There is no mystery as to why the holiday season is often described as the most wonderful time of the year. From singing carols and making cookies to giving gifts and decorating the tree, holiday traditions hold a special place in everyone’s heart. Make this season even more extraordinary and enjoyable by checking out some “must-see” holiday celebrations throughout Pennsylvania.
Koziar’s Christmas Village - Dutch Country Roads
A scenic drive through the countryside leads visitors to a dazzling wonderland set aglow with more than 500,000 lights adorning the buildings, barns, and landscape of Koziar’s Christmas Village. Since its inception 66 years ago, Koziar’s Christmas Village has grown drastically into a massive display of lights and attractions, and boasts many awards, including Best Outdoor Christmas Display in the World from Display World Magazine and the Award of Excellence from the Pennsylvania Travel Council as one of the Top Ten Travel Attractions in Pennsylvania. A new handcrafted whimsical outdoor train display set amongst a charming village was added last season.
Bethlehem and Christkindlmarkt - Lehigh Valley
Nov. 21 – Dec. 22, weekends excluding Thanksgiving weekend
Find the perfect gift and experience holiday shopping like never before at a tradition that dates back to medieval Germany! During the Middle Ages, townspeople gathered to shop in open air markets during the holiday season, and now, visitors to Bethlehem can do the same at Christkindlmarkt. The market has more than 125 artisans set up in heated tents to present their best work for shoppers to purchase and enjoy. New this season, enjoy a breakfast with St. Nicholas on December 21st! From jewelry and handmade pottery to delicious food and live holiday music, this holiday paradise in Bethlehem, the Christmas City, is packed with tradition, old world charm and possibly that perfect present.
Christmas in Hershey - Dutch Country Roads
Get into the holiday spirit by experiencing Christmas in Hershey. Start off the evening by exploring Christmas Candylane, where guests can enjoy all the wonders of the holiday at Hersheypark. Visit with Santa and his reindeer, sing along to holiday tunes and enjoy some hot roasted nuts while strolling through the amusement park. For those who want to stay warm in the car, check out Hershey Sweet Lights display. This two-mile wooded driving path provides a twinkling journey where visitors can view more than 600 animated displays. With so many holiday happenings and family friendly entertainment, Christmas in Hershey can be “The Sweetest Place on Earth” to celebrate the holiday season.
“It’s A Wonderful Life Festival and Parade” - Pittsburgh and its Countryside
The Christmas Tree capital of the world and Jimmy Stewart’s hometown of Indiana kicks off the holiday season with this parade and festival paying tribute to the iconic movie, “It’s a Wonderful Life.” Visitors can enjoy a parade, model train display, crafts and music while roasting marshmallows and enjoying a cup of hot chocolate to keep warm. The Indiana Theatre also offers free admission and the local theatre runs the famous movie that day without charge.
Overly’s Country Christmas - Laurel Highlands
Featuring 2.4 million twinkling lights spread across 15 acres of the Westmoreland Fairgrounds, Overly’s Country Christmas has been a tradition in western Pennsylvania for more than 50 years. Nearly a thousand volunteers help to create this massive light display, as well as provide a warm bonfire, tasty treats and quaint sleigh rides to all attendees. To keep in the holiday spirit of giving, proceeds of this sparkling event go to supporting at-risk families.
Christmas at Elizabeth Farms - Dutch Country Roads
Located in the heart of historic Lancaster County, Elizabeth Farms is the area’s largest live Christmas tree farm since 1758 and features more than 200 acres of live Christmas trees, free scenic horse-drawn wagon rides, Santa’s workshop, hot refreshments, a train room, festive holiday displays and much more. The “Gift of Lights” is the farm’s new Christmas drive-through light experience featuring over a mile of thousands of twinkling lights to bring the yuletide season to life. The light display is open seven days a week from Nov. 15 – Jan. 1.
Light Up Night® - Pittsburgh and its Countryside
Downtown Pittsburgh will celebrate the 54th anniversary of Light Up Night® with a weekend-long event complete with Pittsburgh entertainers, a bridge party, special lighting ceremonies, marching bands, the fourth annual Candlelight Horse-drawn Carriage Parade, Santa and, of course, fireworks! The annual event is one of the largest holiday lighting celebrations in the country.
Longwood Gardens Christmas Display - Philadelphia and the Countryside
Nov. 27 – Jan. 11
They’ll put the stars in your eyes this holiday season as you wander through half a million twinkling lights, thousands of poinsettias, and magnificent Christmas trees. Beautifully lit fountains dance in their starry holiday wonderland, and concerts are presented daily. Experience nature’s holiday display as Longwood Gardens celebrates the season with its annual Christmas Display. Heated glass conservatories hold even more holiday plants indoors while concerts and ice skating shows entertain guests outdoors. This display of nature and beauty is sure to leave every visitor in the holiday spirit!
