The 9 Most Festive Christmas Towns in Pennsylvania

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Thanks to the state’s rich German and religious heritage, there are few better places in the United States to spend the holiday season than Pennsylvania. Many communities around the state put on fantastic and festive events during the season, but few manage the keep the excitement going throughout the entire holiday season.

If you’re looking for somewhere great to visit this holiday season, start planning your travels to these amazingly festive holiday towns in Pennsylvania.

 

Bethlehem

Best places to visit during Christmas in PA: Bethlehem
Bethlehem, a.k.a. Christmas City USA, is an amazing destination during the holiday season.

Dubbed “Christmas City USA,” the name of the community itself makes this Lehigh Valley city one of the most festive in the state. The city is home to two Christmas markets, the authentic Christmas City Village downtown and the somewhat overhyped Christkindlmarkt.

In addition to shopping, visitors can also tour the buildings of Historic Bethlehem and see their Christmas decorations and learn about the past residents of the area. There are even horse-drawn carriage rides through beautiful downtown Bethlehem.

To see more of our top picks, check out our favorite things to do in Bethlehem at Christmas.

Indiana

Fleming's Christmas Tree Farm in Indiana County, Pennsylvania.
Visit the Christmas Tree Capital of the World and the birthplace of actor Jimmy Stewart.

The birthplace of actor Jimmy Stewart, Indiana looks just like the setting of his most famous film, “It’s a Wonderful Life.” The city comes alive each November and December with the It’s a Wonderful Life Festival, which brings a parade, live music, and many exciting events and activities into downtown Indiana.

While there, don’t miss the fantastic Jimmy Stewart Museum, where you can learn about the actor’s life and legacy. Then, head out to a Christmas tree farm and see why the area is dubbed the “Christmas Tree Capital of the World.” Finally, return for some great shopping at the local merchants along Philadelphia Street.

Philadelphia

Philadelphia is one of the most Christmassy towns in Pennsylvania.
Downtown Philly comes alive during the holiday season.

Pennsylvania’s largest city features more than enough Christmas excitement to keep you occupied this holiday season. In fact, I’ve even written a whole post just about my favorite holiday destinations in the city.

Highlights include an amazing Christmas show at the world’s largest, functioning pipe organ. Then head over to the most authentic German Christmas market I’ve come across in the state, the great Miracle on South 13th Street, or try a bit of ice skating at the two outdoor rinks.

Philadelphia is also home to the oldest Thanksgiving Day parade in the country, great New Year’s Eve fireworks, and the Mummers Day Parade on New Year’s Day, the oldest folk festival in the nation.

Wellsboro

I’ve been to many communities in Pennsylvania, but none have made me feel most nostalgic than Wellsboro. This north-central Pennsylvania town features an amazing downtown filled almost exclusively with local shops and restaurants. After dark, the 1920s theater and gas-powered street lamps give off a warm glow that’s sure to make you feel a little peace on earth.

The highlight of Wellsboro’s holiday celebrations is their Dickens of a Christmas festival held during the first weekend in December. This festival brings Victorian interpreters to the streets of the city, and you might even run into Scrooge himself.

Pittsburgh

Most Christmasy Towns in Pennsylvania - Pittsburgh
The Christmas Market in Pittsburgh’s Market Square.

Pittsburgh pulls out all the stops during the holiday season. Starting with their Light Up Night in mid-November, the city comes alive with a Christmas market, ice skating rink, lights, and more. Phipps Conservatory decks their gardens for their Winter Flower Show, and the Nationality Rooms at the University of Pittsburgh allow visitors to see how the holiday season is celebrated around the world.

The season culminates on New Year’s Eve with one of the best displays of fireworks in Pennsylvania.

Hermitage

Kraynak's display makes Hermitage a great destination in PA during Christmastime.
Kraynak’s Christmas display is a great spot for the whole family during the holiday season.

The western PA city of Hermitage comes alive this time of year and makes a great holiday destination in Pennsylvania. The most popular place to visit during the holiday season is Kraynak’s Chrstistmas display. This display is known throughout the state as being one of the most festival holiday displays in Pennsylvania. Stroll through the 300-foot long holiday spectacular and enjoy the sights and sounds of the season.

Also not to be missed is the Festival of Trees at the Stewart House. Other attractions in the area worth visiting include Christmas at the Waugh House Museum, Christmas in the Park in nearby Grove City, or the Christmas tree in downtown Mercer.

