The Best LGBTQ+ Friendly Holiday Festivals & Markets

Holiday Events around the U.S.
Photo by Johnell Pannell from Unsplash

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Are you ready to add some extra sparkle to your holiday season? LGBTQ+ friendly holiday festivals and markets embrace the magic of the season, spread love, and create memorable experiences that everyone can enjoy. These events, typically running from mid-November through the end of December, bring a touch of fabulous to the holidays by adding a splash of color and a hearty dose of cheer to your winter days. From coast to coast, they offer a welcoming and safe space where diversity and celebration go hand in hand. So, grab your glitter and get ready for a fabulous journey through some of the best LGBTQ+ friendly holiday festivals and markets that you could ever imagine.

Smoky Mountain Christmas

Voted “America’s Best Christmas Event” for over a decade, Dollywood’s Smoky Mountain Christmas is where the holiday spirit cranks up the Christmas joy in the heart of the Smoky Mountains in Tennessee. Get ready for a fun-filled adventure as millions of twinkling lights transform the park into a winter wonderland. Enjoy thrilling rides, holiday treats, live shows, and the Parade of Many Colors, a holiday spectacle that transports you to a world of pure magic. And, when the sun goes down, hundreds of drones light up the night sky in an amazing Christmas drone show. So, grab your hot cocoa, wrap yourself in tinsel, and let’s make this  season one to remember!

Winter Village at Bryant Park

The Winter Village at Bryant Park is where the holiday season shifts into high gear. Think of it as your one-stop-shop for everything to “make the season bright” in the heart of the Big Apple. You can hit the ice skating rink with your friends or just grab a hot cocoa and watch the skaters glide by. Prefer a cozy little hideaway? Then check out the Igloo Bar for a cocktail. When it comes to shopping, the Holiday Shops at Winter Village have gifts for everyone on your list. You can stroll through decorated kiosks, sipping on some mulled wine, surrounded by the skyscrapers of New York. That’s what we call holiday magic! With its brilliant lights, sounds of the season, and warm smiles all around, Winter Village at Bryant Park is the perfect place to make unforgettable moments with family and friends.

SoWa Winter Festival 

The SoWa Winter Festival and Holiday Market is the ultimate winter spectacular for anyone looking for seasonal fun in Boston, Massachusetts. You’re surrounded by twinkling lights, the air is filled with the scent of fresh pine, and you’re cozied up with a steaming cup of cider. But it’s not just the festive feels that make SoWa a hit, it’s the vendors selling everything from handcrafted gifts to delicious treats. Live music and holiday performances add an extra layer of fun to the mix. You might even catch a surprise visit from Santa himself! So whether you’re in the mood for a bit of shopping, live tunes, or just soaking in the holiday vibes, SoWa Winter Festival and Holiday Market is where you’ll find it all in one joy-wrapped package.

Christmas Village in Philadelphia

An authentic German Christmas market at Love Park and City Hall, the Christmas Village in Philadelphia is like stepping into a holiday fairy tale come to life. You’re greeted by the sight of sparkling lights, and the aroma of delicious treats wafting through the air. As you wander among the wooden booths of merchandise, decorations, and snacks, you can enjoy the live music and performances that will have you grooving to the tunes of the season. One of the village’s highlights is its majestic Christmas tree standing tall and proud, creating quite a centerpiece. It’s the perfect spot to snap that holiday photo as you take in all of the sights, sounds, and smells of this slice of holiday happiness.

Festival of Trees Boise

The Festival of Trees Boise is an Idaho holiday tradition that’s all about spreading joy. As you walk in, you find yourself surrounded by creatively decorated Christmas trees, each one with a unique and imaginative theme. It’s like wandering through an enchanted forest, where every tree tells a different holiday story. You can just feel the holiday spirit in the air as the festival is abuzz with activities, live entertainment, and one-of-a-kind gifts. Both the young and young-at-heart can create memories by decorating cookies, taking a horse-drawn wagon ride, or simply enjoying a cup of hot cocoa. The Festival of Trees Boise is where holiday magic comes to life. 

Savannah Christmas Market

When winter rolls in, the city of Savannah transforms into a holiday extravaganza. The European-style Savannah Christmas Market at Plant Riverside District is where all of the fun begins. The Tree Lighting Ceremony kicks things off marking the official opening of the market. There’s live music, kid’s activities, and a chance to grab a selfie with Santa Claus. And when the Savannah Harbor Boat Parade of Lights sails by, it’s like Santa’s personal fleet on a tropical vacation. With holiday-themed food and drink, and gifts that are perfect for everyone on your holiday shopping list, the Savannah Christmas Market is one of Georgia’s best holiday traditions. 

