The South may lack the snow that northern states experience, but there are still places to get in the Christmas spirit. It might even feel more festive when you can still get outdoors during the winter.
We found 15 southern towns that go out their way to bring Christmas cheer to residents and visitors alike. Let’s take a look!
1. Grapevine, Texas
Grapevine is the “Christmas Capital of Texas.” Its community offers 40 days of merry and bright traditional Christmas events. The town dazzles with millions of lights, decorations, animated characters, and more. From an Elf Adventure to a Victorian Christmas in the historic district, there’s something for everyone.
Kids of all ages and kids at heart can ride the North Pole Express. And adults can take part in wine train rides without the kids. You can also attend live performances and see classic Christmas movies. In addition, you can enjoy all of Grapevine’s shops and restaurants.
2. Dahlonega, Ga.
Dahlonega, Ga., brings cheer with an old-fashioned Christmas. Businesses, including shops, restaurants, and inns, put on lights and decorations for the holidays. You might even see some snow during your visit, as Dahlonega is in northern Georgia.
Many events happen from Thanksgiving through New Year’s, starting with the main square and tree lighting on the day after Thanksgiving. You can also see carolers dressed in period costumes around town. There’s also a Christmas parade, Santa, and more.
Keep Exploring: To escape the snow and cold, visit these 10 sweet as pie small towns in the south that are amazing in the winter.
3. Key West, Fla.
Key West, Fla., is one of the warmest places on this list to spend Christmas. That’s why they have a Lighted Boat Parade! The annual parade takes place in mid-December. Boat owners work for weeks to get their designs just right. Then, thousands of people come to watch, and a panel of judges votes for winners.
Key West has several other festive activities during the holidays. For example, the historic inns in the area shine with lights and more. And you can tour the bed and breakfasts. Other events include a car show and train ride tour past the holiday lights.
4. Richmond, Va.
Richmond puts on several festive events during the holidays. One of the brightest is Kings Dominion’s Winterfest. The park transforms into a winter wonderland that includes lights, live shows and music, food, and a 300-ft Christmas tree. Another event is the GardenFest of Lights at the Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden. It features one million lights, hand-crafted botanical decorations, model trains, and more.
5. Fayetteville, Ark.
Fayetteville, Ark., puts on the Lights of the Ozarks from mid-November to New Year’s Day. The winter wonderland of lights illuminates the downtown square each evening. You can walk around the displays and enjoy hot chocolate and holiday music to get in the Christmas spirit.
6. Lexington, Ky.
Lexington’s downtown and surrounding areas are full of Christmas cheer. The annual Christmas parade takes place downtown in early December. It includes marching bands, floats, and Santa.
In addition to downtown festivities, the famous Kentucky Horse Park displays thousands of lights. Their Southern Lights display covers four miles of the park. Inside, you can enjoy the petting zoo and arts and crafts.
7. Myrtle Beach, S.C.
Myrtle Beach puts on some great Christmas shows during the holidays. There’s something for everyone, from broadway-style shows to tribute artists. You can also enjoy light displays, shopping, and other holiday events around Myrtle Beach. And December is a great time to get good deals on hotels on the beach.
8. Lewisburg, W. Va.
Lewisburg, W. Va., is magical at Christmas. From breakfast with Santa to horse-drawn carriage rides, you can participate in activities all day during the Shops of Lewisburg Holiday Festival. And from Nov. 6 to Dec. 24, they transform downtown into a wonderland.
9. Fredericksburg, Texas
Fredericksburg lights up during the holiday season. The German town refers to the Christmas season as Weihnachtszeit and showcases an authentic German Christmas pyramid. There are also many activities, such as ice skating, Christmas carols, wine events, and other experiences. The town is decorated with lights and more to make you feel like you’re in a holiday Hallmark movie.
10. Oxford, Miss.
Oxford, Miss., is magical when they light up the town square and put on a Christmas parade. The community ramps up the festivities with a gingerbread house village during the first few weekends of December. They also have an annual holiday ornament auction to take home an ornament made by a local artisan. In addition, the southern comfort food at restaurants throughout Oxford is a perfect way to get into the Christmas spirit.
11. Andalusia, Ala.
Andalusia puts on a Christmas in Candyland outdoor event. The family-friendly event features holiday lights, snow shows, ice skating, train rides, live music, and much more. You can even experience the polar bear tubing hill. That’s right, “snow” tubing in southern Alabama. Kids of all ages love the event and, of course, a visit from Santa.
12. Sewanee, Tenn.
Sewanee, Tenn., gets festive for the season. From decorated shops to holiday food at restaurants, the town is a beautiful destination during the holidays. One of the best ways to get in the Christmas spirit in Sewanee is at the University of the South’s Festival Service of Lessons and Carols. The university choir and instrumentalists perform in a chapel filled with poinsettias, candles, and Christmas decor.
13. Helen, Ga.
Helen, Ga., puts on a Victorian Christmas in the Alpine town that resembles German villages. Snow could definitely fall here during the holidays, but the backdrop of Helen is a perfect setting to get into the Christmas spirit. Holiday traditions in the town include a light ceremony with Santa Claus, a Christmas market, and a parade.
14. Charleston, S.C.
Christmas in Charleston is magical and steeped in tradition. Various events take place during the holidays. A favorite is the Festival of Lights in James Island County Park. You can drive through the vast light displays. Historic downtown Charleston is also decorated and brings its own added charm for the season.
15. New Orleans, La.
New Orleans doesn’t only light up for Mardi Gras! It also lights up for Christmas. Holiday traditions in the city include bonfires on the levee to guide Santa Claus. And the Candlelight Caroling in Jackson Square is another annual event. In addition, you can hop on a train in City Park and view 25 acres of holiday displays among 600-year-old live oak trees and Spanish moss.
Which Christmas Destination Is Your Favorite?
Which of the destinations we listed do you want to visit? Of course, you can pick more than one. Wherever you decide to spend your holidays, we hope you have the opportunity to get away for a day or two to a new destination. It’s always fun to experience how other towns celebrate the Christmas season. Happy holidays!