The 25 Most Festive Towns in the United States

The most joyful time of the year is around the corner and whether you’re looking for a winter wonderland, complete with snow-capped mountains and quaint town settings, or the exciting buzz of a big metropolis, complete with glistening ice rinks and towering Christmas trees dominating bustling urban plazas, there’s no shortage of spectacular locations across the United States to spend your holidays at. Want spectacular Christmas light displays, holiday decorations, craft fairs, and other festive activities? These places are ideal for families, as well as solo travellers and couples looking for a romantic getaway! So put on your favourite Christmas tunes, wear your fluffiest socks, grab a cup of hot chocolate, and read on to discover the 25 most festive towns in the USA!

Most festive towns in the USA

1st. Santa Claus, Indiana

Santa Claus, Indiana bills itself as “America’s Christmas Hometown”. Although it might seem hard to believe, this is a genuine location that happens to breathe Christmas every day of the year. The local postmaster began promoting the town in the late 1920s, and soon, hundreds of children’s letters to Santa began to flood in from all over the country. A must-see attraction here is Santa’s Land of Lights. It’s an annual Christmas light show that is 1.2 miles long and has a sugar castle offering nostalgic, hard-to-find delicacies.

2nd. Greenville, South Carolina

When it comes to spectacular Christmas attractions, Greenville is hard to beat. Children throng the streets to see Santa’s sleigh (an old Ford Aerostar that’s been turned into a sleigh) as it rides down Main Street every year. The Christmas Essentials Market also allows you to do all of your holiday shopping in one location (and avoid the crowds at the mall!). The streets are lined with twinkling lights and there’s an outdoor small rink on Main Street, a competition called the “Festival of Trees,” tree lighting ceremonies, and more. It’s almost surreal!

3rd. Williamsburg, Virginia

Why not spend your Christmas season in historic Williamsburg, Virginia? Holiday festivities abound, such as the historical exploration of 17th and 18th century Christmas practices, which is known as Christmastide. You may also go to the lighting of the Yorktown tree or visit Busch Gardens, which hosts a number of old-fashioned Christmas customs, such as torchlight carolling, throughout the city. You can also go to the “North Pole” and meet Santa Claus while you’re there. Children and adults alike will be mesmerised by Christmas Town’s eight million lights and peppermint fudge hot chocolate.

4th. Helen, Georgia

A Bavarian village in the Chattahoochee Valley may not be what you expect to find in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains, but Helen has built itself as an Alpine community. Wreaths and Christmas trees adorned by local artists go up for sale during the Festival of Trees. Children’s activities including Kinderfest, the Christkindlmarkt, and tree lighting take place in the town center in December. Make sure to take part in the Christmas parade. Tourists from all over the world rush to this hamlet to experience the magic of a German Christmas village.

5th. Berlin, Maryland

This quaint small historic town in Maryland has a tonne of Christmas spirit! You’ll fall in love with it right away. Berlin was named “America’s Coolest Small Town” by Budget Tourist in 2014 and has commendably preserved its historic architecture and Victorian beauty. One might get the impression that time has stood still while walking through Berlin Main Street. The town comes to life with festive lights and decorations during the Christmas season. There will be free Christmas carriage rides until December 23rd in Berlin at the intersection of Pitts and Main Street, so stop by on Saturdays and Sundays from 11am to 3pm for a memorable holiday experience.

6th. Woodstock, Vermont

Visit the quaint Vermont village of Woodstock for a New England-style Christmas celebration. As though from a Christmas card, there’s a horse-and-buggy procession around a snow-covered town green. Carollers perform for the town’s residents, who then assemble to see the tree and Yule log be lit. Go for a stroll down the lovely Main Street, view the historic covered bridges on a wagon trip, or check out some exciting Victorian-era celebrations at the Billings Farm. This delightful New England spectacle will have you pinching yourself in amazement!

