All over the world, many towns big and small celebrate a Christmas festival, with roots in the Christian faith, but typically with a broader appeal that features Santa, Christmas trees, or twinkling lights.
Christmas festivals can be terrific fun for families, with tree-lightings, candlelight processionals, Santa arrivals, and sometimes even fireworks.
Best Christmas Festivals in Small-Town America
Looking for old-fashioned Christmas celebrations outside the major cities? These small towns in America celebrate the holidays in a big way.
Natchitoches, LA: Christmas Festival of Lights
Held in the original French colony in Louisiana (which dates to 1714); and one of the oldest holiday celebrations, started back in 1927. Parade, food fair, life entertainment, fireworks, holiday lights. Natchitoches is a small town near Shreveport, in northwest Louisiana.
North Charleston SC Christmas Festival
This one-day event, at the beginning of December, has a night parade, holiday lights, kids activities, Santa and Mrs. Claus.
Santa Claus, IN: Christmas Festival
As you would expect, any town with this name has an awesome Christmas celebration. Expect parades, all-you-can-eat pancake breakfasts, puppet shows, festival of lights, and more.
Peoria, AZ: Peoria Oldtown Holiday Festival
This Arizona town celebrates with live entertainment, a visit from Santa, snow play, inflatables, and other kids’ activities, plus a choral contest and live nativity scene.
Bethlehem, CT: Special Stamps, and Christmas Festival
Each December, thousands of people make a pilgrimage to this pretty town, to mark their Christmas mail with not only the Bethlehem postmark, but also with special rubber-stamps known as "cachets". Visit during the Bethlehem Christmas Town Festival in early December, with candlelight processional, and arrival of Santa to light a 75-foot Christmas tree.
Pigeon Forge, TN: Dollywood's Smoky Mountain Christmas Festival
Granted, this isn't a Christmas festival so much as the full six weeks of the holiday season at the Dollywood theme park. But families will surely have fun at Babes in Toyland and other stage stage Shows, visits with Santa, Carol of the Trees (thousands of lights and pyrotechnics synchronized with music), Parade of Lights, thrill rides, and more.
Edited by Suzanne Rowan Kelleher