It’s the most wonderful time of the year… for an American Christmas celebration, that is! From small town celebrations to world-famous events, the holidays are a perfect time to visit some of the cheeriest towns in the US. From light displays and firework shows, to month-long vacation markets and snowy train rides, these festivities provide a fun and unique way to celebrate Christmastime with family and friends. So, put on a Santa hat and grab a peppermint hot cocoa – here are the top Christmas celebrations in the US.


    Orlando, FL

    Family-friendly festive fun

    The happiest place on earth gets even happier during the holidays. From Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party in Disney’s Magic Kingdom to the brand-new winter wonderland laser show at Hollywood Studios, celebrating Christmas time at Disney is a must-do for any family. Enjoy specially themed shows, vacation cheer throughout all 4 parks and, best of all, Cinderella’s castle lit up majestically for the holidays! Stay until the park closes to experience a spectacular show filled with ‘snow’, fireworks and special vacation effects.


    New York, NY

    NY’s landmarks look majestic all done up in lights

    There’s no question about it – New York City knows how to do Christmas. They take vacation celebrations to a whole new level! From ice skating in Central Park to watching the Rockettes at Radio City Music Hall, the festivities in the Big Apple are as timeless as can be. Locals and tourists alike flock to see the famous Rockefeller Christmas Tree, the 5th Avenue window displays, Union Square Vacation Market and, at the center of it, the Empire State building. Lit red and green throughout all the entire month of December, the prominent landmark marks the center of the snowy Christmas festivities.


    North Pole, AK

    A fun, unique and inexpensive Christmas celebration

    A small Alaskan city near Fairbanks, North Pole is known for its year-round Christmas decorations including candy cane striped street lights. During the month of December, thousands of people gather at the cheery town to take part in their vacation spectacle, including breathtaking firework shows and joyful Christmas caroling. Along with the crowning of the Christmas King and Queen, North Pole hosts a Santa Claus meet-and-greet on the 15th of every December. With street names such as Mistletoe Lane and Kris Kringle Drive, North Pole is a fun, unique and inexpensive way to celebrate the holidays in the US.


    photo by Hotice Hsu (CC BY-SA 2.0) modified


    McAdenville, NC

    This small town is big on Christmas

    Ranked one of the top 20 Christmas displays in the world, the small town of McAdenville in North Carolina is notorious for their vacation decorations. Over 160 homes get together during the month of December to light up the streets with their extravagant vacation cheer. Enjoy a walk around the lake, complete with 38 lighted spruce trees, or take a stroll around town where you’ll find 265 Evergreen trees covered in over half a million red, green and white lights. Traveling on foot is encouraged when visiting McAdenville, as the large in-flux of visitors often causes traffic jams in the small town.


    photo by PreferredAperture (CC BY-SA 3.0) modified


    Las Vegas, NV

    Bright (festive) lights, big city

    Las Vegas does everything big, and the vacation season is no exception. Drive your car through a racetrack of Christmas lights (millions of them), visit the winter wonderland at The LINQ Promenade, and of course, celebrate on The Strip! Be sure to check out the 20-meter Christmas tree at the Venetian and the famous Fountains of Bellagio. They feature free special performances of classic vacation tunes with performances starting at 3pm Monday to Friday, noon on Saturdays and holidays, and 11am on Sundays.


    Branson, MO

    Home of The Polar Express

    If you haven't visited Branson during the holidays, you’re in for an incredible surprise. This small town has made its vacation line up of events a treasured tradition. Enjoy live shows, entertaining light displays and, best of all, The Polar Express! What better way to the snowy Ozark Mountains than taking a ride on the train? Just like the original story, hot chocolate and cookies are given out to each passenger and Santa will be there reading parts of the book during the train ride.


    San Antonio, TX

    Head to the riverside and enjoy the decorations

    Anyone who’s been on the San Antonio River Walk is familiar with the quaint, city-center walkway lining the San Antonio River. During the holidays, though, this quiet stroll turns into a spectacular display featuring over 1,000 lights. The River Walk is a public park and is open every day of the year, 24 hours a day, except on November 23th when the Ford Vacation River Parade is held. This iconic night parade filled with lights, costumed float riders and Christmas music. It is only accessible after 4pm with a specially-bought parade ticket.


    photo by Nan Palmero (CC BY 2.0) modified


    Durango, CO

    A white Christmas in the mountains

    The little mining town of Durango, Colorado comes alive during the vacation season with activities all month long for everyone from the adventure seeker to the vacation traditionalist. Start out with the Old Fashioned Christmas Bazaar for old-school food and entertainment, then head to downtown for some classic Christmas shopping. Finish out the night touring the Animas Rives and its surrounding mountainside on the city’s old steam engine train.


    New Orleans, LA

    New Orleans + Christmas = a great celebration!

    Get yourself over to New Orleans for a Christmas to remember. Though world-famous for its Mardi Gras celebrations, this lively city sure knows how to celebrate in December as well. The ‘Running of the Santas’, an annual marathon where everyone is dressed up as St. Nicholas himself, kicks off the month-long celebration. This is followed by cathedral concerts and light shows, such as Miracle on Fulton Street. This pedestrian corridor is transformed into a winter wonderland during December, featuring giant gingerbread house displays and festive food and drinks stands.


    photo by HarshLight (CC BY 2.0) modified


    Bethlehem, PA

    Browse the amazing Christmas market

    Looking for the best Christmas markets in the country? Bethlehem’s got them for you. Located in eastern Pennsylvania, this small town is filled with creativity, world-class festivals, a rich history and, of course, some of the best Christmas celebrations in the world. Rated the top Christmas market in the country by many, ‘Christkindlmarkt’ showcases fine art and unique vacation gifts by 100 artists, live Christmas music and much more. Do your Christmas shopping here and find gifts unlike any other – your friends and family will love them!


    photo by Freedom's Falcon (CC0 1.0) modified

    Fiorella Bertola | Contributing Writer

    Start planning your trip

    Keep exploring

    United States of America

    Back to top