If the charm of a small town and the warm, fuzzy feel of a Hallmark Channel Christmas movie get you into the holiday spirit, there are plenty of places in southwest and south-central Pennsylvania to recreate these movie set experiences this season.
For example, the hotel booking website Reservations.com’s Runaway Suitcase blog ranks Ligonier in fourth place on the Top 25 Hallmark Christmas Towns Index for “family spirit and old-school style” in Westmoreland County.
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Many local communities also host tree lighting events and other activities during the Christmas season. So check out the What’s Going On event listing in the Daily American or contact the ward for more information.
Christmas events near me
Everywhere in the region there are town squares and pavilions in Christmas lights and green, as well as creative outdoor lighting, animated Christmas trees, themed festivals, flower exhibitions and trips with vintage cars and trams. Here is a list of some of these area attractions compiled by the Daily American.
Johnstown Christmas Tree in Central Park
This shows an animated tree with lights synchronized to Christmas music and 34 decorated houses in the miniature village, all sponsored by local businesses. The tree plays daily from 12pm to 1pm and from 5pm to 11pm until January 8th. Planned special events are the “Christmas Express” from 5 to 8 pm from December 10th and December 11th and a “S’mores Night”. ”6pm to 8pm Dec. 18 For more information, visit facebook.com/discoverdowntownjohnstown/.
Ebensburg Dickens by Christmas
This takes place from 2-4. December at various locations in the Ebensburg district. The annual community event is based on the story “A Christmas Carol” by Charles Dickens. Participants dress in period costumes and numerous activities are planned, including an indoor handicraft show, an outdoor movie night, breakfast with Santa and a Christmas parade. Further information and an event schedule can be found online at https://ebensburgpa.com/ebensburg-dickens/.
Christmas morning in Sidman
This can be found at 207 Mindish Road in Sidman. It is only open on weekends from 5.30pm to 9pm, from December 3rd to December 18th. This is an old-fashioned, Christmassy experience for both kids and adults. Reservations are required as visits are booked every 30 minutes. For more information and reservations, visit thehauntedacres.com/the-christmas-acres.
Harmony Light Fest at Camp Harmony
This is located at 1414 Plank Road in Hooversville. It’s a drive-through light display celebration for Christmas. This should be open on the weekend from 6 pm to 9 pm on December 3rd, 4th, 10th, 11th, 17th and 18th. It also offers drive-up perks like hot chocolate, cookies, and cider. Santa Claus should appear and wave to the children. Visit campharmony.org/events for more information.
Festival of lights in Ligonier
This takes place from December 4th to 7th daily from 9am to 5pm in the Ligonier Town Hall, E. Main Str. 120. Decorated trees in the town hall’s common room are adorned with themes from Charles Dickens’ book “A Christmas Carol”. The event is sponsored by the Ligonier Valley Historical Society. More information is available at Compassinn.org/eventcalendar/festivaloflights.
Overlys Country Christmas
You can find this under 116 Blue Ribbon Lane in Greensburg. It’s a traditional Christmas village in a walk-in format with a campfire, model train exhibition, sleigh ride and other options. It is only open from Thursday to Sunday from November 18 to December 30. The opening times of the village are on Thursdays and Sundays from 5:30 p.m. to 9:00 p.m. and Fridays and Saturdays from 5:30 p.m. to 10:00 p.m. It is closed on December 24th and 25th. Please visit overlys.com for more information.
Lakemont Park Christmas lights on the lake
This can be found at 700 Park Ave. in Altoona. It’s a drive-through Christmas lights that are now open every day from 6pm to 10pm through January 9th. In addition to the lights, guests can visit Santa Claus in his gift shop (November 20 to December 23) and purchase Christmas gifts and ornaments. Local vendors also have baked goods and handmade items for sale. For more information, visit lakemontparkfun.com/holiday-lights-on-the-lake/.
Bedford Holiday Night of Lights
These can be found at the Bedford County Fairgrounds at 108 Telegraph Road in Bedford. The drive-through lighting began on November 26th and is expected to end on December 26th. It is open from Friday to Sunday from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. (also on December 21, 22 and 23). For more information, visit bedfordcountychamber.com/holiday-lights/.
