The Best Winter Events in Every State for the Whole Family
We have some holiday cheer for you: the best winter events in every state! Many of these hotels and tourist attractions have taken extraordinary measures to bring the best of the season to you and your family, all while practicing local safety recommendations. If you’re traveling or doing a staycation this winter, here are 50 fun Christmas and/or winter events taking place around the USA.
Please note: While all of these events have been checked to ensure they are scheduled for the 2020-21 winter season, it is important to verify directly with the event website prior to making any travel arrangements. These events are, of course, subject to change due to the nature of COVID-19.
Bellingrath Garden’s award-winning Magic Christmas in Lights display will run November 27th through December 31st. View this display of more than 1,100 set pieces and 15 spread over 65 acres of gardens.
Alaska: Fur Rendezvous
Anchorage, Alaska has proudly kept the Fur Rendezvous or “Fur Rondy” an event for 86 years. Sled dog racing, snowshoe softball, and the “Running of the Reindeer” are all classic Alaskan events at this annual festival. The Fur Rondy is currently scheduled for February 26th through March 7th, 2021.
Arizona: Las Noches de las Luminarias
8,000 luminaries light up Arizona’s Desert Botanical Garden on select nights during the months of November and December.
Arkansas: Lights of the Ozarks
Fayetteville hosts Lights of the Ozarks each year for the month of December. Take your family on a carriage ride to enjoy the lights, then warm up with a cup of hot cocoa!
California: Festival of Lights at The Mission Inn
Book a stay at the beautiful hotel and historic landmark, The Mission Inn. If your stay coincides with the Festival of Lights (November 27th – January 6th), you will love exploring the incredible displays of lights, animated characters and life-sized gingerbread.
Born in January of 1951, Wintersköl celebrates all things Nordic. This little ski town comes alive with winter sporting competitions, fireworks displays, and concerts. Join the fun January 14th through 17th of 2021.
Connecticut: Holiday Light Fantasia
Christmas in Connecticut anyone? The annual Holiday Light Fantasia will be taking place in Hartford’s Goodwin Park as a drive-through event. All proceeds go to a local nonprofit that sponsors kids going to summer camp!
Climb aboard the Wilmington & Western Railroad to enjoy a restive, 45-minute ride! Dress warm! Per state requirements, the train must keep the windows of the train open this year to allow airflow.
Florida: Now Snowing
Snow in Florida? Oh yes! Now Snowing takes place in the charming town of Celebration, Florida. Horse-drawn carriage rides, light shows, train rides, ice skating and, of course, a nightly snowfall!
Georgia: Garden Lights, Holiday Nights
Taking place annually at the Atlanta Botanical Gardens, this Christmas event includes the Tunnel of Light along with favorites like the Orchestral Orbs, Glittering Galaxy, Radiant Rainforest and Model Trains.
Hawaii: Winter Wishes
Head to the Hawaii Convention Center for ice skating, a holiday craft workshop, a gingerbread display, music, and more!
Idaho: Winter Wonderland Festival
Celebrate the season with ice skating, live entertainment, food trucks, vendors, and a million Christmas lights. This event takes place on November 20th through the 22nd.
Illinois: Illumination at Morton Arboretum
The Morton Arboretum has changed this year’s Christmas light display into a 40-minute driving experience. But guests will see all the reimagined favorites such as the Symphony Woods, Woodland Wonder, and Crystal Promenade, and five newly designed sights.
Indiana: Winterlights at Newfields
Take a leisurely stroll through 100-year-old trees decked in over one million sparkling lights. Sip on hot cocoa or apple cider as you enjoy the visual and musical holiday displays.
Iowa: Santa’s Rock’N Lights
This drive-thru animated light show features 700 feet of light tunnels and themed worlds. Get tickets online!
From November 2nd until January 2nd, you can take your family on a drive through Kansas City’s Swope Park for a brand new drive-through lights experience. Winter Magic boasts the longest light tunnel in the midwest, spinning Christmas trees, and a peek into Santa’s workshop to see the elves hard at work!
