5 (Cheap) Holiday Festivals Actually Worth Traveling For

by  Alex Schechter | Nov 15, 2013
Downtown San Diego
Downtown San Diego / Mindy_Nicole_Photography/iStock

One fun thing about the holidays? There's always something to do. Whether you're waving to Santa from the front row of a crowded parade, or ice skating around a 50 foot tall Christmas tree, the list of seasonal traditions is endless. For those looking to get away this year, here are a few traditions worth getting acquainted with; and, naturally, a hotel deal to make the magic happen.

San Diego, CA 

Minutes from downtown San Diego, the "island" of Coronado will be abuzz on December 6 for the Coronado Christmas Parade, during which Santa's arrival by ferry will be serenaded by carolers, followed by a full-out parade, Merchants Open House (a great excuse to check out the shops along Orange Avenue), and finally, a Christmas tree lighting in Rotary Park. Of course, nothing beats ice skating alongside the Pacific Ocean, so be sure to stop by Skating By the Sea. To make it all happen, the historic Hotel Del, celebrating its 125th anniversary this year, will offer a Del Family Experience package, starting at $225, with skating passes, $100 dining credit, s'mores on the beach, and free parking.

Sedona, AZ 

No conversation about scenic Christmas getaways in the US is complete without mentioning central Arizona's dazzling Festival of Trees (November 29-December 7), during which 45 Christmas trees and gingerbread houses, each decorated by local artists, will be on display for the public to admire against the area's stunning red rock backdrop. And thanks to the Arroyo Pinion Hotel, you can nab a free wine-tasting tour along with your room when you book the Vineyard Tour package (use the code PGRAND), from $101.

Asheville, NC 

Traditionalists will love the Victorian vibe in North Carolina's charming Asheville, located in the state's western half. At the top of the list for the holiday season is the Biltmore Village Dickens Festival (December 6-8, free), when a total of 300 performers – including musicians, choral groups, dancers, and Montford Park Players – will take over the decked-out village in a weekend-long series of staged and impromptu concerts. Ride in a horse-drawn carriage, munch on roasted chestnuts, and be sure to stay at the Omni Grove Park Inn, where rates over the holidays will hover around $198 (the hotel will also host entries from the National Gingerbread Competition, so a full spectacle awaits!).

Minneapolis, MN 

If you're headed to the midwest and need some holiday-themed excitement, we have one word for you: Holidazzle. The annual parade, which takes place Fridays and Saturdays at 6:30pm from Nov 29-Dec 21, is a festive mix of illuminated floats, live music, and Santa, all making their merry way down Nicollet Mall, a must for any first-time Minneapolis visitors. To get in the spirit, The Grand Hotel (a Kimpton property) is offering a Holidazzle Delight package (from $109), including a complimentary upgrade, $25 dining credit at the SIX15 Room, and even a set of hand warmers.

Lake Geneva, WI

Unless you show up on Sunday November 24 for the big annual Illumination Ceremony, you'll miss out on Grand Geneva Resort & Spa's special rate of $99. But never mind – the cozy winter resort is getting into the full Christmas spirit with packages running all the way through December. The "Christmas In The Country" (appropriately titled, as the hotel sits in the midst of rural Wisconsin, with its own ski resort, hiking trails, and 1,300 acres of pristine woodlands) package starts at just $209, including a one-night stay, brunch or dinner, a trolley tour, and access to the Festival of Trees, the Gingerbread House, and 'A Christmas Portrait,' a holiday-themed musical.

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