30+ Fun Things to Do in Lancaster PA This Christmas

I know, I know - it's not even Thanksgiving!!  But every year in December, I look at our calendar and realize how full it is and think of all of the things we've wanted to do in past years and realize that there's just not time to do it all.  There are SO many fun holiday things to do around here and I've had more conversations than I can count recently with other friends, parents, aunts, uncles, grandparents, etc. where we lament that every year we wish we had a big list of all of the happenings and dates to put on our calendars.  So, I'm making one this year!  And sharing now so that you can plan ahead. Sorry to everyone who doesn't live locally, this post isn't going to be much fun for you. But, for local friends - here's the list! 

I can't guarantee that all of these are still there, but this is 2012's list and I know that most are businesses that do light shows each year or families that do awesome things every year at their homes, so I think a lot of these will stay the same.  If there's an updated 2013 list, I'll be sure to link here!  There's a great link in there with an interactive map to show you where the displays are located. 

November 12-December 30, 2013
"Christmas at American Music Theatre comes with more enchantment and splendor than the North Pole itself. This year’s all-new holiday show features your favorite seasonal and sacred Christmas songs – songs brought to life by marvelous vocal talent from across the country, accompanied by our masterful AMT Orchestra. Beautiful snowscapes, child-like joy, cherished stories, the spirit of love, and all your favorite things about the holiday season are cast onstage in this glorious celebration." 

November 29, 2013-January 5, 2014 
"We invite you to celebrate the season as the Choo Choo Barn transforms Traintown USA® to bring the magic of Christmas to its gigantic model train display. For only the second time in our history, the homes and businesses along the tracks have decked their halls to share with the public."  Free Admission on Canned Food Fridays December 6, 13 and 20 with a donation of one non-perishable food item per person.

Christmas in the Country Open House Tour, hosted by In Grandma's Attic: 
November 21,22,23, 2013 10am-5pm
"Start your Holiday shopping with the annual Christmas in the Country open house tour" Includes 23 local antique stores! 

November 14-December 23, 2013
" Fabulous period sets and rich costumes brings to life the story of stingy old Ebenezer Scrooge and the Ghosts of Christmas Past, Present and Future and Future as they help him discover the true spirit of the holidays. A Christmas Carol makes us all remember the special gifts of sharing and caring. " 

Open Weekends November 23, 2013 - December 29, 2013 with varying hours.
"Celebrate the season at Dutch Winter Wonderland! Make holiday memories at A Kingdom For Kids! as you enjoy rides and attractions, games, festive entertainment, cookie decorating, The Royal Light Show, and more!"

Various Dates during the month of December
Special holiday-themed classes for various age groups. 
Christmas Cookie Sprinkle Snitcher, Reindeer Roundup, Deck the Yard and Ho, Ho, Ho Check the event on the Hands on House December calendar for age groups, class times and the phone number to call to register for events. 

WAY too many to list here!  The link will take you to a pdf with events listed by date for the season.  

November 29, December 6, 13, 21, 2013 6:30-9:30pm 
Carriages depart from Fulton Bank, corner of King and Queen Streets

Friday Evenings: November 29, December 6, 13, 20, 2013 and Saturdays: November 30, December 7, 14, 21, 2013
"There are plenty of holiday activities to enjoy for young and old alike. Guests of all ages will be delighted by carolers & roaming musicians, holiday cooking demonstrations, s'more making and oodles of specialty Pa Dutch shopping.
Experience Christmas with Mrs. Claus & Yummie beginning at 5:00pm or 5:30pm (depending upon the night). Families can enjoy a holiday feast of homemade Lancaster County foods at The Kling House Restaurant (includes Pa Dutch family style dining, storytelling with Mrs. Claus & Yummie and a special gift for children). Advance reservations are required, call 1-800-732-3538." 
Lancaster Marriott at Penn Square's Visit with Santa: 
November 30-December 21, 2013 Fridays 6:00 pm to 9:00pm, Saturdays 10:00 am to 3:00 pm. Pictures with Santa are $5 or take your own for free.  
Breakfast with Santa
December 7, 2013 8-9:30am
Event includes breakfast, program by Zoo America, gift and visit from Santa Claus. Reservations and advance payment required by December 3. 

