The holiday season is a special time for the National Park Service. Many parks across the country offer unique holiday programs and events that simply can't be experienced at any other time of year. Chances are, there's something exciting happening in a park near you!
Cuyahoga Valley Scenic Railroad - The Polar Express™
- Where: Cuyahoga Valley National Park
- Date: Now through Dec. 20
- Time: 7 p.m.
Bring the entire family aboard a vintage train on Ohio’s Cuyahoga Valley Scenic Railroad for a reading of The Polar Express™. Cozy pajamas are encouraged, and hot chocolate and cookies will be available to help keep you warm throughout the wintry ride.
An Eisenhower Christmas
- Where: Eisenhower National Historic Site
- Date: Now through Dec. 31 (closed Christmas Day)
- Time: 10 a.m. – 5 p.m.
This annual event has become a beloved favorite among national park visitors. See the Eisenhowers' Pennsylvania home decorated for the season just as it was when the first family lived there in the 1950s. Refreshments and shuttle service from the park visitor center will also be provided during a special reception on Dec. 12.
Yuletide at the Malus-Beauregard House
- Where: Jean Lafitte National Historical Park and Preserve
- Date: Dec. 12
- Time: 9a.m. – 3 p.m.
At the Malus-Beauregard House in Louisiana, an old-fashioned Christmas celebration takes you back in time to the 1800s. Hear holiday stories told by residents of the historic village (portrayed by talented reenactors), and try your hand at creating handmade holiday decorations.
Wreaths Across America
- Where: Andersonville National Historic Site
- Date: Dec. 12
- Time: Noon – 2 p.m.
The Wreaths Across America project has grown to become an annual tradition to honor our veterans during the holiday season. Join in this year's event to place wreaths upon military gravesites at Andersonville National Cemetery in Georgia.
Holidays at Glenmont
- Where: Thomas Edison National Historical Park
- Date: Every Fri., Sat., and Sun. through Jan. 10 (closed Christmas Day)
- Time: 11:30 a.m. – 3 p.m.
Each weekend, this event recreates Christmas in Thomas Edison's historic New Jersey home. Visitors are given a vivid glimpse into Christmas past with furnishings and decorations dating back to the 1880s.
Holiday Lights From the Bluff
- Where: Scotts Bluff National Monument
- Date: Dec. 18 – Dec. 20
- Time: 4:30 p.m. – 8 p.m.
Scotts Bluff offers impressive scenic views throughout the year, but never more so than in December. During this time, the summit road will be open to visitors free of charge. From here, guests can witness stunning views of the holiday lights below in the nearby Nebraskan communities of Scottsbluff and Gering.
Holiday Organ Concert
- Where: Saint Paul's Church National Historic Site
- Date: Dec. 20
- Time: 2 p.m.
Attend a free performance by world-class organist Kathryn Jones at this beautiful church in Mount Vernon, New York. On this special evening, Jones will play classical renditions of holiday favorites on a beautiful 1830 Erben organ.
Annual Christmas Bird Count at Yosemite
- Where: Yosemite National Park
- Date: Dec. 20
- Time: Full-day event
Bird lovers, rejoice! It's time to rejoin your fellow bird watchers at California’s Yosemite National Park for the annual Christmas Bird Count. Every year, participants split up into groups to document as many bird species as possible. The 2014 bird count resulted in 2,354 individual birds of 68 different species!
Winter Solstice Campfire Program
- Where: John Muir National Historic Site
- Date: Dec. 21
- Time: 3 p.m. – 7 p.m.
Celebrate the shortest night of the year at this historic site in California with crafts and games in the park orchard, followed by a ranger-led nighttime bonfire.
New Year's Eve Candlelight Walk
- Where: Mississippi National River and Recreation Area
- Date: Dec. 31
- Time: 4 p.m. – 8 p.m.
Say goodbye to the holiday season and hello to a brand new year! This Minnesotan wintery holiday tradition includes marshmallows, roaring bonfires, and nighttime hikes on miles of candlelit trails. Be sure to dress warmly as you get ready to ring in the new year!
It’s a great responsibility to uphold a tradition, but an even greater honor to start one. This year, do just that by attending one of these national park holiday celebrations. Take pictures with your friends and family, and share your stories at FindYourPark.com! We love new traditions just as much as those that we’ve worked so hard to keep.