7th. Vail, Colorado

Going to Vail during the holidays is like having the white Christmas of your fantasies come true. Skiing on new snow. Spending time with friends and family around the fireplace. A fresh snow sleigh ride. And carolling, if the mood strikes. Promising powdery slopes, cobblestone alleys, and quaint hotels, there’s no place like Vail. At Christmastime, the town is decked up in lights, the mountains are beautiful, and the Kris Kringle Market is open for holiday shopping. The town comes alive with lights, noises, festivities, and Christmas enthusiasm, making it the ideal destination for a family celebration.

Image: Jack Affleck / Vail Resorts

8th. Dahlonega, Georgia

It’s like staring into a snow globe that came to life. Dahlonega is a jolly winter wonderland from the outside, with dazzling lights, horse-drawn carriages, and Santa Clauses wherever you look. Dahlonega begins its month-long holiday celebration the day after Thanksgiving, and it does it the only way it knows how… Loudly and proudly, whether it’s the tree lighting, vintage parade, or festive market on Candy Cane Lane. So it’s no surprise that Christmas in Homestead, a Hallmark Channel classic, was shot in Dahlonega a few years ago.

9th. Bethlehem, Pennsylvania

This year, you can celebrate Christmas in Bethlehem, a hamlet in Pennsylvania. It offers a “Christmas City Stroll” and horse-drawn carriage rides that are sure to put a smile on everyone’s face. The Historic Moravian District is decked up in twinkling white lights, and there are special activities to get you in the holiday spirit. There are festive cocktail crawls, Santa’s Haus visits, and even a window decoration contest! You can take a walking tour with historical costumed interpreters who will take you through centuries of Bethlehem’s history, from its creation in 1741 to the city’s quirky Christmas customs.

10th. New York, New York

Even though New York City moves at a mile-a-minute speed throughout the year, things appear to slow down a little over the holidays, giving you a chance to get into the festive spirit. The highlight of the holiday season is Rockefeller Center’s 75-foot-tall Christmas tree, which is delightfully lit up with 30,000 lights. Walk along Fifth Avenue (ideally with a hot chocolate in hand) and take in the Macy’s window decorations to get a true feel for the New York City Christmas season. Ice skating in Central Park is a must-do for individuals with a competitive spirit, while Grand Central Terminal’s vendor craft festivals are fabulous. It’s a no-brainer.

11th. North Pole, Alaska

This little Alaskan hamlet, named after the abode of Father Christmas, more than lives up to its moniker. In fact, they have an event called Christmas in Ice, where ice sculpting artists from all around the globe display their coolest work. Throughout the year the village of North Pole in central Alaska transforms into a Christmas wonderland. It’s complete with Santa Claus House and the World’s Smallest Santa, who is just under 50 feet tall. Take a sleigh ride along Kris Kringle Drive while you’re there and touch some reindeer. Anyone who enjoys the holiday season should make a special trip to this location.

12th. Leavenworth, Washington

This Bavarian community always has an Alpine vacation vibe about it, no matter what time of year it is. During the wintry month of December, however, you’ll be greeted by harp music, exuberant carolling, sledding around the town’s tree, and even the town’s own reindeer farm! The Leavenworth Village of Lights, which features a stunning display of 500,000 twinkling lights, is a popular destination for visitors from out of town. You’ll also love the Christkindlmarkt, a traditional German street market where you can learn all about gluhwein, traditional German food, and handmade gifts.


13th. Red Wing, Minnesota

Red Wing, Minnesota’s annual Holiday Stroll is a terrific way to get into the Christmas spirit. During the Holiday Stroll, Red Wing residents enjoy parades, cookie baking, a visit from Santa Claus and Mrs. Claus, as well as reindeer sleigh rides, and a lot of music. People also place bids on some of the most ornate Christmas wreaths ever fashioned at the Festival of Wreaths. Among other festivities are an ice-sculpting display and cookie baking lessons, as well as reindeer-pulled sleigh rides and a real Nativity scene. It’s a town-wide event held on the bluffs above the Mississippi on the Friday following Thanksgiving to kick off the Christmas season.

