December 5, 2019

Top Holiday Festivals & Events

top christmas festivals in the us

So you’re on assignment over the holidays. While that might mean missing out on celebrating with family or your favorite traditions, traveling over the holidays has significant advantages. For starters, you don’t have to see that one family member. But, as a health care traveler, you have the opportunity to experience some of the country’s most amazing holiday events.

Top Holiday Festivals Across America

Not sure what events you want to attend? Skip the stress, we’ve got you covered. From Maine to Southern California, we scoured the internet to find the most magical, the most festive, and the most fun holiday festivals across the country. We’ve included everything you need to know about each celebration, from links to dates.

travel nurse holiday

Holiday Festivals in the Northeast Region

Calling all travelers in the Northeast! Add these festivals to your list to celebrate the season like a local. They’re packed with local flair and steeped in tradition.

Christmas Prelude


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  • Where: Kennebunkport, Maine
  • When: Now – December 15, 2019
  • Cost: Free, but expect to spend on vendors, food, and lodging
  • What to Expect: It’s a winter wonderland of holiday-themed events, from traditional tree lighting to ugly sweater parties. There’s even a cocktail trail. But don’t worry, it’s still very Maine, so expect lobster traps on the Christmas tree.
  • More Information: Everything you need to know, from restaurants to schedules, can be found at

Candlelight Stroll


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  • Where: Portsmouth, New Hampshire
  • When: Weekends from December 7 – December 22, 2019
  • Cost: $12 – $60
  • What to Expect: Plan on exploring an interactive display of 350 years of holiday traditions set the backdrop of Strawbery Banke Museum’s historic homes. You’ll get an inside look at celebrations throughout American history, from a 1919 Hanukkah celebration to a Victorian Christmas. Oh, and expect historically-accurate carolers.
  • More Information: Everything you need to know, from purchasing tickets to parking directions, can be found here.

Holiday Events in the MidAtlantic & Coastal Plains Area

Are you on assignment in the Mid-Atlantic region? Are you looking for holiday festivals in the Carolinas? Add these festivals to your list to celebrate the season like a local. These festivals are as unique as their locations while still packed with holiday cheer.

Georgetown GLOW


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  • Where: Georgetown Commercial District — Washington, DC
  • When: Now – January 5, 2020
  • Cost: Free, but expect to spend on vendors, food, and lodging
  • What to Expect: DC’s oldest neighborhood puts on a free, curated light display. It’s as unique as the city itself. You can expect programs and events throughout the district, along with 11 light installations from local and international artists.
  • More Information: Learn more about participating restaurants and entertainment here.

Christmas at the Biltmore


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  • Where: Asheville, North Carolina
  • When: Now – January 5, 2020
  • Cost: $69 – $99, but you can save $10 if you buy your ticket 7 or more days in advance
  • What to Expect: America’s largest home has a larger-than-life Christmas tradition. Expect more than 50 Christmas trees, 25,000 ornaments, and 35-foot tall fir tree in the 7-story grand ballroom. The estate has tickets for both daytime and evening events with access to the winery, Antler Hill Village, and exhibits.
  • More Information: Learn more about tickets, lodging, and entertainment here.

Can’t-Miss Holiday Celebrations in the Midwest

This is for the travelers calling the heartland home for their winter assignments! We found unique holiday festivals in the midwest that go big when it comes to making it merry. These festivals look to traditions of the past. Bonus, they’re both great for holiday shopping, so if you’re looking for a gift that represents your location, check these out!



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  • Where: Chicago, Illinois
  • When: Now – December 24, 2019
  • Cost: Free, but expect to spend on vendors, food, and transportation/parking
  • What to Expect: Discover the first outdoor market of its kind: a 16th-century market inspired by German and European traditions. If you’re looking for a unique holiday experience, this is it. From high-quality gifts to traditional German foods, it’s the perfect family-friendly way to get some holiday cheer.
  • More Information: Find out more here for a look at this one-of-a-kind market. Bonus, you can reserve a table filled with traditional German food for your friends too!

An Old Time Christmas®


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  • Where: Branson, Missouri
  • When: November 2 – December 30, 2019
  • Cost: $71 – $69 with discounts if you add lodging
  • What to Expect: Expect to take a step into the past for a traditional celebration featuring over 6.5 million lights. Silver Dollar City is a 1880s-style theme park named a Four-Time Winner of America’s Best Holiday Event from USAToday. From heartwarming entertainment to larger-than-life displays, this festival is a must-visit.
  • More Information: Plan your trip by viewing the full festival lineup and purchasing tickets here.

