A fun activity the whole family will enjoy is a ride through a holiday light show. Many cities put on an annual holiday light show with hundreds of thousands of Christmas lights. A drive through holiday experience is a perfect way to enjoy the beautiful lights without leaving the comfort of your warm car. Here are a few light shows that you can attend this year—even after Christmas day!
The Dancing Lights of Christmas – Nashville, TN
This is the 5th year that the festive folks at Jellystone Park have put on this fabulous light display. As you drive through this amazing light show, you can jam out to Christmas tunes on your radio and watch the lights dance to the music.
This sweet light display extends through 2 miles of wooded trails just minutes away from Hersheypark. Make sure you check out their website for hours of operation and directions.
Hershey Sweet Lights
100 W. Hersheypark Drive
Hershey, PA 17033
Open until January 1, 2015
Lanier Islands Christmas
Take a rolling stroll through Lanier Islands to enjoy the twinkling Christmas light display. At the end of the tour, you can visit the Holiday Village where you can see a live nativity scene, visit with Santa, and even skate around The Polar Rink.
7000 Lanier Islands Parkway
Buford, GA 30518
Open until December 31, 2014
The Winter Festival of Lights at Oglebay Resort
The light show at Oglebay Resort is one of the largest light shows in the US. Spanning over 6 miles and 300 acres, this is one holiday show you don’t want to miss. If you can’t make it this year, perhaps you can plan a family trip in 2015.
465 Lodge Drive
Wheeling, West Virginia 26003
Open until January 4, 2015
Lights Under Louisville – Louisville, KY
This spectacular light show has over 2 million lights that cover 17 miles of passageways… underground! Drive your own vehicle into the Louisville Mega Cavern to view this one-of-a-kind light show and create a memorable Christmas experience for your family.
Ice skating is a fun winter activity that has been enjoyed for many, many years. In fact, ice skating has been traced back to Finland more than 3,000 years ago! People of all ages continue to love ice skating during the holiday season.
Perhaps it’s the brisk air rushing across your face or maybe the sensation of effortlessly gliding across the ice that makes ice skating a delightful experience. Whatever inspires you to throw on a pair of skates and hit the ice, you’ll enjoy it even more when you can save money.
That’s why we are happy to share some great deals on Groupon ice skating discounts in your area. With most of these deals, you will save around 50%! You can purchase an ice skating package for yourself or for a loved one—it’s perfect for a romantic date night or a fun family outing. Remember that all of these deals are available for a limited time only, so grab them while they are hot!
Established in 1992, the Dave Thomas Foundation for Adoption is devoted to helping find adoptive homes for children currently in foster care. Dave Thomas himself was adopted, so throughout his life, Dave spread the word about adoption and encouraged folks to consider foster care adoption. Unfortunately Dave passed away in 2002, but his legacy lives on with DTFA and Wendy’s. [Yep, Dave Thomas was also the founder of Wendy’s!]
Another way you can get involved and learn more about adoption this month is to watch the CBS special “A Home for the Holidays.” Presented in association with the Dave Thomas Foundation for Adoption and the Children’s Action Network, this show features heartwarming stories about adoptive families, along with performances from popular artists. The 16th annual “A Home for the Holidays” will include entertainment from Jennifer Hudson, Train, Earth Wind & Fire, Rixton, Katharine McPhee, Ashley Monroe, Dan & Shay, and Jillian Michaels. Tune in on Friday, 19 December at 9pm ET/PT to catch this uplifting television special. Perhaps watching this will become a new holiday tradition for you.
Experience the wonder and excitement of Christmas when you board the Polar Express! The whole family can participate in this magical holiday activity at select train stations across America.
Children are encouraged to dress in their pajamas just like the kids in the book, The Polar Express, by Chris Van Allsburg. Aboard the train, you’ll hear a reading of that famous book as you enjoy yummy cookies and cups of hot cocoa. You’ll also get to see Santa—who will give each child a special souvenir, a silver bell.
The round-trip ride to the North Pole generally lasts around 60–120 minutes, but varies by train line. See a list of participating railroad stations below. For a comprehensive list of Polar Express train rides, click here. Don’t wait too long to get your tickets, as they sell out quickly.