Kentucky: Scuba Santa at the Newport Aquarium
At the Newport Aquarium, your kids can have the thrill of seeing “Scuba Santa!” They can tell Santa what they want for Christmas as he swims through a tank of sharks — so cool!
Louisiana: Celebration in the Oaks
Yet another great reason to visit New Orleans! The annual Celebration in the Oaks will be a driving tour for the 2020 Christmas season. Enjoy the breathtaking 2.25 display from your car from November 26th until January 3rd.
The Maine Botanical Garden’s 6th annual Gardens Aglow will be a drive-thru experience this year. All tickets must be purchased in advance!
Maryland: Holiday Train Experiences
Maryland is known for its trains, and there’s nothing more magical than a train ride at Christmastime! Check out the list of holiday train rides above.
Massachusetts: Christmas by Candlelight
Christmas by Candlelight at Old Sturbridge Village takes place on set evenings throughout the holiday season. Here you will enjoy a variety of New England traditions such as sleigh rides, bonfires, tree lightings, and Christmas craft and food demonstrations.
Frankenmuth is known as “Michigan’s Little Bavaria.” This delightful town has plenty to do around the holidays — from the traditional German Christkindlmarkt to dinner at the Bavarian Inn. It’s just what you need to help look forward to your next international trip!
Minnesota: Winter Carnival/Ice and Snow Sculpture Park
Minnesotans love their annual Winter Carnival. And this good news is that you don’t have to miss out this year. You can enjoy the sculptures and excitement of the winter carnival all from the warmth of your car!
Mississippi: 50 Nights of Lights
Walk OR drive through this winter wonderland from November 14th through December 31st. Admission is free!
Missouri: Christmas at Silver Dollar City
Experience An Old Time Christmas in Missouri’s Silver Dollar City. Enjoy Christmas in Midtown light display featuring 6.5 million dazzling lights. See a Christmas show, celebrate with a season feast and so much more. Due to limited capacity this year, reservations are required in advance. Christmas at Silver Dollar City runs from November 7th to December 30th.
Montana: Whitefish Winter Carnival
This annual festival in Montana is currently scheduled for February 7th through the 9th. Here you can experience many fun events such as a snow sculpting contest, pancake breakfast, and the Polar Plunge …Can you guess what this is?
Nebraska: Christmas at Union Station
Christmas at Union Station, presented by FNBO, is back for another year of festive fun. Although this year may look a bit different, the magic of Christmas continues at The Durham Museum! This long-standing tradition features Omaha’s official Christmas tree, holiday concerts, and Santa himself.
Enjoy millions of glittering lights from the safety of your car as you drive the Las Vegas Motor Speedway. This 2.5-mile display is open from November 13th until January 10th.
New Hampshire: Santa’s Christmas at Charmingfare Farm
You’ll find plenty of festive fun at the Charmingfare Farm. Take a horse-drawn ride to view a live Nativity. Continue on to the North Pole, get a treat from Mrs. Claus’s bakery, and even meet Santa (social distance style). You will also have the opportunity to see real reindeer!
New Jersey: Christmas Tree Farm Fun
Cutting down your own Christmas tree isn’t just about getting a tree — it’s a whole event! Many of these Christmas tree farms also offer wagon rides, cozy refreshments, and opportunities to meet Santa!
New Mexico: River of Lights
The ABQ BioPark Botanic Garden will hold the outdoor walk-thru River of Lights in the month of December. View the link above for upcoming information!
New York: Bronx Zoo Lights
Head to the Bronx Zoo for five animal lantern safaris, ice-carving demonstrations, holiday treats, costumed characters, wildlife theater, stilt walkers, and more!
North Carolina: Candlelight Christmas Evenings at the Biltmore
If you’ve ever wanted to tour America’s Largest Home, Christmas is a magical time to do it. This historic, Gilded Age mansion is dazzlingly bedecked with luminaries, twinkly lights, poinsettias, and greenery for the holiday season. Choose from one of three package deals from November 6th to January 9th.
