Joy to the world and these quaint towns around the U.S. that really outdo themselves in the Christmas spirit department. From over-the-top boat parades to European-inspired holiday markets, there’s something for everyone on this list of locals that deck the halls unlike anything you’ve seen before. Read on and enjoy rockin’ around these jaw-dropping Christmas trees, musical extravaganzas, and more.

Oxnard, California 

Christmas in Oxnard, California

Oxnard, California (Credit: Visit Oxnard)

This beach town is brimming with yuletide excitement from multiple tree lightings – including the tallest Christmas Tree in Ventura County to the glimmering Christmas Tree Lane, a decades-long tradition of festively lit houses along several streets in Oxnard’s National Historic District. Take the Oxnard Holly Trolley down Christmas Tree Lane and to other local holiday attractions while sipping hot cocoa for an outing you won’t soon forget. There’s also a Parade of Lights with decorated boats at the Channel Islands Harbor, tours of the decorated Victorian homes in the historic Heritage Square, a tamale festival and more.

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Long Grove, Illinois

Christmas carol singers in Long Grove, Illinois

Long Grove, Illinois (Credit: Historic Downtown Long Grove Business Association)

This inviting Chicago suburb has a yearly "Vintage Holidays" campaign, a seasonal tribute to the small-town holiday market experience complete with picture-perfect shops, horse-and-carriage rides and strolling holiday carolers in historic costumes. From Nov. 19 through Dec. 19, you can expect all this, along with appearances of Santa and Mrs. Claus, village merchants participating in a "Christmas Tree Parade" and more. The Long Grove Vintage Holidays event is organized annually by the Historic Downtown Long Grove Business Association. 

For more information, click here.

Branson, Missouri 

Christmas in Branson, Missouri

Branson, Missouri (Credit: Silver Dollar City)

Ready for a very Ozark Christmas? In this small town of some 11,500 residents, visitors to famed Silver Dollar City, an 1880s-inspired theme park a few miles outside downtown Branson, are in for a veritable holiday treat. Within: "An Old Time Christmas" event that has 6.5 million lights on display, an eight-story Christmas tree, several musicals and a much-beloved light parade. Need more convincing? It’s the four-time reigning champion of America’s Best Theme Park Holiday Event in the USA Today’s 10Best Readers’ Poll.  With 6.5 million lights around town, there’s also much to explore outside the theme park, including approximately 100 shows at 37 theaters, such as Christmas shows by families like the Haygoods, five brothers and one sister who play 20 instruments between them, melding rock, country and high jinks, and the Celtic fiddling Dutton family performing orchestral versions of Christmas tunes.

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Kennebunkport, Maine

Christmas crowds in Kennebunkport, Maine

Kennebunkport, Maine (Credit: Kennebunkport Resort Collection)

There’s just something about the holidays in New England. Named the number-two Christmas town in America by HGTV, Kennebunkport will be celebrating the 40th anniversary of its annual Christmas Prelude, an 11-day holiday extravaganza from Dec. 2 to 12. There, visitors will be dazzled with the 40 Trees Trail, hat parade, tree lightings, Christmas caroling, craft fairs, parades with Santa and much more seasonal merriment. When it’s time to relax, retreat to beautiful spots like the Kennebunkport Inn and the Cape Arundel Inn & Resort with picture-perfect decorations and attentive staff. Before you skip town, be sure to drive through the guided "Holiday Trail of Lights." a feast for the eyes that benefits nonprofit organizations.

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Dahlonega, Georgia

Christmas lights in Dahlonega, Georgia

Dahlonega, Georgia (Discover Dahlonega)

It’s hard to outshine (literally) this gold rush town in the mountains of Northern Georgia. The backdrop for two recent Hallmark movies and one recent Lifetime movie, this idyllic locale hosts an annual Old Fashioned Christmas, this year running from Nov. 26 to Jan. 9. For the more-than-monthlong affair, witness thousands of sparkling lights, a two-story Christmas tree on the square and the second annual Festival of Trees with about a dozen brightly decorated Christmas trees on display outside in Hancock Park (worth noting: The trees used in the festival are wild trees that will be planted at the end of the season). Other draws include carriage rides, socially distanced visits with Santa, old-time carolers, a holiday show at the historic Holly Theater and the annual Christmas Market, put on by the Dahlonega Women’s Club.

