Did you know that Lancaster County has some really unique ways to celebrate Christmas this holiday season? On this compiled list of ways to celebrate Christmas you’ll find live nativities, candlelight tours, christmas light shows, garden tours, concerts and even scooter rides with Santa!
Ideas for families, couple date nights, small groups and senior citizens! Some are free, some are by donation and others require purchased tickets.
All ages will love driving around the county and visiting Christmas Light shows. Many of these are at houses, some are at businesses and a few are paid attractions. Check out this list and a map of Christmas Light Shows in the Lancaster County area.
Enjoy the Christmas lights of Ephrata, while traveling by trolley for the Ephrata Alliance’s annual Jingle Bell Tour. Tickets for Friday’s Family Tour are $7 per person and tours depart from the Historic Ephrata Cloister at 6:00, 6:30, 7:00, 7:30 and 8:00 pm.
The trolley tours will include an outside tour of 10 local homes, two business, and last years’ winner. During the trolley ride, there will be trivia, prizes, music and a special guest host to entertain all of those aboard while riders vote for the best decorated residence or business.
Now that everyone has come “over the river and through the woods” why not take a leisurely stroll through the candlelit grounds of the historic Ephrata Cloister? Visit with friends and family to discover the sights, sounds and crafts of the past and present in a relaxed evening under the stars. Admission $5/person at the door.
4. Annual Live Walk Thru Nativity (cancelled until 2018)
Travel back in time to the first Christmas ever. Learn about the story behind the arrival of Baby Jesus. You will walk through and experience 7 different parts of the Christmas Story. Dress warmly and come prepared to walk. Strollers and wheelchair accessible. Free refreshments at the end! There is no cost for the event!
A free fun day for the whole family! Join us for a day of good cheer at Grace Church as we celebrate the start of the Christmas season.Pre-registration is encouraged but you can also check in at the door! Visit www.meetgrace.org to register!
Come check out all the fun activities, including:
- Pictures with St. Nicholas
- Live nativity
- Door prizes (including Christmas trees!)
- Movies & Music
- Wagon Rides
- Christmas treats
We will also be showing several classic Christmas short films during the day as well. Mark your calendars, because you won’t want to miss this!
Ok, so this isn’t in Lancaster County, and it is a little drive away, but its one of those places you just have to include in a list like this. Its just too good to miss! If you have never been there, Christmas is definitely the time to go.
Sparkling skies, warmth from a potbelly stove, smells of freshly baked cookies, and magic in the air. 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. Back at the station, 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 just by attending this event, your participation will help men, women and children who are in need in our community. $5.00 from every adult ticket will support the work of Clinic for Special Children.
Admission to the Choo Choo Barn’s 1,700 square foot model train layout is FREE if you donate one non-perishable food item per person. Enjoy an enhanced holiday display and search for 55 hidden Santas, one for each of Choo Choo Barn’s 55 years.
All ages and abilities are welcome to build one Gingerbread Nativity for their home. Please bring:
- Money for a donation for supplies.
- Your own nativity scene from home to display & share!
You MUST RSVP for this event – there will only be enough stables for those who’ve signed-up because each stable is made by kind volunteer hands & time.
10. Simply Christmas (not sure if this is happening in 2017)
Simply Christmas is an old fashioned “get together” with neighbors, family and friends. It will remind us of the “simple” nature of how Christmas is meant to be shared. The entire community is invited to experience our live nativity, games with prizes, crafts, music, holiday food, holiday treats, themed rooms and outdoor fire pits with S’mores! The fun begins at 4pm, and the entire celebration is free to the public, and provides fun for all ages!
Visions of Sugarplums is an exciting new work that tells a magical holiday story through traditional theater, music, and dance. The title is an intentional nod to both The Nutcracker and Twas the Night Before Christmas. A delightful story, magic, movement, and music are sure to delight the family audience and be the perfect start for the holiday season.
$8.50 in advance
$7 member in advance
$10 at the door
For more information or to purchase your tickets, call 610.376.1576 or visit institute-of-arts.org.
