By Ashley O’Dell
In Atlanta, Christmas and New Year’s Eve don’t just mean unwrapping presents and singing “Auld Lang Syne.” Instead, New Year’s Eve means hard-hitting football and another look at the blossoming ACC-SEC rivalry. In Atlanta, New Year’s Eve means it’s time for the Chick-fil-A Bowl.
This year, No. 24 Duke takes on No. 21 Texas A&M in what promises to be an offensive workshop. But before the teams take the field, here’s what you need to know to make the most of your time in Atlanta:
Top 5 Can’t-Miss Events:
1. Georgia Aquarium Fan Night
On Dec. 30, from 5 to 9 p.m., the Georgia Aquarium will bring together Blue Devils and Aggies alike for food, fun and drinks. Bring your friends and family and meet your fellow fans!
2. Chick-fil-A Bowl Game Day Parade
Starting at 1 p.m. on New Year’s Eve, the Chick-fil-A Bowl parade is considered the official kick off for game day. Head to Downtown Atlanta for these football festivities. The parade begins at the intersection of Baker and Peachtree streets and concludes at the Georgia World Congress Center.
3. FanFest made possible by by Coca-Cola Zero
Held from 2:30 to 6:30 p.m. on game day, FanFest gives kids and kids at heart the chance to test your football skills with passing, receiving and kicking drills. After channeling your inner Johnny Manziel, get pumped for pep rallies and the team walks into the Georgia Dome.
4. Chalk Talk and Football Feud
Want to see Duke and Texas A&M players and coaches square off in a game show? Here’s your chance. Dec. 30 at 2:30 p.m., the Chalk Talk and Football Feud Banquet will be held at the Atlanta Marriott Marquis. After the game show, guests will get insight from coaches on bowl preparations and 2013 highlights.
5. World of Coca-Cola Fan Days
While you’re in town, make time to visit the home of happiness, the World of Coca-Cola. From Tues., Dec. 31 through Sun., Jan. 12, Chick-fil-A Bowl fans receive $3 off admission by texting “CFABowl” to 66937.
Top 5 Pro Tips for Navigating Atlanta and the Big Game:
1. Dig in.
There are more than 300 restaurants within a mile of the Georgia Dome. Check out Atlanta.net on your mobile device for a full listing.
2. Download the official Chick-fil-A Bowl App
Whether practical or fun, the Chick-fil-A Bowl app has everything you need for an enhanced fan experience. Find a quick guide to bowl events or “rivalize” your friend’s photo (trust me, this is a good one). It also includes a $5 coupon for FanFest. Available free in the app store.
3. MARTA. Learn it, live it, love it.
On New Year’s Eve night, MARTA rail lines will operate until 2 a.m., giving you plenty of time to enjoy a celebratory night out and make it back to your hotel safely, no car keys required.
4. No ticket, no problem.
The big game is sold out, but you can still come enjoy all the bowl week activities, then head out on the town to either catch the game at a sports bar or live it up at one of Atlanta’s famed New Year’s parties.
5. Get Social.
Stay up to date on all things Atlanta and Chick-fil-A Bowl on social media. Follow @DiscoverAtlanta and @ChickFilABowl on Twitter for up-to-the-minute happenings.
For more information on Atlanta and the Chick-fil-A Bowl, visit Atlanta.net and chickfilabowl.com.
Born and raised in Alabama, Ashley O'Dell (@AshleyOatlanta) has lived in Atlanta since 2008. She has a love for all things culinary and enjoys writing about Southern food culture on her blog, Dash and Dine Atlanta. When she's not writing, Ashley can be found exploring Atlanta's neighborhoods, restaurants and live music venues