Do you find yourself looking for Christmas events near you every year and not sure where to look? If you’re traveling across the US for an extended holiday season, we’ve put together a list of top events & activities that you can attend – whether you’re planning a hot weather vacation or a traditional cold Christmas.
I’m Dreaming of a White Christmas
We’ve pulled together some great city locations each with their own festive fun this year! Wherever you’re traveling to, don’t forget to plan ahead and pre book airport parking so you can save money and have an even better vacation.
Our Top Cold Weather Picks…
- German Christkindlmarket, Chicago
- Christmas Ship cruise, Seattle
- Wollman Ice Rink – Central Park, New York
- Christmas Markets, Minneapolis
- Christmas Light Show at Macy’s Center City, Philadelphia
Christmas in Chicago
For the full festive spirit, why not take a trip and take part in Chicago Christmas events this year? There’s plenty to choose from, including the German Christkindlmarket. This iconic market can be found at Daley Plaza, and includes an entire month of gifts, surprises and candy, alongside traditional German foods.
The city of Chicago Christmas tree is also a sight to be seen this year. This giant 55-foot tree lights up Millennium Park and is the perfect sightseeing addition when going for a walk through the city.
Following a stroll through the park, Ice Skating at Maggie Daley Park is just two minutes away. This one-of-a-kind ice rink allows skaters to journey across the park in a series of bends and turns in an ice rink like no other. Make sure to pre-book your boots as the ice ribbon can get very busy over Christmas as is a high-demand event.
Ice-Skating in the city of Chicago
Seattle Christmas events are stealing the show this year, with the magic of Christmas and the holiday season in full swing through December. One of the stars of the show includes the Christmas Ship cruise, a 1.5-hour scenic sail across Lake Washington in the heart of the city. This trip promises holiday cheer throughout, with a Choir performance from a variety of Chorus groups.
After exploring the lake, why not walk through the Holiday Lights and Delights? This feature can be found in Occidental Square and is one of the free available events in Seattle this year. View stunning sparkling lights alongside local artists and popular Christmas songs.
The city is also known for its love of performance and George Balanchine’s The Nutcracker is back in town! Watch the Pacific Northwest Ballet perform this traditional Christmas story this year in Seattle, the perfect activity to enjoy as the cold nights set in.
Seattle winter wonderland
New York Christmas
For the ultimate holiday season this year, we saved the best until last for those wanting to explore Christmas to the fullest. Christmas events in NYC are popular and busy for both domestic and international travelers this year.
One of the traditional things to do in NYC for Christmas is the walk around a snowy Central Park and finding the Wollman Ice Rink. This leisurely stroll keeps you away from the hustle and bustle of Christmas shoppers but provides the perfect backdrop to the winter season.
Moving to Fifth Avenue, if you really want to splurge on your family and friends this year, we recommend the walk down this famous street. From Louis Vuitton and Saks Fifth Avenue to Bergdorf Goodman, there’s always something for that special person. After browsing the shops, you will find yourself at the Rockefeller Christmas Tree, which always reminds us of Home Alone 2! The Rockefeller tree is iconic at this time of year, and always worth viewing.
Christmas events in NYC also include the Bronx Zoo Winter Wonderland. From brightly lit animal lanterns, to live Christmas choirs, why not visit and enjoy the sights, s’mores and hot chocolate? Watch as the ice carvers work away on re-creating the Bronx Zoo animals, whilst taking in the sights and listening to your favourite Christmas songs along the way.
The traditional decor is set up for the Rockefeller Christmas tree
Christmas in Minneapolis
Known for its significant snowfall in the winter, Minneapolis naturally transforms into a winter wonderland during the holiday season.
The Minneapolis Christmas Markets add a touch of European flair to the season. The festive atmosphere is filled with the aroma of mulled wine, roasted nuts, and delightful holiday treats. Visitors can explore the charming stalls adorned with handcrafted ornaments, unique gifts, and seasonal decorations. The market’s lively ambiance with music and entertainment makes it a cherished destinations for the locals and visitors.
Family entertainment in Minneapolis during the festive season is top notch with performances of How the Grinch Stole Christmas by the Children’s Theatre Company running through to January 7. For a spectacular musical, Peter Pan has been revived by The Ordway for the month of December, wowing audiences of all ages.
The snowy landscapes create the perfect opportunity for various winter activities such as skiing, snowboarding and ice skating. Minneapolis residents and tourists often embrace the weather by going on snow-covered trails in and around the city.
Christmas in downtown Minneapolis
Christmas in Philadelphia
A Philadelphia Christmas is a delightful experience that combines the city’s rich history with festive celebrations.
One of the beloved traditions in Philadelphia is the Christmas Light Show at Macy’s Center City. This iconic display features thousands of twinkling lights and festive decorations inside the historic Wanamaker Building, accompanied by festive music and a narrated light show. Families gather to witness this enchanting spectacle, making it a cherished tradition that dates back more than fifty years.
Winter in Franklin Square is set to be filled with holiday cheer all winter long with plenty of winter treats and festive activities. The Electrical Spectacle Light Show features over a hundred thousand LED lights synchronized to your favourite holiday tunes, creating a dazzling atmosphere for visitors of all ages. The show is complimented by a winter beer garden and rides, making it the perfect destination for families to celebrate together.
Head on over to LOVE Park and explore the German-inspired Philadelphia Christmas Market in the Christmas Village and experience some of Germany’s beloved traditions. Have a browse for gifts, ornaments and quality arts and crafts and keep yourself warm with a variety of festive hot drinks and delicious waffles, bratwursts and more.
Philadelphia City Hall seen from the Christmas Village in Love Park
Christmas in the Sun
If you’re planning a warm weather vacation this holiday season then we’ve got some great picks for you too!