Holiday Events in the South

There might not be much snow in the South, but there’s ample holiday cheer to make up for it! Calling all travelers currently below the Mason-Dixon line. We found holiday events in Louisiana and Texas that you’ll want to put on your list. Get ready to celebrate culture and history with these must-visit events.

Natchitoches Christmas Festival


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  • Where: Natchitoches, Louisiana
  • When: Now – January 6, 2020 — Festival Day is December 7
  • Cost: $5, but expect to spend more on vendors, food, and transportation/parking. Point-of-purchase tickets may be more.
  • What to Expect: First, it’s pronounced Nack-a-tish. Expect a lot of over-the-top celebration in Lousiana’s oldest city. Think Cajun Christmas. On the schedule? Live music, entertainment, arts, food vendors, a parade, and a firework show over Cane River Lake. From the Tour of Homes (Laureate House, Samuel Gay House, and Bayou Amulet House) to a Fleur de Lis craft show, you will get the full Louisiana experience.
  • More Information: Read the schedule of events and learn about one of the oldest community-based holiday celebrations here.

Kwanzaa Fest

kwanzaa fest dallas

  • Where: Dallas, Texas
  • When: December 14 & 15
  • Cost: Free, but expect to spend on vendors, food, and transportation/parking
  • What to Expect: Kwanzaa Fest is an annual festival hosted by a nonprofit of the same name. The annual event hosts more than 50,000 people and features vendors, free health screenings, a 5k, and live entertainment. Kwanzaa focuses on celebrating community and culture, so you’ll also find events tailored toward elders and children.
  • More Information: Learn more about Kwanzaa Fest on their Facebook.

Holiday Festivals in the West

If your winter travel assignment consists of packed snow and all the snow sports, then these are for you! From traditional to one-of-a-kind, Colorado has it all. Holiday festivals in Colorado are all about the outdoors, so be sure to pack mittens and a beanie.

Ullr Fest


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  • Where: Breckenridge, Colorado
  • When: December 11 – 15, 2019
  • Cost: Free – $46 — most day events are free, but some evening events require tickets
  • What to Expect: This tradition is a celebration of snow started by ski instructors. Ullr Fest features a giant bonfire, parade, and a world-record Shotski®. Don’t be surprised to see horned Viking hats. The parade isn’t typical either with floats that feature ski jumps and hot tubs. It’s a party dedicated to the Viking god of snow.
  • More Information: See the schedule of events, tickets, and lodging here. We highly encourage booking lodging because we believe in participating in libations safely.

Holiday Prelude at Mountain Village

  • Where: Telluride, Colorado
  • Where: December 14 & 15, 1pm – 5pm
  • Cost: Free, but expect to spend on food, lodging, and transportation
  • What to Expect: Enjoy family-friendly holiday fun, from train rides to pictures with Santa. The lodge transforms into Santa’s workshop, where children can make holiday crafts with elves. Ice skating and sledding will be available. In the evenings, expect train rides through the lights and a cash bar for adults.
  • More Information: Read the schedule of events and plan for lodging here.

Holiday Celebrations on the West Coast

If you’re spending the holidays on the best coast, you likely have a lot of options when it comes to events. These holiday events in California and Washington will get you in the holiday spirit. Not only are they Instagram-worthy, but these events are also one-of-a-kind experiences.

Newport Beach Christmas Boat Parade


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  • Where: Newport Beach, California
  • When: December 18 – 22, 2019
  • Cost: Free, but there are options for restaurant reservation packages
  • What to Expect: If you’re looking for something uniquely California, this is it. Expect to see beautifully decorated yachts, boats, kayaks, and canoes parade their way through the harbor each night. You can view the festively-lit boats for free. Oh, and according to their Instagram, you can expect an HGTV host to preside as grand marshal. Because every parade needs a grand marshal, even ones on the water.
  • More Information: Find out more info, like reserved viewing, and which restaurants have prime spots, here.

Leavenworth Village of Lights


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  • Where: Leavenworth, WA
  • When: Weekends from December 6 – December 22
  • Cost:
  • What to Expect: This Bavarian town becomes a Village of Lights filled with festive events. We’re talking carolers, roasted chestnuts, Santa, and sledding. Oh, and a Cookie Crawl.
  • More Information: Learn more here. And if you’re planning on working in the PNW outside of the holiday season, check out our blog on top Washington spots!

Show us how Travelers Experience the Holidays!

Use the hashtag #travelwithtnaa when you post on social media so we can follow along.