Holiday lights shimmer throughout the city streets, evergreen Yuletide gnomes are seen along the sidewalks, Christmas tunes can be heard playing throughout the town, and people are bustling through the specialty stores buying the perfect gifts for loved ones. This is when you know holiday season has arrived in West Virginia’s Christmas Community. Deemed one of eleven West Virginia towns that feel like you are in a Hallmark Christmas movie, Elkins transforms into a winter wonderland as soon as the Thanksgiving dishes are put away. From holiday artists markets and decorated storefronts to light displays and a parade, you’ll want to visit the charming community to get into the holiday spirit.
Do you remember driving around with your parents as a kid and looking at all of the Christmas lights in the different neighborhoods? The Elkins-Randolph County Chamber of Commerce organizes a county-wide Christmas Lights Display Contest. Residents and business owners decorate their homes and storefronts with dazzling lights and holiday inflatables. From Helvetia to Huttonsville, Mabie to Mingo, and everywhere in between, Randolph County “lights up” through December. Keep the old pastime tradition and drive around the county to see the lights for yourself!
Although not a part of the light display competition, we suggest driving or walking through the Elkins Town Square Christmas lights display that is located behind the Elkins Depot Welcome Center. Every year, new lights are added to the mix. Our favorite is the swimming penguins! Another elaborate light display in the county is Whoville in Mill Creek. This holiday exhibit is hosted by five families that transform their neighborhood and open it up to the public. Even Santa makes an appearance on certain weekends. The lights normally display from 6:30 in the evening to around 9:30 at night starting on Thanksgiving. The best part about Whoville is it’s FREE!
The “Jingle All the Way” Christmas Parade is becoming one of the largest “small town” Christmas parades in the state. Glittered-out floats, local marching bands, embellished side by sides, firetrucks, police cruisers, and more all parade through downtown Elkins during the first weekend of December. You’ll probably get lots of goodies and a wave or a wink from Santa and Mrs. Claus. The mean, old Grinch has also made an appearance a time or two.
Around the world there are a lot of different names for Santa Claus, here in Randolph County, you can experience Sankt Nicholaus, Father Christmas, and of course, the big guy in the red suit, Santa. The community of Helvetia celebrates the start of Christmas season with the “Feast of Sankt Nicholaus”. The day always begins with children’s games and storytelling, often spoken in Swiss German to keep the tradition alive. Families come together and enjoy a feast prepared by everyone in the community and St. Nick also pays a visit. After everyone’s filled up with all the goodies, the evening commences with a traditional square dance. Old Fashioned Christmas is celebrated in Beverly during the first weekend of December as well. Residents and out-of-towners are treated to children’s crafts, music, and pop-up artisan markets throughout the historic town. Not only will children be able to tell Father Christmas their most wanted presents for the year, but there will also be a tree lighting ceremony with carolers.
Every holiday season, Christmas markets or holiday markets pop up in towns all over the world. Did you know that this tradition dates back to medieval times in Germany? Local vendors sell hand-carved ornaments and Nativity scene figurines alongside homemade jewelry, pottery, and other unique keepsakes. Craft bazaars and holiday markets take place almost every weekend in Randolph County beginning the last Saturday in November all the way through December.
The Durbin & Greenbrier Valley Railroad magic holiday train ride comes alive each Christmas season in Elkins. From a magical adventure to the North Pole to delicious hot chocolate and cookies, this train ride is perfect for the whole family to enjoy. Patrons wear their matching pajamas and settle in for a truly one-of-a-kind experience. Carolers and storytellers board the train and entertain guests throughout the duration of the ride. This adventure will make lasting memories for you and your family for years to come.
Skip the crowded cities and spend your Christmas with us in Randolph County. While planning your holiday getaway book a stay in a mountainside cabin or vacation rental, discover the best post-adventure meal at one of our local restaurants, and bring home a handmade gift from one of our specialty shops. And, with us perfectly located in the heart of West Virginia ski country, add in some winter activities to your itinerary. It’s a small-town Christmas you won’t soon forget.