If the small-town charm and warm, fuzzy feeling of a Hallmark Channel Christmas movie puts you in the holiday spirit, there are many places around southwest and south-central Pennsylvania to recreate those movie-set experiences this season.
For example, the hotel-booking website Reservations.com’s "Runaway Suitcase" blog ranks Ligonier in Westmoreland County as fourth place on its “Top 25 Hallmark Christmas Towns Index” for its “family spirit and old-school style.”
Many local communities are also hosting tree lighting events and other activities for the holiday season, so watch the “What’s Going On” events listing in the Daily American or contact the municipality for more information.
Christmas events near me
Across the region, there are town squares and gazebos dressed in Christmas lights and greenery, as well as creative outdoor light displays, animated Christmas trees, themed celebrations, floral exhibitions and vintage train and streetcar rides. Here’s a listing of some of these regional attractions as compiled by the Daily American.
Johnstown Christmas Tree at Central Park
This features an animated tree with lights synchronized to Christmas music and 34 decorated houses in the miniature village, all sponsored by area businesses. The tree plays from noon to 1 p.m. and from 5 p.m. to 11 p.m. daily through Jan. 8. Scheduled special events include “Christmas Express” from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. Dec. 10 and Dec. 11, and a “S’mores night” from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. Dec. 18. More information available at facebook.com/discoverdowntownjohnstown/.
Ebensburg Dickens of a Christmas
This takes place Dec. 2-4 at various locations in Ebensburg borough. The annual community event is based on the story “A Christmas Carol” by Charles Dickens. Participants dress in period costume,s and numerous activities are planned, including an indoor craft show, outdoor movie night, breakfast with Santa and a Christmas parade. More information and a schedule of events is posted online at https://ebensburgpa.com/ebensburg-dickens/.
Christmas Acres in Sidman
This can be found at 207 Mindish Road in Sidman. It's to be open from 5:30 p.m. to 9 p.m. on weekends only, starting Dec. 3 and ending on Dec. 18. This is an old-fashioned walk-through Christmas-themed experience for children and adults. Reservations are required, as visits are booked 30 minutes apart. For more information and to make reservations, visit thehauntedacres.com/the-christmas-acres.
Harmony Light Fest at Camp Harmony
This can be found at 1414 Plank Road in Hooversville. It's a drive-through light display celebration of Christmas. This is to be open weekends from 6-9 p.m. Dec. 3, 4, 10, 11, 17 and 18. Drive-up concessions such as hot chocolate, cookies and apple cider also offered. Santa is to appear and wave to children. More information is posted at campharmony.org/events.
Festival of Lights in Ligonier
This is scheduled from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily from Dec. 4-7 at Ligonier Town Hall, 120 E. Main St. Decorated trees in the town hall’s community room are adorned with themes from the 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.
Overly’s Country Christmas
This can be found at 116 Blue Ribbon Lane in Greensburg. It's a traditional Christmas village in a walk-around format, with a bonfire, model train display, sleigh ride and other options. This is to be open Thursdays through Sundays only, starting Nov. 18 and ending Dec. 30. Village hours are from 5:30 p.m. to 9 p.m. Thursday and Sunday, and from 5:30 p.m. to 10 p.m. on Friday and Saturday. It's closed on Dec. 24 and Dec. 25. More information is available at overlys.com.
Lakemont Park Holiday Lights on the Lake
This can be found at 700 Park Ave. in Altoona. It's a drive-through holiday lights display open now through Jan. 9 from 6 p.m. to 10 p.m. daily. In addition to the lights, guests can stop in and see Santa in his gift shop (from Nov. 20 to Dec. 23) and purchase holiday gifts and ornaments. Local vendors also offering baked goods and handmade items for sale. For more information visit lakemontparkfun.com/holiday-lights-on-the-lake/.
Bedford Holiday Nights of Lights
This can be found at the Bedford County fairgrounds, located at 108 Telegraph Road in Bedford. The drive-through light display began Nov. 26 and is set to end Dec. 26. It's open from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. Friday through Sunday (also on Dec. 21, 22 and 23). More information available at bedfordcountychamber.com/holiday-lights/.
