Slip on your favorite holiday sweater (ugly or otherwise) and dive into the magic of the season in Pennsylvania! We have 31 happy holiday experiences that will bring the cheer this holiday season even to the most challenging person on your list!
1. Elmwood Park Zoo's Wild Lights
Light up the night celebrating Elmwood Park Zoo’s favorite holiday tradition, Wild Lights on select nights, Nov. 17-Dec. 30. Experience the magic of festive attractions that warm your spirits and cherish the ones around you. Featuring live entertainment, holiday music, animal meet and greets, carousel and barrel train rides, seasonal treats, and even photos with the spectacular Saint Nick himself! Individuals and families with sensory sensitivities can enjoy Wild Lights on Nov. 30 with the music lowered and reduced crowds.
2. Hawley Winterfest
The Hawley Winterfest is a wonderful way to start your holiday celebrations as the streets of Hawley shine bright with twinkling lights and fun festivities, Dec. 8-10. Travel back to simpler holiday times and kick off your winter season with the Winterfest Parade through town and visit with Santa in the historic Bingham Park Bandstand. Shop the holiday bargains and get your gift list completed at the many local businesses hosting open houses with yummy baked goods and hot drinks. Pick your favorite from among the many beautifully decorated Trees for a Cause and at the ugly sweater contest, while enjoying the holiday lights, Beer Tour, and Christmas Tree Express train rides.
3. 32nd Quiet Valley Old Time Christmas
Be transported back through time to discover the Christmas customs of the past at the 33rd annual Quiet Valley Old Time Christmas, Dec. 2-3, 9-10. Lanterns and luminaries abound as the farm is decked out in festive holiday finery. Stop by the bonfire to get warm and listen to a story or two. See the Christmas Putz in the Victorian parlor and watch the farm family make special gifts for their loved ones. Sing carols with the school marm at the schoolhouse, then visit the Cellar Kitchen to meet an old Pennsylvania German folk character, the Belschnikel, who really knows if you have been naughty or nice!
4. Commonwealth Bank “It’s A Wonderful Life” Festival
As the “Christmas Tree Capital of the World” and the boyhood home of Jimmy Stewart who starred in the iconic holiday movie classic, “It’s A Wonderful Life,” there’s a lot to celebrate in Indiana County during the holiday season, but especially at the annual “It’s A Wonderful Life Festival,” Nov. 17-18, Saturdays Nov. 24-Dec. 15 with other special events happening every weekend. The festivities kick off at IRMC Park with the traditional lighting of the 30-foot tall Christmas tree and Holiday Parade. The Jimmy Stewart Museum will be presenting a special “It’s A Wonderful Life” exhibit and Festival Of Trees, as well as screenings of the movie and a documentary on how the movie was made. The entire city is in the holiday spirit with lots of fun activities for both children and adults, holiday craft making sessions, and local shops offering special discounts, holiday promotions, and yummy treats.
Enjoy breakfast with St. Nicholas, the holly, jolly sounds of live Christmas music, and the handmade works of more than a hundred of the country’s finest artisans at Christkindlmarkt in Bethlehem. Mark your calendars! Twice recognized by Travel + Leisure as one of the best holiday markets in the U.S., the event takes place under four large heated tents on PNC Plaza at SteelStacks, Nov. 17, Thursdays starting Nov. 30, and weekends through Dec. 17.
6. Olde Time Christmas
Jim Thorpe turns back the clock and is all decked out in Victorian style for the annual Olde Time Christmas celebration, with special events during three magical weekends: Dec. 2-3, 9-10, 16-17. The celebration kicks off with the annual tree lighting ceremony in Josiah White Park on Dec. 1. There will be train rides, strolling carolers and musicians, horse and carriage rides, holiday shopping, and plenty of free family activities!
7. Santa Claus Special
Visit with a very special guest on your train ride! Santa Claus will be joining you with the Santa Claus Special on the Lehigh Gorge Scenic Railway, select dates Nov. 24-Dec. 24. Take photos with Santa, munch on small treats, and make memories before arriving at your destination. We recommend looking out the window at some point to take in the incredible views of the Lehigh River.
