Christmas in Lancaster, PA really kicks into gear after the tree lighting ceremony in the center of town, which takes place this year on Friday, November 29. But, if you’re still recovering from the Thanksgiving feast that evening, never fear because there are plenty of ways to celebrate the Christmas season in and around Lancaster County.
No matter if you’re looking for music, shopping, displays, or generally festive atmospheres, Lancaster County has got you covered. Below we’ve pulled out some of our favorites for this Christmas season.
(All dates are for the 2019 holiday season)
Mayor’s Tree Lighting and Tuba Christmas
If you do have the opportunity to head into Lancaster City the day after Thanksgiving, the annual tree lighting event is a fun way to connect with the local community and welcome the Christmas season. That Friday evening, Lancaster Central Market opens for special evening hours, Santa joins in on the festivities, and the mayor plans to hit the lights at 7:15pm.
Christmas music from Tuba Christmas follows and sets the backdrop for an all-around charming evening.
For more information on this free and festive event, check out the event schedule for the Mayor’s Tree Lighting.
Dutch Winter Wonderland
Dutch Wonderland entertains children all year round with rides, shows, and food. However, from mid-November to the end of the year, the amusement park transforms into a holiday-themed wonderland. Take your young ones to enjoy cookies with Santa, a lights show, a polar playground, and more.
For more information, head to Dutch Wonderland’s website.
A Longwood Christmas
As we can attest, Longwood Gardens is a breathtaking destination any time of year. But this destination takes the beauty up a notch for the Christmas season, on display from November 20 to January 10. Wreaths, trees, and ornaments deck out the Conservatory, Christmas music brings the water fountains to life, and thousands of lights round out the festive atmosphere.
For more information about visiting during the holiday season, check out our article about visiting Longwood Garden at Christmas.
Kitchen Kettle Village
After Thanksgiving, another Lancaster County winter wonderland comes to life at Kitchen Kettle Village. Brave the brisk weather while dashing between shops. Warm up while roasting a marshmallow over an open fire. Visit on a Saturday to listen to carolers.
Head out later in the evening to enjoy the twinkling lights. Even after the Christmas season passes, Kitchen Kettle Village is one of many free destinations in Lancaster County.
Visit the Kitchen Kettle Village’s website for more information about this winter wonderland.
Herr Foods Lights Display
The annual lights display at Herr Foods factory in Nottingham, PA may be little known, but it is spectacular. From Thanksgiving Eve to New Year’s Eve, I always look forward to gathering a group of friends and paying a visit to the factory. The drive-thru display features thousands of colorful lights and is open to visitors all night long.
If you’re interested in visiting the Nottingham factory at other times of the year, check out UncoveringPA’s review of the Herr’s Snack Factory Tour.
Hersheypark Christmas Candylane
Hershey, PA is best known for its amusement parks and sweet treats, and the two come together for Hersheypark’s Christmas Candylane. Choreographed lights shows, holiday rides, and Santa and his reindeer pay a visit to Chocolate Town USA. Hershey is also home to the very festive Hershey Sweet Lights.
Hersheypark Christmas Candylane runs from mid-November through New Year’s Day and is great for those looking for festive thrills this holiday season.
Choo Choo Barn Christmas Display
With hand-built figures and fully operating model trains, the Choo Choo Barn in Strasburg, PA, is a sight to behold. And for the past seven years, the Groff family has transformed Traintown into a winter wonderland. Visit from November 21 to December 31 to enjoy lights, music, and other festive decorations including nearly 60 hidden Santa figurines.
Even if it’s not snowing outside yet, you and your family can soak up Traintown’s snow-covered landscapes.
For more information, check out our review of the Choo Choo Barn in Strasburg.
Koziar’s Christmas Village
With over a million lights spread across an entire town, Koziar’s Christmas Village may be the ultimate Christmas destination in Pennsylvania. Now in its 73rd season, the Christmas village is still run by the Koziar family. Walk through a variety of displays and destinations including an outdoor model train, giant Santa Claus, kissing bridge, and snack shoppe.
After Thanksgiving, the village is open to visitors every evening of the week, with a little lighter crowds and a little more peaceful atmosphere Monday through Thursday.
Check out UncoveringPA’s review of Koziar’s Christmas Village for more information about this seasonal destination.
Strasburg Railroad Christmas Rides
Catch a ride on The Night Before Christmas Train, Christmas Tree Train, Christmas Feast Train, or Santa’s Paradise Express. The historic Strasburg Railroad offers special holiday-themed rides on select days after Thanksgiving. Anticipate the coming of Christmas, hand pick and transport a Douglas Fir tree, enjoy a meal with all the trimmings, or hang out with Santa.
To reserve your ticket on one of these themed train rides, go the Strasburg Railroad’s website.
If you’re willing to go on a little bit of a road trip, check out these 10 things to do in Hershey, Harrisburg, and the surrounding area this Christmas. Looking for even more things to do this holiday season? Check out our top Christmasy things to do in Pennsylvania, the most festive towns in PA, our top picks for Christmas events in Philadelphia, the best Christmas lights in Pittsburgh, and the best things to do in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, at Christmas.
Article updated October 2020 to reflect the 2020 holiday season.