Black Friday has come and gone, holiday tunes have taken over the airwaves and Santa’s on his way. Ready or not, the holidays are upon us. 10Best wanted to find the best seasonal events and shopping opportunities in the U.S., and to do that, we asked our readers to vote for their favorites in eight seasonal categories.
Best Botanical Garden Holiday Lights: A Longwood Christmas at Longwood Gardens
A Longwood Christmas — Photo courtesy of Longwood Gardens
During A Longwood Christmas at Longwood Gardens, interior spaces celebrate all things Christmas trees with Tree Reimagined – a collection of holiday trees with a twist. Outside in the gardens, more than half a million lights illuminate the night. Visitors will also find fire pits for warming up and carolers adding a note of holiday cheer.
Best Department Store: Barneys New York
Barneys New York — Photo courtesy of Tom Sibley / Barneys
Barneys New York attracts shoppers from around the world with its chic, sophisticated and on-trend brands. With two dozen locations across the USA, including flagships in New York, Beverly Hills and Chicago, the high-end labels available from this self-described “emporium of style” are never far off, and it’s a great option for discovering up-and-coming designers.
Best Holiday Historic Home Tour: Graceland
Graceland decorated for the holidays — Photo courtesy of Graceland
Graceland is one of the most-visited private homes in the nation. Every year, more than 600,000 people go to Elvis Presley’s former estate in Memphis. The Christmas season at Graceland kicks off with a lighting ceremony mid-November, after which visitors can tour the home decorated for the season with traditional lights, a live-size nativity scene and Santa. Presley family Christmas artifacts are on display during this special time of year.
Best Holiday Market: Old World Christmas Market
Old World Christmas Market — Photo courtesy of The Osthoff Resort / Facebook
This holiday season marks the 21st installment of the Old World Christmas Market in Elkhart Lake, Wisconsin. This annual event takes place at The Osthoff Resort, where for 10 days, visitors can shop for specialty items in heated tents, munch on bratwurst and roasted almonds, sip hot Glühwein and visit with Father Christmas.
Best Holiday Parade: America’s Thanksgiving Parade
America’s Thanksgiving Parade in Detroit — Photo courtesy of Jon / flickr
Detroit has been hosting America’s Thanksgiving Parade (originally called the Michigan Thanksgiving Parade) since 1924. Since then, it has grown to become one of the largest and most popular parades in the country, complete with marching bands, helium balloons and colorful, larger-than-life floats making their way down historic Woodward Avenue each Thanksgiving morning.
Best Public Holiday Lights Display: Festival of Lights
Festival of Lights — Photo courtesy of Peter Cooper, The Mission Inn Hotel & Spa
The Mission Inn Hotel & Spa’s Festival of Lights returns to Riverside for its 26th year with 5 million lights, 400 animated figures, a life-size gingerbread house, the world’s largest mistletoe, visits from Santa Claus and Sugar Plum Fairy ballerinas and live entertainment, all welcomed with a grand Switch-On ceremony complete with a Super Bowl-grade firework show.
Best Theme Park Holiday Event: An Old Time Christmas at Silver Dollar City
An Old Time Christmas — Photo courtesy of Silver Dollar City
Branson’s Silver Dollar City gets decked in 6.5 million colorful, twinkling lights during its annual holiday celebration, An Old Time Christmas. Festivities center around a 5-story-tall special effects Christmas tree, with 1,000 other decorated trees around the park, two Broadway-style holiday productions and an illuminated parade featuring Rudolph and his reindeer friends.
Best Zoo Lights: PNC Festival of Lights at the Cincinnati Zoo
PNC Festival of Lights — Photo courtesy of Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Garden
During the annual PNC Festival of Lights at the Cincinnati Zoo, some 3 million LED lights illuminate the night. Visitors can meet Mr. and Mrs. Claus, watch a lights show on Swan Lake, drool over a gingerbread village, munch on s’mores or ride the Toyland Express train.