While Hershey, Pennsylvania—located two hours west of Philadelphia and three hours southwest of New York City—is a wildly popular place to visit year-round, it is especially fun during the holiday season, when sweets are celebrated more than ever and its resident candy characters sport their Santa hats and scarves. Many families will flock to the Hershey theme park or Hershey Chocolate World to take part in the holiday happenings. Make sure to plan your trip in advance as it can get quite crowded.
This 121-acre, roller coaster- and candy-packed amusement hub is Hershey's top attraction. Centered around the very sweets that made the city famous in the first place, the theme park puts on a bundle of special events for the holidays.
- Hersheypark Christmas Candylane: The park's biggest annual holiday event features more than 4 million twinkling lights and many family and kiddie rides, plus the presence of Santa and his nine (live) reindeer. You can expect to see choreographed light shows and live entertainment from November 13, 2020, to January 3, 2021.
- Hershey Sweet Lights: This drive-through spectacular features almost 600 animated and illuminated displays along nearly 2 miles of wooded trails. Sweet Lights can be viewed from 5 to 10 p.m. nightly from November 13, 2020, to January 3, 2021.
- Little Elves Workshop: At The Hershey Story, guests usually get the opportunity to sink their fingers into "chocolate clay" and create their own ornaments during the holidays; however, the museum on Chocolate Avenue will remain closed through January 3.
- Live Music Shows: Each December, a selection of live music is performed at various locations throughout the park. Typically, they feature Christmas carols, wacky elves, prancing reindeer, and appearances from Santa himself, but during the 2020-2021 season, no shows will be held.
- TREEville At The Boardwalk: The Boardwalk at Hersheypark will be bedecked with more than a dozen trees, all telling "the stories of The Sweetest Place On Earth." A scavenger hunt completes the experience.
- NOEL: This light show in the Hollow at Hersheypark consists of more than 250,000 dancing lights synchronized to popular holiday music. There are four different shows every night, running every half hour.
- Santa's Reindeer Stables: Rudolph and the whole bunch will be on display in the seasonal stables located at Fahrenheit catering.
- Character Meet & Greets: From Kisses to Reeses, Twizzlers to York Peppermint Patties, Hershey's beloved and personified candies will be dressed up in their wintry attire and roaming Chocolatetown for your family photo ops.
Other Activities in the Area
Besides tHersheypark, there are many other family-friendly events and activities worth exploring in Hershey. The ZooAmerica North American Wildlife Park showcases everything from swamp dwellers to animals from the north (like wolves). Meanwhile, the Dutch Wonderland family amusement park in East Lampeter gears toward younger kids with its not-so-scary rides and seasonal Winter Wonderland attractions.
Piggybacking on the Hershey franchise is The Hotel Hershey, a grand old hotel featuring a spa with chocolate treatments, and the Hershey's Chocolate World visitors' center, which has a free 30-minute Factory Tour. The latter will be closed through January 3.
Weather in Hershey Over the Holidays
Hershey has fairly moderate winters. Expect temperatures in the 30s to 40s Fahrenheit (about -1 to 9 degrees Celsius) with only a few days of snow or rain in November and December. You'll want to pack the usual winter wear—jackets, gloves, long pants, and such—but make sure to dress in layers for optimal comfort as you ride rides and explore the outdoor light displays.