Lifestyle

Everything You Absolutely Must Do in Memphis This Winter

Updated On 12/21/2017 at 05:58PM EST
December
Memphis Botanic Garden | Flickr/Karen Dorsett
December
Thursday - Saturday
Dec 21-30
East Memphis
The Memphis Botanic Garden hosts an outdoor bash each winter that looks like something out of a storybook come to life. Snowy Nights is a chance for families to bring the kids along to enjoy hot cocoa or spiced tea and roast marshmallows or s’mores around a campfire at the garden. You can also play inside a giant snow globe, make cookie dough ornaments, watch a musical light show, enjoy games and music and make a few more memories to close out the holiday season.
Cost: $5 for the kids; $10 for adults
Saturday
Dec 30
Midtown
Are you ready for some football? Two top college football teams will battle on the gridiron December 30 for the 59th Annual AutoZone Liberty Bowl. As part of the big day, attendees get treated to a pregame show and a halftime bash featuring the Isley Brothers. They’ll be joined by high school marching bands, dancers, and homecoming queens from around the country. The day before the big game, head over to Beale Street for a parade featuring floats and a line of marching bands.
Cost: Individual game tickets cost $65-$95
Thursday - Saturday
Dec 21-30
Midtown
It’s been nominated more than once by USA Today as one of the best zoo lights displays in the country. Zoo Lights at the Memphis Zoo is a great way to treat yourself to one final holiday indulgence before December is over. There will be “snow” in the zoo’s courtyard, plus other visual treats like a 90-foot ferris wheel, live reindeer, an extravaganza of bright holiday lights, and a 5,400-square-foot outdoor ice skating rink. Work, January, and everything else can wait.
Cost: $6 for zoo members; $8 for non-members
Sunday
Dec 31
Downtown
Most small businesses go under within the first few years of their existence, so reaching a milestone like the 10-year mark is definitely something worth raising a glass for. Especially if you’re, well, an independently owned and operated Memphis brewer. Memphis’ original craft brewer, in fact, which is also home to a family friendly tap room. The 10th anniversary celebration on December 31 marks the brewing of Ghost River’s first beer, the South Main Pale Ale, on the same date in 2007. Ghost River will be toasting to the London New Year at 6pm and giving a free 4-ounce pour of South Main Pale Ale to everyone in attendance. There’ll also be a food truck on site, swag to give out, and lots more.
Cost: Free
Sunday
Dec 31
Downtown
Well, we made it. What a strange, wild, unpredictable year 2017 was. And that was just in the world of politics. It’s time to do the yearly trek downtown to huddle with the other freezing revelers to drink, party, toast to what was, look forward to 2018, and do the countdown as the Hard Rock Cafe does its traditional Guitar Drop at midnight to ring in the new year. As part of the festivities this year, there will be music from B.B. King’s Blues Band as well as pop music star Tito Jackson.
Cost: Free (but you'll want some money for food/drinks)
January
Graceland | Jejim/Shutterstock.com
January
Friday
Jan 6
Downtown
TEDx is coming back to Memphis for a third year, offering about two dozen speakers opportunities to give short talks on everything from tech to poverty and lots more interesting stuff they care about (and want their audience to care about). The theme this year is The Slant: Speakers are giving their “slant” on the world, in other words. The lineup is expanded by about half a dozen from last year, and these are some of the most interesting Memphians you might not otherwise have a chance to meet or hear from. And it’s split into two sessions: one in the morning and one in the afternoon.
Cost: $30 for either session; $50 for full day
Sunday
Jan 8
Whitehaven
The King of Rock ‘n’ Roll was born on January 8, 1935, and had he not died suddenly in Memphis in 1977, Elvis would have turned 83 on his upcoming birthday in January. Can you even still be a sex symbol and geriatric at the same time? Elvis probably could've. Anyways, on Graceland’s north lawn at 9:30am, officials with Graceland and Elvis Presley Enterprises will cut a birthday cake and proclaim Elvis Presley Day in Memphis. Vernon’s Smokehouse, across the street from the Graceland mansion, will also have complimentary birthday cake and coffee immediately following the ceremony.