14th. Fredericksburg, Texas

Fredericksburg is a lovely little town that still pays homage to its original German settlers by hosting a Christkindlesmarkt in November, which kicks off the holiday season. The town then hosts a frenzy of Texas-sized events. Think: Christmas parades and tree lightings as well as Nutcracker performances and craft shows. It’s the ideal holiday destination, whether you want to go ice skating, see the town’s 30-foot Christmas tree, or shop along Main Street dressed up for the season. You can also attend a festive wine event and sample local food, or attend one of the numerous special events.

15th. Natchitoches, Louisiana

Since 1927, the town of Natchitoches, named after a Native American tribe, has hosted one of the country’s oldest community-based Christmas festivals. Each year, this sleepy Louisiana village turns into a magical Christmas wonderland with the onset of the Festival of Lights. Over 100 light displays and 300,000 individual lights adorn the Cane River’s banks in celebration of the festival and the town’s Creole roots. During the Christmas season, you may also go on carriage rides, take house tours, and participate in parades. You can also enjoy a fantastic fireworks display, a lively Christmas procession and gala, and Santa Claus’ residence.

festive towns usa

16th. Park City, Utah

During the Christmas season, Park City comes alive with a festive spirit! There’s nothing like shopping on Park City’s Main Street or just strolling around the beautifully lighted and adorned downtown area after November 30th. Take a trip on the Heber Valley Railroad’s North Pole Express for a once-in-a-lifetime experience. In all, the voyage lasts 90 minutes, and all passengers get hot chocolate and cookies as well as a present from Santa. At the Canyons Village, you will find live music, artisan sales, and even fireworks. Santa will, of course, be on hand for photographs and conversations with children of all ages.

festive towns usa

17th. Durango, Colorado

For a traditional Christmas experience, visit Durango, a winter wonderland in Colorado. There’s a plethora of places to visit during the festive season, from quaint mountain towns to merry bazaars. It’s famous for being host to the Polar Express. It’s a Cascade Canyon adventure that takes passengers on a 26-mile ride through the San Juan National Forest and the Animas River in heated coaches. After your trek through the snow-covered mountains, do Christmas shopping on Main Ave. or at the historic Strater Hotel, which is tastefully decorated for the holidays and exudes seasonal cheer.

18th. Branson, Missouri

Branson takes great pride in being known as “America’s Christmas Tree City”. Its Christmas celebration,An Old Time Christmas, is complete with live Christmas entertainment, 1,000 beautifully adorned trees, an eight-story Christmas tree, and the Holly Jolly Christmas Light Parade. The Ozark Mountain Christmas festival, a month-long spectacle with holiday music, light displays, and lots of parades, takes place every year in this Missouri community. It’s possible to ride the Polar Express Train Ride on the Branson Scenic Railway and pretend you’re in a scene from the iconic film. Make sure you have enough hot chocolate on hand!

festive towns usa

19th. Solvang, California

There are other Bavarian-style towns to visit over the Christmas season, however, this one California town brims with Danish festive cheer instead. Danes developed the town in the early 1900s, and they left behind some beautiful Danish-style buildings. A Nordic winter solstice event with dancers, music and a procession takes place every year in Solvang. Julefest, a month-long Christmas celebration in this hamlet in the heart of California’s wine country, takes place every December. Denmark’s Christmas Market Light Show, Tree-Lighting Ceremony, Julefest Parade, and Candlelight Tours are just a few of the holiday activities on offer during the Danish-style celebration. Also, don’t forget to check out the massive windmill!