12. Candy Cane Hunt (2017 date TBA)
Make your holiday season merry and bright! Kick off your happy holidays with our annual Candy Cane Hunt! We’ll start at 6:30 p.m. at the Lancaster YWCA to decorate our collection bags.
Then bundle up and bring your flashlight to find candy canes hidden in Musser Park. After the hunt, we’ll return to the Lancaster YWCA for hot chocolate and cookies.
This event is FREE and suited for ages 2-14. All children must be accompanied by an adult.
Carriages depart from Fulton Bank, corner of King and Queen Streets
Rides are first come, first served:
- $2/child (12 and under)
Join us in ChocolateTown Square for a night of family festivities and holiday celebrations! Stop by for a visit with Santa, a performance by the Milton Hershey School New Horizons, a special tree lighting ceremony, chidren’s activities, and cookies and cocoa.
We hope you will all join us in our annual winter skating show, as we tell the story and skate to the songs of Toy Story!
Ticket sale information coming soon!
16. Live Nativity at Emmanuel United Methodist Church (2017 Date TBA)
The event features actors and live animals remembering the first Christmas as well as decorated rooms, music, a reading of the Christmas Story, and of course cookies, cookies and more cookies. This is an all weather event and is free to the public.
17. Polar Express Night at Geneva Bakery Cafe (2017 Date TBA)
Brought back this year by popular demand . . . our special Polar Express storytime! There will be 2 readings this year, 6pm and 7pm. Bring the whole family out for a fun storytime and hot chocolate! There will be a special kids $1 size just for this night. Wear your pj’s and join Miss Ellie for a fun Christmas celebration!
18. Imagine Christmas (2017 Date TBD)
A musical production of ‘story tellers’ telling the birth of Christ. Performed by middle and high school students.
Admission is FREE.
The Mennonite Children’s Choir is a group of students (K-12 grade) from all different denominations and backgrounds, who love to sing. It is an opportunity for them to praise God, develop vocal skills, increase world awareness and confidence and prepare them for a lifetime of worshipping God and serving the church.
20. Allegro Christmas: A City in Song (2017 Date TBD)
Allegro Orchestra Lancaster, conducted by Dr. Brian Norcross, will present a Christmas music spectacular featuring an 80 voice Allegro Christmas Chorus in the beautifully decorated sanctuary of First United Methodist Church. 10% of ticket proceeds support the Anchorage Breakfast Program (offering free breakfast Monday through Friday at FUMC). Limited seating.
$25 a ticket, children are FREE but require a ticket
21. A Barbershop Christmas by Red Rose City Chorus (2017 TBD)
Red Rose City Chorus and Red Rose Chorus will partner for the third time to bring you a magical, harmony-filled, Christmas concert.
To purchase a ticket visit the ARTSMU website to find us.
Enter into the Christmas season with our Piercing Word team members as they present an original musical: Grace Family Christmas! In this story, church lady Edie has asked the Grace Family Blue-grass band to perform Luke 1 & 2, but one crucial family member is absent. Edie steps in to “help,” and hilarity ensues. In the end, the family shows her grace and the true meaning of Christmas!
You are invited to a FREE a cappella concert by Spare Parts, at Forest Hills Mennonite Church (100 Quary Road, Leola, 717.656.6227). The children of the Leola MOMS group will perform a Christmas poem and some songs during a short intermission.
FREE childcare & refreshments. Pre-sale orders for plates of cookies, frozen cookie dough logs, and jars of cookie mix, as well as poinsettias and wreaths will be taken until 11/14/17.
The night of the concert, plates of Christmas cookies, cookie jars and frozen cookie dough logs will be available for sale for $5 each. Please see the posts in this Facebook event to find all the sale sheets with prices, sizes and other options.
Marietta Restoration Associates are proud to host one of the oldest, continuous holiday walking tours in Pennsylvania. A splendid array of 8 – 10 private homes, public buildings and a variety of special events make this a tour you will not want to miss. Funds generated by the tour are utilized in the maintenance, restoration and preservation of Old Town Hall, Union Meeting House, the Bank Building, restoration of the Historic Marietta Theatre project, and Musselman/Vesta Office Building.