Jim Thorpe

Most Christmasy places in Pennsylvania - Jim Thorpe
Visit Jim Thorpe in December for Olde Time Christmas.

Another great holiday destination in Pennsylvania is the community of Jim Thorpe. Nestled among the Pocono Mountains, Jim Thorpe features a quaint downtown that seems like a winter wonderland.

The town throws an Olde Time Christmas celebration during the first three weekends of December. Visitors can enjoy shopping in the downtown shops, take train rides with Santa, and enjoy live music.

Hershey

Christmasy towns in PA - Hershey
Christmas Candylane at Hersheypark is a great place to enjoy the holiday season.

It should come as no surprise that the town known as the “Sweetest Place on Earth” and “Chocolatetown, USA” is also one of the best holiday destinations in Pennsylvania. In fact, I’ve written a whole post with my suggestions for things to do at Christmastime in Hershey and Harrisburg.

The star attraction in Hershey is Christmas Candylane at Hersheypark. The park is open for holiday festivities in November and December and features many of your favorite rides, along with special holiday decorations, live reindeer, and Santa. Nearby, visitors can drive through Hershey Sweet Lights, a two-mile driving trail through the countryside featuring hundreds of displays.

Greensburg

The holiday season in Greensburg means one thing: Overly’s Country Christmas. Begun in 1956, this holiday tradition has grown to become one of the largest holiday light displays in the state. Visitors flock to the Westmoreland County Fairgrounds just outside of Greensburg to see this light display, and proceeds go towards local children’s charities.

When visiting the area, don’t miss the holiday plays at both the Greensburg Garden and Civic Center and The Palace Theatre.

What’s your favorite holiday town in Pennsylvania? Let us know in the comments below.

Caught the Christmas spirit? Keep celebrating the season by reading about the Most Christmasy Places in PA and Koziar’s Christmas Village

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9 thoughts on “The 9 Most Festive Christmas Towns in Pennsylvania”

  1. Since 1947, the Berwick Christmas Boulevard, created by the Jaycees, displays over a mile long Christmas show of lights and displays down Market Street in Berwick, PA. The Berwick Christmas Boulevard is seen by thousands of visitors every year, and it has been a regional favorite for over 60 years.Santa Claus is present every year to serve Berwick?s famous Wise Potato Chips to everyone who drives past him. Weekends are very crowed and cars with young kids are lined up over a mile to enter the Christmas Wonderland. Grab a local hot chocolate and enjoy the ride! Open until Dec 31st, opens each night at 6pm.

  2. I am always looking for new adventures for my husband and I to do and saw the article on Jim Thorpe in your 10 Most Festive Christmas Towns. I did some investigating and booked The Parsonage B&B for Friday and Saturday nights (the 10th and 11th of Dec) so we could experience the Old Fashioned Christmas that they hold there the first three weekends in Dec. What a wonderful adventure! The B&B is fabulous, the breakfasts served there even more so, and the town is just so lovely at Christmas! We had the best burger ever at The Inn at Jim Thorpe (it included cheese and sauerkraut and was done to PERFECTION). Liked it so much we went back for another go the next night. On Sunday, before we left town, we took the Santa train through the Gorge and my hubby posed next to the biggest lump of coal I’ve EVER seen right near the train station. Of course I had my photo with Santa outside the train station, so both of us got posted as the “naughty and nice” on my facebook page. And the very, very best part? We had flurries all three days we were there, which made it seem even more magical! Took over 100 photos and videos! A lovely way to usher in the season. Thanks so much for putting me on to this lovely spot.

  3. I love the article! I would like to add that downtown State College is also festive. They really decorate College Ave, South Allen Street, and the houses on Burrowes Road very well!

  4. Enjoy your articles and Facebook page. In the article on Greensburg The palace Theatre is in Greensburg, not Irwin. I live near Greensburg. Just a small error but important to the town. Thank you for your interesting reports. We often use your information when we plan our little adventures. Keep up the good work. By the way we just returned from a 2 day getaway to Christkindl Market in Mifflinburg. A fun time for sure. Put it on your list.

    • Thanks, Johann. I love the Christmas market in Mifflinburg. I do have it on some of my Christmas lists, but didn’t put it on this one because it’s only one weekend as opposed to lasting throughout the season. Definitely a top holiday attraction in PA.

    • I love Koziar’s. The only reason I didn’t include them was because I was putting places that had more than one attraction within this post. Not too much else Christmasy around there.

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