Christmas Trees, Gingerbread Houses and Holiday Attractions

Beth J. Harpaz, The Associated Press, December 04, 2015

Gingerbread houses, dazzling light displays and Christmas trees made of macarons and recycled bottles are among this season's holiday attractions. Here are some details.



The tree at Rockefeller Center is one of New York's most famous Christmas traditions but there are many others: the Rockettes at the Radio City Christmas Spectacular; the Neapolitan Baroque crèche at the Metropolitan Museum of Art; the origami tree at the American Museum of Natural History, and store window displays at Macy's, Bergdorf Goodman, Barneys, Saks Fifth Avenue, Lord & Taylor and other retailers. Macy's theme this year is "A Charlie Brown Christmas."

New this year in Lower Manhattan is Luminaries, a colorful, choreographed light show at the Winter Garden near One World Trade. Head to the city's outer boroughs for the New York Botanical Garden's holiday train show in the Bronx, with model trains chugging past replicas of landmarks; the Christmas Lights Tour of Brooklyn's Dyker Heights neighborhood, offered by A Slice of Brooklyn Bus Tours; and a gingerbread village with 1,050 gingerbread houses at the New York Hall of Science in Queens.



In Washington, D.C., the national Christmas tree stands on the Ellipse at President's Park near the White House. In Los Angeles, check out the tree at the Grove. The city of Chicago's official Christmas tree is at Millennium Park after decades at Daley Plaza. Kansas City, Missouri, hosts one of the nation's tallest trees at nearly 100 feet high in Crown Center. Boston's Faneuil Hall hosts a tree and a light-and-sound show called Blink!.

In Charlotte, North Carolina, the Ritz-Carlton is displaying a 17-foot sustainable tree made from 789 recycled green plastic bottles and three trees made from thousands of colorful macaron cookies. The hotel also has a life-size gingerbread house.



It's your last chance to see the Osborne Family Spectacle of Dancing Lights at Walt Disney World this season. The spectacle started at the Arkansas home of Jennings Osborne and moved to Disney World in 1995 after the Osbornes ran into problems with neighbors. The attraction features millions of lights synchronized to holiday music. The space will be used in the future for new Stars Wars and Toy Story-themed areas.

Universal Studios Hollywood in Los Angeles features the Grinch and live Grinchmas shows, Dec. 5-6 and 12-13, then daily Dec. 18-Jan. 3. Other Universal events inspired by the Dr. Seuss classic "How the Grinch Stole Christmas" include story time with Cindy-Lou Who, cookie decorating and ornament decorating.

In Pigeon Forge, Tennessee, Dollywood's Smoky Mountain Christmas offers 4 million lights, Rudolph the red-nosed reindeer and shows including "An Appalachian Christmas," "'Twas the Night Before Christmas," and "A Christmas Carol" that uses holograms to conjure Dolly Parton onstage as the Ghost of Christmas Past.



In Wheeling, West Virginia, Oglebay Park hosts its annual Winter Festival of Lights. Five displays were shown in the festival's first year in 1985. Now 80 displays light up a 6-mile driving course.

In Missouri, Branson's Silver Dollar City features more than 5 million lights and 1,000 decorated trees as part of An Old Time Christmas festival through Dec. 30. The Lake of the Ozarks area's largest drive-through holiday light park, the Enchanted Village of Lights, covers 27 acres on the Laurie Fairgrounds.

In Asheville, North Carolina, the historic, 250-room Biltmore House displays a 34-foot tree in the Banquet Hall, with a 55-foot Norway spruce lit up outside by 45,000 tiny white lights. Wreaths, garlands, candles and choirs add to this year's decor theme, "A Gilded Age Christmas." Activities and events include Candlelight Christmas Evenings, daily seminars on decorating with wreaths and creating holiday "tablescapes," wine tastings and visits with Santa.

Also in Asheville, at the historic Omni Grove Park Inn, winners of the 23rd annual National Gingerbread House Competition are on display through Jan. 3. The hotel is offering a gingerbread holiday package for guests, while others may visit the gingerbread display in the Sammons Wing and Vanderbilt Wing Sunday afternoons through Thursdays, excluding the holidays (parking, $10).

In New Mexico, a gingerbread replica of a historic Santa Fe hotel, La Fonda on the Plaza, will be displayed in the lobby alongside a carved nativity scene.

A holiday winter festival called CHILL comes to sunny Southern California thanks to the retired ocean liner Queen Mary, docked in Long Beach. A geodesic dome onsite houses an igloo with ice tubing and ice sculptures depicting scenes from "A Christmas Carol." There's a skating rink, too.


This story has been corrected to delete a reference to "The Nutcracker" from Queen Mary section.


This article was written by Beth J. Harpaz from The Associated Press and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network.