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Taking the Kids: Holiday lights everywhere!

Eileen Ogintz, Tribune Content Agency on

They’re back! Holiday lights are everywhere from theme parks to zoos to resorts to city centers across the country and abroad.

With our partners at Family Travel Forum we’ve compiled Our Annual Guide to the Best and Brightest that typically glow from right after Thanksgiving through New Year’s, giving you plenty of time to enjoy them.

Still, be careful out there in crowds, especially with kids who aren’t yet fully vaccinated or are too young to get the COVID-19 vaccine. You’ll likely be required to wear masks indoors at community celebrations, but it is wise, public health experts say, for unvaccinated kids to wear masks outdoors as well. Remember, nearly a fourth of new cases are in children and though most recover well, thousands have been hospitalized and COVID-19 continues to be a leading cause of death among children.

I don’t want to put a damper on your holidays, I just want to remind you to be careful when traveling and enjoying holiday festivities with young kids. Mask up, wash hands often, and stay six feet apart when possible.

Now that we’ve gotten that out of the way, let’s see where we can celebrate, whether we return to what had been an annual tradition before the pandemic, create a new one with a drive-through experience, or make it an outing with relatives and friends you’ve been with over Thanksgiving — likely for the first time in two years. (No wonder AAA has forecast more than 53.4 million of us were expected to travel, the highest single-year increase since 2005 and nearly back to pre-pandemic levels.)

You likely will need reservations for holiday light events at zoos, botanical gardens, museums, theme parks and more. Cruise ships decorated to the hilt, like the new kid-friendly Carnival Mardi Gras, are limiting passengers to those who are vaccinated. Restaurants, including at Vail Resorts, are requiring vaccination cards. Some resorts known for their holiday displays like The Broadmoor in Colorado Springs, decorated with a million white lights and a gigantic gingerbread structure, are limiting viewings to guests.


Once you are prepared (got those holiday masks ready?), here are some of our favorite places around the country to get even the grumpiest Grinch in your gang to get in the holiday spirit:

Celebrate all things gingerbread in Asheville, S.C., at the Omni Grove Park Inn’s 29th Annual National Gingerbread House Competition, which is welcoming back in-person competitors this year. The official gingerbread display begins on Sunday, Nov. 28, 2021, and will continue through Sunday, Jan. 2, 2022. (Guests not staying at the resort may visit the display at certain times.)

Experience a German-style Christmas Market at cities across the country from Baltimore’s Christmas Village in Baltimore at Inner Harbor West Shore Park to the Denver Christkindl Market. Expect music, crafts, food, including, of course, beer and mulled Gluhwein) and special activities in some areas for kids.

Wherever you live (or are visiting) look for holiday markets that typically support local businesses. (ln Las Vegas, the “Magical Forest at Opportunity Village” raises money for the disabled.)


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