Christmas Magic - Dutch Country Roads
Christmas Magic is a spectacular half mile trail winding through Rocky Ridge Park in York displaying more than 600,000 lights and animation. This magical holiday happening has become a traditional visit for many families far and wide. Christmas Magic has been named one of the top 13 events in the country by the Wall Street Journal, the very best special event in Pennsylvania by the Pennsylvania Recreation and Parks Society and featured as one of the top 10 holiday events in Pennsylvania by The Philadelphia Inquirer.
Olde Time Christmas Celebration - Pocono Mountains
Friday, Saturday and Sunday – Dec. 5–7; 13–14
The streets of Jim Thorpe bustle with the sounds and joy of the Christmas season this time of the year. The decorations, cozy accommodations, sounds of the trains and carolers, and relaxed strolling through downtown are sure to put you in the holiday spirit. The town’s annual Christmas Parade and tree lighting, Christmas play, Historic District Ghost Walks, and Gingerbread House Contest are just a few of the Christmastime activities visitors can enjoy. In addition, the mansions are open for tours and decorated for the season.
Santa Train (Oil Creek and Titusville Railroad) - Pennsylvania’s Great Lakes Region
Nov. 29, Dec. 6
All aboard the polar express! Ride the rails with Santa, Mrs. Claus and all their helpers on a one-of-a-kind wintertime trip through the beautiful Oil Creek State Park. Relax aboard the historic Titusville railroad as it winds through the snow-covered valleys and soars through the winter air. Enjoy complimentary hot chocolate and homemade cookies as local choirs sing carols and entertain the holiday spirit.
Boiling Springs Tree Lighting & Christmas Tree Float - Dutch Country Roads
Since 1992, the Boiling Springs Civic Association has lit the small town of Boiling Springs into a magical picturesque Christmas village. Hundreds of luminaries line the lake and crowds gather near the gazebo to watch Santa Claus row his boat across the lake to greet the children. A Christmas tree that is set afloat near the Memorial Clock Tower is lit and even on the coldest days, the warmth of the town and the people make this night one of the more memorable holiday experiences.
Annual Festival of Ice and Annual Festival of Wreaths - The Alleghenies
For three days in central Pennsylvania, downtown Lewistown hosts two holiday celebrations, the Annual Festival of Ice and the Annual Festival of Wreaths. Old-fashioned carriage rides take visitors past walls of magnificently sculpted ice, interactive ice sculptures and more than 40 individual blocks of sculpted ice, while live entertainment and festive foods keep visitors warm among the decorated wreaths that line the halls of the historic courthouse on Monument Square.
Christmas in Our Hometown - Upstate PA
Dec. 5– 6
Whether visiting from just around the corner or making the trek far from home, there is nothing quite like feeling at “home for the holidays” at Tunkhannock's Christmas in Our Hometown weekend. Street carolers, hot chocolate, a visit from Santa and Mrs. Claus and a host of other holiday festivities await visitors as they wander through this picturesque town celebration. Enjoy horse and buggy rides, open air peanut roasting, ice sculptures and more during this annual occasion.
The Pennsylvania Christmas and Gift Show - Dutch Country Roads
Dec. 3 – 7
Featuring more than 750 vendor booths, this annual event at the Harrisburg Farm Show Complex is one of the largest holiday shows in the country. It includes a Christmas shop, decorated trees, train displays, visits with Santa, a children’s workshop and more.
“A Dickens of a Christmas” Victorian Celebration - Pennsylvania Wilds
Held the first weekend in December, the annual “A Dickens of a Christmas” in Wellsboro evokes Victorian-style charm in this quaint town street fair. Conveying the theme of Charles Dickens’ famous story “A Christmas Carol,” this celebration boasts street musicians and carolers dressed in period inspired attire. For a unique view of this old-fashioned holiday wonderland, take part in a horse-drawn wagon ride or special train excursion. Gather around and finish the night with a tree lighting ceremony in the center of town.
Bellefonte Victorian Christmas - The Alleghenies
Dec. 13 – 15
Take a journey back in time to Christmases of the past at the 33rd annual Bellefonte Victorian Christmas. Stroll on the streets alongside ladies in traditional dress riding in horse-drawn carriages and gentlemen in top hats greeting the visitors. Ring in the season and turn on the holiday cheer with a variety of Victorian traditions, such as tea parties, home tours and much more.