8. Overly’s Country Christmas
Overly’s Country Christmas offers a spectacular walk-through holiday lights display and so much more, select dates Nov. 16-Dec. 30 (closed on all major holidays), with their Christmas Village simply brimming with holiday cheer! Be enchanted by the Hartman Station model train display, then enjoy the entertaining Talking Christmas Tree and tasty treats from the Country Kitchen. Warm up by the Holiday Bonfire before climbing aboard for a tractor wagon ride or watch the little ones enjoy the Kids' Express train ride and Mr. Waterheater’s Fun-derland playground. Of course, be sure to visit Santa in his workshop to share your Christmas wishes!
9. Peoples Gas Holiday Market™
Looking for a unique and a fun-filled shopping experience? Visit Market Square in downtown Pittsburgh for the 12th annual Peoples Gas Holiday Market™, Nov. 17-Dec. 24 (closed Thanksgiving). The square is magically transformed into a European-style holiday shoppers’ paradise for the season. You’re sure to find the perfect present for everyone on your list from the many vendors with one-of-a-kind gifts from around the world filling the event’s alpine-style chalets! And don’t forget to stop by the indoor Holiday KidsPlay with loads of fun activities located just across the street from the Selfie Garden.
10. Kennywood Holiday Lights
Make your season sparkle this holiday season during Kennywood’s Holiday Lights, Nov. 18-Jan. 1, with a dazzling display of more than two million twinkling lights, the tallest Christmas tree in the state, a visit with Santa, and exciting rides including the thrilling new Spinvasion multi-action spacecraft ride and up to eight Kiddieland rides for the little ones. Their special holiday entertainment and selection of festive foods and beverages are sure to fill you and your family with the holiday spirit!
11. Macy’s Christmas Light Show and Dickens Village
A Philadelphia tradition since 1956, the beloved Macy’s Christmas Light Show in the historic Wanamaker Building features 100,000 LED lights that dance along to classic tunes from the Wanamaker Organ. Macy’s Dickens Village is a 6,000-square-foot walk-through experience featuring scenes from Charles Dickens’ holiday classic, A Christmas Carol. Experience these city holiday scenes in action, Nov. 24-Dec. 31. Want an earlier start to all the holiday magic?! Starting Nov. 15, enjoy Macy’s Market Street Animated Christmas Windows complete with holiday tunes to banish the “bah humbugs” this holiday season!
12. Koziar’s Christmas Village
First you drive down a dark, curvy road. Then you hear the faint sounds of Christmas music drifting up from the valley below. Around that last turn, more than one million blazing holiday lights come into view and you’ll swear you’ve entered a Christmas fairyland at Koziar’s Christmas Village in Bernville, Nov. 23-Jan. 1. Celebrating its 76th anniversary season, the village features both traditional and non-traditional holiday scenes, including an early 20th century schoolhouse, “kissing” bridge, and a whimsical Christmas Under The Sea.
13. Christmas Candylane®
Grab the kids for some sweet, holiday-filled fun at Christmas Candylane® at Hersheypark on select dates now through Jan. 1. Along with five million lights decking the park, a choreographed light show, and festive live entertainment, enjoy several of your favorite rides, including Wild MouseSM, Laff TrakkSM, sooperdooperLooper®, WildcatSM, Cocoa CruiserSM and their all-new wood and steel hybrid coaster, Wildcat's Revenge. Santa, Rudolph, and eight of his reindeer friends have taken up residence to greet you before their big night!
14. Dutch Winter Wonderland
Deck the Halls and enjoy some royal holiday fun as Dutch Winter Wonderland returns on select dates, Nov. 18-Jan. 1. Soak in thousands of lights, strap into more than 20 rides and attractions, even meet Santa himself at his cabin and enjoy storytime with Mrs. Claus. There are plenty of new experiences to enjoy this year including Merlin’s Magical Forest interactive light show, a holiday scavenger hunt, and Duke’s Blizzard Bash dance party. Come celebrate the season with the whole family at Dutch Wonderland!
15. A Very Furry Christmas Celebration
Celebrate the holiday season with your favorite Sesame Street friends at Sesame Place’s A Very Furry Christmas Celebration!, select dates Nov. 18-Jan. 7 Watch as the park is transformed into a winter wonderland with millions of twinkling lights and festive decorations all around. Tune into their 1-2-3 Christmas Tree show featuring a 30-foot fully-illuminated pixel-based tree that projects festive animated images while playing your favorite holiday songs — making this the ultimate music and light show experience! Be sure to visit Santa in his Furry Workshop to let him know what’s on your wish list.