Cost: Free
Monday - Wednesday
Jan 8-Feb 8
Whitehaven
Elvis Presley’s mansion is a Memphis landmark. And during the holiday season -- befitting the larger-than-life nature of the hip-swiveling, lip-snarling rock legend -- his estate gets decked out to the nines. Take the tour of the mansion and you’ll get to see decorations that include hundreds of blue lights lining the driveway, a life-sized Nativity scene, Santa and his sleigh, and more. Inside, Christmas decorations and other holiday-themed items from the Presley family are on display.
Cost: Graceland tour is free for kids six and under; $17 for kids 7-12; $34.90 for seniors and students age 13-18; and $38.75 for adults
Sunday
Jan 8
Downtown
Is there anything more intrinsic to Memphis than music? From Elvis and Beale Street to the city’s recording studios and live venues at Overton Square, we take music seriously. On the first and third Monday of every month, the Memphis Music Commission hosts Memphis Music Monday at the Hard Rock on Beale. This is a chance to come out and enjoy live, homegrown musical talent, as well as support up-and-comers building a career. Be sure to get there on the early side to get a good seat as the event always fills up.
Cost: No cover
Thursday - Friday
Jan 12-13
Downtown
Ghosts were central characters in A Christmas Carol, so hunting ghosts could be considered a holiday-ish thing, right? Regardless, anyone with an interest in the spooky and the spirit world should get ready for a ghost hunt in January at the stately Woodruff Fontaine House, one of the mansions in Downtown’s picturesque Victorian Village neighborhood. The home has been featured on SyFy’s Ghost Hunters, and the ghost of Mollie Woodruff Henning reportedly still haunts her old room on the home’s second floor. There’s also reportedly a “disgruntled masculine spirit” in the home. Possibly wearing cargo shorts.
Cost: $129, plus a $30 deposit
Sunday
Jan 15
Downtown
In light of the 50th anniversary of the murder of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., Memphis is honoring the slain civil right leader’s legacy in several ways. That includes King Day 2018 at the National Civil Rights Museum in Memphis, where Dr. King was killed. As part of this event, a main stage will include a variety of artistic tributes to Dr. King in the form of dance, chorus, and spoken word, among others. There will also be a health and wellness pavilion, and guests can peruse the museum exhibits inside.
Cost: Museum admission is $5 per person, $3 with the donation of a non-perishable food item for the Mid-South Food Bank, and admission is free for four people with a donation of a unit of blood for LifeBlood
Thursday - Saturday
Jan 19-Feb 11
Midtown
Maybe you saw the movie and fell in love with the story of a dejected Dublin street musician who meets a young woman and finds love and renewed inspiration for his art. The musical version of Once, which scooped up eight Tonys including one for Best Musical, is coming to Memphis in January to Playhouse on the Square. For anyone who still gets misty at that rousing chorus (“Take this sinking boat and point it home, we’ve still got time”), Playhouse is at 66 South Cooper Street in Midtown. The January 25th performance of Once will also be a pay-what-you-can night.
Cost: $15-$45
Tuesday - Tuesday
Jan 17-Feb 28
Downtown
Who doesn’t love inappropriate jokes? And drinks? And trivia? Putting it all together sounds like a winner, right? Ghost River is hosting Geeks Who Drink pub quizzes each Wednesday in its taproom, a free game of trivia in eight rounds.There will be audio rounds in each quiz, which means name that tune-style questions, and you can play in teams of up to six people or by yourself. There will be food trucks, and winners get to go home with bar cash, assorted prizes, and the satisfaction of knowing you’re not an ignoramus.
Cost: Free
Monday - Friday
Jan 16-20
Downtown
Coming up is the big International Blues Challenge, held each year in Memphis along Beale Street. The contest gets started with its International Showcase at Memphis’ historic Clayborn Temple and leads up to the finals on January 20 at the Orpheum Theatre. The event will not only feature the largest and most prestigious blues music competition in the world, but it will also offer guests everything from seminars to master classes, networking events, and more. The competition will feature more than 200 acts from around the world.
Cost: $10 for wristbands (bring money for food/drink)
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