Festive Small Town Celebrations

Festive Small Town Celebrations

Skip the crowded cities, and spend your Christmas in one of the South’s most festive small towns – your inner Scrooge will thank you. Take a drive to a sweet town that outwardly displays a love of the seasons, and you’ll be guaranteed to leave all your “Bah humbug!” at home. These Southern towns have some of the mildest weather in the country during the winter season, which makes Christmas (or Hanukah) shopping delightful. When small towns prepare for the holidays, they go big, bright, and all out. 

From lights and trees to festivals and snow (yes, snow!), there is no shortage of activities for the whole family to enjoy. Whether you want to fill your holiday with shopping for friends and family, relax on the beach, or taking in a holiday parade (on land or in the water), we have a few sweet suggestions for your December travels. Try the Gulf or the Outer Banks, South Georgia or small town Texas, and Kris Kringle won’t be the only jolly fellow during your little holiday getaway. 

Andalusia, Alabama 

Andalusia is Alabama’s quintessential small town Christmas destination. Each December, you can find snow in this South Alabama town thanks to the Christmas in Candyland celebration, a free event that brings games, ice skating, train rides, kids activities, and a faux-snow tubing hill to the downtown area. Andalusia’s historic courthouse square transforms into a winter wonderland of epic proportions thanks to snow machines and a little imagination. christmasincandyland.com 

Bardstown, Kentucky 

Bardstown’s beloved Main Street is a perfect destination for your seasonal adventures. Light up your Christmas holiday with the Light Up Bardstown event, a Christmas lights-filled festival that signifies the beginning of the holiday season in this small Kentucky town. Do not miss the much-anticipated visit from Santa Claus or the plentiful browsing opportunities in Bardstown's downtown shops. Get the entire family in the holiday spirit with hot cocoa, cookies, balloons, and face painting. bardstownmainstreet.com 

Beaufort, North Carolina 

Stop by the south end of the Outer Banks for a classic North Carolina Christmas. Don’t miss Beaufort's Crystal Coast Christmas Flotilla, a charming yearly parade of boats and holiday lights held in the area every December. There is also a model train show, a holiday art walk, a candlelit homes tour, and an old-fashioned holiday market each Christmas season in Beaufort. beaufortsc.org 

Eureka Springs, Arkansas 

Spend Christmas in Eureka Springs for an unforgettable holiday season. Do not miss the Eureka Springs Christmas Festival, Silver Tea at the Crescent Hotel, a downtown Christmas parade, and the annual Christmas tree lighting. The kids will love an afternoon with Santa (and reindeer games!) in one of the town’s charming parks. This small town promises music and merriment aplenty. eurekasprings.org 

Fredericksburg, Texas 

Small town Texas gets an infusion of Christmastime charm with the annual festivities held in Fredericksburg, a community located in Central Texas, west of Austin. The town’s old-fashioned celebrations are characterized by carolers, and heightened by their Bavarian heritage. This three day Christmas festival extravaganza offers plenty of nostalgic downtown shopping every December. visitfredericksburgtx.com 

Helen, Georgia 

Trade in Appalachia for the Alps this Christmas in Helen, Georgia, a charming small town known for its scenic natural surroundings, vineyards in the foothills, and alpine aesthetic. It’s the charm of Bavaria, in the heart of the Blue Ridge Mountains. Back in 1969, the small mountain community decided it needed a facelift; nearly 50 years later, this small mountain town—that sees 2 million visitors a year—still proudly wears its German influence. This, as you can imagine, is impossibly charming during the holidays. Once Helen’s biggest celebration, Oktoberfest, is over, it’s on to more than a month of Christmas traditions. Think everything from a traditional Christkindlmarkt (a holiday market) to the annual downtown parade. helenga.org 

McAdenville, North Carolina 

McAdenville is known as Christmas Town, USA. Plan a visit this year to see why. In December, this small town fills up with Christmas cheer and the town’s homes all light up for the season. It is worth a visit just to drive through the illuminated neighborhoods; going through Christmas Town is basically like being in a parade. There are also plenty of holiday festivities: one of McAdenville’s most beloved traditions is the Yule Log Parade that began in 1949. Top that off with a Christmas tree lighting, a seasonal 5K, and a holiday festival, and you will surely be filled with the Christmas spirit. mcadenville-christmastown.commcadenvillenc.com 

Moultrie, Georgia 

This small South Georgia town is legendary for its glittering downtown lights display. The canopied LED lights fill the downtown Moultrie square each December and attract visitors from near and far. The holiday season kicks off on Thanksgiving night with Lights! Lights! an event in which the community gathers on the square to watch the lights illuminate above. The classic courthouse square is alight with cascading strings of vibrant lights, under which you can find festive events, shopping, and restaurants to enjoy. downtownmoultrie.com 

Naples, Florida 

Spend your Christmas on the Gulf enjoying all that Naples has on offer, including the Naples Bay Christmas Boat Parade and the nearby Swamp Heritage Festival, favorite events of both locals and visitors alike. Meander the Naples Pier, spend some time with your toes in the sand, and do your all your Christmas shopping gulf side. paradisecoast.com 

Natchitoches, Louisiana 

This small Louisiana town celebrates Christmas in a big way. The annual Festival of Lights runs for 40 days and attracts visitors from all over who arrive with family in tow to see the over 300,000 glittering lights and riverbank holiday decorations on display. The Christmas Festival is also a huge draw, replete with a boat parade, fireworks, and a holiday market. This small town Christmas celebration is well worth a road trip. natchitocheschristmas.com 

