With luminarias, Native American traditions, and Wild West-style settings, these small towns offer the best of the West for your Christmas celebrations. Revel in the spirit of Christmas and ring in the New Year in one or many of these quaint, little Western towns during one of their many holiday festivals and activities.
December 2-4, 9-11, 2016
Head to Solvang, California for a number of special events and entertainment. Julefest, pronounced Yule-Fest, is celebrated every December with a variety of delightful lights and spirited activities throughout the town. On the first evening of Julefest, the community gathers in Solvang Park for the annual tree lighting ceremony with choirs, caroling, and ballerinas. On the following day, crowds gather for the Solvang Julefest Parade, which travels from Old Mission Santa Ines to Alisal Road at Mission Drive for a meeting with Santa. Throughout the Julefest celebrations, guests can visit Santa Claus, see a children’s Christmas play, enjoy a Wine & Beer Walk, and view the Community Nativity Pageant. After the festival, the community gathers for the annual Solvang Christmas tree burning.
Christmas in Ice and Santa Claus House
North Pole, AK
November 26, 2016 – January 8, 2017
It’s Christmas year-round in North Pole, Alaska, but the festivities kick it up a notch for the holiday season. For six weeks around Christmas, visitors can check out the Christmas in Ice exhibit, an ice sculpture contest that draws in ice artists from around the world. With about 600 tons of North Pole ice and some chainsaws, the contest is a sight to see. Spectators can also check out an ice maze and ride down an ice slide. Next to the exhibit, Santa Claus House offers a wonderful assortment of gifts and collectibles, as well as a variety of photo opportunities, including the World’s Largest Santa, reaching nearly 50 feet tall. The house also sends official Letters from Santa which are postmarked at the North Pole and stamped with an official Santa seal before being sent out.
Christmas Lighting Festival
November 26 – December 31, 2016
With over half a million Christmas lights, this quaint Bavarian town becomes a Village of Lights for the holidays, and the city is filled to the brim with holiday cheer. Friday evenings are a celebration with live musical performances of favorite Christmas tunes and a visit from St. Nickolaus. On Saturdays and Sundays, visitors can enjoy the march of Santa and an array of costumed holiday characters from the Festhalle to the Gazebo, and later, everything culminates with the beautiful Christmas Lighting Ceremony. Throughout the season, be entranced by the carolers strolling through town, sledding in the park and other snow sports, hot spiced wine and cider, beautiful music, and holiday concerts.
November 26-27, December 2-4, 10-11, 17-18, 24-27, 2016
Celebrate the holidays in Jacksonville, Oregon with the Victorian Christmas. From the last weekend of November through the month of December, the town is decked out in natural greenery with white lights and red bows to bring to mind Christmases past. The celebration begins with the tree lighting ceremony, and throughout the celebration, you can get pictures with Father Christmas, listen to carolers in vintage costumes, and enjoy complimentary hot cider. Take the Jolly Holly Trolley for easy access to restaurants, holiday shopping, and more around the town, including the Beekman House, where you can take a tour of the property and check out Mrs. Beekman’s Christmas Bazaar.
Bigfork Christmas Celebrations
November 19 - December 17, 2016
Settle into the storybook atmosphere of Bigfork, Montana to feel the spirit of Christmas. Located on the northeast end of Flathead Lake, Bigfork is a charming town, and each winter, the Bigfork Elves decorate the village with lights and holiday greenery for the most wonderful time of the year. Every weekend, the town gathers for a number of holiday-themed activities, as well as good food, great music, and art. Enjoy a holiday parade, carols, theatrical performances, visits with Santa, and the traditional recitation of “The Night Before Christmas.” You can also head out on the slopes once the snow arrives for a wide range of winter sports and activities.
December 24, 2016 – January 1, 2017
Located in the Jackson Hole valley, the town of Jackson, Wyoming is a top destination for many vacationers across the country. Visitors can enjoy a number of wintertime sports on the alpine Grand Teton Mountains during the holidays. In the town, the square is decked out in beautiful Christmas lights and decorations. For those staying over the holiday, there is an array of fun activities in the Jackson Hole Holiday Round-Up, including the arrival of Santa, cookie decorating, stargazing, sledding, and skiing with Santa. Kids up to age 14 can join in on the Kids’ Torchlight Parade on the slopes on New Year’s Eve, and the Round-Up culminates with a Happy Birthday Party for the New Year.
Christmas Town Festival
November 18 – December 3, 2016
Celebrate the holidays in Helper, Utah with the official Christmas Town Festival. Begin the festivities with the Christmas Craft Fair for handcrafted trinkets, and later, enjoy the beautiful Lights On Ceremony as the town lights up all its holiday decorations. During your stay, you can enjoy breakfast with Santa, delicious chili, fun arts and crafts, luminaries, and the Christmas Town Light Parade & Fireworks. Helper was the first town in the state of Utah to host a nighttime Christmas light parade, and the tradition continues to this day.
Annual Interfaith Crèche Exhibit
December 2 – 5, 2016
In Midway, Utah, you can feel the true spirit of Christmas while you view the amazing collection of Nativities from around the world at the Annual Interfaith Crèche Exhibit. In addition to the many Nativity scenes, this free event also has a family photo room, children’s crafts and activities, ice skating, holiday foods, and more to get you all in the Christmas spirit.
Yuletide in Taos
November 25 - December 31, 2016
This remote town in the high desert might seem like an odd place to visit for the holidays, but it offers visitors a unique opportunity for a fun, active, and welcoming Christmas season. From the tree lighting ceremony to the Jewish Festival of Lights, hundreds of people turn out in the town for music, caroling, and more during this winter Yuletide. During your visit, enjoy holiday choral concerts, luminaries and farolitos, bonfires on Bent Street, visits from Santa, holiday crafts and activities, and of course, the Christmas Eve Procession and Torchlight Parades. Here, you can experience a tradition only found in Taos!
Christmas on the Comstock
Virginia City, NV
December 1 – 31, 2016
Step back in time this holiday season in historic Virginia City during its annual Christmas on the Comstock. With festivities for all ages, this Victorian holiday celebration brings you boutique holiday shopping, the Grinch Made Me Do It Saloon Crawl with special holiday-themed drinks, the beautiful Parade of Lights, holiday concerts, photos with Father Christmas, a ride on the Candy Cane Express, and so much more.
Have you celebrated Christmas in any of these beautiful small towns? Share your stories and thoughts in the comments, and spread the holiday cheer by Liking and Sharing with your friends!