Denver Christkindlmarket

The Denver Christkindlmarket is an authentic German-style market with the perfect mix of local and European craft and food vendors, located in Denver Civic Center Park. Organized by the German American Chamber of Commerce and the German Cultural Foundation, this Old World Christmas event features live music, dancing, and the chance to meet St. Nikolaus. The marketplace has outdoor wooden huts and a heated Festival Hall, perfect for enjoying the live entertainment. You can find both Colorado and international merchants, along with Bavarian-style beers, European coffee, and hot snacks like pretzels, freshly smoked salmon, and homemade Goulash. It’s a free and open-to-the-public holiday experience that’ll warm your heart during the holiday season.

Koziar’s Christmas Village

Koziar’s Christmas Village in Bernville, PA has been part of a Christmas tradition for local families and visitors from around the world for more than 75 years. As you wander through this winter showcase of twinkling lights and decorations, you are transported to a place that’s straight out of a Christmas storybook. The village is like a treasure hunt, with each nook and cranny hiding unique displays, from Santa’s toy shop to a damsel-in-distress winter castle.  Given the “Award of Excellence as one of the Top Ten Travel Attractions in Pennsylvania,” it’s an amazing experience for visitors of all ages, making it a must-visit destination during the holiday season.

Enchant Christmas in St. Petersburg

Discover the magic of Enchant Christmas in St. Petersburg, the world’s largest holiday-themed light event, that promises unforgettable entertainment and fun for all. Located inside Tropicana Field, it covers 10 acres with millions of twinkling lights, making it a must-visit when in Florida. As you step inside, you’re transported to a magical winter wonderland, featuring a 100-foot-tall holiday tree with larger-than-life ornaments, an ice-skating trail, live entertainment, and of course, Santa. There’s also a holiday shopping marketplace of 60+ local food and artisan vendors selling crafts, gifts, and food, along with holiday beverages and cocktails. Enchant Christmas in St Petersburg is the perfect place to make your holidays shine.

Circle of Lights Indianapolis 

Join in the holiday spirit as Indianapolis’ time-honored tradition, the Circle of Lights on Monument Circle, celebrates more than 60 years. Watch as the Soldiers and Sailors Monument, transformed into a 100-foot Christmas tree, lights up the night. Enjoy live performances by talented local artists, and take in the entire scene that brightens the holiday season. Downtown Indianapolis comes alive with live music, special holiday pop-ups, and plenty of food and drink. Become part of the history of the Circle of Lights at this family-friendly, free event of the season in the Hoosier State. 

Downtown Cleveland Winterfest

Gather your family and head to Cleveland for the Downtown Cleveland Winterfest, a holiday tradition that captures the spirit of Ohio. Downtown Cleveland, transforms into a magical wonderland with lights, entertainment, and activities that the whole family can enjoy. From free horse and carriage rides to the tree-lighting ceremony at Public Square, followed by a fireworks show, you can just feel the holiday vibes. It’s downtown Cleveland’s largest winter celebration with over 40,000 people joining in the fun. With pop-up shops, holiday treats, and gourmet food trucks, it’s the ultimate event to experience all the joys of the winter season.

Holiday Festival of Lights Charleston

Step into the holidays with the Charleston, South Carolina’s Holiday Festival of Lights, a seasonal tradition at James Island County Park. Beyond the three-mile driving tour of over 750 light displays, including the Cooper River Bridge exhibit, discover a world of festivities including a 50-ton sand sculpture, a holiday train, a magical walking trail, and a classic Victorian carousel. Satisfy your holiday cravings with treats like marshmallow roasting, hamburgers, kettle corn, and hot chocolate. You can enjoy family attractions like the Amazing Dancing Light Display, shop for gifts, and indulge in dining around Charleston. And, of course, a visit to Santa’s Village is a must, where the man in red is ready to capture the perfect photo for a lasting Christmas memory.

Provincetown Holly Folly

When it comes to all things LGBTQ+ friendly, no place says it louder and prouder than Provincetown, and its Holly Folly is no different. Perfect for kicking off your holiday shopping and supporting local businesses, this weekend is packed with so much to see and do. Activities include a holiday market and the Jingle Bell Run, followed by a Champagne Brunch, dance parties, sing-alongs, and drag bingo. The Town Hall hosts the “Gayest Holiday Show in Town,” featuring some of your favorite Provincetown talents to celebrate the season. There’s also the Santa Speedo Run, the Santa Con Tea Dance at the Red Room, Holly Folly Bingo, and a “dance the night away” at The SnowBall. It’s a holiday weekend that “makes the yuletide gay,” making it an experience you won’t want to miss. 

