Snowbirders and full-timers are lucky for a number of reasons; one in particular comes to the forefront during winter: If they delight in holiday festivities, they’ve probably planned ahead and know exactly where they will be for turkey, caroling, hot toddies and gifts. Winter vacationers need not be envious, however, because feasts, festivities, light parades, music galore and more can be found in small desert communities, atop mountain hamlets, in large cities and in campgrounds from coast to coast. RVers should check with local chambers of commerce and tourism boards, in addition to their current copy of the Trailer Life RV Parks, Campgrounds & Services Directory. Somewhere along the road you’re traveling is a warm, colorful celebration.
Arkansas: Over the River and Through the Woods combines the best of 64 communities and brings locals and visitors the Trail of Holiday Lights from November 19-December 26. Parades, open houses, ice skating, music and lots of food for all. www.arkansas.com/things-to-do/trail-of-lights/
California: The Palm Springs Living Desert Reserve lights up the entire town with its fiery WildLights Holiday Festival display, while nearby Cathedral City invites guests to tour Minerva Drive for its outstanding light show. Numerous parks and resorts in the area, such as Outdoor Resorts of America, put on their own celebrations for guests of the premises. www.livingdesert.org. www.cathedralcitycc.com/recreation.html
Also in California, one of the most renown and colorful boat shows takes place from December 17-21. The Newport Beach Christmas Boat Parade attracts more than 100 vessels of every shape and size, all decorated to the nines. Park at the Municipal Parking Lot next to Balboa Pier, or park your RV for the night at the lovely Newport Dunes Resort. www.newportdunes.com
Louisiana: Although Washington D.C. and Philadelphia pull out all the stops for their July 4th festivities, Louisiana may outshine all of its neighbors when it comes to Christmas partying. The famous or infamous Bonfires of St. James Parish, especially, gather people from across the country to view the legendary tradition; supposedly begun in the 1880s for the riverboats to navigate the Mississippi, the bonfires seem to grow bigger and brighter each year. According to other sources, however, the bonfires were started to aid farmhands and other workers to church on Christmas Eve. Whatever the genesis, all agree they are an awesome sight. www.stjamesla.com
New Orleans, once the country’s premier party town, is finally getting back on its feet after the trauma of Katrina, and plans are underway to celebrate the holidays in style. Music lovers will thrill to the concerts at St. Louis Cathedral, the 200-year old majestic building in the French Quarter. And who hasn’t heard of the town’s mouthwatering cuisine? Consider participating in the Reveillon, the French dining tradition that is a citywide extravaganza with tempting set menus in dozens of restaurants. In addition, New Orleans will be featuring a Royal Teddy Bear Tea; a Holiday Home Tour in the Garden District; a Bourbon House Cooking Demonstration; and caroling at Jackson Square. www.neworleansonline.com
Texas: The Lone Star State doesn’t need a reason to have a party, but when it does, the festivities and fanfare are enormous. Texas celebrates the Christmas holidays throughout the state, in cities large and small; on cattle ranches and along riverfronts; in Tex-Mex villages and in German towns. Fredericksburg, founded in 1846 by German immigrants, is one such town. During the month of December, the town’s calendar overflows with colorful activities and RVers should plan on attending a few of the events; it is located just an hour from Austin. Noted for not just its German culture and cuisine, Fredericksburg also features an international flair. Some of the notable gatherings include: Christmas at the Theater; Hill Country Holiday Wine Tour; Luckenbach Christmas Ball; and Zweite Weihnachten Fest.