and fireworks will continue through 8 p.m.

Where: Everything happens outside Macy’s at Lenox Square, 3393 Peachtree Road N.E., Atlanta. Here’s a map to the mall. With a crowd of 100,000 you may not get very close to the tree, but that doesn’t mean you won’t be able to see it. As you can see from the photos, it’s big and bright.

How to get there:

  • By car: You can do it, but expect traffic back-ups and parking hassles.  Spaces are available throughout most of Lenox Square’s lots, but they will fill up quickly. There are other garages and lots nearby, but they may cost extra, or be closed because of the holiday.
  • By transit: Macy’s recommends using MARTA to get to the tree lighting. Take the North-South Yellow Line Train, previously known as the Doraville train, and get off at Lenox station. (Off the Red North-South train, known before as the North Spring train, you can get off at Buckhead station, but you’ll have a longer walk to Lenox Square.) MARTA will be on a holiday schedule,which runs less frequently. Here’s new fare information for MARTA.

Performances: Live entertainers include country singer Josh Turner, “American Idol” contestant Mandisa, R&B artist Stephen Norwood, Macy’s All Star Holiday Choir and SoReal Cru.

A little advice:

  • You can get some of the best views around the stage in the Macy’s parking lot, or further away near Peachtree and Lenox roads, but come early if you want to stake out those spots — they fill up quickly, well before the pre-show starts.
  • The weather, for now, is expected to be dry, but cold. Bring a blanket.
  • You can bring folding chairs or cushions, but most people just stand.
  • This is an accessible event for people who use wheelchairs. Check in at the registration area near the main stage for accessibility info.

On TV: The tree lighting will be broadcast on WSB starting at 7 p.m. Monica Pearson and David Chandley. You can also check out WSB’s coverage of the Great Tree Lighting.

More lights: This post links to even more Christmas tree lighting events around Atlanta. Field Trips with Sue has a handy lineup of Atlanta-area lighting displays, and if you’re traveling, here’s a guide of other impressive displays around the Southeast.

For instant updates, follow @insideaccess on Twitter.

7 comments Add your comment


November 27th, 2009
1:12 pm

We went last night for the first time and it was AMAZING! The sound system was awesome – plenty of room, plenty of port o potties. The performers were GREAT, the tree left me speechless! VERY fun and we’ll do it again. My only “complaints” would be the constant loud talking that people did while the performers were on and the smoking of many people near us. Even though it was an outside event the smoke was a nuisance for me and my young children. And I wish people would actually LISTEN to the performers! If you don’t want to hear them, then come late for the tree and fireworks. Don’t ruin it for the rest of us. However, still a great event and we’ll be back next year – with chairs this time!

Jamie Gumbrecht

November 26th, 2009
7:49 pm

Thanks for jumping in to answer questions, Danielle! I’m just back from my Thanksgiving celebration waaaaaay outside Atlanta, so I didn’t see these till now. I hope everybody had a great time!


November 26th, 2009
3:20 pm

When will this event be over? Is it hard to leave?


November 26th, 2009
11:57 am

Andres, there are port-a-potties all along the sides… starbucks, free show, free goodies….couldn’t get any better! oh, and fire works! =]
My family has been going to this for the past 18 years, and I couldnt have a Thanksgiving without going to it! It really gets you ready for Christmas, I definitely recommend you go!
Happy Thanksgiving!


November 25th, 2009
9:48 pm

I want to go, But dont want to deal with 100,000 persons

Restrooms nearby?

Innocent Bystander

November 25th, 2009
8:40 pm

This sounds like fun. Can everyone hear the live entertainment from where they are standing? Or do you have to be close to hear?


November 25th, 2009
7:26 pm

THE TREE IS SO GOOD!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I HOPE YOU ENJOY IT !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! IT IS A MEMORY OF A LIFE TIME !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! YOU WILL NOT REMEMBER ATLANTA , GEORGIA WITHOUT MACY’S AND THE BIG MACY’S CELEBRATION !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!