Carolers, eggnog, icicles, and mistletoe. For these American towns and cities, celebrating Christmas is an event 11 months in the making.
In the middle of major metropolises, pop-up Christmas villages spread festive vibes every December. Scattered around the country – and probably not too far away from you – these destinations hit the mark on yuletide spirit, succeed in helping you shop small this holiday season, and offer something for everyone.
The best part: (Most) have free admission. Your glühwein and peppermint bark will cost you extra.
When: Nov. 29 - Jan. 1
Typically recognized as a summer destination, Decembers in Nantucket transform into a winter wonderland. Locals and visitors are invited to shop downtown amid decorated Christmas trees and take part in wine tastings, ghost walks, and home tours.
The annual Christmas Stroll, the island’s banner event, takes place Dec. 6 - 8 and hosts craft shows, concerts, and a holiday house tour and marks the arrival of Santa.
Where: Downtown Holiday Market
When: Nov. 22 - Dec. 23, open daily from noon - 8 p.m.
Now in its 15th year, the Downtown Holiday Market boasts 150 regional artisans, crafters, and boutique businesses that sell diverse gift items, such as jewelry, pottery, paintings, and textiles. Beyond the roster of vendors, the market sells German pretzels, gingerbread, and mulled cider to warm you up.
Where: Atlanta Christkindl Market
When: Nov. 21 - Dec. 24, open daily from 11 a.m. - 9 p.m.
The team at the German American Cultural Foundation works its magic to make you think you’re in Bavaria, instead of downtown Atlanta. Indulge in German bratwurst and imbibe beer, shop for unique gifts like nutcrackers, snow globes, and ornaments, and listen to storytellers while enjoying the seasonal ambiance in Centennial Olympic Park.
When: Nov. 29 - Dec. 22, Thursdays through Sundays
Holidazzle might be the next best thing to the North Pole. The family-friendly Minneapolis tradition features local vendors, food, beverages, crafts, and gifts, and the programming lineup includes visits from Santa Claus, musical performances, holiday movie screenings, themed days, and giveaways. Visitors are also welcome to use the park’s skating rink. Skate rentals are free of charge.
Where: The Christmas City
When: The pageant is Nov. 30, Dec. 1 and Dec. 15.
Minden is known as Nebraska's Christmas City and the tradition of adorning the Kearney County Courthouse with Christmas lights dates back to 1915. Today, there are over 12,000 bulbs that illuminate the courthouse and town square.
In recent years, the town has adopted a new tradition and hosts a free Christmas Pageant with local residents cast as actors on the steps of the courthouse every year.
Where: Denver Christkindl Market
When: Nov. 22 - Dec. 23
Denver Christkindl Market has all the makings of yuletide cheer: pet and family-friendly, live music, a marketplace with artisan wares, a food hall serving European confections, and an appearance by Saint Nikolaus himself.
Where: Texas Christkindl Market
When: Nov. 29 - Dec. 22 (Ice rink runs through January 12, 2020)
Admission: Free, ice skating costs extra ($12 for general admission and $4 skate rental)
Located outside of Dallas, the Texas Christkindl Market is designed in the essence of a German holiday market with traditional gifts and decorations, music, performers, food hall, and a 5,000-square-foot ice rink.
Where: Enchant Christmas
When: Nov. 22 - Dec. 29
Admission: $14.99 - $32.99, depending on the age of attendee
DC and St. Petersburg, FL
At Enchant Christmas, hosted at T-Mobile Park, you’ll explore what’s billed as the world’s largest Christmas light maze along with a Christmas tree that towers the on at Rockefeller Center in New York. There’s also food, a Christmas market with more than 75 vendors, an ice skating rink, and kid zone. Santa is also on hand to grant Christmas wishes and pose for photos.
When: Nov. 23 - Dec. 22, open weekends
Admission: $14 - $32, depending on the age of attendee and time
Everyday is Christmas Eve at this beloved Bay Area tradition. Since the 1970s, hundreds of actors don costumes, adopt accents, and interact with visitors as if it was Charles Dickens’ Victorian London. Visitors are free to wander 120,000 square feet of theatrically-lit “streets of 1850’s London” complete with music halls, pubs serving hot toddies and hot buttered rum, dance floors, a tea parlor, and Christmas shops.
Stephanie is a reporter for Yahoo Finance. Follow her on Twitter @SJAsymkos.