The Best Small Towns for Christmas Lights

Sheep crowd a pen next to Lukomir on Bjelašnica mountain.
The week between Christmas and New Year's is an ideal time to steal away. As the year winds down, many businesses and schools close for the holidays, making it easier to plot an escape, and it's a time of festivals and other special events that roll out the welcome mat for visitors. Whether you're in search of sun and sand or traditional holiday-themed winter fun, keep these destinations in mind for a final getaway before 2019.
Slide 1 of 21: Nothing gets people in the Christmas spirit quite like a festive holiday light display. If you're seeking a glowing holiday this year, be sure to celebrate the season of lights in one of these illuminated small towns.
Slide 2 of 21: Few holiday traditions are as magical as Jackson Hole's annual lighting of the town's famous elk antler arches in Town Square. What's more, the Jackson Hole Playhouse will present its annual Christmas show from December 13 through January 5, 2019.
Slide 3 of 21: Leavenworth's Christmas Lighting Festival takes place over the first three weekends in December. Visitors will enjoy not only more than a half-million lights but musical performances and appearances by Santa Claus and other costumed holiday characters.
Slide 4 of 21: What better place to celebrate Yuletide than a town named after Santa himself? Visitors will no doubt love the Santa Claus Land of the Lights—the largest campground holiday light show in North America—at Family Christmas Light Adventure inside Lake Rudolph Campground and RV Resort where every family receives a photo with Rudolph. The Santa Claus Christmas Store and Museum and Village are also must-visits this time of year.
Slide 5 of 21: Frankenmuth is a premier town for not only Oktoberfest but Christmas lights in large part because of its unrivaled Bavarian culture. If you can't make it to Germany, this is your next best bet as it's home to the world's largest Christmas store in Bronner's Christmas Wonderland, which boasts miles of holiday lights.
Slide 6 of 21: Located in Southern California's Santa Ynez Valley 45 minutes northwest of Santa Barbara, this Danish-style town lights up each year with visitors flocking to experience the annual Julefest Tree Lighting Ceremony. This year's spectacle will take place December 7 and feature an appearance by Santa Claus, caroling, bands and a whole lot more entertainment.
Slide 7 of 21: Venture outside of Charlotte, North Carolina to discover McAdenville, better known as Christmas Town USA. The lights here are unlike anything you'll find anywhere else and, better yet, they're completely free to experience. From the large lake in the center of town to the dozens of decorated homes, you won't want to blink or you might miss something.
Slide 8 of 21: There's no shortage of choices when picking out a festive Christmas light display in Branson with options ranging from the Silver Dollar City showcase to the Trail of Lights drive-thru display winding through the 160-acre Shepherd of the Hills Homestead.
Slide 9 of 21: Another Bavarian town exuding Christmas spirit, Helen boasts a ton of holiday attractions, including a traditional Christkindlmarkt and beautiful lights that debut with the Lighting of the Village in November. The annual Christmas Parade gets underway December 8.
Slide 10 of 21: Arguably Arizona's most Christmassy city, Prescott is a two-hour drive north of Phoenix but well worth a visit this time of year as the Yavapai County Courthouse is lit up with the colors of the season.
Slide 11 of 21: Christmas in a small town doesn't get much better than Fredericksburg. Holiday lights in this Texas Hill Country town can be found nearly everywhere, from Main Street to Marktplatz (Market Square).
Slide 12 of 21: Less than two hours east of Fredericksburg just north of Austin, Downtown Round Rock will light up for Christmas Family Night on December 7. The illuminated displays will continue through the holidays.
Slide 13 of 21: Visitors to Utah will find Orem roughly 45 miles south of Salt Lake City. While its holiday displays might pale in comparison to those you'll find in the big city, "Family City USA" is unlikely to disappoint those spending the Christmas season on the eastern shore of Utah Lake.
Slide 14 of 21: Sure, Nantucket is a beloved summer destination. However, it doesn't hold back around the holidays either as it hosts a number of festivities featuring exceptional lights, including the Nantucket Whaling Museum's Festival of Trees and historic homes donning Christmas decorations.
Slide 15 of 21: From Boothbay Harbor to the Coastal Maine Botanical Gardens, this Maine town is a fantastic experience for those seeking extraordinary Christmas lights in 2018. The Gardens Aglow display alone features hundreds of thousands of twinkling lights.
Slide 16 of 21: Baltimore's Hampden neighborhood is a popular stop for many during the holiday season thanks to its remarkable Miracle on 34th Street light display. The tradition dates all the way back to 1947 and only gets more impressive each year.
Slide 17 of 21: This town outside of Plymouth isn't shy when it comes to celebrating Christmas and is also home to Edaville Family Theme Park, which showcases over 17 million lights during its annual Christmas Festival of Lights.
Slide 18 of 21: The oldest continuously occupied settlement of European origin in the U.S. is also a renowned destination for Christmas lights. The 25th annual Nights of Lights will feature approximately three million lights throughout the city's historic district all the way through February 3, 2019.
Slide 19 of 21: If you're looking to take in Christmas lights with a small town vibe outside of Washington, D.C. this holiday season, consider Kensington. The annual Festival of Lights at the Washington D.C. Mormon Temple is a popular tradition featuring hundreds of thousands of colorful lights.
Slide 20 of 21: Visitors to Aspen will want to check out the holiday light displays in nearby Snowmass Village, which also puts on free family-friendly Christmas events and festivities. You're also likely to experience a white Christmas here.
Slide 21 of 21: This charming small town north of Yellowstone National Park features plenty of mesmerizing Christmas lights around the holidays. Plus, the Livingston Christmas Stroll down Main Street on December 7 includes wagon rides, sled dogs, an appearance by Frosty and much more.