North Dakota: Winter Sports Activities
North Dakota is a snow-lovers paradise. Try cross-country skiing, snowboarding, snowshoeing ice fish, and more. Check out the guide in the link above!
First built in 1802, the Historic Clifton Mill is one of the largest water-powered grist mills still in existence. Every year for the month of December, you can visit the mill decked out in 4 million lights. Additionally, you will see a miniature village, Santa museum, toy collection, and a synchronized lights and music show.
Oklahoma: Dickens on the Boulevard
Dickens on the Boulevard is a Victorian-themed holiday festival in historic downtown Claremore. Visitors will enjoy live stage entertainment, food, pictures with Santa, and much more. A Victorian street dance will be held both nights of the event and a Territorial Marshal re-enactment will entertain crowds with plenty of Western-themed action.
Oregon: Christmas Ship Parade
Watch a Christmas Ship Parade on one of 15 select nights in December. This tradition, which began in the 1950s, takes place on the Columbia and Willamette rivers.
Pennsylvania: Hersheypark Christmas Candylane
You won’t have to work hard to convince your family to visit the home of the famous Hershey Chocolate bar. The Hersheypark Christmas Candylane experience includes rides, a special viewing of Santa and his reindeer, and the all-new Hershey’s Chocolatetown.
Rhode Island: Holidays at the Newport Mansions
Historic mansions at Christmastime? Yes, please! The Newport Mansions are spectacular around the holidays, decorated with hundreds of poinsettias, evergreens, wreaths, fresh flowers, and dining tables set with period silver and china.
South Carolina: Holiday Festival of Lights
Charleston’s annual Holiday Festival of Lights is ready to welcome you with a drive-thru experience this year. Enjoy the lights and music and even drive-up concessions stand!
South Dakota: Winterfest
This annual three-day snow bash (January 29th-31st) is fun for all ages. Events held throughout the city include fireworks, VIP party, a parade of lights, a bonfire of Christmas trees, snowshoeing, Mile Up Music Festival, bean cook-off, and much more.
Tennessee: Smoky Mountain Winterfest
Smoky Mountain Winterfest is a magical celebration that starts in late fall and goes all the way through March! Pigeon Forge, Gatlinburg, and Sevierville team together with local businesses like Dollywood, Ripley’s Aquarium, and more to offer amazing light displays and fun.
This multi-sensory, walk-through experience features scenes from Elf, The Polar Express, A Christmas Story, National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacations, and The Year Without a Santa Claus. Dates are November 13th – January 3rd at Marriott’s Gaylord Texan hotel.
The Dickens Christmas Festival takes place December 2nd – 5th. It is a unique holiday shopping and entertainment experience for the whole family. As you wander through the streets of Olde London, you will see vendors with Victorian dresses, hats, and trousers. You may even encounter Queen Victoria herself!
Vermont: Wassail Weekend
December 5th and 12th, head to Woodstock, VT to see historic homes and local shops decorated for the holidays. Take a wagon ride, do some shopping, and check out all the activities taking place during this festive event!
Virginia: Christmastide in Virginia
Get a glimpse into the traditions of Christmas past by grabbing tickets to Christmastide in Virginia at the Jamestown Settlement. This event runs from December 19th – 31st.
Washington: Bavarian Icefest
With unique ice-related sports, live ice carving, and a sparkling light display, the Bavarian Ice Fest is sure to impress the whole family!
West Virginia: Adam Stephen House at Christmas
The General Adam Stephen House is a 1770s colonial-style house museum furnished with period pieces. During the holidays it is decorated with period-appropriate decor and open to history-loving visitors.
Wisconsin: Madison Winter Festival
Madison Winter Festival is a community festival in Madison, Wisconsin celebrating and promoting outdoor sports, recreation, art, and healthy lifestyles in the winter. The 2021 event is currently scheduled for February 6th and 7th.
Wyoming: Jackson Hole Sleigh Rides
Take a horse-drawn sleigh ride through the magnificent National Elk Refuge. An expert guide will share information about the elk herd for an amazing up-close learning experience with unforgettable views. You may also hop on a cozy evening dinner sleigh ride.