Sure, I’m a sucker for Halloween decor. But if there’s anything I believe in more than I believe in the impact of a few well-placed skulls hanging from the dining room chandelier, it’s the magic of twinkle lights. And Christmas music. And, well, both happening at the same time.
Which is why I’m about to press “purchase” on a set of tickets to Knoxville, Tennessee, so I can visit the Historic Cherokee Caverns’ annual Christmas in the Cave event. (Shhh… don’t tell my husband.)
For most of the year, the caverns are, well, caverns. According to a website devoted to the caverns, they began forming about 300 million years ago from a mix of sand, clay and other materials. Water flowing through the caves eventually created a mix of stalactites, stalagmites and other natural formations. Gorgeous and fascinating as they were, people naturally began going on commercial tours of the caverns in 1929.
Now, every year, the folks who maintain Cherokee Caverns host a Christmas event for those who enjoy both cave walking and Christmas. The caverns are done up in red and green, holiday music is piped in and some of your favorite Christmas characters are lurking in the shadows. In a non-creepy way, of course.
Step around a stalactite and you may find Cousin Eddie from “National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation.” Pose alongside Santa and risk being photobombed by the Grinch. The Grinch LOVES ruining your Christmas photos!
In addition to the lights and the characters, there are also food trucks and other concession stands, plus vendors who may just be selling the perfect gift for that one cousin who already seems to have everything.
But really, the magic here comes from the atmosphere. Just look at the twinkle lights, gorgeously photographed here by Instagram user @digitalnostalgia:
And the walls splashed in hues of red, green and blue, as in this photo by Instagram user @fatmanham:
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This is a cave in Knoxville, Tennessee at Cherokee Caverns. They decorated the cave with Christmas lights and allowed people to walk through it. It was pretty magical. I shot this on my Canon G7X ð ð . . #Christmas #cave #cherokee #cavern #cherokeecaverns #knoxville #tennessee #caves #merrychristmas #thegrinch #santa #knoxvilletennessee #christmaslights
And the other pieces of holiday decor tucked away into the odd corner, as photographed by Instagram user @chelsies.photography:
As Billy Mack sings (in a blatant money grab but I don’t care) in “Love Actually,” Christmas actually is all around us.
So if you really love Christmas (I swear, that song is in my blood), book a ticket to Tennessee this December. You can walk through the caverns Dec. 6–8, Dec. 13–15 and Dec. 20 and 21. They’re open to visitors on Fridays from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m., and on Saturdays and Sundays from 3 p.m. to 8 p.m. Tickets are $10 for those ages 4 and up, and free for the littlest ones. You cannot purchase advance tickets but, as they say on the website, tickets never sell out.
What do you think? Will you be packing your bags and making a pilgrimage to the caverns this year?
This story originally appeared on Simplemost. Checkout Simplemost for other great tips and ideas to make the most out of life.