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UncoveringPA.com: The 9 Most Festive Christmas Towns in Pennsylvania

December 20th, 2018 |

Written by Jim Cheney for Uncovering PA

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 to see their Christmas decorations and to 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 will come alive in December and November 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

The Dickens of a Christmas event in Wellsboro is the perfect Christmas event in PA
Dickens of a Christmas turns Wellsboro, PA, into a Victorian-era village. (Photo used courtesy of Visit Potter Tioga)

I’ve been to many communities in Pennsylvania, but none have made me feel more 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.

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 and enjoy live music.

New Castle

Christmas tree in New Castle, PA
New Castle is a great place to spend time during the holiday season.

Located about an hour north of Pittsburgh, New Castle really pulls out all the stops for the holiday season.

There are not one, but two fantastic drive-through light displays in the city: Cascade of Lights and the Parade of Lights. Even better, for $5, you can see both displays!

Combine these displays with some beautiful decorations downtown and a new holiday parade in 2023, and you’ve got one of the best places to celebrate Christmas in PA.

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, and one of the best places to see Christmas lights in PA.

Greensburg

Talking trees at Overly's Country Christmas in Greensburg PA
Overly’s Country Christmas is a festive spot to visit near 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

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