The 10 U.S. Cities With the Best Christmas Fairs
You can get into the holiday spirit and get all your shopping done at the same time!
Christmas is just around the corner, which means it's finally time for holiday shopping. Christmas markets are perfect for getting all your presents in one swoop, while also enjoying each location's unique charm and stunning holiday decorations. From the iconic New York City holiday markets, to the bustling downtown streets of Boston's popular Christmas fair, you'll be sure to find exactly what you're looking for on this list. Keep reading to see which holiday fairs shone the brightest, according to travel experts.
READ THIS NEXT: The 10 Best Mountain Towns in the U.S.
The Best Holiday Markets in the U.S.
1. Bethlehem, Pennsylvania
If you are on the hunt for a market that feels like you're stepping into another world, Melanie Musson, a travel expert with BuyAutoInsurance.org recommends Bethlehem, Pennsylvania. "This incredible Christmas market features German traditions and artisans, but you'll also find selections of holiday goods in many different styles," she says. "Some vendors bring their pre-created wares, while others put on a show and make their gifts on the spot."
If that isn't enough to convince you, this bustling market also offers great live music that adults and children will enjoy, as well as the best holiday food and drinks around. "The market hosts musicians, and the live music is one of the most enjoyable parts of the fair," says Musson. "You should go on an empty stomach, so you can try German holiday foods and drinks. And if you like to ice skate, there's a rink on the Christkindlmarkt grounds."
2. Solvang, California
Solvang, California is a small town with big charm and an abundance of holiday themed activities for your whole family to dive into. The month long holiday celebration called "Julefest," runs from the Saturday after Thanksgiving to the first Friday of January.
"This holiday celebration harkens back to a simpler time and holiday memories of days gone by," says Taylor Cahoon of The Abbi Agency tourism team. "Visiting the quaint village of Solvang during Julefest is a walk through a vintage postcard and a Hallmark movie at the same time."
While there's plenty to do in this quaint town, like shopping for your loved ones and enjoying the many treats that this holiday fair has to offer, there's also much to admire in terms of the atmosphere and decorations. "From holiday trees throughout the town, to wreaths placed on light poles throughout the village, to garland strung over the street down Copenhagen Drive with Julehjerter [Christmas hearts], it will feel as though you've transported straight into a Hallmark movie set. "
3. Savannah, Georgia
If you're looking for something that's more outside of the box, don't look any further than Savannah, Georgia's annual Christmas Market featuring many delightful activities like getting your picture with Santa, but also an epic boat parade.
"This Christmas Market will have holiday festivities like tree lighting, seasonal crafts, food, various performances, and photos with Santa in a setting reminiscent of a traditional Salzburg Christmas market but with a Southern flavor." Peter Hoopis, owner and CEO of the outdoor blog, Peter Hoopis Ventures tells Best Life.
Savannah is known for the stunning and gorgeous waterfront of the Savannah River, and the views you'll witness during the holiday season won't disappoint. "You won't want to miss the Savannah Harbor Boat Parade of Lights and the 3-day Christmas on the River event," Hoopis adds.
For more travel advice delivered straight to your inbox, sign up for our daily newsletter.
4. Elkhart Lake, Wisconsin
Hoopis also raves about Elkhart Lake, Wisconsin, the home to the Old World Christmas Market, that is organized and hosted by the Osthoff Resort. This unique and adorable market offers visitors and locals incredible booths that will be a delight for everyone.
"This charming Christmas market is patterned after the centuries-old Christkindlesmarkt of Nüremberg, Germany," says Hoopis. "Ensconced in a giant heated tent, the shops and booths feature artisanal treasures like blown glass ornaments, handmade jewelry, stained glass art, Plauen lace, fresh Christmas wreaths, and more."
If you're more interested in the fun activities and delectable food options, Hoopis adds, "you can experience traditional German food like glühwein, apple strudel, sauerbraten, and potato pancakes. There are even horse-drawn wagon rides, ornament-making, and cookie-decorating activities for the children."