festive towns usa

20th. Taos, New Mexico

The modern-day Pueblo Native American communal adobe village of Taos is the perfect place to visit over the holidays if you are interested in both indigenous history and Christmas cheer. You can find tree-lighting ceremonies, music, and artisan fairs, but on December 24, everything changes. Luminarias and rifle salutes are given from the settlement’s roofs, and a parade includes large bonfires to honor Taos Pueblo’s Native American heritage (small paper lanterns). Most of the festivities take place in the town square, which transforms into a bustling center during the month of December.

festive towns usa

21st. Lahaska, Pennsylvania

This charming little hamlet in the Philadelphia area offers everything you could desire in a Christmas winter wonderland. After Thanksgiving, Peddler’s Village in Lahaska comes to life during the holiday season in all its merry splendor. There are more than a million beautiful lights sparkling all around you. Visit the gazebo in the center of the town during the Christmas season to view all the entries for the Gingerbread Decorating Competition, where nearly 100 imaginative creations are displayed. On the weekends, people may participate in an “Elf on the Stealth” outdoor strolling mystery. On this tour, families are guided by Mrs. Claus to explore the town for Shelfie the Elf and solve the riddle.

festive towns usa

22nd. McAdenville, North Carolina

Most of the year, this sleepy village outside of Charlotte hardly makes it onto most people’s radars. But every December, it is transformed into a fabulous Christmastown. Almost all of the houses are decked up for the holidays, so you can enjoy romantic strolls around the neighborhood by candlelight. McAden Mills Bell Tower plays seasonal music nightly and 160 differently adorned residences feature over 250 lit-up Christmas trees. The Yule Log Parade, which has been going on for almost 70 years, and the yearly tree lighting ceremony are also part of the festivities.

festive towns usa

23rd. Frankenmuth, Michigan

This holiday season, go to Frankenmuth, Michigan’s Bavarian-inspired city, to live out your German Christmas fantasies. Often known as Michigan’s Little Bavaria, it has a festive atmosphere year-round. This is thanks in part to Christmas Lane, which is home to the world’s biggest Christmas shop – Bronner’s. Here, you can find a cornucopia of Christmas decorations, like 50,000+ ornaments and 300+ adorned trees. The city’s Christmas light show has 100,000 glittering lights, through which you can ride in a horse-drawn carriage.

festive towns usa

24th. Myrtle Beach, South Carolina

Like Christmas festivities but prefer to do them in a place with milder weather? Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, is the place for you. One of the best things about Myrtle Beach is the abundance of Christmas-themed concerts available, from The South’s Grandest Christmas Show at the Alabama Theatre to the Legends in Concert Holiday Show. Another must-visit place during the festive season is Brookgreen Gardens Night of a Thousand Candles event. Here, you can enjoy a romantic stroll around the gardens while they are illuminated by more than 3,500 candles and thousands of glittering lights. For the complete experience, sip on your favourite winter beverage and listen to carollers sing.

festive towns usa

25th. Las Vegas, Nevada

Don’t think of Sin City as a destination to spend a family-friendly Christmas? It might be worth a second look. The city has always presented a festive and vibrant show of holiday happiness. The Bellagio Fountains’ Christmas light show and music, which is open to the public and free, is absolutely stunning! The Bellagio Conservatory, where the South Garden is located, is decked up for the holidays with thousands of lights, poinsettias, and a 40-foot Christmas tree. With Christmas trees, garlands, and window decorations on show throughout the casino and hotel complexes, it sure does get you in a very ‘Christmassy’ spirit!

festive towns usa

Shivani Suresh

Transplanted into travel writing from an anthropology background, Shivani's main draw towards any destination is its culture and traditions. She will always gravitate towards off-beat experiences like staying with a curandero family in the middle of the northern Mexican desert, singing in a jazz bar in Bhutan, sifting through dodo bones and extinct bird feathers in London, making friends with a voodoo priestess in New Orleans, or eating conch shells on a "research" trip to The Bahamas. When she's not travelling, she takes a keen interest in playing the harmonica, perfecting her cup of tea, and napping.

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