Oglebay Festival of Lights
This is located at 465 Lodge Drive in Wheeling, West Virginia. It is open every evening from dusk to midnight until January 9th. This 6 mile self-guided drive features 90 lighted attractions and 14 audio experiences. Other attractions on offer include the Good Zoo, Rockin ‘Holiday Light Show, Shopping, Christmas Dinner Shows, Shopping and a Magical Mansion Show. Resort staff recommend not using GPS but following the directions on their website. Please visit oglebay.com/lights for more information.
K4 Christmas: Holidays in the railway city
This is sponsored by the Railroaders Memorial Museum, which is located at 1200 Ninth Avenue in Altoona. It is open on December 4th, 11th and 18th from 5pm to 7pm. The museum is to be adorned with lights, wreaths and Christmas trees, and tree lighting is to take place every night. Visits with Santa Claus, cookies, hot drinks and shopping in the museum shop are also offered. To order tickets and for more information, visit railroadcity.org/events.html.
Polar Express in Cumberland
This is a train excursion sponsored by the Western Maryland Scenic Railroad and located on 13 Canal St. in Cumberland. The event features a 90-minute train ride based on the popular film “Polar Express”. The dates and times available are extremely limited. You can find more information at wmsr.com/train-rides/the-polar-express/.
Christmas in the coal country
These can be found on the East Broad Top Railroad, 421 Meadow St., Rockhill Furnace. The event will take place from 26.-28. November, 3-5. December and 10.-12. December, Fridays and Saturdays from 2:00 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. and Sundays from 2:00 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. Visitors can enjoy a one-hour ride on a diesel train, meet Santa Claus, and take a 45-minute ride through Christmas lights on a vintage trolley. Other features include photos with Santa, hot chocolate, and a seller / craft area. Visit eastbroadtop.com/events/ for more information.
North Pole Express in Romney, WV
This is hosted by the Potomac Eagle Scenic Railroad, located at 149 Eagle Drive in Romney, West Virginia. The railroad offers a 75-minute interactive train ride with milk and Mrs. Claus’s famous biscuits, along with storytelling and Christmas carols. Santa Claus is supposed to get on the train at the North Pole and give each child a present. The station has an event barn with a variety of activities. Tickets can be purchased online and more information can be found at potomaceagle.com/experiences/north-pole-express/.
Christmas magic! Winter flower show and light garden
These can be found at the Phipps Conservatory, 1 Schenley Drive, Pittsburgh. The exhibition opened on November 19th and is expected to run until January 9th. Decorated trees, topiary trees and more than 1,600 poinsettias can be seen in the indoor holiday exhibition. Outside, the Winter Light Garden features trees, fountains, a light tunnel and an ice castle. Tickets must be reserved in advance. For opening hours and more information, visit phipps.conservatory.org/calendar/detail/holiday-magic.
A very happy Pittsburgh 2021
This is a holiday exhibit at the Heinz History Center, 1212 Smallman St., Pittsburgh. It stays open until January 17th. This exhibit displays memorabilia from the past to show how western Pennsylvanians celebrated winter holidays such as Christmas, Hanukkah, Diwali, and Kwanzaa. Artifacts from Christmas exhibitions at Kaufmann’s, Macy’s, Horne’s, and Gimbel’s are included in the exhibition. The Heinz History Center is open daily from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Children up to 17 years of age have free entry in November and December. For more information, visit heinzhistorycenter.org/exhibits/a-very-merry-pittsburgh-2021.
Santa Trolley at the Pennsylvania Trolley Museum
at the Pennsylvania Trolley Museum, 1 Museum Road, Washington. The event will take place from November 26th to 28th and from December 4th, 5th, 11th, 12th, 18th and 19th. Guests can ride with Santa Claus in a restored antique tram and have them photographed by him. Exhibits at the museum include a large Lionel model train set and a LEGO display, as well as an area for kids to build some holiday crafts. Free hot chocolate and cookies are also provided. More information is available online at pa-trolley.org/santa-trolley-2021/.