From holidays and changing seasons, to the impending new year, gathering is the name of the December game. No matter what you celebrate or where you live, festivals and events abound. Check out what’s happening in every region of the US. A holiday party is never more than a road trip away!
*Celebrations are listed by region: The Northeast, Southeast, Midwest, Southwest, and West (shown below).
52nd Annual Christmas in Newport — Newport, RI, Nov. 21-Dec. 29
Enjoy a classic New England Christmas during the month-long Christmas in Newport celebration. Feast your eyes on the glittering lights at The Breakers; enjoy live music from the Holiday Concert Band and Jazz Ensemble; revel in a live choral performance of the Messiah at Rosecliff Mansion; and attend tree lightings, a Medieval Christmas Festival, and more. Visit the event’s website for an event schedule and admission information.
Chanukah Village Walk — Medford, NJ, Dec. 20
Enjoy the Festival of Lights at the Chanukah Village Walk — where Main Street Medford, NJ will be lined with local vendors, games, music, latkes, doughnuts, and more. The event ends with a grand menorah lighting and is free to attend. Visit their website to learn more and RSVP.
Georgetown GLOW — Washington, D.C., Nov. 26-Jan 22
Ready, set, glow! The eighth annual winter Georgetown GLOW exhibition is composed of “five commissioned light art works … 30 walking tours, GLOW-themed yoga and Pilates classes, a silent disco,” and more. Walk through the city’s oldest neighborhood and enjoy incredible light installations from internationally renowned artists. Admission is free. Learn more about each installation on the event’s website.
37th Annual Kwanzaa Fest — Raleigh and Durham, NC, Dec. 28 and Jan. 1
Kwanzaa is a weeklong holiday that celebrates a different principle of African culture and heritage each day; this year, it runs from December 26 to January 1. The African American Dance Ensemble of Durham, NC is hosting two festival days: One on December 28 in Raleigh, and one on January 1 in Durham. According to its website, each day will feature food, games, dancing, local vendors, art, and a canned food drive. Admission is free.
Christmas in Candyland — Andalusia, AL, every weekend in December
Southern Alabama isn’t the first place you’d expect to see snow all December — but Christmas in Candyland subverts expectations by turning the deep south into a winter wonderland. At this month-long event, you’ll enjoy holiday-themed rides, imaginative decorated cottages, machines blasting artificial snow, horse-drawn carriage rides, and more. Admission to this event is free.
Silver Dollar City Christmas — Branson, MO, Nov. 22-Dec. 30
Silver Dollar City is an 1880s-themed amusement park in the Ozark Mountains. The park’s Old Time Christmas festival “features 6.5 million lights, one thousand decorated trees, two Broadway-style musical productions,” shopping, holiday food, and rides, according to Branson’s website. Visit Silver Dollar City’s website for event schedules and ticket pricing.
Old World Christmas Market — Elkhart, WI, Dec. 2-11
This ten-day celebration is modeled after the one of the world’s oldest Christmas Markets, the famous Christkindlesmarkt in Nüremburg, Germany. Not only does the Wisconsin version allow you to save on airfare, but it also offers authentic German foods like strudel, schnitzel, and bratwurst, as well as vendors and a visit from Father Christmas. Admission to this event is $7. Visit their website for more information.
Elephant Butte Luminaria Beachwalk & Floating Lights Parade — Elephant Butte, NM, Dec. 10
Lumanarias or farolitos are traditional Mexican Christmas lanterns made of sand-weighted paper bags and votive candles. The small southwestern New Mexican town of Elephant Butte hosts a parade and luminaria-filled festival on the beach the second Saturday in December. Enjoy posolé, community-sponsored campsites, carols, and a parade of floating lights on the lake. Attendees must pay the state park entrance fee.
Route 66 Christmas Chute — Sepulpa, OK — Nov. 3-Jan. 1
Get your (Christmas) kicks by walking on Route 66 at the Christmas Chute. For the entire month of December, downtown Sepulpa is decked in an 800-foot long canopy adorned with decor and ornaments. Enjoy pop-up shops, food, and entertainment by foot on one of the United States’ oldest established highways. You can even rent a private igloo or take a carriage ride. Learn more about this event on their website.
Victorian Christmas 2022 — Nevada City, NV, Dec. 4, 7, 11, 14, and 18
This annual event features live entertainment, carolers dressed in Victorian apparel, street vendors, decorated displays, and free roasted chestnuts to boot. Meet Santa, admire the traditional gas lamps and 400 feet of fresh cedar strung about the town, and take in the music, sights, and sounds of a Victorian Christmas. Attendees are encouraged to dress in period attire. Learn more on their website.
Hanukkah Festival at the Skirball Cultural Center — Los Angeles, CA, Dec. 18
The Skirball Cultural Center is a vibrant museum and Jewish cultural institution — and at their Hanukkah Festival, you’ll enjoy live music, dancing, art workshops, and activities. The event ends with a sunset candle lighting you won’t want to miss. Take part in the events of the day then stroll the museum for education and enrichment. Admission is $18, and you can make reservations on their website.
The end of the year is such a special time — despite the winter chill, the country lights up with excitement and fellowship. Wherever you live, and whatever you celebrate, we hope your holidays are filled with peace, joy, and love.