15 of the best places for USA holiday festivities

Feeling festive? No matter what the holiday season means to you, the USA has it all. With such a wonderfully diverse country, it’s no wonder celebrations differ so much state by state.


Step back in time at Mount Vernon, Virginia

You’ll get a feel for American Christmas traditions of the past with the festivities at George Washington’s home at Mount Vernon, in the Capital Region. Expect local choir performances, a historical re-enactment at the First Virginia Regiment’s winter encampment, and 18th-century dancing taught by guides in period costume. Too old-fashioned? Head to the coast and witness the spectacular 100 Miles of Lights - it runs across seven cities from Virginia Beach to Richmond.


Holiday lights in San Antonio, Texas

The San Antonio River in San Antonio, Texas, twinkles for the festive season, with more than 100,000 lights lining the River Walk. These famous holiday lights are turned on each year the day after Thanksgiving, and are on 24 hours a day until the New Year. Admire the lights from the riverbank or from the water with a boat tour.


Bonfire bonanza in Louisiana

The Festival of Bonfires at Lutcher in Louisiana, sees the wonderful Cajun tradition of lighting hundreds of bonfires along the Mississippi to guide 'Papa Noel’ on Christmas Eve. There’s is also food, live entertainment, carnival rides and Santa’s Very Merry Forest. 


Santa comes to Old Town Alexandria

There's non-stop Santa action in Old Town Alexandria during the holiday season, where lights twinkle in trees above the shops on its historic high street. There are plenty of events too - highlights include the Campagna Center’s 48th Annual Scottish Christmas Walk Weekend, when dozens of Scottish clans dressed in colorful tartans parade through the streets. There’s also the 19th Annual Alexandria Holiday Boat Parade of Lights on the Potomac River. On the 24th, you can catch Santa waterskiing on the river from Alexandria City Marina and Waterfront Park.


German market in Denver, Colorado

Prefer the European-style feel? Head to Denver, Colorado, for an authentic German-market experience at the Christkindl Market. Hundreds of craft vendors sell traditional artisanal gifts including wood carvings, tree decorations and soaps and traditional German foods including knodel and bratwurst, plus the all-all-important Glühwein.  


Visit the Nation’s Christmas Tree in Visalia

A 2,000-year-old General Grant Tree in Kings Canyon National Park, in Visalia, California, was named the Nation’s Christmas Tree in 1926 and locals make an annual ‘Trek to the Tree’ every year in early December. People sing, pray, and pay tribute to the nation’s war dead at the awesome 267ft high tree - the second biggest giant sequoia in the USA.


Pop-up bites in Las Vegas, Nevada

Holiday at The Park returns to Las Vegas with its lavish festive decorations and pop-up dining experiences in quaint cabins inspired by European holiday traditions, including German sausages, waffles on a stick and mulled wine. Carolers sing festive songs as they parade to the 80-foot holiday tree at Toshiba Plaza.  


Christmas concert in Tucson, Arizona

Prepared to be moved by the features spiritual hymns and Christmas music performed by local choirs at the Patronato Christmas at San Xavier Concert in Tucson, Arizona. This show is held in the exquisite Mission San Xavier del Bac church, one of the original 13 United States National Historic Landmarks, on December 11-13. Built in 1783, the Spanish Colonial-style mission on the Tohono O'odham Nation reservation, with its wood and hand-painted detail, is considered to be the Sistine Chapel of the American Southwest. 


All out holidays in New York City

The Big Apple has some of the biggest and best seasonal city decorations, from jawdropping window-displays in department stores to the vast Christmas tree at the Rockefeller Center. For a classic New York City Christmas experience, try ice skating. There are several outdoor skating rinks: at Brookfield Place, Bryant Park at the Bank of America Winter Village, the Sky Rink at Chelsea Piers and the Wollman Rink and Lasker Rink in a very festive Central Park. There are also plenty of Christmas shopping and markets to enjoy throughout the five boroughs. Or visit Staten Island’s first Winter Wonderland at Richmond County Bank Ballpark for festive family fun.


Catch the Polar Express in North Carolina

For an atmospheric experience, book a seat on the Polar Express-themed steam train in The Great Smoky Mountains, North Carolina. Passengers are treated to a cup of hot chocolate and watch clips of The Polar Express film while on their steam train journey. A choir of carollers sings classic festive tunes as the train pulls up at the final 'station' where Santa awaits, bearing gifts.


Celebrate like The King in Tennessee

Celebrate Christmas Elvis-style at Graceland, his home in Memphis, Tennessee. Graceland’s enormous new park - ‘Elvis Presley’s Memphis entertainment complex’. Graceland will be hosting three festive live shows for The Holiday Concert Weekend on December 14-15 including Legendary guitarist James Burton of Elvis' TCB Band. Expect Elvis-style extravagant décor. 


Christmas carnival in New Orleans

It’s famous for its colourful Mardis Gras, but New Orleans also pulls out the stops in the run-up to Christmas. Celebrates Christmas in traditional New Orleans-style by watching floats and marching bands at the Krewe of Jingle Parade. Meanwhile, local restaurants celebrate the coming year through December with a Reveillon menu, a festive multi-course Creole food feast. 


Bright lights in Chicago, Illinois

The Magnificent Mile, Chicago's answer to Regent Street, is illuminated at this time of year, with more than one million lights decorating 200 trees. For a cosmopolitan Christmas, visit the Chicago Museum of Science and Industry. Its annual ‘Christmas around the World’ celebration, which dates back to 1942, features more than 50 holiday-themed trees that showcase holiday customs from around the globe. Meanwhile, in the museum's domed Rotunda, you’ll find at 45-foot-tall Christmas tree decorated with 30,000 twinkling lights and ornaments that stretches four storeys. 


Traditional Christmas in Washington DC

Enjoy classic holiday festivities in the USA’s capital city, Washington DC. A must-see is The National Christmas Tree on the White House Ellipse where there is live music every evening. Elsewhere, there’s ice skating in the National Gallery of Art’s Sculpture Garden. Unique experiences include ZooLights at the National Zoo, where more than 500,000 LEDs light up the zoo for the holiday season. In historic Georgetown, the artwork of the GLOW festival is displayed outdoors throughout the neighbourhood.


Sparking sea life at SeaWorld, Florida

SeaWorld Orlando is decorated with no less than 3 million sparkling festive lights this holiday season, more than ever before. There are loads of reasons to head to this marine life theme park for its Christmas Celebration this year including the Winter Wonderland on Ice and Sesame Street’s Elmo’s Christmas Wish shows, a Christmas market, Rudolph’s ChristmasTown experience and Shamu Christmas Miracles, where you can celebrate the season alongside majestic orcas in a candlelit Shamu Stadium.  


Posted on: 23/11/2018

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