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Christmas celebrations, festivals and holiday events transform much of the USA as the year draws to a close into wonderlands of light and music.

Towns and cities in every state witness the holiday season with giant Christmas trees, light displays, pageants and parades of horse-drawn carriages, Old World-style family marketplaces, Christmas-themed inflatables, live music performances and fireworks.

ARKANSAS

Annual Lights of the Ozarks Festival

Thanksgiving – New Year

Fayetteville, Arkansas

During the winter holiday season, Lights of the Ozarks turns downtown Fayetteville into a sparkling wonderland. The community gathers to celebrate the holiday with appearances by Santa. Horse-drawn carriage rides are available and holiday music fills the air.

Each year Fayetteville Parks and Recreation workers spend over 2000 hours decorating the downtown square with 450,000 lights. Old Main, a landmark on the University of Arkansas main campus, is also outlined in lights.

For more information visit: www.experiencefayetteville.com


District of Columbia

National Christmas Tree Lighting & Pageant of Peace

December

Washington DC

For 85 years, the American tradition of lighting a national Christmas Tree has continued, interrupted only briefly in its history during moments of great national travail.

The tree itself is a live 40-foot Colorado blue spruce transplanted from York, Pennsylvania to its present site on the Ellipse in 1978.

The Pageant of Peace includes live performances and the lighting of the National Christmas Tree. Each night during December, musical groups perform free concerts for the entertainment of visitors to the Ellipse.

For more information visit: www.pageantofpeace.org


DELAWARE

Christmas in Odessa

December

Odessa, Delaware

Created more than 44 years ago to raise money to fund college scholarships for local high school seniors, Christmas in Odessa is a self-guided walking tour of historic Odessa’s private homes and public buildings, many dating from the 18th and 19th centuries, decorated for the holidays.

In addition to the house tour there are many special events like the Christmas Craft & Antique Show Horse, carriage rides on Main Street, the Newark Fife and Drum Corp and Christmas concerts at Old St. Pauls Church.

For more information visit: http://christmasinodessa.com


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MARYLAND

Winterfest of Lights

November / December

Ocean City, Maryland

Now with more than 1,000,000 lights and hundreds of displays, the 2 1/2-month celebration draws thousands of visitors to Northside Park at 125th Street and bayside and the Ocean City Inlet.

From mid-November through January, visitors can see unique light setups befitting a seaside resort, with Surfing Santas, animated Sharks, Santa hooking a Marlin from a charter boat, jumping Marlin, and Santa playing softball.

At Northside Park, the centerpiece of the celebration, visitors are welcomed by a magnificent sand sculpture and the city’s 60-foot Christmas tree.

For more information visit:

www.beach-net.com/events/winterfest/winterfest1.html

A Monumental Occasion

December

Baltimore, Maryland

A tradition more than 36 years, Mount Vernon Place celebrates the holiday season and annual lighting of the Washington Monument with an evening of choir performances, strolling entertainment, and more.

A Monumental Occasion takes place Thursday, December 4 with pre-event festivities at 5:30p.m. in Mount Vernon. The ceremony begins at 6p.m. with the official lighting at approximately 6:50 p.m. The evening includes performances, strolling entertainment, refreshments, and the official lighting by the mayor. The event ends with a colorful fireworks finale choreographed to music.

For more information visit: www.godowntownbaltimore.com/index.cfm


MINNESOTA

Holidazzle Parades

November / December

Minneapolis, Minnesota

The annual Macy’s Holidazzle Parade shows over one million brilliant lights as visitors watch their favorite storybook characters come to life. Lighted floats, musical groups and costumed characters all lit up parade down the Nicollet Mall at 6:30pm, even as the winter weather descends upon Minneapolis.

The parade is free to watch, and runs Thursday through Sunday during the holiday season.

For more information visit: www.macysholidazzle.com

OHIO

Legendary Christmas Lights at Clifton Mill

November / December / January

Clifton, Ohio

More than 3.5 million lights adorn the historic mill, river gorge, trees and bridges. Visitors from across the country come to see the animated miniature village with a train, riverboats, a mini-parade and more.

For more information visit: www.cliftonmill.com

OKLAHOMA

Festival of Light

November / December

Chickasha, Oklahoma

This holiday extravaganza draws more than 300,000 visitors from across the USA. A thousand local volunteers come together to create the over-3-million-lights spectacle in 43-acre Shannon Springs Park. Carriage rides provide the best views. Other attractions include one of America’s largest Christmas trees, 100 Lakeside Displays, trees and walkways, the Crystal Bridge of 75,000 lights, holiday music, concessions, Santa, and shopping.

For more information visit: www.chickashafestivaloflight.com

Christmas Kingdom

December

Muskogee, Oklahoma

Held at The Castle of Muskogee from Thanksgiving to New Years Eve, the Castle’s Christmas Kingdom is a display of over 1000 of Christmas-themed inflatables ranging from 4ft to 24ft tall. Everyone from Santa to Rudolph to the Grinch are all presented in various scenes around the Christmas Kingdom.Visitors can enjoy this free event as they drive through the property from the comfort of their own vehicles.

For more information visit: www.okcastle.com

PENNSYLVANIA

Christkindlmarkt

December

Bethlehem, Pennsylvania

Visitors and locals alike celebrate the holidays at this unique Old World-style family marketplace voted one of the top 100 events in North America by the American Bus Association. Christkindlmarkt features an amazing array of exquisite gifts and fine arts and crafts, from jewelry to hand-made quilts and the perfect atmosphere in which to relax, enjoy a hot cocoa or apple strudel and listen to the musicians performing an assortment of holiday classics and original Christmas music.

St. Nicholas is on-hand for the children, who can also explore rides, ice carving demonstrations and other holiday-related activities in the charming historic district of Christmas city.

For more information visit: www.christkindlmarkt.org

VIRGINIA

Holiday Lights at the Beach

November / December

Virginia Beach, Virginia

The largest grand illumination display on the Atlantic seaboard, Holiday Lights at the Beach features animated nautical and holiday-themed light displays along the Virginia Beach boardwalk attracting over 100,000 visitors each year.

Features include 25 blocks of festive fish, jumping dolphins, and frolicking porpoises, sailboats gently rocking in the wind, and mermaids, surfing Santas, giant gift-wrapped packages, and a three-story Christmas tree.

For more information visit:

www.hamptonroadsvisitor.com/holidaylightsatthebeach.html

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