Atlanta Christkindl Market

Atlanta Christkindl Market is where the magic of the holiday season meets the spirit of this Georgia city. The perfect blend of traditional German festivities and Atlanta’s modern energy creates a one-of-a-kind experience. Delight your taste buds with traditional German treats like brats and schnitzel, and keep warm with hot chocolate, cider, and mulled wine. With over 50 vendors selling handcrafted treasures, including toys, jewelry, and traditional German handcrafts, you are sure to find that perfect holiday gift. And don’t forget to pay a visit to Santa’s house for a memorable photo with the jolly old elf himself! It’s a holiday celebration that captures the essence of old-world charm and the excitement of the city, making it a must-visit destination on your seasonal “To Do” list..

NOLA ChristmasFest

An indoor family holiday celebration that’s packed with fun, the NOLA ChristmasFest in the heart of the Crescent City’s Warehouse/Arts District is a family-friendly event filled with holiday cheer. Here, you can enjoy ice skating on New Orleans’ only rink, take a whirl on the Kringle Carousel, and enjoy carnival rides and inflatables. Meet Santa, Mrs. Claus, Rudolph, and other Christmas characters while creating holiday crafts. Check out the Gingerbread Village, Giant Wreath, and Tree displays, all beautifully lit for the season. Professional photographers capture your special memories, while you can grab autographs from, and snap photos of, all of your favorite Christmas characters.

Christmas by the Sea Ogunquit

Experience the holiday magic of Christmas by the Sea in Ogunquit, Maine, that transforms this charming seaside town into a winter wonderland of lights, laughter, and festivities. With a live Manger scene, concerts, craft shows, children’s activities, caroling, a candlelight walk, cozy bonfires, and amazing fireworks, Ogunquit comes alive with holiday cheer. The town’s inns and stores dress up in holiday decor, and plenty of holiday events await visitors. It’s a holiday extravaganza that kicks off with the tree lighting, carolers, and a Bell Choir Concert. There’s a whirlwind of fun with hayrides, arts and craft fairs, Santa’s arrival at Perkins Cove, and a welcoming reception from shops, boutiques, and art galleries. Nowhere does the holiday season quite like Ogunquit.

Illuminate SF Festival of Lights

There’s a world of illuminated wonder in San Francisco as the city’s neighborhoods come alive with art during the holiday season. Launched by San Francisco Travel, Illuminate SF Festival of Lights is designed to brighten the longest nights of the year. What began with six light art installations, has now grown to an impressive 62, both temporary and permanent, created by a group of international and local artists. These eco-friendly displays can be found throughout the city, from the Embarcadero to the Inner Sunset, North Beach to Bayview, and even at San Francisco International Airport. As dusk falls, the works come to life, turning evenings into a luminary experience. Pair this experience with exploring San Francisco’s restaurants, nightlife, cultural events, and holiday festivities, and you find yourself in the middle of a perfect holiday adventure.

Peddler’s Village Holiday

‘Tis the season at Peddler’s Village, PA, and what better way to celebrate the season than at the Peddler’s Village Holiday. Kick it off at Giggleberry Fair, where kids can experience the magic of Christmas. They can meet Mrs. Claus, write letters to Santa, and create holiday masterpieces with Santa’s elves. It’s all free, just don’t forget to bring your holiday cheer! And the holiday cheer doesn’t stop there. Light up the night with the annual Grand Illumination Celebration. Witness the magic as Santa and Mrs. Claus “flip the switch” on over a million twinkling lights, turning the village into a colorful Christmas display. Enjoy musical and dance performances, and be sure to check out the Visitor & Event Center, where there are dozens of gingerbread house creations. It’s the perfect way to start the holidays in the heart of Bucks County, PA. 

LGBTQ+ Friendly Holiday Festivals & Markets Spread the Joy

Celebrate the spirit of inclusivity and spread the joy at LGBTQ+ friendly holiday festivals & markets across the country. These celebrations are a welcoming embrace of everyone, regardless of who you are or who you love. It’s a time to come together and create a space where friends, families, and allies can join in the joys of the season and bask in the holiday spirit. From the busy streets of big cities to the cozy corners of small towns, you’re invited to come as you are, and let these holiday events be a reminder that love knows no bounds, especially during this most wonderful time of the year.

**Disclaimer: There is a good chance that this post contains affiliate or sponsor links. If you make a purchase through them, we may receive a small commission at no extra cost to you (for which we are extremely grateful).

Also, while we do our best to highlight LGBTQ-friendly destinations and businesses, info provided is based solely on personal experience and recommendations by community partners. We hope that nobody experiences discrimination or homophobia while visiting Florida and beyond, but we make no guarantees. Please inform us if you experience discrimination or homophobia while visiting any destination so we can make updates to our recommendations.

Events are subject to change. Please check the events webpage for updates and schedules.

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may, 2024

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