‘Christmas at the Grotto’ returns with expanded schedule

(Cullman Tribune file photo)

CULLMAN, Ala. – St. Bernard Abbey’s Ave Maria Grotto, Cullman’s most popular attraction and one of Alabama’s must-see tourist destinations, will open evenings following Thanksgiving for the third installment of “Christmas in the Grotto.” The multi-weekend festival will see the Grotto park covered in Christmas lights, offering visitors a unique opportunity for a different view of the miniature spiritual world of Brother Joseph Zoettl, a Benedictine monk at St. Bernard Abbey.  


“Last year’s Christmas at the Grotto was an overwhelming success with over 5,000 attendees,” said Roger Steele, director of the Grotto. “Considering the enthusiasm for this event from local folks as well as people throughout the north Alabama community, we have decided to expand the event this year by adding additional nights and also bringing in Johnny’s BBQ, live music and also horse-drawn wagon rides on Dec. 17 and 18.”  


The Grotto will be open 15 nights this year, starting on Nov. 26 following Thanksgiving. 


The seasonal celebration will feature a big event on Friday and Saturday, Dec. 17 and 18 with live music from the St. Bernard monks singing Gregorian chants, traditional Christmas tunes performed in Appalachian style and more. The Johnny’s BBQ food truck will be on-site both nights, and the Grotto’s picnic grounds will be lit up for use. The Abbey will also offer horse-drawn wagon rides (up to eight passengers per trip) around campus with a storyteller. 


“Our staff here at the Grotto is committed to bringing our visitors an experience of the true meaning of Christmas,” said Steele. “We want to make Christmas at the Grotto one of the premier Christmas events in the north Alabama region and even the state.” 


At a glance 


Christmas at the Grotto 


Ave Maria Grotto at St. Bernard Abbey, 1600 St. Bernard Dr. in Cullman 


Friday and Saturday, Nov. 26, 27 – 5-9 p.m. 

Thursday-Saturday, Dec. 2, 3, 4 – 5-9 p.m. 

Thursday-Saturday, Dec. 9, 10, 11 – 5-9 p.m. 

Thursday-Saturday, Dec. 16, 17, 18 – 5-9 p.m. 

Wednesday and Thursday, Dec. 22, 23 – 5-9 p.m. 

Thursday and Friday, Dec. 30, 31 – 5-9 p.m. 



Adults – $6 

Students – $3 

Children under 3 – free 

Wagon rides on Dec. 17, 18 – $5 

For more information, visit http://www.avemariagrotto.com

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W.C. Mann