The vintage train cars of this railway are festooned with holiday decorations, providing a nice backdrop for memorable pictures. As you snuggle into your seat, make sure you have your ticket in hand because the conductor will be coming by to punch your ticket. Oh, and one other thing—don’t be alarmed if you see the Hobo, as he has been known to appear from time to time.
Saratoga Springs Railway Station
26 Station Lane
Saratoga Springs, NY 12866
IKEA stores all over the world are hosting several events this holiday season that will put you in the Christmas spirit. As you may know, IKEA was founded in Sweden, and therefore, many of their events are inspired by Swedish traditions. The whole family can enjoy a variety of activities, such as julbord, breakfast with Santa, gingerbread house decorating, and more!
The julbord is an all-you-can-eat Swedish feast that includes traditional dishes like herring, smoked salmon, meatballs with lingonberries, and more. To finish off your delicious dinner, you’ll enjoy some sweets and glögg (mulled wine). In order to nosh at this spectacular smörgåsbord, you will need to purchase your ticket(s) in advance, so contact your local store.
Santa will be making public appearances at several IKEA stores this year! Children of all ages can meet Santa and even take a photo with him, so be sure to bring your camera. In some stores, Santa will be in the restaurant, so you and your children can even sit and eat breakfast with him.
Try your hand at piping icing and adorning a gingerbread house with candies at IKEA’s gingerbread decorating contest. If you win the prize for the best decorated house, you can brag to your family and friends!
One of the other events that you may be able to attend is the St. Lucia procession—a Swedish Christmas tradition where Lucia leads a procession of lights as Swedish Christmas carols are sung.
Please note that events vary from store to store, so you’ll want to check your local store for a list of events. Click here to find a store in the USA or here to find an international store.
St. Lucia Celebration
Saturday, 13 December: 9:30am
Again, this is not a complete list of events at IKEA stores. To find events and activities at the store nearest you, check online. Click here to find a store in the USA or here to find an international store.
Over the next couple of weekends, some Anthropologie stores across the USA and Canada are hosting holiday craft events for children. Recommended for ages 5–8, kids will be able to create some fun crafts while mom and dad sneak in a little shopping. You can visit Anthropologie’s website to see if your local store is hosting this event, and if you plan to attend, make sure to call the store to RSVP.
If you’re on the hunt for some special holiday gifts, hit up an indie craft fair this weekend or next weekend. At these markets you can find all kinds of goodies from jewelry to stationery to ceramics—all handmade and many times local. By shopping at one of these fairs, not only will you be able to find truly unique Christmas presents for your loved ones, you will also be supporting local small businesses, so it’s a win-win. Always fun, indie craft fairs are basically Etsy in event form, complete with DJs and food trucks.
Below I’ve highlighted a few of these merry markets, but if you have a favourite local indie craft fair in your area, let me know in the comments!
A two-day event, the 4th annual Holiday Strawberry Swing is going on this weekend over First Friday. Held at the historic West Bottoms at The Foundation, the Holiday Swing will be a fun time, as you can find local, handmade Christmas gifts there while listening to live music and sipping a festive drink. This event’s 30+ vendors sell a myriad of products, such as jewelry, quilts, wood work, mobiles, photography, painting, zines, and much more.
The Renegade Craft Fair December Market sounds like quite the festive fête! At this market in Grand Park there will be more than 250 independent makers, as well as workshops, food trucks, music, and a photo booth. The vendors will be selling handmade holiday gift wrap, health & beauty products, jewelry, toys, apparel, stationery, housewares, and more. If all that isn’t enticing enough, well behaved pets are welcome to attend, and there’s an official afterparty called Meet the Makers [RSVP here].
Tap into the Maine DIY scene at the Picnic Holiday Sale. At this juried craft fair’s sixth year, not only can you find handmade accessories, housewares, stationery, and the like—you can also shop for vintage goods. While perusing the items, you can nibble on tasty treats from a local bakery, cafe, or coffee shop. For an awesome bonus, kiddos and adults can have their photo taken with the Yeti!