16. Hanukkah Celebration at Sesame Place
Join Baby Bear and his family as they celebrate the Festival of Lights with Grover and more of your Sesame Street friends at Sesame Place’s Hanukkah Celebration, Dec. 8-10. Baby Bear leads the festivities as cantor during the late afternoon Menorah Lighting Ceremony and as they play a game of dreidel and learn all about Hanukkah!
17. Kwanzaa Celebration at Sesame Place
Join your favorite Sesame Street friends for a festive and fun Kwanzaa Celebration, Dec. 26-Jan.1! There will be a special Storytime and Kinara lighting as you learn all about the celebrations and principles of Kwanzaa.
18. Holidays at Fonthill Castle
Henry Mercer’s beloved home, Fonthill Castle, dazzles in all its holiday splendor during Holidays at Fonthill Castle, select dates Nov. 18-Dec. 29. Throughout the holiday season, enjoy a one-hour daylight or 45-minute evening guided tour of the historic castle “dressed to the nines” for the holidays while learning about the construction of this unique property and Mercer’s amazing, adventure-filled life. You can also opt to meander on your own weekends in December with the castle’s knowledgeable guides available throughout to answer questions and add to the holiday cheer.
19. Santa’s Christmasland at Kraynak’s
For generations of families, the holiday season wouldn’t be complete without a visit to Kraynak’s Santa’s Christmasland, Sep. 10-Dec. 31. Celebrating its 60th anniversary, its fun, whimsical, and beautiful holiday displays are bigger and better than ever! Once you enter their 300-foot starlight avenue, you’ll be transported to a make-believe land filled with twinkling lights, glittering trees, and a magical array of life-like, animated characters. Be sure to stop by their selfie wall to snap a photo or two as a personal memento of your magical holiday adventure!
20. Saturdays with Santa at Heinz History Center
The big guy himself, Santa, takes a break from his hectic holiday preparations to visit with young and old alike at the Heinz History Center’s Saturdays with Santa, Nov. 18-Dec. 23. Saturdays during the holiday season, take a photo with Old Saint Nick as he sits in an exact replica of the chair from the old Kaufmann’s department store’s Santaland. After visiting with Santa, reminisce as you explore artifacts highlighting the greater Pittsburgh region’s holiday traditions at the museum’s “A Very Merry Pittsburgh” display.
21. Animated Christmas Tree & Village
Johnstown kicks off the holiday season with its annual Hometown Stroll & Light Up Night where the 40-foot tall Animated Christmas Tree is lit for the first time this season and food vendors, live entertainment, and of course, Santa Claus are just waiting for you to stop by on Main Street, Nov. 17. The fun continues throughout the season with the tree belting out your favorite classic and modern holiday tunes timed to an amazing light show, Nov. 18-Jan 7. Be sure to explore the Christmas Village of little houses and Johnstown’s downtown businesses decked out in their holiday finery.
22. A Longwood Christmas
Enjoy a A Very Retro Christmas this holiday season at Longwood Gardens, Nov. 17-Jan. 7. Showcasing botanical splendor with a retro vibe, their horticulture artists are bringing to life a bevy of bright, nostalgic moments with festive trees draped in throwback baubles, shimmering tinsel, and favorite childhood toys. You’re invited to take a step back in time to the mid-1950s and a festive holiday party scene with retro fun at every turn. The strolling Olde Towne Carolers will serenade you with holiday music as you cozy up to the inviting fire pits amid the thousands and thousands of Longwood’s twinkling lights.
Tip: Tickets must be pre-purchased with a timed entry.
23. Festival of Trees
Pearl S. Buck’s historic farmhouse is once again aglow with holiday decorations during the annual Festival of Trees, Nov. 15-Jan. 7. Showcasing beautiful trees and vignettes designed by Bucks County’s best artists, decorators, and local community groups to convey the spirit of Ms. Buck as author, humanitarian, and activist, vote for your favorite then explore the rooms of the iconic Bucks County stone farmhouse. You won’t want to miss this year’s newest exhibit featuring the original artwork created by renowned artist Anna Marie Magagna to illustrate Pearl S. Buck’s children’s book, Christmas Miniature.
The Philadelphia Zoo’s epic holiday light show, LumiNature, is back and brighter than ever! Decked out with more than a million sparkling lights, the zoo is transformed into a holiday wonderland with full-scale animal illuminations and holiday decorations in celebration of the wonder of wildlife, Nov. 17-Jan. 6. You’ll find photo ops galore in the 16 themed zones throughout the park, including the new Shimmer River and LumiNature Lane, and plenty of fun when you hop aboard the Septa PZ Express to ride beneath a canopy of 200,000 twinkling lights. The fun continues with the Nature Blazers Scavenger Hunt and “light performers” donned in glowing, animal-themed costumes.
