The holidays are here and we are all looking for new and exciting ways to be joyous and merry! Were you aware that Christmas is one of the most awaited holidays every single year? In fact, a study from September this year shows that Christmas is the 3rd most popular national/religious event in the United States!
It comes as no surprise that many of us celebrate this time-honored holiday. From the West Coast to the East, the North to the South, we all choose to celebrate this holiday with magical Christmas lights, hot cocoa, and some incredible fun Christmas experiences.
So, which Christmas events are the most festive in the U.S.? SmokyMountains.com analyzed thousands of publicly available tourist reviews to find out.
How We Conducted This Study
We started off by finding over 200 individual Christmas experiences across the United States according to TripAdvisor, and calculated how many reviews mention “Christmas”. We then could accurately rank each experience and find the best Christmas experience for every single state.
- South Carolina’s “A Night of A Thousand Candles” at the Brookgreen Gardens is the top-ranked Christmas experience! Not only does it have 285 “Christmas” mentions, but 90% of those mentions were radiating positivity and cheer!
- The Biltmore in North Carolina had 4,256 “Christmas” mentions, making it the highest-mentioned Christmas attraction in the United States. Following it was the Rockefeller Center in New York City with 3,670 “Christmas” mentions.
- Leavenworth Reindeer Farm in Washington is a top-ranked hidden gem. While it received fewer “Christmas” mentions, 94% of its 64 mentions spoke of the Christmas experience very highly.
South Carolina’s Night of A Thousand Candles Cause for Jolly Celebration
Brookgreen Gardens in Murrells Inlet, South Carolina is home to the most loved Christmas experience according to tourists. A Night of A Thousand Candles is a holiday light event where they showcase over 2,700 hand-lit candles in combination with sparkling lights. A sight to be seen, it had 285 “Christmas” mentions on TripAdvisor, and 90% of those reviews gave it a glowing 5 stars.
Gardens seem to be a Christmas trend for many. Other gardens that ranked high on our list are Longwood Gardens in Kennett Square, Pennsylvania, Garvan Woodland Gardens in Hot Springs, Arkansas, Bellingrath Gardens in Theodore, Alabama, Denver Botanic Gardens in Denver, Colorado, and Atlanta Botanical Garden in Atlanta, Georgia.
If you’re into a more Santa-centric type of holiday experience, then Santa’s Village in Jefferson, New Hampshire is one that you’ll enjoy. Santa’s Village is a Christmas-themed theme park full of snowmen, chimney drops, and family-friendly fun. Over 270 reviews mention “Christmas” and 85% of those are cheery and uplifting! One reviewer even states, “Santa’s Village is Elf-tastic! From the moment we entered the park, the joy and magic of Christmas sparkled.”
This Estate in North Carolina is A Christmas Staple
The most reviewed Christmas experience is a historic estate in Asheville, North Carolina. The Biltmore is known for its gardens, architectural structure, and its stylish and spacious interior. The Biltmore is also known for its magical ambiance during the Christmas season. So much so, in fact, that this Biltmore estate received over 4,000 “Christmas” mentions — which is the most reviewed Christmas experience out of the 200+ that we gathered. 78% of those were 5-star reviews. One reviewer writes, “The most fantastic house that I have ever seen in the United States. A Normas [sic] house, beautifully decorated for Christmas…”
Some of the hidden gems include the Leavenworth Reindeer Farm in Leavenworth, Washington, Irvine Park Christmas Village in Chippewa Falls, Wisconsin, and the Nubble Lighthouse in York, Maine. While they may not have an extraordinary amount of reviews, they all rate over 80% for positive “Christmas” reviews.
Other not-so-surprising locations include Rockefeller Center in New York City, New York, the Magic Kingdom of Disney World in Orlando, Florida, and Dollywood Winterfest in Pigeon Forge, Tennessee. Each of these has over 2,000 “Christmas” mentions.
Here Are Some Popular Christmas Tours to Try in Every State…
While visiting any of these locations on your own time is a great way to start off your Christmas cheer, sometimes taking a driving or guided walking tour is the best way to get your fill of the holiday spirit. Each state has varied tours that you can partake in, but we’ve jotted down some frequently mentioned tours ourselves.
Some of the driving tours consist of the Jolly Holiday Lights Drive-Through Tour in Altoona, Iowa, the Atlanta Christmas Lights Bus Tour, and the Sioux Falls Trolley Holiday Lights Tour in South Dakota. Other notable mentions are unique experiences like the Yacht StarShip Christmas Cruises in Florida or the Essex Steam Train & Riverboat Express in Connecticut.
Whether you are interested in historical Christmas tours or the more experiential Christmas tours, you and your family or friends are in for a special holiday treat when you partake in any of these tours!
Three Tips for A Stress-Free Holiday
1. Plan early & be flexible: especially if you are traveling
One of the most stressful parts about the holidays is traveling. Between flights getting canceled or delayed and traffic slowing down your estimated time of arrival, it can be a little frustrating for those traveling to a different location during Christmas. If you are worried about the holiday chaos that is bound to happen, make sure that you plan around it. Having a plan B or a plan C in case you miss your flight or traffic is blocked up is always a good idea.
Not limited to a specific timeframe? Book a flexible flight or leave earlier than usual so that you aren’t super cramped on time.
2. Set realistic expectations and communicate openly
Too often do we set unrealistic expectations around the holidays. Whether it’s the perfect gift, all the cooking turning out just how you wanted, the Christmas experiences being worth the wait or price, or making sure that everyone actually shows up and has a good time… there are a lot of moving parts. We should always just do our best to have things turn out the way that we want them to, but it’s also okay if they don’t.
If you need help from your family and friends to make sure things are running smoothly, simply ask for help and communicate as openly as you can with them.
3. Set a budget and stick to it…
You don’t need to buy lavishly expensive gifts if you cannot afford them. Make a budget, plan out how many gifts you want to buy and for whom, and leave a little wiggle room for unforeseen cost necessities. At the end of the day, the holidays aren’t about what you get people, it’s about who you spend it with!
To determine the best Christmas experiences in each state in the United States, we listed over 200 popularly known Christmas experiences according to several authoritative sources. From there, we analyzed the number of “Christmas” mentions and kept the most and highest reviewed. For the top 10, we only kept those with over 200 reviews and over 70% of 5-star reviews according to tourists.
|This is an independent publication and has not been authorized, sponsored, or otherwise approved by Tripadvisor, Inc.
If you’re interested in some volunteering activities to give back this Christmas, take a look at these websites: