Christmas lights glistening in the snow, town squares with decorated trees, and Christmas carolers singing familiar melodies echoing through the streets. A few snowflakes falling put you in the mood for a joyous celebration. Holly jolly holiday towns that remind you of the ones you see in a Hallmark movie. These are the type of towns you find in West Virginia, where the country roads lead to home.
Let’s take a look at a few of the notable towns in West Virginia where visiting feels like you’re in a Hallmark movie.
If you are considering visiting any of these Hallmark towns in 2020, please check their websites and Facebook pages to verify the events are still happening. Many plans are changing due to COVID.
West Virginia’s oldest town, Romney, serves as the county seat and the town spearheading Winterfest for Christmas. Nestled in the beautiful rolling hills, Romney is rich in history, culture, and Christmas cheer. With a population of 1,707 people, everyone gets involved in the holiday celebration. Picture a charming small town, a giant tree decorated with carolers singing, and a train going by as it heads out for a breathtaking winter wonderland excursion on the Potomac River. It sure sounds like a Hallmark movie town to me.
Winterfest in Romney, this year, will include decorating the courthouse’s interior and exterior, a town Christmas tree with a tree lighting ceremony, wreath and garland making, businesses holding open houses, a Santa breakfast at the local fire hall, and a Santa Parade.
The town of Romney and the entire Hampshire county business community are hosting an Elf Hunt as part of the Holly Jolly Hampshire Christmas. It seems 36 elves are lost and need to be found in various stores and businesses in the community. Before you start thinking this is a children’s activity and not something the 50+ traveler would enjoy, think again. It is for all ages, and there are cash prizes.
Nearby you will find a tree decorating contest, ornament crafts, and a Hampshire county-wide house decorating contest. All along the highways, you will see giant greeting cards wishing you season’s greetings.
Unfortunately, due to COVID, the North Pole Express will not be running this year.
A few miles south of Romney, you will find Augusta, which hosts the Christmas Festival of Lights. This town of 4,728 people is brimming with Christmas spirit. Everyone attending the festival lighting ceremony is welcome to enjoy coffee, hot chocolate, and cookies.
What started as a small 24 display community light show has grown to 225 displays, including a 22-foot Christmas tree.
Step into a festive fairy tale town and visit Lewisburg, population 3,831. Lewisburg pulls out all the stops as it transforms the downtown area into a winter holiday wonderland. The Magic of Christmas in Lewisburg is complete with horse-drawn carriage rides, sweet treats, and seasonal shopping.
Twinkling lights, magical decorations, and giant snowflakes line the streets.
If you are bringing little ones with you, they can take a Christmas Tale stroll through town and stop by Santa’s Mailbox.
The town of Harpers Ferry is full of history. When it comes to Christmas, the entire town joins in the festivities of their Olde Tyme Christmas and Holiday Light Tour during the first two weekends in December.
Candles were put in windows starting in colonial times as a symbol of good news, a welcome for tired visitors, or when a family member was abroad. The Edison Light Company extended this practice with the advent of Christmas lights. This year, more than ever, in search of this holiday spirit, tourists will be coming to the small towns of Harpers Ferry and neighboring Bolivar to see the lights.
A map will direct tourists to see the shops and beautiful homes decorated and illuminated in the traditional holiday style. Tourists will vote for their favorites!
Visitors will feel like they are in a Victorian-era holiday season with quaintly decorated streets, shops, and inns. Wagon rides are available. Locals can be found dressed in period costumes from the 1860s. Folk music from the 19th century, extended shopping hours, and Mr. and Mrs. Claus in the town’s gazebo make Harpers Ferry a great place to spend some holiday time.
Shepherdstown invites guests to experience the past and enjoy the present during their Christmas in Historic Shepherdstown. This year things are different due to COVID; their town will still be celebrating with restaurants and shops still open to enjoy.
During a non-COVID year, Shepherdstown exemplifies the Hallmark town holiday spirit. They throw in some Civil War history, provide carriage rides, Christmas caroling around the community, a tree-lighting ceremony, and a big parade to make their celebration a Christmas tradition. While some of those things are not happening in 2020, the town will still be full of festive decorations and a touch of holiday magic.
