8 festive Christmas events on the East Coast

The United States festively celebrates the holiday season, from coast to coast. Because it’s impossible to compare all of the events over this expansive nation, we’ve zeroed in on the East Coast with 8 events we hope you’ll love.

Omni Grove Park Inn National Gingerbread House Competition – Asheville, NC

Every year, the biggest gingerbread competition in the US takes place at the historical Omni Grove Park Inn in Asheville, NC. What started as a community activity has evolved into a massive production with intricate designs and breathtaking edible creations. The event takes place in late November, and almost immediately after, top selections go on display for the public to enjoy. Throughout the entire Holiday Season, the gorgeous confections will be adding to the traditional holiday decor in the Arts and Crafts hotel.

The Nutcracker at the Fox – Atlanta, GA

The Fox Theater iconically resides in Atlanta, and is a memento of the high note of classic cinema beginning in the early 1900’s. The movie palace almost met its demise when businessmen aimed to tear it down to make room for industrial buildings; thankfully, protests led to the preservation of the intricate building, and it operates year-round, hosting live theater, concerts and other shows. The Nutcracker is the most famous of them all, and rightfully so. The music, dancing, stage décor and overall atmosphere in the historical movie palace will bring you back in time, as if you were downtown in the 1930’s at Christmas time. If you’re struggling to get into the Christmas spirit, a showing of The Nutcracker at the Fox will have you in the mood to bake cookies and sing Christmas carols.

Banner Elk Christmas – Banner Elk, NC

Banner Elk is a small town in the Blue Ridge Mountains. How small? One traffic light small. An immense amount of charm has been packed into every quaint building, and the Christmas spirit floods the streets when A Small Town Christmas kicks off at the local theater. At the beginning of December, the Ensemble Stage theater performs A Christmas Carol with live, old school radio sounds and methods; it’s a step back to Christmas’ past. Cookie decorating, breakfast with Santa, train rides, synchronized light shows, the Parade of Lights and a candy cane hunt all take place the following day. The shops in town are open for browsing and gift hunting, and everything is within walking distance.

Stone Mountain Christmas – Stone Mountain, GA

Stone Mountain Park has built a variety of winter excitement around its existing attractions; you could spend the whole weekend there and still have plenty left to do. Ride the tram up to the top of the mountain, or hike up the trail; the top promises incredible views of the Atlanta skyline and the lights below. Seasonal foods are available through the village, in addition to glass blowing demonstrations, shopping, and a 4-D movie experience with realistic snow and wind effects. At night, a parade featuring Santa and characters from movies like Rudolph, march by the decorated buildings, animated scenes and lighted trees. Kids and adults can also sled down a massive, snow machine made hill situated near Snow Angel Palace. The Snow Angel appears several times a day, and uses her magic to make it snow, of course.

Atlantic Station Christmas – Atlanta, GA

Christmas shopping is an essential part of past and present memories. Atlantic Station, located in the heart of Atlanta, features big name and independent stores filled with holiday goodies. The blocked off shopping hub offers walkways free from heavy Atlanta traffic; it’s like its own little village. The center courtyard is adorned with a skyscraping Christmas tree, and the German Christkindlmarkt sets up outdoor shops for the season. Wooden Christmas trinkets, candies, authentic foods and a spiced wine drink known as Gluhwein are a few of the treasures you’ll find. A small train carts passengers slowly around the square, and an ice skating rink sets at the front of the Station. You’ll even find Ol St. Nick in his North Pole cottage, ready to snap photos with the family and pets!

Sixflag’s Holiday in the Park – Austell, GA

Falling in line with the interactive Christmas light experience of places like Stone Mountain, Holiday in the Park combines the excitement of roller coasters, free falls and kiddie rides with millions of glowing lights. The park is drenched in sparkling color that can be seen from the tallest rides, and Santa Claus can be visited after a train ride around the park. Cozy fire pits are open to those wanting to roast a marshmallow or make a s’more, and Christmas candies fill the sweet shops. It’s a bit chilly whipping around on the rides, but Georgia weather leans more on the mild side than most.

The Biltmore Estate – Asheville, NC

Since the 1800s, Christmas has been lavishly celebrated in the castle-like Vanderbilt Home. While visitors can now tour the estate anytime of the year, Christmas is an unexplainably beautiful time to see it all. Greenery adorns mantles, stairways and door frames, while countless sparkling trees glitter with lights. At night, the lawn is illuminated by a grand tree. Village and estate shops are stocked with ornaments, festive candies and other seasonal trinkets, while you’ll find Christmas wine, hot cocoa and other holiday fare in the bistros and shops.

The Polar Express – Portland, ME

The Maine Narrow Gauge Museum in Portland turns their steam locomotive into The Polar Express from Thanksgiving to Christmas. Children and their families are invited aboard the magical train to enjoy singing, hot chocolate, cookies and stories along the 45 minute ride to the North Pole. Santa will board to say hello, so no one has to get out into the cold. Every child will receive a bell, just like in the movie; everyone’s also encouraged to wear their Christmas pajamas! The ride features all the special touches from The Polar Express and is a truly magical way to celebrate the holidays on the east coast.

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