5. Gatlinburg, Tennesse
If you're looking to head south for the winter, Gatlinburg , Tennesse is a small town that offers holiday cheer you won't find anywhere else.
"Not only is Gatlinburg decorated like a small-town Hallmark movie every year, but they have plenty of fairs and shows to enjoy," says Brittany Mendez, a travel expert and CMO of FloridaPanhandle.com.
You and your family will have the experience of a lifetime in this winter oasis, and won't ever have a moment of boredom. "From the Bluegrass Christmas in the Smokies festival to the Fantasy of Lights Christmas Parade, all of these fairs will delight any Christmas lover," Mendez notes.
6. New York, New York
Of course, we had to add an iconic market in New York City to this stunning list. The Big Apple is home to several world-famous Christmas markets, including the Holiday Market at Bryant Park and the Union Square Holiday Market. Not only are they massive, with hundreds of vendors and businesses to shop from, they're particularly beautiful with the city lights of New York as a backdrop.
The Holiday Market at Bryant Park is especially stunning, featuring fun and welcoming vendors, plus a gorgeous ice skating rink your whole family will enjoy after you shop.
"You'll find everything from handmade gifts to gourmet food at these markets," says Joshua Haley, the founder of Moving Astutem. "And if you're looking for something truly unique, don't miss the Holiday Shops at Grand Central Terminal."
7. St. Louis, Missouri
Haley also particularly enjoys the Winter Wonderland holiday market in St Louis's Forest Park due to the high-spirited atmosphere that will put any negative Nancy in a merry mood and the stunning decorations that will make you feel as if you stepped into a different world.
"St. Louis's Winter Wonderland is the perfect place to get into the holiday spirit," says Haley. "The park is transformed into a winter wonderland with more than two million lights, an ice skating rink, and a Ferris wheel. You can also find plenty of festive food and drink, plus live entertainment."
With the added perks like the ferris wheel and the live entertainment, you and your loved ones are sure to have blast at this winter oasis.
8. Boston, Massachusetts
The Christmas market in Boston's bustling downtown area is known for its old town charm, stunning ice sculptures, and much more. "If you're looking for a traditional New England Christmas, then head to Boston," says Haley. "The city's holiday in Copley Square is one of the oldest and most popular in the country."
If you're on the hunt for gifts, look no further than the Christmas Craft Fair at the Old South Church on Copley Square. "This market features more than 100 vendors selling everything from handmade gifts to holiday decorations," says Haley. "There's also live music, ice sculptures, and plenty of food and drink to keep you merry."
9. Natchitoches, Louisiana
Natchitoches is the oldest town in Louisiana and the charming cobblestone streets make the perfect backdrop for holiday lights and family fun. At the Natchitoches Holiday Festival, you and your loved ones will be able to view thousands of twinkling lights as you make your way through the bustling streets and head to the Santa Claus House at the city's downtown riverbank.
"The festival runs from Nov 23 to the 6th of January and offers a wide array of musical entertainment shows, a Lights Parade, a lighted boat parade, a festival for kids, and even Christmas Gala events," says Mercedes Zach, a travel agent from the Dyninno Group.
This festival is sure to charm visitors as they walk through the historic downtown sights that are decked out in Christmas lights. "This small town of 18,000 celebrates the winter season with more than 300,000 lights along the banks of the Cane River and literally transforms into a magical Christmas Wonderland," adds Zach.
10. Lewisburg, West Virginia
During the colder seasons, the city of Lewisburg, West Virginia transforms from a beautiful downtown square to a winter wonderland fit for a snow globe. At the Holiday Festival, that locals like to call "The Magic of Christmas," tourists will be delighted to find activities everyone will enjoy, from riding on horse drawn carriages to chowing down on holiday cookies and treats.
If you're looking for handmade treasures, you can head to the Artisan Market at The Miller Center, where a number of merchants and craftsmen are inviting everyone to shop small and are presenting their festive, handmade crafts and treats," adds Zach.
No matter what activity you choose to do in this charming town, at this festival, you're sure to find something that will give you holiday cheer to last all year round.