Lancaster Symphony Orchestra presents Sounds of the Season: 
December 13 and 15, 2013 "Some of our best holiday music memories are tied to heartwarming movies and television specials. Enjoy these moments live through our collection of classics, performed by the Lancaster Symphony Orchestra and Lancaster Symphony Chorus, under the direction of Dr. William Wright.  Let the memories flow as you experience the award-winning selections from A Charlie Brown Christmas (“Christmas Time Is Here,” “Linus & Lucy,” “Für Elise” & “Hark The Herald Angels Sing”), How the Grinch Stole Christmas (“You’re a Mean One, Mr. Grinch”), Polar Express (“Believe”), Holiday Inn (Irving Berlin’s “White Christmas”), Home Alone (John Williams’ compositions) and much more, including our Holiday Brass and carol sing-along.

Landis Valley Museum: 
December 13, 2013 from 6-8:30pm
Holiday at Landis Valley Bonfire "Fill your heart with Christmas cheer as you enjoy lively music and a bonfire in the village crossroads, a wagon ride, and complimentary hot cider and cookies in the Yellow Barn. It's our gift to the community and admission is free. We just ask that you bring a canned good donation to the Lancaster Food Bank." December 21, 2013 from 10am-3pm Old Fashioned Children's Christmas "Kids can experience a one-room schoolhouse Christmas at this themed event. Take-home craft included."

Masonic Village's Model Railroad Club's Holiday Open House: 
December 7, 8, 14, 21, 2013 2:00-4:00pm
This one has been on our list for years and we're making it a priority because I've heard so many great things about it.  The Railroad Club has a huge display decorated for the holidays! 

Mt Hope Winery's A Dickens of a ChristmasDecember 4-23, 2013 Mid-week, weekend, lunch & dinner shows available."You are hereby, cordially invited to the Annual Christmas Party at Mount Hope's Theater in the Mansion production. Before the show, guests visit the newly-remodeled Anchor & Mermaid Tavern (formerly Swashbuckler Pub) for Dinner and a Show or Lunch and a Show. No time to dine? Show only tickets are also available for all performances. Sing along, share games and traditions, and rejoice in the spirit of the season with holiday characters." 

Open daily until January 5, 2014 10am-6pm
"20,000 square feet of life-sized, walk-through, indoor exhibits - 
bring the holiday to life for all ages. Nestled in the heart of Pennsylvania Dutch Country, National Christmas Center Family Attraction & Museum takes you on a journey through wonderful memories of Christmases past and present, near and far. "

November 29, 2013 shows running from 10am-5pm
"Head North for the holidays! Learn about the historical, religious and cultural rituals practiced around the winter solstice, how these traditions light up the season and the science behind the "Star of Bethlehem"." 

The Nutcracker: 
December 6 at 9:30am, December 7 at 1pm and 6pm, December 8 at 2pm
Ballet Theater of Lancaster at Lancaster Mennonite High School's Calvin High Performing Arts Center
December 6 at 9:45am, December 7 at 1pm and 6pm, December 8 at 2pm
Donetsk Ballet Company with Viktor Yeliohin International Ballet Academy at Lampeter-Strasburg High School Performing Arts Center

December 7 and 14, 2013 9am-5pm

"Take a nostalgic glimpse at 100 years of holiday rail travel.  Meet costumed railroaders and enjoy seasonal music and festive decorations among our world-class collection of trains." 
November 22 - December 30, 2013
"Go back in time and witness the greatest birth in history. Be surrounded by the bustling village of Bethlehem as camels, horses, donkeys and villagers pass by. Be transported to the hillside where legions of angels descend upon the shepherds to proclaim, "The Savior is born!" 

Stauffer's of Kissel Hill Live Reindeer Visits:
December 6, 2013 6-8pm - Lititz Location
December 13, 2013 5-8pm - Roherstown Location 
"Bring your camera and have your picture taken with the reindeer and Santa!" 