The BUST Christmas Craftacular has everything you could want in a craft fair: handmade wares, DIY workshops, goodie bags for the first 100 shoppers, a raffle, tasty treats, and a DJ! Seventy stalls contain clothing, artwork, soap, accessories, textiles, stationery, ceramics, and much more. After shopping, try your hand at one of the workshops where you can make items like a perspex necklace [all day; £10], linoprint Christmas cards [3.30–5pm; free], or felt slippers [12.30–2pm; free].
The 5th annual ICE Holiday Pop-Up Shop features hand-crafted goodies from more than 70 artists, crafters, and makers from all over the USA. Located in Candler Park and open through Christmas Eve, you could easily finish up your Christmas shopping by stopping in this shop.
Now through 24 December
Additional Craft Fairs This Weekend
While I would love to feature all of the indie Christmas craft markets, but that would make for a rather massive blog post. But, since I like y’all, here are a few more craft fairs going on this weekend around the United States.
Have your pets been naughty or nice this year? Now is their chance to whisper in Santa’s ear. Or maybe they’ll just give Santa a big slobbery kiss. In Petco stores nationwide, your furry family members can have their photo taken with Santa. If there isn’t a Petco near you, contact your local humane society or animal shelter. Many humane societies have an event where Santa will take a picture with pets. For more holiday fun, you can get a free digital photo from PetSmart (details below).
So pull out your Christmas sweaters, scarves, hats, or other festive accessories and make plans to attend one of these photo events!
Photos with Santa at Petco
On Saturday, December 6th or 13th, head into your local Petco between 1–4pm to have your pet’s photo taken with Santa. You’ll get a 4" x 6" photo for just $9.95. You’ll be happy to know that 100% of your photo purchase will help homeless animals—now that’s money well spent!
Get a digital photo of you with your furry friend(s) at PetSmart for free—that’s right, FREE! Now, to be clear, Santa will not be there, but you can still have a nice, festive photo taken. The image will be emailed to you, so you can print as many as you like or even use it for your Christmas cards! This in-store photo event will take place on December 6–7th and 13–14th from 12–4pm.
Looking for a holiday activity to do with your family and friends? Attend a Christmas tree lighting! Many cities host an annual tree lighting ceremony that is accompanied by several other festive attractions. Check out one (or more) of these events and treat your family to some holiday fun. (Psst… You might even spot Santa while you’re there!)
Watch the Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree light up the streets of New York City tomorrow, December 3rd. If you are unable to be there in person, you can watch this momentous occasion on television on NBC.
Fun Facts: The tree is a Norway spruce, stands 85 feet tall, is 90 years old, and weighs 13 tons.
The tree will be lit at 6pm on Thursday, December 4th. If you can’t make it to the lighting ceremony, perhaps you can attend the blessing of the crib on December 7th at 5:30pm or enjoy the sound of carolers from December 8th through the 23rd.
Fun Fact: Since 1947, the Trafalgar Square tree has been donated by the city of Oslo, Norway as gesture of gratitude for Britain’s help in World War II.
If you’re near Tampa, be sure to attend the tree lighting ceremony on Friday, December 5th at 6pm. The event is free to attend, and there will be musical performances, a movie in the park, a Christmas market, and even ice skating!
The folks of Houston, Texas are kicking off the holiday season with fun festivities on Friday, December 5th. There will be music, fireworks, free photos with Santa, and the illumination of the city’s Christmas tree.
On December 3rd at 8pm, you can watch the 21st annual lighting of the Christmas tree at The Queen Mary—a floating hotel in Long Beach. There will be plenty of other festive activities for the family, such as ice skating, a magic show, performances by a local choir and accomplished figure skaters, and more!
On Thursday, December 4 at 7:00pm, a special performance of A Charlie Brown Christmas will be conducted at the Dominion-Chalmers United Church in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada.
This isn’t just any concert because Jerry Granelli—the only surviving member of the Vince Guaraldi Trio—will be performing. In case you didn’t already know, it was the Guaraldi Trio who recorded the original soundtrack for A Charlie Brown Christmas in 1965. Accompanying Granelli are Simon Fisk on bass, Chris Gestrin on piano, and a local choir—the Cross Town Youth Chorus.
In addition to the unforgettable music, Granelli will sharing the story of the Guaraldi Trio who made the famous album. This will be an event that the whole family will enjoy.
For more information and to buy tickets, visit the Ottawa Jazz Festival website.