Tip: Tickets must be pre-purchased with a timed entry.
25. Holiday Magic! Winter Flower Show and Light Garden
Phipps Conservatory and Botanical Gardens invites you to take a magical journey through their enchanted “Season’s Greetings” Holiday Magic! Winter Flower Show and Light Garden, Nov. 17-Jan. 7. With twinkling trees adorned in jewel tones, a dazzling seven-foot tree decked out for the holidays, and a topiary cat curled up on a succulent armchair beside a flickering fireplace, you’re sure to be charmed with the Phipps’ all new holiday displays. Not to be outdone by the indoor festivities, don your winter jacket, warm up your voice, and step outside to enjoy the spectacular lights in their outdoor Winter Light Garden with its new “singing tree” that reacts to caroling voices!
26. Holidays in Philadelphia
Make this season magical and take advantage of all of the festive activities and attractions in the city of Philadelphia now until Feb. 25. Check names off your holiday shopping list when you visit the authentic German Christmas Market at Love Park and City Hall and the Made In Philadelphia Holiday Market at Dilworth Park. Grab your skates or sip some holly, jolly drinks by the fire pit when you visit Winter at Dilworth Park and BlueCross River Rink Winterfest. In between attractions, admire the shimmering lights, festive decorations, and seasonal cheer the city brings.
27. Peddler’s Village
Peddler’s Village is anything but ordinary and practically guaranteed to make your holiday season merry and bright with a variety of charming and fun events, Nov. 17-Jan. 14! Join in the holiday revelry during the Holiday Kickoff Weekend, Nov. 17-19, when Santa and Mrs. Claus turn on a million colorful lights at the Grand Illumination Celebration, then enjoy a variety of live entertainment including carolers, strolling performers, Singing Santa, and other holiday surprises all weekend long. Next up is the Gingerbread Competition with more than 100 creative and whimsical entries on full display throughout the holiday season. Be sure to vote for your favorite!
28. The Christmas Tree Capital of the World
Bundle up, find your inner Paul Bunyan, and create a little holiday magic of your own picking out the perfect Christmas tree in the fields and forests of an Indiana County tree farm. With approximately 700,000 trees to choose from, it’s easy to see why this is The Christmas Tree Capital of the World!
A stay at Nemacolin is special any time of year but becomes truly magical during the holiday season when the entire resort is transformed into a sparkling, enchanted wonderland. Plan a weekend stay and your little ones will have an extra-special bedtime tuck-in by one of Santa’s elves. Under the guidance of Nemacolin’s expert pastry chefs, let your family’s creativity be on full display as together you decorate a gingerbread house to take home during the Gingerbread Jam at Hardy’s Holiday Village, Saturdays Nov. 25-Dec. 23.
30. Skytop Lodge
December is a simply enchanting time of year at Skytop Lodge in the Pocono Mountains. The 5,500-acre resort comes alive for the holidays, and every day brings something special. Enjoy the Tree Lighting Ceremony and Santa’s arrival, Saturdays Nov. 25-Dec. 23. The event is filled with holiday cheer and packed with family-friendly fun beginning with afternoon tea and cookies with carolers and a special visit with Santa. Then on Sundays, Nov. 26-Dec. 17, bring your wish lists for the elves to bring to the North Pole as you and your little ones enjoy breakfast with Santa!
31. Santa Christmas Tree Express
All aboard! On select dates up until Christmas Eve, enjoy the most festive train ride you’ll ever take with the Santa Christmas Tree Express. With trains departing from both Honesdale and Hawley, get comfy and cozy in the heated coaches as you dash down the tracks with the Christmas Tree Farm as your final destination. Once arrived, you have an hour to pick out your favorite Christmas Tree, visit with Santa, and sip complimentary hot chocolate. Just don’t forget to take Santa’s holiday train back to your car!
To see what other holiday attractions there are in Pennsylvania check out the visitPA website. Follow us on Facebook, X(Twitter), Pinterest, and Instagram to stay up-to-date on even more great ideas and places to visit around our state. Don’t forget to sign up for our monthly Happy Thoughts e-newsletter so you never miss an update!