Inside the World's Most Idyllic Christmas Town

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From snow-covered Victorian homes to music flowing through the streets, this village is straight out of a fairytale.

While cosmopolitan cities like New York and Paris get plenty of attention during the holiday season for their elaborate decorations, endless shopping, and fanciful restaurants, there's one tiny town that takes visitors back in time to a storybook era of holiday merriment. Something you definitely can't do in a highrise city like New York.


Sean Flynn

Located in central New York, the idyllic town of Skaneateles in the Finger Lakes region is a popular summer destination for its beautiful lake, delicious wines, and quaint streets. But during the winter months is when this town really shines. For the past 25 years, Skaneateles has celebrated the Dickens Christmas Festival which transports the town back to the holiday season of 1842.


© Charles Wainwright

With a discerning Norman Rockwell feel, the village is simply stunning, with its beautiful Victorian homes, well-manicured lawns, and mom and pop shops that dot the main street. During the holiday season, the town's whimsy is kicked up a notch. A talented cast of over 50 actors portraying Scrooge, Tiny Tim, the ghosts of Christmas past, present, and future, and even Dickens himself, take over the streets in a live-action production of A Christmas Carol. Musicians play Christmas tunes along the main street and there are horse-drawn carriage rides around the village. 


© Charles Wainwright

The festive display welcomes over 20,000 visitors annually and is the perfect way to get in the holiday spirit. Finish out your trip with a stop at the nearly 200-year-old Sherwood Inn for a holiday-inspired cocktail to warm you up, or a quick bite to eat.


Matt Champlin/Getty Images

The festival takes place through the month of December, starting the day after Thanksgiving and continuing each weekend through Christmas Eve.