Christmas Attractions Across America

08 December, 2017

Cities all across the United States are dressing up for the Christmas season with trees, lights and holiday magic. Today, we look at a few of them.

New York City

In New York City, one of the best-known holiday attractions is Rockefeller Center's Christmas tree in Manhattan. The tree is lit during a public ceremony in late November. The city has displayed a large Christmas tree here since 1933. This year's tree is 23 meters tall and covered with 50,000 lights. A Swarovski crystal sits on top.

Ornate window displays are another New York Christmas tradition. Large department stores along the famous shopping area of Fifth Avenue create imaginative displays during the holiday season.

Macy' s Herald Square unveils its legendary Christmas windows celebrating the theme
Macy' s Herald Square unveils its legendary Christmas windows celebrating the theme "The Perfect Gift Brings People Together," Thursday, Nov. 16, 2017, in New York. (Photo by Diane Bondareff/AP Images for Macy's)

Stores choose different themes every year. This year, for example, Saks Fifth Avenue's windows celebrate the 80th anniversary of the Disney film "Snow White and the Seven Dwarves." Another famed department store, Bergdorf Goodman, celebrates New York's diverse museums and cultural sites, such as the Philharmonic and the New York Historical Society.

The Fifth Avenue windows are so popular that police use long ropes to set up controlled lines for the window viewing.

Baltimore, Maryland

Miracle on 34th Street is a well-known and beloved American Christmas movie. And there is actually a real Miracle on 34th Street – in Baltimore, Maryland.

Every year, Baltimore residents along a block of 34th street put up an almost blindingly bright display of Christmas lights and decorations. Thousands of people visit the block to see the bright and colorful display of Christmas cheer, now in its 71st year.

The event opened with an official lighting ceremony on November 25 and will continue through the holidays.

New Orleans, Louisiana

Every December, City Park in New Orleans, Louisiana, becomes a winter wonderland. It features more than 10 hectares of light displays, it's famous old oak trees wrapped in thousands of twinkling lights. More than 165,000 people visit the so-called Celebration in the Oaks each year.

New Orleans also celebrates its French Creole connection each holiday season with Reveillon dinners. Reveillon comes from the French word for "awakening." The 19th-century French Creole tradition began as a large meal eaten after midnight mass on Christmas Eve. The "reveillon" tradition is still alive in New Orleans' French Quarter. Restaurants there offer special Reveillon meals that include oysters and other seafood, meat, soup, dessert and more.

North Pole, Alaska

The icy North Pole is said to be the home of Santa Claus. So it is no surprise that the small Alaskan town with the same name is home to the world's largest Santa statue. It stands in front of Santa Claus House, the center of the town's Christmas activities.

The "world's largest Santa" in North Pole, Alaska.

While the town displays Christmas decorations all year round, it really comes alive in December. The North Pole Christmas in Ice contest brings ice artists from around the world to the town of 2,000 people. Visitors can slide down frozen slides and work their way through complex ice mazes.

Indianapolis, Indiana

The central U.S. city of Indianapolis, Indiana is famous for its yearly Indy 500 automobile race.

During the winter holiday season, the world-famous race track fills up with more than two million Christmas lights, 500 light displays and 40 holiday scenes. Visitors are permitted to drive their own cars on the speedway.

Los Angeles, California

A traditional Mexican festival takes place in Los Angeles, California. The nine-day Las Posadas celebration is one of the city's oldest Christmas events. Las Posadas can be found on Olvera Street, considered the first street of the city.

The celebration commemorates the story of Mary and Joseph traveling from Nazareth to Bethlehem to prepare for Jesus' birth.

Celebrations are held nightly from December 16 through December 24. The events include a candlelight parade. Children clothed to look like shepherds, angels, and Mary and Joseph lead the march, followed by worshipers. The public can also join the parade or just watch from the side. The group sings songs in English and Spanish as they walk.

"Posada" means "inn" or "shelter" in Spanish. During the parade, the marchers stop at stores along Olvera Street that pretend to be inns. They ask the business owners for shelter. The stores usually deny the request, often in song. Finally, one will say yes, and the marchers are admitted. Free hot drinks and sweet bread are served.

Grand Canyon Railway, Arizona

Many scenic railways around the country offer train rides that center on Santa Claus and Christmas. In Arizona, the Grand Canyon Railway brings to life the classic children's book "Polar Express," written by Chris Van Allsburg. The train sets off from Williams, Arizona and travels for 90 minutes until it arrives at "Santa's Village," where Santa and his elves welcome the passengers. Santa and his helpers ride the train back to Williams with the children. Each child receives one a small bell as a gift.

Does your city, town or village do something special for the holiday season?

I'm Caty Weaver.

And I'm Ashley Thompson.


Words in This Story

magic - n. a very pleasant, attractive, or exciting quality

attraction- n. something interesting or enjoyable that people want to visit, see, or do

ornate - adj. covered with decorations : covered with fancy patterns and shapes

theme- n.the main subject that is being discussed or described in a piece of writing, a movie, etc.

twinkling- adj. shining brightly and then faintly.

soup- n. a food made by cooking vegetables, meat, or fish in a large amount of liquid

dessert- n. sweet food eaten after the main part of a meal

slide- v. to move smoothly along a surface

maze - n. a complicated and confusing system of connected passages

commemorate- v. to exist or be done in order to remind people of (an important event or person from the past)

classic- adj. to exist or be done in order to remind people of (an important event or person from the past)