Busch Gardens Williamsburg, Va., theme park’s Christmas Town is back for a fourth season, with six million lights adorning nearly every building. The display includes 1,500 trees, 700 wreaths and 20,000 ornaments. Visit www.seaworldparks.com/en/buschgarde
Updated: January 10, 2013 6:18AM
NEW YORK — From elaborately decorated trees to drive-through lighting displays to boat parades and train shows, a variety of holiday spectacles are being staged through the end of December and into early January around the country. Here are a few of them.
Rockefeller Center is sparkling with 30,000 lights on an 80-foot Norway spruce that survived superstorm Sandy. The tree comes from the Mount Olive, N.J., home of Joe Balku, who lost power and other trees during the storm. It remains on view until Jan. 7. Visit www.rockefellercenter.com. While you’re at Rock Center, watch the ice skaters, take in Radio City’s “Christmas Spectacular” (www.radiocity.com) or visit St. Patrick’s Cathedral on Fifth Avenue.
Elsewhere in Manhattan, on opposite sides of Central Park near 81st Street, you’ll find themed trees and displays through Jan. 6 at the Metropolitan Museum of Art (www.metmuseum.org), home to a Christmas tree and Neapolitan Baroque creche, and at the American Museum of Natural History, which hosts its annual origami holiday tree. And at the Plaza Hotel (www.fairmont.com/ThePlaza), near the 59th Street entrance to Central Park, a tree decorated with 100 pounds of glass, gold and silver ornaments pays tribute to “The Great Gatsby,” F. Scott Fitzgerald’s famous novel of the 1920s.
In Washington, the National Christmas Tree was lit Dec. 6. It’s the 90th year for the tradition, and the tree was lit in a ceremony with President Obama and his family. The live tree is planted on the Ellipse near the White House. This year’s tree is marking its first Christmas in Washington. It’s a 28-foot-tall blue spruce that was transplanted just before superstorm Sandy struck. It replaced a tree that died in the spring. That tree had only been in the ground for a year; its predecessor had stood on the Ellipse since 1978 but was destroyed by high winds in early 2011. Visti www. dc.about.com.
In North Carolina, Christmas at the Biltmore estate also features a special tree on its front lawn. The Norway spruce, 55 feet tall, was bought by Joseph Gray for his wife in 1972 and planted at the end of their driveway on Roan Mountain in Tennessee. Gray, now in his early 80s, lost his wife in 2010. The aging tree was struggling to survive, so The Biltmore trucked it to Asheville, decorated it with 45,000 lights and is displaying it for the holidays. Other Biltmore holiday activities include tours, candlelight Christmas evenings, and weekend Santa visits. Visit www.biltmore.com.
In many Florida towns, the holiday spirit arrives by boat. Holiday boat parades are scheduled from Pensacola to Key West. Some parades offer cash prizes for best decorations, others include charity drives for toys or food banks, or have special guests, like Santa Clam in Cedar Key. A directory of events can be found at www.floridabywater.com/component/content/article/1647-boat-parades.
In Minneapolis, the annual Target Holidazzle parade takes place Thursdays through Sundays through Dec. 23, stepping off at 6:30 p.m. Parade-goers have been braving the cold Twin Cities weather to watch the event since 1992. It includes illuminated floats, music, celebrity grand marshals and Santa in a sleigh. Visit www.exploreminnesota.com.
A number of botanic gardens around the country host holiday train shows. At the New York Botanical Garden in the Bronx, trains wind past 140 buildings depicting New York City, including landmarks like the original Yankee Stadium, St. Patrick’s Cathedral and the Brooklyn Bridge. At the Chicago Botanic Garden in north suburban Glencoe, Wonderland Express trains make their way through a village of tiny Chicago landmarks made from natural materials. Krohn Conservatory in Cincinnati hosts “Trains, Trestles and Traditions,” with poinsettias, cyclamens, evergreens, trains and replicas of buildings and bridges. Visit www.nybg.org.
At Universal Orlando in Florida, guests can meet the Grinch, watch the live “Grinchmas Wholiday Spectacular,” and experience a nightly parade of giant balloons from Macy’s New York City holiday parade. The group Mannheim Steamroller will perform holiday music on select nights. Grinchmas celebrations are also taking place at Universal Studios Hollywood in California, including a chance to tour the original Whoville film sets from the movie adaptation of “How the Grinch Stole Christmas” aboard the theme park’s studio tour. Visit www.universalorlando.com/Holidays.
At Walt Disney World near Orlando, Cinderella Castle is lit up for the holidays, Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party takes place on select nights, and Epcot hosts a “Holidays Around the World” candlelight processional nightly through Dec. 30. At Disney’s Hollywood Studios theme park, the Osborne Family Spectacle of Dancing Lights, which started at a private home in Arkansas, drapes entire buildings on Disney’s Streets of America in sheets of multi-colored lights. Visit www.disneyworld.disney.go.com.
Also in time for holiday visitors, on Dec. 6, the Magic Kingdom’s Fantasyland at Walt Disney World in Florida holds a grand opening marking a milestone in the largest expansion in the park’s 41-year history with new and reimagined attractions inspired by Dumbo, “Beauty and the Beast” and “The Little Mermaid.”
At Disneyland in Anaheim, Calif., Disney California Adventure Park offers vintage decor on Buena Vista Street with an old-fashioned department store Santa Claus at Elias & Co. Just after the new year, Disneyland also will host a Three Kings Day celebration, Jan. 4-6, with special decor, food and entertainment showcasing this holiday that is especially popular in Latin America. Visit www.disneyland.disney.go.com. AP