For more information, click here.


Solvang, California

Christmas decorations in Solvang, California

Solvang, California (Central Coast Pictures / SolvangUSA.com) 

This Southern California town of 6,000 is a winter wonderland with a unique feel thanks to its Northern European architecture (the city was founded in 1911 by Danish immigrants). This year, from Nov. 27, 2021, through early January 2022, is its annual Solvang Julefest, with events running the gamut from a parade and evening candlelight tours to the townwide, digital "Nisse Adventure" (Christmas elf scavenger hunt) and the impressive Tree Lighting ceremony in Solvang Park. On any given day, you can also wander peacefully through the village’s beautiful twinkling lights and storefront Christmas trees. It all wraps up with Tree Burn, one of the largest fire safety demonstrations on the Central Coast (supervised by the Santa Barbara County Fire Department). Bring an appetite, too: Solvang is celebrated for its five authentic Danish bakeries peddling pastries such as aebleskiver, a spherical Danish dessert. During Solvang Julefest, enlist on the Holiday Food Tour to nosh on all of that, along with fare from the town's more modern haunts, like a Michelin-"chef'd" eatery and a tropical Tiki lounge.

For more information, click here.


Carmel, Indiana

Christmas market in Carmel, Indiana

Carmel, Indiana (Courtesy of Hamilton County Tourism)

Hello, Christkindlmarkt! In idyllic Hamilton County, teleport yourself to a wintry European market that’s filled with approximately 50 German vendors peddling a wide array of authentic German wares and gifts. After you’ve spun around on ice skates at The Ice at Carter Green, pick up a hot mug of Glühwein (mulled wine) or hot chocolate to top off your day in this noel oasis. 

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Fort Myers Beach, Florida

Christmas in Fort Myers Beach, Florida

Edison and Ford Winter Estates in Fort Myers, Florida (Credit: The Beaches of Fort Myers & Sanibel)

The Fort Myers Beach Christmas Boat Parade is quite the unique spectacle, voted the 5th Best Holiday Parade by USA Today 10Best, and featuring many illuminated and intricately decorated vessels. Learn more about the 33rd annual parade here. In nearby Captiva Island, the ‘Tween Waters Island Resort & Spa Tree Lighting Celebration on Nov. 26 is also quite the scene, in which there are 200,000 holiday lights added to a 30-foot Christmas tree, all flickering in musical synchronicity. Then, on Captiva’s neighboring Sanibel Island, known as "the seashell capital of the world," check out Santa’s Dolphin & Wildlife Cruise, a Christmas Eve experience that combines ol' Saint Nick with watching dolphins swim throughout the Pine Island Sound and San Carlos Bay.

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Minden, Nebraska

Christmas lights on a house in Minden, Nebraska

Minden, Nebraska (Courtesy of Nebraska Tourism)

Welcome to Christmas City, Nebraska. This town of around 3,000 residents has proudly displayed a 12,000-bulb strand of red and green lights on the Kearney County Courthouse and town square every year since 1915. Another holiday standout? "The Light of the World" Christmas pageant put on by locals on the sides of the courthouse square each year. The pageant is held the Saturday after Thanksgiving and the first two Sundays in December. Check the calendar for dates.

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Natchez, Mississippi

Christmas in Natchez, Mississippi

Natchez, Mississippi (Credit: Visit Natchez)

Get more than your fair share of season's greetings from picturesque Natchez along the Mississippi River, perhaps best known for its antebellum mansions. The fun kicks off on Thanksgiving weekend with the annual Christmas in Natchez tree lighting event on Main Street with pyrotechnics set to music, cameos from the North Pole’s famed Mr. Claus and many tantalizing food vendors on offer. Hallmark fans may enjoy Visit Natchez’s self-guided tour brochure of the filming sights of "Every Time a Bell Rings," a Christmas movie filmed in Natchez that premiered on Nov. 18. Catch some shut-eye between festive events at Sunnyside, Bed & Breakfast, home of the Do You See What I See? Christmas tours and over 30 decorated trees or The Towers Mansion, home of the splendid Jeweled Christmas Tours, touted as one of the top 10 most unusual Christmas displays by USA Today.

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