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Best Theme Park Holiday Event (2021)

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These American theme parks pull out all the stops as they deck their halls – and attractions – for the holidays. Winter visitors enjoy parades, seasonal live entertainment, visits with Santa, and plenty of holiday cheer.

  • An Old Time Christmas at Silver Dollar City

    An Old Time Christmas at Silver Dollar City
    Branson, Mo.

    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 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.
    Photo courtesy of Silver Dollar City

  • WinterFest at Kings Island

    WinterFest at Kings Island
    Mason, Ohio

    Kings Island seeks to recreate the feeling of an old fashioned winter during their annual WinterFest celebration. The event kicks off the weekend before Thanksgiving and includes ice skating, a holiday market filled with trinkets and toys, holiday treats, millions of lights and a 314-foot-tall Christmas tree, built around the park’s Eiffel Tower.
    Photo courtesy of Kings Island File Photo

  • Smoky Mountain Christmas at Dollywood

    Smoky Mountain Christmas at Dollywood
    Pigeon Forge, Tenn.

    Celebrate the season Dolly Parton-style at a Smoky Mountain Christmas in Dollywood. In addition to a spectacular lights display featuring five million lights, festivities include live stage performances, nightly fireworks shows, themed culinary offerings, and a unique opportunity for kids to find out if they are on Santa's naughty or nice list.         
    Photo courtesy of Curtis Hilbun

  • SeaWorld Orlando's Christmas Celebration

    SeaWorld Orlando's Christmas Celebration
    Orlando

    The colorful lights of decorated trees reflect in the lake during SeaWorld's Christmas Celebration in Orlando. Visitors are invited to watch world-famous skaters twirl across the ice, visit with Santa, shop a lakeside Christmas market, sample holiday treats, snap a photo with Rudolph or Countdown to Christmas with sea lion celebrities Clyde and Seamore. 
    Photo courtesy of SeaWorld Orlando

  • Christmas Town at Busch Gardens Williamsburg

    Christmas Town at Busch Gardens Williamsburg
    Williamsburg, Va.

    When Christmas Town takes over Busch Gardens Williamsburg, park guests are in for a holiday treat! More than 10 million twinkling lights comprise one of America's largest Christmas light displays, while guests enjoy festive food and drink (like the park's signature peppermint fudge hot chocolate), holiday shows and visits with Santa at the North Pole.
    Photo courtesy of Busch Gardens Williamsburg

  • Christmas Town at Busch Gardens Tampa Bay

    Christmas Town at Busch Gardens Tampa Bay
    Tampa

    Nine dazzling shows pair with lights, rides and of course, Santa, at Busch Gardens Tampa's beloved annual event. Carol of the Bells is one such dazzler, coordinating tens of thousands of Christmas lights to holiday music while the Three Kings Journey show pulls together talented singers who harmonize the tale of that famous road trip to Bethlehem. Christmas on Ice, meanwhile, demonstrates daring skating feats set to classic festive tunes with a snowy finale.
    Photo courtesy of Busch Gardens Tampa Bay

  • Holiday Lights at Kennywood

    Holiday Lights at Kennywood
    West Mifflin, Penn.

    Kennywood is illuminated with some 2 million lights during the Holiday Lights celebration. Local choirs perform holiday favorites while guests take pictures with Santa, ride the Gingerbread Express, watch The Polar Express 4-D Experience or gape at a choreographed spectacle of lights over the lagoon.
    Photo courtesy of Kennywood

  • Hersheypark Christmas Candylane

    Hersheypark Christmas Candylane
    Hershey, Penn.

    The halls (and rides) of Hersheypark get bedazzled in more than 5 million lights as the popular Pennsylvania park transforms into Christmas Candylane for the holiday season. Park-goers can visit with Santa and all nine of his reindeer, watch a synchronized light show to favorite holiday tunes, enjoy family-friendly rides and six thrilling coasters weather permitting, sip signature hot chocolate, and more.
    Photo courtesy of Hersheypark

  • Christmastime at Santa's Village

    Christmastime at Santa's Village
    Jefferson, N.H.

    While it's Christmastime year-round at Santa's Village in Jefferson, New Hampshire, the park pulls out all the stops for its annual Christmastime celebration each winter. Park goers can ride more than a dozen different rides during the event, while the park is illuminated in holiday lights.
    Photo courtesy of Santa's Village NH/Robert Raney

  • Dutch Winter Wonderland at Dutch Wonderland

    Dutch Winter Wonderland at Dutch Wonderland
    Lancaster, Penn.

    Winter Wonderland at Dutch Wonderland is a hit with families thanks to thousands of lights choreographed to music, 20 themed rides and attractions and a chance to meet Santa. Park goers are encouraged to bring toys for a Toys for Tots drive to benefit Lancaster area children.
    Photo courtesy of Dutch Wonderland

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The top 10 winners in the category Best Theme Park Holiday Event are as follows:

  1. An Old Time Christmas at Silver Dollar City - Branson, Mo.
  2. WinterFest at Kings Island - Mason, Ohio
  3. Smoky Mountain Christmas at Dollywood - Pigeon Forge, Tenn.
  4. SeaWorld Orlando's Christmas Celebration - Orlando
  5. Christmas Town at Busch Gardens Williamsburg - Williamsburg, Va.
  6. Christmas Town at Busch Gardens Tampa Bay - Tampa
  7. Holiday Lights at Kennywood - West Mifflin, Penn.
  8. Hersheypark Christmas Candylane - Hershey, Penn.
  9. Christmastime at Santa's Village - Jefferson, N.H.
  10. Dutch Winter Wonderland at Dutch Wonderland - Lancaster, Penn.

A panel of experts partnered with 10Best editors to pick the initial 20 nominees, and the top 10 winners were determined by popular vote.

Congratulations to all these winning theme park events!

License the 10Best Readers' Choice Award Logo

 

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AlertThe Experts

10Best Editors

10Best Editors

10Best Editors

Allison Taylor

Allison Taylor

Allison Taylor

Catherine Smith

Catherine Smith

Catherine Smith

Jacky Runice

Jacky Runice

Jacky Runice

Nicky Omohundro

Nicky Omohundro

Nicky Omohundro

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Nikky J

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