Our Top Warm Weather Picks…
- Bellagio Fountains Holiday Show, Vegas
- Winter Park Christmas Parade, Orlando
- Fantasy in Lights – Callaway Gardens, Atlanta
- San Diego Bay Parade of Lights, San Diego
- Union Square, San Francisco
Christmas in Vegas
Christmas events in Las Vegas are happening throughout the city this year, from the Bellagio Fountains to the Cosmopolitan Ice Rink, there’s something for everyone. If you’re wanting to celebrate Christmas in a warmer climate then this is a top choice, and great for those who are traveling as a couple, or all adults.
The Bellagio Fountains Holiday Show is one to behold this Christmas, with a selection of songs including the Hallelujah Chorus, The Most Wonderful Time of the Year, and Santa Baby. Each rendition of the song has a schedule between every 15-30 minutes depending on the time of day and is certain to get you in the Christmas spirit.
For a more traditional Christmas event in Vegas, we recommend the Ice Rink at the Cosmopolitan. This outdoor rink is located at the Boulevard of the Cosmopolitan hotel and available for skating from 12 noon until midnight through December. After an evening of skating, why not stroll down to the Venetian and admire the 65-foot tree on display lighting up the strip?
The stunning Bellagio Fountains display
Christmas in Orlando
Orlando is another warmer climate for Christmas and an excellent choice for those wanting to escape to the winter sun. Orlando Christmas events this year are perfect for all the family and aren’t just limited to the area, as the many theme parks also celebrate the holidays. Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party is on select nights through December this year, and a great family activity to take part in. From the festive fireworks to the Once Upon a Christmastime parade, there is always something to do at Disney.
Moving onto the greater Orlando area, we recommend a variety of different Orlando Christmas events, including Santa photos at The Mall at Millenia, which includes a photo opportunity with the man himself, and the chance for a photo package.
For a more general Christmas activity, the annual Winter Park Christmas Parade will be making its run through S Park Avenue from 9 – 10:30am. Get up bright and early after breakfast and stroll to the area and watch the Christmas parade walk past in the winter sun.
Orlando Lakes, surrounded by lights and Christmas decorations
If you are in the Christmas spirit but want to enjoy a quieter option this year, we recommend Atlanta Christmas events this year. Callaway Gardens is home to the Fantasy in Lights, featuring 2,500 acres of 10 million lights in a spectacular holiday display on the lake. An evening stroll taking in the sights is just what is needed this festive season. This magnificent addition is available all through December to January 1st, so enjoy your Turkey dinner and take the family out for a leisurely stroll whilst taking in the sights.
If you are wanting to ‘spruce’ up your Christmas, the Holiday Tree Market in the courtyard at Ponce City Market is a must! Visitors can choose their own real Christmas tree, and even take part in a wreath-making workshop, adding that touch of sparkle to your home this festive period.
After picking out your Christmas tree, why not go for a Skate at the rink at Park Tavern? With breath-taking views of Piedmont Park and the Atlanta skyline, you can’t miss this ultimate Atlanta Christmas event! Featuring a heated garden tent, this ice rink is 85 feet long, so you are guaranteed to get a long skate session in before enjoying a hot chocolate and wrapping up for the evening.
The city of Atlanta lit up with festive decor
San Diego Sun
Now San Diego doesn’t set the winter wonderland scene due to the climate, but it instils the Christmas spirit for those along the West coast with a variety of different events. This includes the Del Mar Snow ‘n’ Glow, which features snow tubing for all, a festive light display and private igloo hire. This festival runs throughout the Christmas period, from December 14, 2023, to January 1, 2024.
Another great family-friendly San Diego Christmas event is the San Diego Bay Parade of Lights. The theme for 2023 is “Christmas Traditions around the World” and includes a variety of colorful floats and boats. The event dates for this year are December 10, 2023, and December 17, 2023. We recommend arriving early to this parade to get the best view!
To finish December and Christmas in San Diego, why not enjoy the San Diego Holiday Bowl and Parade? Scheduled to go ahead on December 27 at 10AM, Petco Park, this festive celebration is perfect for the whole family. Street-side viewing is free, where you can take in the sights of balloons, floats, and magnificent marching bands.
San Diego skyline at Christmas
Christmas in San Francisco
It may not be snowing here in the Golden City anytime soon but that does not mean Christmas in San Francisco doesn’t come with an abundance of festivities. Union Square is the hotspot for all things festive from pop-up bars & stalls to great family activities and leisure.
Standing at 83-foot-tall, adorned with 33,000 LED lights and 1,100 ornaments, the Macy’s Great Tree shines grandly over Union Square. Make sure to get those everlasting photographs with family, friends, and pets with the iconic tree before skating around the Safeway Holiday Ice Rink.
If you’re an admirer of the arts, The American Conservatory Theater performance of the Charles Dickens classic, A Christmas Carol is sure to remind you of the true meaning of Christmas. Alternatively, the San Francisco Ballet’s rendition of the Nutcracker is a quintessential tradition for those who are fond of high culture. If you are heading to the historic Castro District, be sure to purchase a ticket for the Gay Men’s Chorus’ Holiday Spectacular for an unforgettable night of old and new Christmas tunes.
San Francisco Union Square Christmas Tree
Where will you be celebrating the Holidays?
Wherever you plan to spend this Christmas don’t forget to pre-book your airport parking lot space with AirportParkingReservations.com to benefit from our dollar-off discounts and make your holiday season go smoothly.
And if you’re a frequent traveler or looking to buy a present for one, you might like to take a look at this collection of christmas gifts for travelers we’ve put together before you depart on your own travels.