In anticipation of what Andy Williams crooned “the most wonderful time of the year,” 10Best set out to find North America’s best seasonal events – light shows, holiday parades, Christmas markets and festive hotels – and we asked our readers to help. For the past four weeks, you’ve been voting for your holiday favorites, and the results are in.
Click on each category below to see the full list of winners.
Best Botanical Garden Holiday Lights: A Longwood Christmas at Longwood Gardens in Kennett Square, Pennsylvania
Winning garden puts up half a million lights — Photo courtesy of Longwood Gardens
During A Longwood Christmas, Longwood Gardens celebrates the shapes of the season. The outdoor gardens are sheer magic with more than half a million lights by way of illuminated trees to glowing orbs to dancing fountains. Outdoor fire pits and carolers add a note of holiday cheer.
Inside, the celebration continues with elegantly adorned spaces and towering trees inspired by the contours of ribbons to confectionery to snowflakes.
Best Holiday Historic Home Tour: Graceland in Memphis, Tennessee
This is the second straight win for Elvis’s home — Photo courtesy of Graceland
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: Carmel Christkindlmarkt in Carmel, Indiana
A festival highlight is the 33-foot Glühwein Pyramid — Photo courtesy of Carmel Christkindlmarkt
The Carmel Christkindlmarkt brings a bit of Saxony, Germany to Indiana during this annual festive event. The market features the only Glühwein Pyramid in the U.S., standing 33 feet tall with more than 3,000 lights.
Best Holiday Parade: America’s Thanksgiving Parade in Detroit
Detroit parade also won in 2018 — Photo courtesy of America’s Thanksgiving Parade
Detroit has been hosting America’s Thanksgiving Parade presented by Art Van 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 Hotel for the Holidays: The Roosevelt New Orleans
Winning hotel decks their halls with more than 100,000 lights — Photo courtesy of Hilton
During the holidays, the lobby at The Roosevelt New Orleans gets adorned with 135,572 lights, 1,004 feet of garland, 698 hand-tied bows and 2,200 glass ornaments decorating 44 Christmas trees and 3,328 feet of winter white branches.
Best Public Holiday Lights Display: Bentleyville “Tour of Lights” in Duluth, Minnesota
Winning event is nation’s largest free walk-through holiday event — Photo courtesy of Visit Duluth
Bentleyville “Tour of Lights,” America’s largest free walk-through lights display, invites visitors to walk amid more than 5 million lights spread across a 20-acre park on the shores of Lake Superior. Guests can get their photo taken with Rudolph, visit with Santa and enjoy free cocoa, cookies, roasted marshmallows and popcorn.
Best Theme Park Holiday Event: An Old Time Christmas at Silver Dollar City in Branson, Missouri
This is the fourth win for Silver Dollar City in this category — 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.
It’s bigger and brighter than ever in 2019, with festivities centered on an 8-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 also won in 2018 — 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.
Congratulations to all our holiday winners.