Working as a travel nurse or therapist means you get to explore exciting new places and discover interesting local sights and attractions. As the holiday season approaches, be on the lookout for fun events that can help you fully experience your new home away from home.
We've gathered some of the top holiday festivals in the U.S. – read on to learn more about them, and, if you're in the area, be sure to check them out!
Nevada City Victorian Christmas
"The enticing aromas of roasted chestnuts and hearty holiday foods fill the air, along with cries of street vendors hawking their wares and lamp-lit streets filled to overflowing with authentic Christmas treasures." If you want to walk through such a winter wonderland, pay a visit to the Nevada city Victorian Christmas Festival. A picturesque mountain town provides the perfect backdrop to this "Christmas card come to life," as the Nevada City Chamber of Commerce describes it, complete with carolers dressed in Victorian garb, authentic gas street lamps, live entertainment, crafts vendors and carriage rides. Learn more about the Nevada City Victorian Christmas.
The Celebration in the Oaks
There may not be snow, but there's plenty of holiday cheer at the Celebration in the Oaks festival in New Orleans. From the Friday after Thanksgiving to Jan. 3, guests will be treated to a dazzling after-dark display of twinkling lights, lanterns and glittering holiday displays. Hundreds of thousands of people take in the sights and sounds of the event each year, according to the New Orleans Tourism Marketing Corporation, with favorite attractions being the iconic snowman, Mr. Bingle, and the "Cajun Night Before Christmas" display. Don't miss the Carousel Gardens, where you can ride beautiful painted horses on a 100-year-old antique carousel. A family-friendly event, the Celebration in the Oaks is an exciting spectacle for all ages. Learn more about the Celebration in the Oaks here.
Winterfest in Pigeon Forge, Tennessee, draws big crowds each year for its stunning holiday displays set against breathtaking views of the Great Smoky Mountains. Winterfest decks out the city in more than 5 million holiday lights from November to February. Old Mill Square shines with brilliant sparkle, with the historic Smoky Mountain Opry decorated in full festive flair for the season. Popular amusement park Dollywood also gets in on the celebration, with a Smoky Mountain Christmas event that features a stunning Parade of Lights each night and entertaining stage productions. Learn more about Winterfest.
Christmas Town, located at the Busch Gardens theme park in Williamsburg, Virginia, has the distinction of hosting the largest light display in North America, with over 8 million Christmas lights on display. It's a can't-miss holiday event that will make you feel like you transported to the North Pole itself. Enjoy fun live performances and then browse holiday boutiques while sipping a hot mug of the park's world-famous peppermint fudge hot chocolate. This year, you can also catch world-champion figure skater Elvis Stojko in the show 'Twas that Night. Learn more about Christmas Town.
Blossoms of Light
Take in the stunning sights of a holiday festival that combines sparkling lights with the natural beauty of flowers and plants at the Blossoms of Light event in Denver, Colorado, which runs from Thanksgiving to Jan. 1. Located at the Denver Botanic Garden, the Blossoms of Light festival keeps each year fresh with additions to its sprawling set-up, such as sound-reactive, animated LED lights and interactive light displays.
"If you're searching for a different kind of holiday festival, check out the Winterfest Boat Parade."
"Every year is different," explained Denver Botanic Garden spokesperson Jennifer Riley in an interview with CBS Denver last year. "Even if you've come the last several years, I'd still encourage you to take a look this year. There's a lot of new additions that make it fresh. But it's different every year, and there's truly something to discover."
Learn more about the Blossoms of Light event.
Winterfest Boat Parade
If you're searching for a different kind of holiday festival, check out the Winterfest Boat Parade in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, sponsored by the Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino. Gather on the docks to watch the magnificent boat parade on Dec. 9 that will feature every type of vessel from dazzling megayachts to over-the-top showboats in an event dubbed the "Greatest Show on H20." Spectators – more than a million of them, according to the official website – will also see musical performances and celebrity appearances. Be sure to look for the scene-stealing Galleria Mall Reindeer Barge, Santa Showboat and Grand Marshal Showboat. Learn more about the Winterfest Boat Parade.
Check out these and other festivals this holiday season during your winter travel nursing or travel therapy assignment! They're great chances to connect with your local community and discover more about what makes your city or town unique.