Festivals bring color to the holidays

Christmas Magic has once again excited the kids, made the parents laugh and all the volunteers smile. It’s magic all over again.

The 600,000 lights were lit again by the York County Parks System on Friday, Nov. 24 at 5 p.m., and crowds wandered in to see the LED lights, sip hot chocolate, listen to performers, marvel at the large train display, and of course, to see Santa.

On weekends, the one-half-mile trail opens at 5 p.m. and closes at 9 p.m. Weekday hours at 6-9 p.m. Christmas Magic is open until New Year’s Eve, except Christmas Eve and Christmas Day.

4But, if you’ve seen Christmas Magic already this year and still have a yearning to see more Christmas lights, festivals or celebrations, here are a few more places throughout the state you might want to visit.

For a state-wide calendar of Christmas festivals and events, check http://www.festivalsinpa.com/

Nearby is Hersheypark’s Christmas Candylane. Hersheypark isn’t just summertime fun. The park boasts four million lights, 50 rides that include six coasters and the Triple Tower. Performers will sing and dance between the choreographed light shows and reindeer will be hanging out in their stable.

Most Saturdays and Sundays, the park is open noon to 10 p.m. Beginning December 10, the park is open nearly every day except Christmas. For hours, click here.

Admission is $24, children under two years old are free. Breakfast with Santa is $25.95 for 10 years and older. Children (ages 4-9) is $19.95.

Kids can also enjoy breakfast and lunch with Santa, visit Santa at the Kissing Tower Hill, practice their ice skating moves and watch the Music Box Christmas.

For a longer jaunt, head west to Altoona (2.5 hour drive) and its Holiday Lights on the Lake, a 51-acre display of lights. And if it’s chilly weather, don’t worry about getting out of your car– it’s a drive-through event. While listening to music on Lakemont Park’s radio network, a  wonderland of bright holiday lights and animated displays is sure to make the evening something to remember.

18On the way to Altoona, stop by the Old Bedford Village just off the Pennsylvania Turnpike on December 2 and 9 for the historic replica town’s Candlelit Christmas. Wander through the village and enjoy live seasonal music and hot cider in the tavern. Hours are 5 p.m. to 9 p.m.  Admission is $10 for adults and $8 for children.

Proving this is the season of loving, donate an item worth $5 or more for the animals at the Bedford County Humane Society. You’ll be given a coupon for a snickerdoodle cookie and hot chocolate.

Beginning Wednesday, Nov. 29 at the Pennsylvania Farm Show Complex in Harrisburg is the largest Christmas holiday show in the country, the Pennsylvania Christmas and Gift Show.  More than 750 vendors will show their work Wednesday through Saturday 9 a.m. to 7 p.m., and Sunday 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Dancers and musical groups will perform throughout the show. Santa will be working in the children’s workshop. Adult admission is $8, seniors $6.

About 160 miles and nearly directly north of York is the charming town of Wellsboro, which hosts a one-day, 34th annual Dicken’s of a Christmas. Nearly any day is charming for this small town on U.S. Route 15, but Dec. 2 is especially charming this time of year. Food and craft vendors, along with strolling musicians and singers, dancers, and street-corner thespians will spread up and down Main Street beginning at 9 a.m.  Costumed performers and vendors create a Victorian atmosphere that fits well with the Wellsboro gas lights.13

Just two hours from York, another small town that beckons all year ’round is Jim Thorpe. The burg’s Olde Time Christmas  is set for December 1-3, 9-10 and 16-17. The town is known as a climbing and hiking mecca, but the Olde Time Christmas promises plenty to do– even if it snows.

The Jim Thorpe’s train will feature Santa’s appearance daily, but there will also be brass quartets wandering through town, live singing, Christkindlmarkt (Christmas market), jugglers and even a vintage holiday burlesque show.  At 8 p.m. Dec. 2, the Mauch Chunk Opera House hosts a holiday show featuring the music of the Trans-Siberian Orchestra. A week later at the opera house, Craig Thatcher & Friends Rockin’ Christmas light up the holiday show that has become a popular Christmas season favorite.

For even more holiday travel ideas, click Pennsylvania or Maryland.