Small Town, Big Lights

Nothing gets people in the Christmas spirit quite like a festive holiday light display. If you’re seeking a glowing holiday this year, be sure to celebrate the season of lights in one of these illuminated small towns.

Jackson Hole, Wyoming

Few holiday traditions are as magical as Jackson Hole’s annual lighting of the town’s famous elk antler arches in Town Square. What’s more, the Jackson Hole Playhouse will present its annual Christmas show from December 13 through January 5, 2019.

Leavenworth, Washington

Leavenworth’s Christmas Lighting Festival takes place over the first three weekends in December. Visitors will enjoy not only more than a half-million lights but musical performances and appearances by Santa Claus and other costumed holiday characters.

Santa Claus, Indiana

What better place to celebrate Yuletide than a town named after Santa himself? Visitors will no doubt love the Santa Claus Land of the Lights—the largest campground holiday light show in North America—at Family Christmas Light Adventure inside Lake Rudolph Campground and RV Resort where every family receives a photo with Rudolph. The Santa Claus Christmas Store and Museum and Village are also must-visits this time of year.

Frankenmuth, Michigan

Frankenmuth is a premier town for not only Oktoberfest but Christmas lights in large part because of its unrivaled Bavarian culture. If you can’t make it to Germany, this is your next best bet as it’s home to the world’s largest Christmas store in Bronner’s Christmas Wonderland, which boasts miles of holiday lights.

Solvang, California

Located in Southern California’s Santa Ynez Valley 45 minutes northwest of Santa Barbara, this Danish-style town lights up each year with visitors flocking to experience the annual Julefest Tree Lighting Ceremony. This year’s spectacle will take place December 7 and feature an appearance by Santa Claus, caroling, bands and a whole lot more entertainment.

McAdenville, North Carolina

Venture outside of Charlotte, North Carolina to discover McAdenville, better known as Christmas Town USA. The lights here are unlike anything you’ll find anywhere else and, better yet, they’re completely free to experience. From the large lake in the center of town to the dozens of decorated homes, you won’t want to blink or you might miss something.

Branson, Missouri

There’s no shortage of choices when picking out a festive Christmas light display in Branson with options ranging from the Silver Dollar City showcase to the Trail of Lights drive-thru display winding through the 160-acre Shepherd of the Hills Homestead.

Helen, Georgia

Another Bavarian town exuding Christmas spirit, Helen boasts a ton of holiday attractions, including a traditional Christkindlmarkt and beautiful lights that debut with the Lighting of the Village in November. The annual Christmas Parade gets underway December 8.

Prescott, Arizona

Arguably Arizona’s most Christmassy city, Prescott is a two-hour drive north of Phoenix but well worth a visit this time of year as the Yavapai County Courthouse is lit up with the colors of the season.

Fredericksburg, Texas

Christmas in a small town doesn’t get much better than Fredericksburg. Holiday lights in this Texas Hill Country town can be found nearly everywhere, from Main Street to Marktplatz (Market Square).

Round Rock, Texas

Less than two hours east of Fredericksburg just north of Austin, Downtown Round Rock will light up for Christmas Family Night on December 7. The illuminated displays will continue through the holidays.

Orem, Utah

Visitors to Utah will find Orem roughly 45 miles south of Salt Lake City. While its holiday displays might pale in comparison to those you’ll find in the big city, “Family City USA” is unlikely to disappoint those spending the Christmas season on the eastern shore of Utah Lake.

Nantucket, Massachusetts

Sure, Nantucket is a beloved summer destination. However, it doesn’t hold back around the holidays either as it hosts a number of festivities featuring exceptional lights, including the Nantucket Whaling Museum’s Festival of Trees and historic homes donning Christmas decorations.

Boothbay, Maine

From Boothbay Harbor to the Coastal Maine Botanical Gardens, this Maine town is a fantastic experience for those seeking extraordinary Christmas lights in 2018. The Gardens Aglow display alone features hundreds of thousands of twinkling lights.

Hampden, Maryland

Baltimore’s Hampden neighborhood is a popular stop for many during the holiday season thanks to its remarkable Miracle on 34th Street light display. The tradition dates all the way back to 1947 and only gets more impressive each year.

Carver, Massachusetts

This town outside of Plymouth isn’t shy when it comes to celebrating Christmas and is also home to Edaville Family Theme Park, which showcases over 17 million lights during its annual Christmas Festival of Lights.

St. Augustine, Florida

The oldest continuously occupied settlement of European origin in the U.S. is also a renowned destination for Christmas lights. The 25th annual Nights of Lights will feature approximately three million lights throughout the city’s historic district all the way through February 3, 2019.

Kensington, Maryland

If you’re looking to take in Christmas lights with a small town vibe outside of Washington, D.C. this holiday season, consider Kensington. The annual Festival of Lights at the Washington D.C. Mormon Temple is a popular tradition featuring hundreds of thousands of colorful lights.

Snowmass Village, Colorado

Visitors to Aspen will want to check out the holiday light displays in nearby Snowmass Village, which also puts on free family-friendly Christmas events and festivities. You’re also likely to experience a white Christmas here.

Livingston, Montana

This charming small town north of Yellowstone National Park features plenty of mesmerizing Christmas lights around the holidays. Plus, the Livingston Christmas Stroll down Main Street on December 7 includes wagon rides, sled dogs, an appearance by Frosty and much more.

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