Holiday Celebrations Across the United States

The United States is often referred to as the great “American melting pot” and the influence of the country’s various cultures is never more on display than during holiday celebrations. From Alaska to New York, here is a taste of how the holidays are marked from coast to coast.

Deer Dance in Taos, New Mexico

Taos Deer Dance

Deer Dance Taos Pueblo 1946 by Ira Moskowitz, Courtesy of National Gallery of Art, Washington

Although Taos Pueblo remains closed this year because of the pandemic, the Deer Dance is an incomparable way to observe authentic Native American culture. Typically held annually in January, the cultural dance features tribe members donning animal skins performing a sacred choreography passed down from their ancestors.

Check out All Roads North founder Sam Highley’s account of visiting the Taos Deer Dance a few years before the onset of COVID: Dancing with Deer

Related Itinerary: Back to the Future in New Mexico

Hanukkah in New York City

Grand Army Plaza Menorah Lighting

Grand Army Plaza Menorah Lighting, Photo by Julienne Schaer

New York City is known to go all out for Christmas (think: the huge tree at Rockefeller Center and elaborate light displays at Saks), but it’s also the location for some major Hanukkah spirit. New York City is home to one of the largest Jewish communities in the world outside of Israel, so it’s no wonder that this is the perfect place to experience the Festival of Lights. Wander into the closest Jewish deli and sample some delicious Hanukkah treats, like fried potato latkes, rugelach pastries and sufganiyot (jelly-filled doughnuts). There are several menorah-lighting festivities across the city where you can gather and celebrate with live music (and more latkes of course), such as the ones at Grand Army Plaza in Brooklyn and Midtown with the largest menorahs in the world.

Related Itinerary: New York to Montreal Itinerary

Annual Polar Plunge Swim in Anchorage, Alaska

Polar Plunge Anchorage, Alaska

Polar Plunge in Anchorage, Alaska, Photo by Phil Walczak

For the past thirteen years, a Polar Plunge swim kicks off the holiday season in Anchorage, Alaska. Brave souls line up to take a dip in the freezing waters of Goose Lake to support Special Olympics Alaska. As you can imagine in a place like Alaska, the water temperature is no joke– participants must jump into a hole cut into the top layer of ice on the lake.

Related Itinerary: An Epic Alaska Road Trip

A Danish Christmas in Solvang, CA

Christmas in Solvang, CA

Christmas in Solvang, CA

Once you step foot in the tiny town of Solvang, you won’t believe you’re still in California. Founded in 1911 by Danish immigrants, the town is distinguished by its picturesque Danish architecture, including thatched roofs and windmills. During the holiday season, Solvang lights up for its annual Julefest celebration. Lights, music and Christmas cheer galore fill the village for the entire month. You can hunt Danish gnomes (nisser), enjoy the Julefest Parade, sing carols on a candlelit tour and learn more about Danish traditions.

Related Itinerary: Ultimate California Family Road Trip

Kwanzaa in New Orleans

Kwanzaa Celebration

Kwanzaa takes place from December 26th – January 1st celebrating African heritage, but the festivities in New Orleans begin even earlier in December. A city known for its rich diversity of cultures and backgrounds, festivals like Holiday on the Boulevard celebrate both Christmas and Kwanzaa. The celebration includes film screenings, dance and a holiday marketplace full of African drums, jewelry and food.

Related Itinerary: The Best of New Orleans and Cajun Country



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