Free parking and convenient shuttle bus service is available. Advance tickets are available at a reduced rate prior to the tour, and may also be purchased on the day of the tour.
For ticket information/availability, please call 717-426-4048 or visit www.mariettarestoration.org.
Our 2017 tour will take place on Saturday, December 2nd from 12:00-5:00, and Sunday, December 3rd from 1:00-5:00. Come tour over 15 of our member inns. Experience the beautiful homes and properties dressed for the holidays and receive Christmas treats at each inn. But don’t forget to find the “Belsnickle” at each inn.
For each of Santa’s naughty cousins that you find, you will be entered into a drawing to win a prize worth up to $325 including a stay at any of our member inns. With each ticket you will receive an entrance ticket for the National Christmas Center (redeemable for one visit throughout the month of December) located right here in beautiful Lancaster County. This one-of-a-kind museum explains the history of Christmas where you can discover world-wide traditions, antique Santas, a recreated F.W. Woolworths store, a walk-through nativity and many other surprises.
Each “Find Your Belsnickle” tour ticket is valid for both days of the tour so you can travel around the county at your own pace. A map with each of the participating inns is included with the purchase of the ticket.
Proceeds from our tour will benefit Make-A-Wish. Last year we raised over $4000 for this wonderful charity whose purpose is to grant wishes to children with life-threatening illnesses. Help us make this another great year of giving back.
26. Reindeer Round-Up: Pop-In Play at Hands On House (2017 TBD)
Meet Rudolph and his relatives who call the top of the world home. No elf experience is necessary to become a part of the “team” that takes care of Santa’s reindeer.
27. Home for the Holidays at Railroad Museum of Pennsylvania (2017 TBD)
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.
Tour nine homes plus local churches, all with unique decor ranging from historic to new.
$15 if purchased before December 1 (available at Main Street Antiques, Speckled Hen, Java Junction, and Eldreth Pottery)
$20 if purchased day of event (available First Presbyterian Church, Fellowship Hall Event Center)
Come warm your spirit and experience Pennsylvania German contributions to the celebration of the season as you tour decorated buildings and a Civil War winter camp, see traditional holiday foods prepared in the tavern, and meet “der Belsnickel.”
Children can make seasonal crafts to take home and families can enjoy wagon rides around the site.
New this year! Wander into the Yellow Barn for for entertainment along with hot cider and popcorn available for purchase.
Kids can post their letter to Santa at our Landis Valley Post Office. Landis Valley once had a working post office and we’re opening it again to accept letters to Santa Claus. Kids will learn about Santa from our Education Department and craft the perfect letter in their best penmanship. Then, each child will put their letter in an envelope and drop it off in the post office in the back of the Country Store. We will send them to the North Pole and each letter will receive a reply from Santa. Cost: $1.00 for postage.
Step back in time to when Christmas Day was only the beginning of the season! Learn about 18th-century Yuletide traditions and customs. Beautiful music will fill the air, dancing will take place in the first floor hallway (candlelight tours only). Bring your friends, family, and guests to celebrate the season during this popular annual event!
$10 for adults
, $8 seniors 65+ and children 6 to 12
Free for children under 6
No reservations required.
Daylight tours are also available.
Santa has traded in his sleigh for a 50cc Scoot Coupe and leads the way through the back roads of Lancaster County in search of the ever elusive “Amish Christmas Lights”. Join Santa as he travels over the bridges and through the woods with exceptional views of the countryside, including Amish farms and schoolhouses. This tour will give you a uniquely exciting way to get in the holiday spirit . . . and reconnect with the open road.
Spend a few moments in quiet reflection with holiday music and seasonal readings in the 1741 Meetinghouse at the Ephrata Cloister. Seating is limited and advance tickets are required.
Call 717-733-6600 after November 8th to order your tickets.
Special Admission rate of $6/person.
Forever Home Company in Lititz is going to be having a Kid’s Workshop which will be exclusively for kids to shop for all the grownups in their lives. They will be creating a room that resembles Santa’s workshop where kids of all ages can shop. All items will be under $15 and we will be serving hot chocolate and cookies.