21 Happy Experiences for Your Holiday Checklist
Slip on your favorite holiday sweater (ugly or otherwise) and dive into the magic of the season in Pennsylvania! We have 21 happy holiday experiences that will bring the cheer this holiday season even to the most challenging person on your list!
1. Peoples Gas Holiday Market™
Looking for a unique and a fun-filled shopping experience? Visit Market Square in downtown Pittsburgh for the 7th annual Peoples Gas Holiday Market™, Nov. 16-Dec. 23. The square is magically transformed into a European-style holiday shoppers’ paradise for the season. You’re sure to find the perfect present for everyone on your list from the many one-of-a-kind gifts from around the world filling the event’s alpine-style chalets!
2. Christmas Candylane®
Grab the kids for some sweet, holiday-filled fun at Christmas Candylane® at Hersheypark Nov. 16 -Jan. 1. Along with four million lights decking the park, a choreographed light show, and festive live entertainment, there are 45 of your favorite rides, including Laff Trakk, sooperdooperLooper®, and the Cocoa Cruiser. Rudolph and eight of his reindeer friends have taken up residence to greet you before their big night!
3. A Longwood Christmas
You just may be left speechless with the holiday magic at A Longwood Christmas in Kennett Square, Nov. 22-Jan. 6, which will look at the Christmas tree in a new light. View festive firs suspended from above, towering tannenbaums created from unconventional materials, and traditional favorites elevated with surprising new twists. Then stroll through more than 28 miles of stunning holiday light displays, warm up near welcoming firepits, and enjoy the festive tunes of carolers.
4. Shadrack’s Christmas Wonderland
Your toes will be tapping and your eyes filled with holiday wonder with the incredible sights and sounds of Shadrack’s Christmas Wonderland at the Big Butler Fairgrounds in Prospect Nov. 16-Jan. 6. Shadrack’s spectacular light display is choreographed to many of your favorite holiday tunes. Plan to make a night of it with a visit to Santa’s Village where the little ones can write a letter to Santa, hop on carnival-style rides, and sip hot cocoa.
5. Peddler’s Village
Peddler’s Village in New Hope anything but ordinary! The historic village includes charming colonial-style buildings, award-winning gardens, and distinctive shopping, dining, and lodging. Kick off the holidays on Nov. 9 with festive fun, caroling, and mini-lightings leading up to the Village-wide Grand Illumination Celebration on Nov. 16.
6. The Christmas Tree Capital of the World
Bundle up, find your inner Paul Bunyan, and create a little holiday magic of your own picking out the perfect Christmas tree in the fields and forests of an Indiana County tree farm. With approximately 700,000 trees to choose from, it’s easy to see why this is The Christmas Tree Capital of the World!
Bonus: During select weekends at Fleming’s Christmas Tree Farm you can warm up with some hot cocoa, take a horse-drawn wagon ride, and pick out the perfect wreath to adorn your hearth and home.
7. 24th Annual Holiday Light Show
After dusk from Nov. 17-Jan. 6, Shady Brook Farm in Yardley magically transforms from a working farm into a holiday wonderland for the 24th Annual Holiday Light Show. More than three million holiday lights illuminate acres of farmland filled with drummers drumming, swans a-swimming, basketball players sinking the perfect jump shot, and tunnels of lights you can drive through in the comfort of your own car or on an open-air wagon ride. Afterward, warm up around the bonfire while with freshly toasted s’mores or a cup of hot cocoa.
8. The First Commonwealth Bank “It’s A Wonderful Life” Festival
You might think you’ve been transported straight to Bedford Falls while watching the classic film It’s a Wonderful Life in the 1930s vintage theater at the Jimmy Stewart Museum in Indiana, Stewart’s hometown. Check out a screening, showing daily Nov. 17-Dec.30, then the enjoy the music, fun, and holiday festivities of The First Commonwealth Bank “It’s A Wonderful Life” Festival on weekends Nov. 17-Dec.
9. Stroudsmoor Country Inn
A full day of holiday fun awaits at the Stroudsmoor Country Inn in Stroudsburg on Dec. 2, culminating with the grand 30th Anniversary Tree Lighting Celebration, headlined by none other than Santa Claus and featuring “Light the Stroudsmoor Mountain Fireworks.”
Enjoy breakfast with St. Nicholas; the holly, jolly sounds of live Christmas music; live ice carving and glassblowing demonstrations; and the handmade works of more than 150 of the country’s finest artisans at Christkindlmarkt in Bethlehem. Mark your calendars! Twice recognized by Travel + Leisure as one of the best holiday markets in the U.S., the event takes place under four large heated tents on PNC Plaza at SteelStacks on weekends and select dates Nov. 16-Dec. 23.
11. Christmas Magic – A Festival of Magic
Santa’s elves have been hard at work transforming Rocky Ridge County Park in York into a holiday wonderland. With 600,000 twinkling lights and animated holiday scenes, the 35th annual Christmas Magic – A Festival of Magic, Nov. 23-Dec. 31, promises to be bigger and better than ever! Hiking shoes are optional for the half-mile, ADA-compliant walking trail that meanders along a wooded hilltop.
Tip: Pre-purchase your ticket if you plan to visit on Friday, Saturday, or Sunday.