Oglebay Festival of Lights
This can be found at 465 Lodge Drive, in Wheeling, West Virginia. It's to be open nightly from dusk to midnight through Jan. 9. This 6-mile self-guided drive features 90 lighted attractions and 14 audio experiences. Other attractions offered include Good Zoo, Rockin’ Holiday Light Show, shopping, holiday dinner shows, shopping and a Magical Mansion Show. Resort employees recommend not using GPS, but to instead follow the directions posted at their website. More information available at oglebay.com/lights.
K4 Christmas: Railroad City Holidays
This is sponsored by the Railroaders Memorial Museum, located at 1200 Ninth Ave. in Altoona. It's to be open from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. Dec. 4, 11 and 18. The museum is to be decorated with lights, wreaths and Christmas trees, and a tree lighting is to take place each night. Visits with Santa, cookies, warm beverages and shopping in the museum store are also being offered. To order tickets and find more information, visit railroadcity.org/events.html.
Polar Express in Cumberland
This is a train excursion sponsored by the Western Maryland Scenic Railroad, located at 13 Canal St., Cumberland. The event offers a 90-minute train ride based on the popular "Polar Express" movie. Dates and times available are extremely limited. For more information visit wmsr.com/train-rides/the-polar-express/.
Christmas in Coal Country
This can be found at at the East Broad Top Railroad, 421 Meadow St., Rockhill Furnace. The event is to take place Nov. 26-28, Dec. 3-5 and Dec. 10-12, from 2 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays, and from 2 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. Sundays. Visitors can enjoy a one-hour ride on a diesel train, meet Santa Claus and take a 45-minute ride through a holiday light display on a vintage trolley. Other features include photos with Santa, hot chocolate and a vendor/craft area. More information is available at eastbroadtop.com/events/.
North Pole Express in Romney, W.V.
This is hosted by the Potomac Eagle Scenic Railroad, located at149 Eagle Drive in Romney, West Virginia. The railroad offers a 75-minute interactive train ride with milk and Mrs. Claus’s famous cookies, along with storytelling and Christmas carols. Santa Claus is to board the train at the North Pole and give each child a gift. The train station has an events barn with a variety of activities. Tickets can be purchased online, and more information is available at potomaceagle.com/experiences/north-pole-express/.
Holiday Magic! Winter Flower Show and Light Garden
This can be found at Phipps Conservatory, 1 Schenley Drive, Pittsburgh. The exhibit opened Nov. 19 and is to continue through Jan. 9. Decorated trees, topiaries and more than 1,600 poinsettias are featured in the indoor holiday display. Outdoors, the Winter Light Garden includes trees, fountains, a tunnel of light and an ice castle display. Tickets must be reserved in advance. Open hours and more information are posted at phipps.conservatory.org/calendar/detail/holiday-magic.
A Very Merry Pittsburgh 2021
This is a holiday exhibition at the Heinz History Center, 1212 Smallman St., Pittsburgh. It's to remain open through Jan. 17. This exhibit features memorabilia from the past to show how western Pennsylvanians celebrated winter holidays such as Christmas, Chanukah, Diwali and Kwanzaa. Artifacts from holiday displays at Kaufmann’s, Macy’s, Horne’s and Gimbel's department stores are included in exhibit. Heinz History Center is open from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily. Children ages 17 and under admitted free 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. Event takes place on Nov. 26-28 and Dec. 4, 5, 11, 12, 18 and 19. Guests can ride on a restored antique streetcar with Santa Claus and take his photograph. Displays inside the museum include a large Lionel model train layout and a LEGO display, as well as an area for children to make a holiday craft. Complimentary hot chocolate and cookies also provided. More information is available online at pa-trolley.org/santa-trolley-2021/.
This article originally appeared on The Daily American: Christmas destinations to get you in the holiday mood near Somerset