Strasburg Railroad: 
November 29 and 30, 2013 and December 1, 7, 8, 14,15,21,22, 2013 with multiple train depatrures daily starting at 11am. 
Santa's Paradise Express "Strasburg Rail Road will welcome a very special visitor this November and December. That’s right, Santa himself will climb aboard and visit with families as they travel down the tracks to Paradise, PA and back. As a special treat, children ages 3 to 11 will receive a gift from Santa and his helper.
In addition, children are treated to storybook readings of holiday classics. Visitors of all ages can also enjoy a ride aboard the Tinsel Trolley, a self-propelled motor car." 
The Night Before Christmas Train:
December 6, 13 and 20, 2013 with trains departing at 7pm 
 "Sparkling skies, warmth from a potbelly stove, smells of freshly baked cookies, and magic in the air. Returning in 2013, the popular Night Before Christmas Train runs on three Friday evenings during the holiday season. This very unique and special train recreates the excitement and anticipation of Christmas Eve. A reader dressed in a Victorian nightshirt and cap will read Clement Clarke Moore’s classic poem, The Night Before Christmas, as passengers enjoy cookies and milk and the train rolls along. Children are also treated to storybook readings of holiday classics aboard our Caboose (stationary) and visitors of all ages can enjoy a ride aboard the Tinsel Trolley, a self-propelled motor car. 
In the spirit of the season, kids may come dressed in pajamas and bring along a new pair of pjs to donate to Water Street Ministries’ families in need. Just by attending this event, your participation will help men, women and children who are in need in our community. $5.00 from every ticket will support the work of Water Street Ministries. " 

Tree Farms: 
Sleigh and Hay Rides, Hot Chocolate and Tree Cutting fun! There are a variety of options at all of these farms from cut-your-own to pre-cut options. 
Bowser's Christmas Tree Farm
Country Barn Market
Elizabeth Farms
Frog Hollow Evergreens
Hunts Tree Farm
Martin Manor Christmas Trees
Miller's Christmas Tree Farm
Union Mill Acres

Turkey Hill Experience's Ice Cream with Santa
Saturdays and Sundays in December, running December 7 - 22. Seating times on Saturdays are at 2:00PM and 3:30PM, and Sundays at 2:00
"Build a craft, create a Christmas card, eat some delicious ice cream, and share a story with old St. Nick! Also, don’t forget your cameras and Christmas list’s for when you get to meet Santa Claus himself! Ice Cream With Santa is a separately ticketed event. Reservations are required. Please call 717-684-0134 x108 to reserve your seat today."

Twas the Night Before Christmas  at The Fulton Opera House: 
November 30 and December 7, 14, 21 and 28 at 11am
"Twas the Night Before Christmas is an original hour-long musical written just for the Fulton by Artistic Director Marc Robin and Curt Dale Clark.  This fun take on the Christmas classic is a singing, dancing holiday fantasy that teaches a little girl named Charlotte the true meaning of family and the holidays."

Fun Beyond Lancaster County: 
Hershey's Candy Lane
A Longwood Christmas at Longwood Gardens
Rocky Ridge County Park's Christmas Magic Light Show

 Enjoy and please share with friends who might also like a list of fun ideas. 
If you know of more things, leave a comment and share the fun! 


  1. Great list Lillian! I'm most excited about Santa at the Marriott downtown! I was trying to find a Santa to visit that wasn't at the mall! Thanks!

  2. Thanks Lillian! I added a few things to my own "must-do" list, thanks to you!

  3. Another "don't miss" is "A Season for Wishes". The CoJoMotion Dance Company of the Lititz Academy of Dance presents the 9th Annual holiday dance extravaganza to benefit Make-A-Wish® of Philadelphia and Susquehanna Valley on Saturday, December 7 at Manheim Township High School. The evening begins at 6 pm with a bake sale and basket raffle. The family friendly show begins at 7. Enjoy an entertaining the sounds of the season presented by the CoJoMotion dancers and local singers and help Make A Wish come true. 100% of the proceeds go directly to Make A Wish of Philadelphia and Susquehanna. Please help them reach their goal of raising $25,000. For more information, see www.lititzacademyofdance.com/wishes.htm

    1. Thanks so much for sharing, I'll add this above in the main post as well!

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