A land of small towns and tight-knit communities, West Virginia is a prime destination for countless holiday homecomings, and winter festivals here are celebrated with gusto.
Remarkable holiday festivals draw millions of vacationers, as do winter events at renowned West Virginia ski resorts, which become snowy mountain wonderlands when winter arrives. Ready to join in the excitement? Here are nine of the many remarkable holiday events scheduled across the Mountain State this winter.
Way-Back Weekend at Heritage Farm
The Heritage Farm near Huntington transforms into a Christmas village during the holidays. An antique Appalachian village built of rescued and restored hewn timbers, the farm's Way-Back Weekends are filled with music, food, tours, and artisan extravaganzas that showcase traditional crafts such as soap-making, blacksmithing, and spinning. There's also a petting zoo and wagon rides for kids.
The farm also hosts a Christmas Parade of Lights sure to put you in the holiday spirit. Enjoy festivities, meet Santa, and buy a cup of hot chocolate to warm your belly and heart.
Seafood at the Feast of the Seven Fishes
Italian heritage in northern West Virginia is demonstrated in few better places than in Fairmont, which became home to thousands of immigrants during the Industrial Revolution. Their descendants keep old-world traditions alive during the Feast of the Seven Fishes.
Many Italians, especially those from Naples and Sicily, celebrate Christmas by eschewing meat and eating seafood instead. The festival's annual cooking school helps participants recreate sumptuous Italian dinners at home, while the feast's street fair and wine and food festival attract participants from across the state and beyond.
Snowy wonderland at Canaan Valley
The highest upland valley in the eastern U.S., the Canaan Valley is a true winter wonderland. Home to two downhill ski resorts and one of the state's most popular cross-country ski areas, there's no more popular winter destination in the state, though perhaps with the exception of Snowshoe Mountain, a two-hour drive to the south.
If skiing's not your thing, there's plenty of opportunity for sledding and ice skating and snow tubing. Countless hiking and biking trails also wander the surrounding national forests and wildlife refuges, providing for limitless outdoor fun.
Colonial Christmas at the Adam Stephen House
One of West Virginia's oldest settlements, Martinsburg was settled during the colonial era, and its history is on display at the General Adam Stephen House, former home of the city's founding father. The stately residence been renovated in its early republic state and is open for tours all year long.
During the holidays, the house is decorated for its annual Colonial Christmas celebration, complete with food, good music, and remarkable decor. Admission is free, though donations are appreciated.
Christmas tour of historic Bramwell
Tucked into the state's hilly southern coalfield, the little village of Bramwell was once home to an astonishing number of millionaires—industrialists whose homes provided for aristocratic luxuries far from major U.S. cities.
Its picturesque historic district now welcomes sight-seers from across the world, though at no time is the town more beautiful than at Christmas, when many of its mansions are open for tours and bedecked in evergreens and twinkling lights.
The Polar Express into the Alleghenies
The Polar Express tour ascends from the historic town of Elkins high into the Allegheny Mountains, the highest mountain range in West Virginia. The journey is a dream-come-true for children and adults alike, who are encouraged to wear pajamas as they did in the Warner Brothers film, on which the tour is themed.
As in the movie, dancing chefs serve guests candy canes and chocolate while the Polar Express book is read along the way. When guests arrive at the "North Pole," Santa greets them in his sleigh.
Holiday lights at Oglebay Resort
One of the largest holiday light displays in the U.S. is hosted annually at Oglebay Resort near Wheeling, an extravaganza of Christmas that's celebrated throughout December. The Winter Festival of Lights features three hundred acres of twinkling lights over a six-mile drive.
At the end of the tour, you'll be welcome to visit a panoply of family amusements, including reindeer at the park zoo, a light garden, and many holiday shops.