White Sulphur Springs
With a population of 2,398 residents, White Sulphur Springs certainly qualifies as a small town with an abundance of holiday cheer and old-fashioned Christmas spirit. It is located just west of the Virginia/West Virginia border and east of Lewisburg. Community shops, angel trees, and a holiday parade down Main Street make White Sulphur Springs a charming place to visit during the holidays.
The Greenbrier Resort, located on Main Street West, is a gorgeous place to visit during the Christmas season. It offers winter sleigh rides, a weekly tree lighting ceremony, viewing Christmas lights while riding on a trolley, and other delightful events during the holidays.
Stunningly decorated, the Greenbrier provides 60 days of holiday cheer with their decorations and lights. Visitors and locals alike enjoy fun-filled activities such as the Christmas Bell Ceremony in the Cameo Ballroom, a “Reindeer” Fun Run, and a Christmas Eve Gingerbread Ball (now doesn’t that sound like it is right out of a Hallmark movie?).
The spirit of Christmas flows throughout the Greenbrier and White Sulphur Springs.
Bluefield community, a population of 9,730, turns their city park into an impressive drive-through light display. Bluefield Holiday of Lights showcases over 1.2 million lights and winter scenes. Drive through 50+ acres of Lotito City Park and enjoy the glow of holiday themes along with their Christmas Festivities.
They celebrate with a live nativity scene, music, hayrides, trolley rides, and letters to Santa’s post office.
Elkins has a population of 6,690 people. A magical town, people come from miles away to visit Elkins and ride the famous annual Polar Express train ride. Tickets are sold out for this year, but the 50+ traveler will enjoy the holiday decorations and a Christmas show. The town has a decorating contest, and everyone in the community tries to outdo the other with decorations for cash prizes. There is also Mountain Memories Christmas Dinner show at the Gandy Dancer Theatre.
During non-COVID years, a Holly Jolly Christmas Parade would take place, and other events are held.
Nearby in Mill Creek, six families joined together to create a festive display of the town of Whoville from “How the Grinch Stole Christmas.” The homes and yards are extravagantly adorned with decorations and lights accompanied by the sound of Christmas music. This tiny neighborhood loop turns into West Virginia’s most magical street starting Thanksgiving night.
If you are in the area, it is certainly worth a visit. To get there, travel to Mill Creek, and turn onto Back Road/Woody Simmons Drive, adjacent to the fire department and follow the road about a half-mile until you see the lights display.
Cass is a tiny Christmas town of 38 people and is considered one of the nation’s most well-preserved historic towns. Founded in 1901, the town is relatively unchanged. The snowy Allegheny highlands near Snowshoe Mountain are a backdrop to this magical holiday town. The Cass Scenic Railroad State Park is a highlight and runs excursion train rides.
Cass uses simple decorations to add to its charm. Each company house is decorated with twinkling holiday lights and greens for the Christmas Season. The Last Run Restaurant and the Company Store in Cass are usually the places to be for Christmas! They hold an old-fashioned Christmas open house and holiday bazaar. A tree-lighting ceremony and a holiday square dance round out their events.
Decorated for the holidays, the village of Cass indeed resembles the front of a Hallmark card.
Berkeley Springs provides Hometown Holidays right out of a Hallmark movie. With decorated meters, a Santa’s mailbox, street lanterns, holiday photograph “selfie” stations, and more activities, everyone can find something to do in this small town’s holiday celebration.
During non-COVID years, they host a huge parade. Unfortunately, due to WV mandates, it is canceled this year.
This charming quintessential town has an abundance of small shops to spend a day in, and the people are friendly, just like in the Hallmark movies. Known for its mineral springs, there are many spas for the 50+ traveler to enjoy as they kick back and relax after a day of fun.
While Wheeling is considered a city and not a town, It draws thousands to visit to see the amazing Christmas Lights display each year at the Oglebay Resort. The spectacular Christmas lights display, The Winter Festival of Lights, was started in 1985. Since then, it has grown into one of the nation’s largest holiday light shows and has appeared on several top 10 lists of Christmas Light Displays in America.
The Winter Festival of Lights is part of a 6-mile drive through 300 acres of twinkling lights. Over 90 lighted attractions and a million LED lights create a dazzling display of holiday magic. It is a can’t-miss extravaganza when visiting the area.
If you love Hallmark movies as much as we do, travel to next door Pennsylvania as well. You will love these charming Pennsylvania towns that feel like you’re in a cute Christmas movie.