12. 35th Annual Dickens of a Christmas Celebration
Join in the revelry of a Victorian Christmas at the 35th Annual Dickens of a Christmas Celebration in Wellsboro Nov. 30-Dec. 2. The entire town is transformed into a Victorian marketplace with strolling street carolers and musicians, street corner thespians, and all kinds of merchants peddling their wares of food, toys, craft, and other gift items.
Bonus: Don your favorite corset and crinolines, gaiters, and galloons for the Third Annual Best Dressed Dickens Showcase and Contest on Dec. 1.
13. Nemacolin Woodlands Resort
A stay at Nemacolin Woodlands Resort in Farmington is special any time of year, but becomes truly magical during the holiday season when the entire resort is transformed into a sparkling, enchanted wonderland. Train rides through brilliant holiday lights, workshops to create your own holiday treasures, holiday character bingo and breakfasts, and movie marathons are all part of the fun. Plan a weekend stay and your little ones will have an extra-special bedtime tuck-in by one of Santa’s elves.
14. Elizabeth Tree Farms
Create a little holiday magic of your own with a trip to Elizabeth Tree Farms in Lititz. There, you’ll board a horse-drawn wagon jingling with sleigh bells on your journey to pick out the perfect, cut-your-own tree. Then, browse the gift shop, enjoy a cup of hot chocolate, and explore the Christmas Fantasy Barn where you’ll find Santa in residence at Santa’s Workshop, actual holiday window displays from Bloomingdale’s, and some cool model trains.
15. 35th Annual Pennsylvania Christmas & Gift Show
You won’t want to miss the 35th Annual Pennsylvania Christmas & Gift Show in Harrisburg, Nov. 28-Dec. 2. The show is the largest holiday crafts show in the country, offering a wide selection of unique handcrafted and imported gifts — but that’s just for starters. With beautifully decorated trees, a 100-foot train display, numerous musical and dance groups, a Santa and children’s workshop, and an onsite U.S. Post Office, the show is overflowing with holiday cheer.
16. Santa Train
All aboard the Santa Train! The Oil Creek & Titusville Railroad in Titusville has an extra-special visitor on board (hint: he’s dressed all in red!) as it takes you over the river and through the woods Nov. 24-25 and Dec. 1. Be sure to have your camera ready for some priceless photos with Santa who’ll have a small gift for those age 12 and under. Next, enjoy some hot chocolate and cookies in the Perry Street Station, then check out the Train Shop where you’re bound to find the perfect gift for the train enthusiasts on your list.
17. Washington Crossing Historic Park
Colonial history comes alive this holiday season at Washington Crossing Historic Park. At “Evening with the Curator: Who Was Here on Christmas Day 1776?” on Dec. 1, learn about the soldiers and civilians who contributed to the patriot cause during the Ten Crucial Days surrounding the Christmas crossing of the Delaware. On Dec. 2, make a historically accurate wreath to take home at the Colonial Wreath-Making Workshop, where park staff will help you create a holiday wreath resembling those made by 18th century colonists.
18. Skytop Lodge
December is a simply enchanting time of year at Skytop Lodge in the Pocono Mountains. The 5,500-acre resort comes alive for the holidays, and every day brings something special. Take a hayride tour of the estate or roast marshmallows by an evening campfire. Every Saturday, enjoy the Tree Lighting Ceremony, Santa’s BIG arrival, and the Yule Log Ceremony. Kids will be delighted with their own special Kids Banquet, but especially by the lodge’s life-sized, hand-crafted gingerbread house filled with “sugar and spice and everything nice!”
19. Koziar’s Christmas Village
First you drive down a dark, curvy road. Then you hear the faint sounds of Christmas music drifting up from the valley below. Around that last turn, more than one million blazing holiday lights come into view, and you’ll swear you’ve entered a Christmas fairyland at Koziar’s Christmas Village in Bernville (weekends Nov. 3-22, then nightly through Jan. 1). Featuring both traditional and non-traditional holiday scenes, including an early 20th century schoolhouse, “kissing” bridge, and a whimsical Christmas under the sea, Koziar’s has become a beloved family holiday tradition the past seventy years.
20. Christmas Village
Any holiday humbug feelings will be chased away with a visit to the Christmas Village in Philadelphia’s beautifully renovated LOVE Park. Running Thanksgiving through Christmas Eve, explore an authentic German Christmas market filled with traditional European food, sweets, and drinks in the City of Brotherly Love. Then, indulge in amazing food and melodious daily live performances guaranteed to instill the holiday spirit in even the Scroogiest of Scrooges!
21. Olde Time Christmas
Jim Thorpe turns back the clock and is all decked out in Victorian style for the annual Olde Time Christmas celebration, with special events during three magical weekends: Nov. 30-Dec. 2, Dec. 8-9, and Dec. 15-16. The celebration kicks off with the annual tree lighting ceremony. There will be train rides with Santa, strolling carolers and musicians, holiday shopping, and plenty of free family activities!
To see what other haunted attractions there are in Pennsylvania check out the visitPA website. Follow us on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and Instagram to stay up-to-date on even more great ideas and places to visit around our state. Don’t forget to sign up for our monthly Happy Thoughts e-newsletter so you never miss an update!