Oxford, Mississippi 

This college town has Christmas spirit aplenty, lighting up with glimmering decorations, lush greenery, and seasonal decor each December. Stop into the Gingerbread House Village, Santa’s Workshop, and Holiday Ornament Auction, as well as the Oxford Christmas Parade on the downtown square for good times with great people. visitoxfordms.com 

Santa Rosa Beach, Florida 

Head down to the beach for a mild-weather Christmas celebration of lights, festivals, and holiday magic that spans the length of 30A. No need to do your shopping beforehand, because Santa Rosa Beach and its neighboring beach towns are filled with sweet shops and fantastic restaurants that will spark some December indulgence. Be sure to make a stop at Seaside to take in the glittering trees, and then head west for less-crowded Santa Rosa. visitsouthwalton.com 

Thomasville, Georgia 

Traverse the charming cobbled streets of Thomasville, Georgia, during the town’s classic Victorian Christmas Festival. Enjoy the carolers, carousel, and ice carvings with your family in tow, grab a coffee from Grassroots Coffee Company, and do not forget to stop into the rest of the community’s wonderful downtown shops. thomasvillega.com 

Williamsburg, Virginia 

Experience Colonial flavor in Williamsburg at Christmas time. The yearly A Colonial Christmas celebration lets visitors explore the Jamestown Settlement and meander to the American Revolution Museum at Yorktown—so you can celebrate Christmas and learn about American history at the same time. visitwilliamsburg.com   

Wrightsville Beach, North Carolina 

Drop your anchor at Wrightsville Beach for the North Carolina Holiday Flotilla, a boat-filled parade on the water that culminates in a spectacular fireworks show. The flotilla lights up the night, and the weekend is filled with an accompanying tree-lighting ceremony, a visit from Santa, and a family-friendly festival with food and music galore. wilmingtonandbeaches.com 

Grab your keys and jingle all the way to these festive destinations this season. Make merry and make memories in welcoming towns across the South. 

More Festive Destinations 

Christkindlmarket | Dublin, Georgia

Dublin will become the festive home of a traditional German marketplace this November 24. The Fourth Annual German Christkindlmarket will open at The Dublin Carnegie Library and Bicentennial Plaza; and it will be transformed into a winter wonderland filled with aromas of Christkindl gluehwein, gingerbread, and German bratwurst. Starting at noon, events will follow each Saturday thereafter through December 15 until seven o’ clock in the evening. Ride the Polar Express around town, and be sure to visit Santa. christmasmarketdublinga.com

Fayetteville | North Carolina

Fayetteville is rich with dynamic arts, culture, and history. On November 23, historic downtown Fayetteville will be transformed into a unique and wonderful experience - A Dickens Holiday! Horse-drawn carriages will carry shoppers past merchant windows adorned with beautiful Victorian holiday decorations, past artisans and vendors of all sorts of delightful treats. Children can pose with Father Christmas, along with Ebenezer Scrooge being pursued by the ghost of Jacob Marley. The smells of cider and gingerbread will permeate the air as the night is topped off with fireworks. fayettevillealwayson.com

City of Live Oaks and Live Folks

Columbus, Texas, first settled in 1821, is chock-full of historic buildings and charm. Nestled along the Colorado River, Columbus is a beautiful destination for shopping, dining, lodging and river excursions. Shop for chic clothing, décor, gifts homemade chocolates and elegant country antiques. Visit the largest living oak tree in Texas. A variety of restaurants offer you an array of options including a homestyle café, genuine Mexican cuisine and a hearty steak house. columbustexas.org

Thomasville Holiday Events | North Carolina

November 3, is Rail Fan Day, this annual event honors the vast rail heritage in Thomasville as well as the rail fans that enjoy photographing the wide array and high volume of trains that pass through Thomasville. The Light up the Holidays event is a tree lighting ceremony that will brighten up downtown on November 18, at 5:30. The Thomasville Christmas Parade will begin at 11 am in uptown Thomasville. The event will include a food truck, free holiday crafts for kids, free pictures with Santa, dance and music performances, and a free bounce house. visitthomasvillenc.com

Henderson County | North Carolina

This charming mountain area is the perfect destinations for family gatherings. DuPont Recreational Forest will enticing hikers with waterfalls and 10,268 acres for fishing, biking, and swimming; knowing it was the site for The Hunger Games, and The Last of the Mohicans, will interest everyone. There are seasonal events, a charming historic downtown, shopping, museums, historic sites and so many attractions. It is home to many breweries, wineries, and cideries that can be explored on the Cheers Trail. Groups can choose to stay in anything from bed and breakfasts to rustic cabins. visithendersonvillenc.org

Light up la Grange, Kentucky

How could the holidays get any better? Perhaps adding 30 trains a day rolling through this picture perfect town? Even better, experiencing the shops, art galleries, and restaurants all decorated for Christmas along with a fun lighting ceremony led by Santa and his wife! Enjoy special events all day long leading up to the moment Santa lights up the town! Decorate cookies, see a Christmas movie, or have breakfast with the Grinch himself! Plan a visit during this event: December 1. lagrangemainstreet.org

Piedmont Craftsmen’s 55th Fair
November 17-18 | Winston-Salem, NC

Visit the Benton Convention for the Piedmont Craftsmen’s Fair. This is not your average craft fair. Those looking for fine functional craft gifts will not be disappointed. Called the “Grande Dame of Craft Fairs” by the Winston-Salem Journal, this annual fair consistently attracts the most respected artisans working in their craft media. Clay art, jewelry, wall art, glass and wood pieces, fiber art, basketry, and so many more artisan crafts can be discovered and purchased for unique gift-giving opportunities. Call 336-725-1516 or visit piedmontcraftsmen.org

Louisiana Legacy

Louisiana Legacy

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