Even without snow, this charming Danish-inspired city in southern California (less than an hour away from Santa Barbara) turns up the 'hygge' for its annual Julefest. The month-long Christmas celebration includes a Julefest parade (complete with marching bands) and a proper Santa’s Village (where photos with Santa are totally free). A tree-lighting ceremony in early December kicks off the festivities with caroling, ballerinas, and the arrival of Santa himself, but you should aim to visit during the city-wide Christmas gnome hunt, inspired by the Nordic folklore surrounding nisse, otherwise known as Christmas elves (if you find any, you win a prize). And, if those holiday gnomes stoked your curiosity, you can also take a candlelight tour to learn about the city of Solvang and Danish yuletide traditions.
If you’ve ever dreamed of starring in your own Hallmark Christmas movie, we’ve got a great gift for you: there are many Christmas towns in the USA where you can don your favorite ugly sweater, stroll through adorable winter villages and Christmas light displays with a glass of eggnog or mulled wine, sing Christmas carols to your heart’s content and, of course, visit with Santa (hopefully you’ve made the nice list this year).
We can’t guarantee you’ll fall in love with a stranger in need of a little Christmas cheer like in the movies, but you will find an abundance of holiday spirit in Christmasy cities such as North Pole, Alaska and Santa Claus, Indiana, while New England charmers Essex, Connecticut and Stockbridge, Massachusetts look like a living Christmas card. In other parts of the country, Solvang, California and Leavenworth, Washington, offer a taste of Europe without needing a passport, and Grapevine, Texas offers a festive wine train. Seasons greetings!
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