Each season brings exciting reasons to travel. Without a doubt, the holiday season brings some of the best festivals and events of the year. The time leading up to Christmas and New Year's is especially full of events, all across the country and beyond. Keep reading for some old favorites and fresh ideas for the best festivals in December.
1. New York City New Year's Eve
One of the best festivals in December is the New York City celebration of New Year's Eve. Times Square
fills with over one million people, all eagerly anticipating the drop of the ball and various music performances. Leading up to New Year's, New York City
is filled with other holiday festivities including the famous tree at Rockefeller Center
, ice skating in Central Park
, and shopping at the famous New York department stores with their stunning window displays.
2. Galveston Festival of Lights
If you're looking for a festive way to ring in the holiday season while enjoying some warm weather, head to Galveston, Texas
. This annual attraction has over one million lights spread along a one mile trail for the ultimate family-friendly December festival.
3. St. Augustine Night of Lights
When one of Florida's most historic destinations, St Augustine Beach
, and Christmas lights come together, the result is St. Augustine Night of Lights. This festival, that lasts throughout December, features over two million lights illuminating everything from colonial buildings to the historic bayfront. This festival is a great option for travelers looking for a romantic Christmas festival.
4. Washington, D.C. Zoo Lights at the National Zoo
Travelers that want to combine an educational trip with the fun festivities of December should head to Washington, D.C.
for Zoo Lights. The nation's capital is full of ways to celebrate the holidays, including this incredible light display at the National Zoo. Beyond the festival, kids will find entertainment in museums and national monuments.
5. Branson Holiday Wonderland
It's hard to think that a destination like Branson, Missouri
could have even more entertainment, but that's exactly what happens during December. Branson's Holiday Wonderland includes the lighting of a 5-story special effects Christmas tree, music, and lights covering the entire local park.
6. Smoky Mountain Winterfest
One of the best festivals in December is Smoky Mountain Winterfest in Gatlinburg
and Pigeon Forge
. This festival includes a range of family-friendly activities, including a Fantasy Christmas Parade
with marching bands and giant balloons. Over five million lights shine in these towns to commemorate the season.
7. Charleston Holiday Festival
Some of the best holiday festivals don't include a single flake of snow. One of the best examples is the Charleston Holiday Festival in Charleston, South Carolina
. The main event is a festival of lights spread throughout the Charleston County park system where visitors will see over 600 holiday inspired light displays.
8. Philadelphia Christmas Village
Some of the best December festivals are the ones that allow you to get some shopping done in advance of the holidays, and that makes Philadelphia's
fest a top contendor. At the Philadelphia Christmas Village, you will find unusual gifts including jewelry, clothing, winter accessories, and more.
9. Chicago Magnificent Mile Lights Festival
Every year over one million travelers head to Chicago
to check out the Magnificent Mile Lights Festival and Christmas Market. Held every year in Daley Plaza, this festival combines a traditional German Christmas Market with a sparkling lights festival.
10. Christmas New Orleans Style
Travelers that are looking to really celebrate the holiday season should set their sights on New Orleans
. This city maintains its party reputation with a Christmas celebration that includes feasts, parades, jazz music, and a dazzling display of lights. Different events are held all month long.
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