City officials all across America are planning their Christmas activities, while street crews will soon be hanging decorations from Main Street light poles. It seems to come earlier every year and we’re always somewhat surprised when we hear the first piped-in Christmas music at the mall. But there’s no avoiding it – from small and quaint to large-scale and dramatic, Christmas is coming and the goose is getting fat.
While some towns go all out for the holidays, others do very little in their efforts to celebrate the season. If your town is in the latter category, why not do something different this year? Why not visit somewhere known for its Christmas spirit?
First, you need to know where some of the more notable places are.
Each year, since 1961, starting the Saturday after Thanksgiving and lasting until January 1, the town center transforms into a Christmas village. Cottages for the elves, 59 to be exact, along with their workshop, turn downtown Ogden into the North Pole.
Children can visit with Old St. Nick himself in Santa’s castle and even the one and only Grinch is in town for the occasion.
Kids can take a ride on the Polar Express as the train goes through a tunnel painted with holiday murals in glow-in-the-dark paint.
Also on the first Saturday following Thanksgiving is the Electric Light Parade. Elaborately decorated floats, some with top-notch performers, officially open the season. As Santa rides in on the last float, he flips the switch to light up the town.
The parade is followed by live entertainment in Ogden’s amphitheater, followed by an amazing fireworks display to signify the end of the night.
A Bavarian themed town to begin with, Christmas in Leavenworth is nothing short of magical. With 21-miles of lights, equaling in the millions of bulbs, strung between rooftops during the holiday season, the town becomes a “Village of Lights.”
The city does not light up their town for only a week or two. The lights remain lit from Thanksgiving all the way until Valentine’s Day. Lighting ceremonies are held on the first three weekends of the month to make certain everyone has a chance to join in.
You’ll find hot roasted chestnuts, kid’s sledding down a nearby hill, and carolers setting the mood.
Known as the “Wassail Weekend,” the quaint New England town of Woodstock celebrates Christmas in true equestrian fashion. The main event comes on the final day with the annual Equestrian Parade, in its 33rd year in 2017. The parade consist of 50 riders and horses decked out in 19th century period dress.
Take a private sleigh ride around the town full of twinkling lights, and actually be invited inside some of the magnificently decorated historic homes.
The entire scene is very… well… “Christmassy.”
Frankenmuth is chock full of European heritage, being settled by Germans in 1845. Known as Michigan’s “Little Bavaria,” during the Christmas season their heritage comes alive and is in plain view for all to see.
Just like in the old country, the town hosts an annual Christkindlmarkt, and the world’s biggest Christmas store, Bronner’s Christmas Wonderland, draws in visitors from near and far. Lutheran church services are held in German during this time.
If your kids would get a thrill out of having breakfast or lunch with Mr. and Mrs. Claus. They can do it in Frankenmuth on the first or second Saturday of December.
The city puts up an array of lights and displays that stay up until sometime in January, and go up the day after Thanksgiving.
On the first Saturday of December, the Women’s Club holds a home tour where they feature six homes of distinction.
If you want to see lights, lots of lights, throw your bags in your car and head to Jackson, Wyoming.
The town square with its elk antler arches is always an intriguing sight, but at Christmas, when the city weaves lights in-and-out of them, the arches become beyond spectacular.
If you have time and can swing it, you may want to hang around for New Year’s Eve. Skiers with torches ski a crisscross pattern down the mountain. It’s a sight to behold.
Locals pour out to the town square during the cities lighting ceremony where carolers fill the air with the sounds of Christmas. Hot Chocolate and cookies are served, and of course, the very busy Mr. Claus makes his appearance.
Nothing says Christmas more than the winter scenery surrounding Jackson.
Yet another Bavarian Alpine town that holds Christmas near and dear to its heart.
During the Festival of Trees, wreaths and trees uniquely decorated by artists are auctioned off. A holiday craft market, kid’s activities and other fun events are all a part of their Christmas in the Mountains Celebration & Lighted Parade.
The lighted parade features float’s adorned with all the colors of the season, and the lighting of the town square is beautiful beyond words.
If you’re anywhere close, or even if you’re not, a trip to Helen over the Christmas season is well worth the drive.
Wisconsin’s Elkhart Lake Christmas
Granted. Wisconsin gets cold. But what better way to get into the true spirit of the season?
Elkhart Lake sits in between Lake Winnebago and Lake Michigan, about an hour up the road from Milwaukee, but days away from the big city bustle.
The town is famous for its Old World Christmas Market, fashioned after the one in Nuremberg, Germany, Christkindlesmarkt. Traditional German aromas from Sauerbraten, Potato Pancakes, and Schnitzel fill the air as hundreds of vendors hawk their crafts and art.
The market is located inside a huge heated tent and the individual booths are all decorated with green and white lights. Everything is very relaxed and laid back and it has been said the true spirit of Christmas lives here.
Of course, there are many other towns and cities that get in the full swing of things over the Christmas season, so if your town isn’t one of them, do a bit of research, there’s always one just down the road from you.